Harley-Davidson’s long-awaited electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, is causing a stir for motorcycle enthusiasts and electric vehicle consumers alike.
Will the LiveWire make Harley-Davidson fans trade in their “Loud Pipes Save Lives” helmet stickers for a quieter electric motorcycle? Unlikely, but it could be that the company isn’t necessarily selling the LiveWire to its more traditional fan base. Instead, it may be after a newer generation of customers who want a solid riding experience while giving up fossil fuels—and sporting the Harley-Davidson name with a price tag to match: $29,799.
While the bike’s sound is something that H-D reportedly did take into consideration when designing the LiveWire, the motorcycle doesn’t sound or look, quite like any other motorcycle. Its design doesn’t make it a typical cruiser, yet the LiveWire isn’t a sportbike, either. For its first entry into electric vehicles, Harley-Davidson created something unique.
Reviewer Tim Stevens mentions this in 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire First Ride Review: Harley’s Electric Future Is Bright, describing the bike as “special” and “polished,” with a comfortable ride that, although not quite what you’d expect from riding a Harley, is still distinctive. He’s impressed with the throttle response, Showa adaptive suspension, Brembo brakes, and overall styling. Oh, and it will definitely turn some heads and get you noticed.
No Engine, No Problem
So what’s the LiveWire made out of? Instead of having a Harley-Davidson engine, it’s a 549-lb bike built around a high-voltage lithium-ion battery in an aluminum case. This powers the H-D Revelation electric motor, cranking out 105 hp and 86 lb-ft of torque. Riders go about 146 miles in town before charging again, but 95 or even fewer miles on the highway, depending on your speed. You can charge it with a regular household outlet, or at a public DC Fast Charge station—which takes about an hour to get to 100%.
When it comes to speed, the LiveWire goes 0 to 60 mph in a bit more than three seconds, which would probably earn itself a spot in the list of fastest electric motorcycles. Its top speed, 95 mph, might not win you a race, but overall it will get you where you need to go.
This bike gives riders high-tech control, with standard features like ABS and traction control, but also seven ride modes (for example, there’s one for rain) that are programmed into the bike or customized by the rider. Access the gauges through the tablet-like touch screen or the screen controls on the handlebar grip.
Unique to Livewire is the subscription H-D Connect Service, which uses an app that lets riders remotely monitor the bike’s charge and location, and receive tamper alerts. The app also provides charging station locations and service update notifications.
How Does the LiveWire Compare to Other Electric Motorcycles?
Harley-Davidson first came out with the LiveWire prototype five years ago. Shortly afterward, Polaris (which makes Indian motorcycles) developed the Victory Empulse, and the industry was quick to point out how it had beat H-D to the electric motorcycle market. However, only a year later, Polaris ceased operations and cut the whole line of Victory motorcycles. Perhaps H-D was just waiting for the right time to introduce the LiveWire.
Could that time be now? It’s hard to say. Many motorcycle fans are quick to compare the LiveWire to the Zero Motorcycles, particularly the SR/F model. The Zero SR/F boasts 110 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque, with a 161/99 mile range between charges. It could also beat the LiveWire’s top speed with 124 miles per hour. Most importantly for many motorcycle buyers, the Zero SR/F is more than $10,000 less than the LiveWire, starting at $18,995. H-D will have to convince consumers the LiveWire makes up for all of this in handling, design, high-tech features, and maybe even the Harley-Davidson name.