Test drive: Introducing Harley-Davidson’s all-electric LiveWire
The LiveWire has finally hit Australian roads. Rod Eime takes the much-anticipated motorcycle for a spin.
Exotic motorcycles have long been sought after objects for admirers of ultimate luxury, exquisite design and precision engineering. High profile celebrity collectors like Jay Leno, Billy Joel, Keanu Reeves, David Beckham, Ewan McGregor and Tom Cruise are just a few well known for their affection of premium motorcycles.
Some of our stars are attracted to bespoke, one-off custom models like Reeves, who even set up his own business building wild, unique machines. Others admire the heritage and history in marques like Ducati, Moto Guzzi, BMW and Triumph. But overwhelmingly, the Hollywood glitterati prefers the iconic, all-American machine, the venerable Harley-Davidson.
With TV shows like Sons of Anarchy perpetuating the stereotypical dark side of motorcycle gangs, we also have the more whimsical, self-deprecating Wild Hogs which shows vulnerable middle-aged men reliving their boyhood dreams astride big, noisy machines.
To say that 2020 has turned much of the world on its head and forcing us to reexamine many aspects of our lives and businesses is an understatement – and so it is that the famous Milwaukee Motor Company is doing just that with the release of their much-anticipated, all-electric LiveWire motorcycle.
Riding the Harley-Davidson LiveWire
While it is true that several of the big names in two wheels are developing their own electric motorcycles, Harley-Davidson has beaten them to the punch with the release this week of LiveWire, a project that has been in development for several years.
With a price tag of approximately AU$50,000, it is pitched as a premium product aimed at well-heeled early-adopters, Tesla owners and those with the wherewithal to snap up the newest, latest technology.
The irony of the 117-year-old, retro-focussed brand leading from the front is not lost on industry observers but the strategy, which they like to call ‘ReWire’, has been firmly embedded into the company’s plans. Harley-Davidson, along with much of the motorcycle industry, has fallen on hard times of late, and the bold new direction has a lot riding on the success of electric motorcycles.
We had the chance to ride this revolutionary motorcycle and can report that, while it is far removed from anything historically Harley-Davidson, it is a most exciting machine that in terms of performance and handling is comparable to the best of the world’s exotic sportbikes. For example, with the bike’s electronics correctly configured, you can rocket from a standing start to 100 kilometres per hour in three seconds flat. That’s Porsche Turbo fast. Want to overtake? Accelerate from 100 to 130 kilometres per hour in just two seconds, but make sure you are hanging on.
While Harley is committed to this new path, traditionalists need not fret. A whole new line of mid-sized V-Twin machines is planned, including an adventure bike, utilising a clean sheet design that will likely supersede the engine currently fitted to the enduring XL Sportster.
While motorcycle sales may have stalled, interest in motorcycles generally has not. And neither has interest in premium products which should see the first LiveWire bikes being ridden proudly – and quickly – around the big end of town