In the 1953 classic film The Wild One, Marlon Brando played the role of an unruly biker gang leader who caused havoc while attending a rally in the small town of Hollister, California. While the film and real Hell’s Angels activities of that era permanently ingrained the outlaw biker into American pop culture, much has changed since those post-WWII days.
The stereotypical renegade biker was once a robust, burly, grizzled man with a beard wearing a leather jacket and riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Today, Harleys are owned and ridden by motorcycle enthusiasts from all walks of life.
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle, at the time of this writing in Fall 2019, is just now arriving at dealerships. So far, the response to the non-polluting energy-efficient bike is positive.
Here are twenty facts about Harley-Davidson's electric motorcycle that'll make Elon Musk proud.
20 Four Riding Modes: Sport, Road, Rain, Range
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire is programmed for four unique modes, offering the rider a choice of handling and response characteristics. A customized mode can also be created with a simple swipe of the finger on the touch-sensitive 4.3-inch TFT color dash.
The Sport mode provides minimal ABS and traction control (TC) with significant levels of engine braking. Range is the most fuel-efficient selection with its soft throttle response and more regenerative engine braking.
19 LiveWire Revelation EV Engine Produces 105 Horsepower
The LiveWire is equipped with the new Revelation, an internal permanent magnet synchronous electric motor with liquid cooling. It produces 105 horsepower and 86 lb-ft of torque. The motor can spin up to 15,000 rpm and generate all its torque immediately. However, software controls the response to simulate a traditional throttle with a linear behavior.
The Harley EV accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in mere 3 seconds and from 60-80 mph in just 1.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 110 mph.
18 The Lithium-Ion Battery Range is 146 City Miles
Harley-Davidson claims the LiveWire, with its 15.5kWh Lithium-ion battery, has a range of 146 miles of city driving and 95 miles when combining highway with stop-and-go miles. For off-roading weekend warriors or acceleration fanatics, trips must be planned to include stops at charging stations.
However, precaution is not much different from a traditional bike. The Harley-Davidson Sporster 12oo gets 36 mpg with a 4.4-gallon tank, giving it a range of 158 miles under normal driving conditions.
17 Fast Charge Technology on The Livewire
Most LiveWire owners will charge their bike batteries at home by plugging into a typical 120 V household outlet. The time required for a full charge with Level 1 charging is close to 10 hours. Harley-Davidson recommends charging the battery during the night, just as most cell phone owners do.
An upgrade to a smart Level 2 charger will allow scheduling and charger tracking, but a full charge requires the same time a Level 1. Fast charging at home is available with a 240 V Level 3 system but must installed by an electrician.
16 Reflex Defensive Riding System
Harley-Davidson’s Reflex Defensive Riding System (RDRS) is a premium electronic system that optimizes traction while accelerating, decelerating, and braking. The sophistication technology, including a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) is also functional during cornering.
Although the ABS is not switchable, the traction control can be disabled by simply pushing a button while stopped. The various control systems are seamlessly integrated, and while they are detectable, they don’t interfere with the rider’s enjoyment.
15 Enhanced ABS and Rear-wheel Lift Mitigation
Wheel slip when cornering typically initiates with a lower brake pressure than it does when traveling in a straight line. The Cornering Enhanced Antilock Braking System (C-ABS) is part of the RDRS that adjusts for potential rear-wheel slip under either condition.
The Rear-wheel Lift Mitigation system utilizes the six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) and the C-ABS sensors to control rear-wheel lift during heavy braking, balancing deceleration and rider control.
14 Cornering Traction and Real-wheel Slip Control
The Cornering Enhanced Traction Control System (C-TCS) is designed to reduce rear wheel-spinning (laying rubber) under acceleration while in a straight line or cornering.
The Drag-Torque Slip Control System (DSCS) manages rear-wheel slip and prevents rear-wheel lock during regenerative braking. The condition may occur when a rider decelerates on oily, wet, or slippery road surfaces.
13 The LiveWire Weighs 549 Pounds
The battery itself on the LiveWire makes up almost half of the bike’s weight at 250 pounds. The remainder brings the total weight up to 549 pounds, although test riders say it drives and feels like a much lighter bike.
To address balance issues and potential awkward handling characteristics from such a heavy battery, Harley-Davidson designed its form and position to optimize the center of gravity. The LiveWire is easy to handle even at slow speeds.
12 Showa Suspension Components
Harley-Davidson spared no expense when the company selected Showa suspension components to achieve responsive sport-like handling for the LiveWire.
The system includes a Balance Free Rear Cushion Lite (BFRC-lite) shock and 43mm inverted Separate Function Fork – Big Piston (SFF-BP) to absorb the impact of rough road conditions. While the mechanism tends to be a bit stiff on bumpy in-town sections, it holds well during cornering and provides stability under acceleration and heavy braking.
11 Tires Selected for Best Handling
Harley ships the LiveWire from the factory with Michelin Scorcher Sport tires to aid with handling. The high-performance treads allow for easy turn-in due to their unique sidewall design. What’s more, the 17-inch cast aluminum five-spoke wheels are standard sizes 120/70 and 180/55. Finding alternative tires or replacing the factory issued rubber when they have worn out is an easy task.
10 Plenty of Torque for the Curves
The LiveWire turns in a respectable time for straight-line acceleration when compared to other Harley-Davidson bikes. A 3.o second 0 to 60 mph time for the electric motorcycle beats the 5.6 second time of the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 and the 4.9 seconds for the Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra.
However, the bike performance in the curves is more impressive with plenty of torque and no worrying about shifting to handle the most challenging twists and turns.
9 Battery Regeneration Mode
Traditional motorcycle riders are accustomed to an immediate and powerful throttle response, especially on performance bikes (does not include a 125 cc Piaggio Vespa with 11.7 hp). The LiveWire provides the sensation of instantly accessible and nearly unlimited power but delivered smoothly.
When the rider backs off the throttle, the battery goes into regeneration mode, serving two functions. It adds engine braking and recharges the battery to extend the range.
8 Brembo Brakes for the Livewire
In accordance with Harley-Davidson’s premium quality design approach for the LiveWire, the company chose Brembo brakes for slowing down the electric motorcycle. Up front, the four-piston monoblock caliper clamps on a 300mm disc, while on the rear, a two-piston caliper modulates the 260mm disc.
On occasion, the high-quality braking system may not even be needed. Regenerative engine braking may be enough to slow the bike down in corners and other situations.
7 Almost an Eerie Silence
Operation of the LiveWire will require some getting used to by any tradition motorcycle rider. No squeezing of the clutch or changing gears is necessary. But more than just the difference in mechanical procedures to control the electric motorcycle, the absence of an exhaust note, particularly the characteristic Harley sound, is notable. “Silence is Golden” may best describe the feeling.
6 Harley-Davidson Connect Compatible
The Harley-Davidson connect compatible LiveWire uses an app (iOS or Android) to link directly to the electric motorcycle and monitor several operations.
The system includes: Charging status with notifications such as the battery charging percentage and the location of nearby Level 3 charging stations; Enhanced security that shows the current bike location, if it has been tampered with, and a suspected stolen alert; Motorcycle status indicators including riding mode, riding stats, battery status and remaining range available; Service notifications.
5 Five-year LiveWire Battery Life
It seems like every technology product available on the market today, no matter what industry, requires a rechargeable battery. Electric vehicles are no exception.
Harley-Davidson claims the battery on the LiveWire has a longevity of ten years. Of course, battery life is dependent upon usage. The company includes a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty with the purchase of the electric motorcycle.
4 Charging Stations for the LiveWire
One option for charging the LiveWire in addition to the home charge is connecting at the office. Many workplaces now offer their employees EV charging services.
With the advent of electric vehicles, charging options in town have become more convenient. Restaurants, stores, and other businesses have recognized the customer appeal of EV charging and are providing services. The ChargePoint app makes it easy to find nearby stations. Over 250 worldwide authorized dealerships will also offer Level 3 charging at no cost.
3 Harley-Davidson LiveWire Haptic Pulse
To make the transition a bit easier for the traditional Harley bike rider to the new electric tech motorcycle, the company has included a “Haptic Pulse” feature.
Activated by the magnets in the Revelation engine, a subtle pulsing or vibration advises the rider the motor is still working when the bike is not moving (otherwise, the silence is deafening). The Haptic Pulse is active only when the bike is stopped to simulate idling and shuts off once movement is detected.
2 The Electric Motorcycle Riding Experience is Like Flying
Riding the Harley-Davidson LiveWire is a new venture for motorcycle enthusiasts. The absence of a clutch, gear shifter, and multiple gears, along with a seamless throttle response and regenerative braking, creates a truly unique riding experience.
Ultimate Motorcycling says, “When you’re flowing with the throttle pinned, it’s the closest you’ll get to flying—not flying within a mechanical machine, but rather a bird.”
1 Harley-Davidson LiveWire Pricing Philosophy
When Harley-Davidson decided to jump into the electric motorcycle market, they determined only a high-tech, premium quality product would be worthy of the H-D name. The result is the 2020 LiveWire that sells for $29,799 (MSPR).
Considered too expensive by some critics, the number one motorcycle company in the U.S. openly markets the LiveWire towards a new demographic of well-to-do riders. The Harley rider of the future may no longer be the stereotypical outlaw biker but perhaps a businessperson in a suit on the way to the office.
Sources: ultimatemotorcycling.com, ridermagazine.com, topspeed.com