Harley-Davidson LiveWire Review
We finally got a short stint on the LiveWire on the beautiful roads of Spain to find out if the future is as electrifying as we’re made to believe.
A hundred and fifteen years is a long, long time. And in that time, Harley-Davidson has progressed drastically from the 3-1/2 inch bore and 3-1/8 inch stroke motorcycle to the burly, mile-munching CVO models. And little did anyone expect Harley-Davidson to move away from that legacy anytime soon. But it managed to shock the world in 2019 with its first electric motorcycle, the LiveWire.
Harley-Davidson recently showcased the LiveWire in India, promising us that the country’s EV market would soon see bright days. We finally got a short stint on the LiveWire on the beautiful roads of Spain to find out if the future is as electrifying as we’re made to believe.
While looks are subjective, the LiveWire styling is true to Harley’s roots. The designers back at Milwaukee seem to have borrowed a major chunk of its design, or at least the top half of it, from the XR1200X and we are not complaining at all! It has road presence especially in this Orange Fuse colour but with so much going on under that tear-drop ‘tank’ it is guaranteed to turn heads. Moving to the rear, the LiveWire features a cropped tail section with the tail lamp and turn signals neatly integrated with the number plate holder.
A step closer to the LiveWire and the impressive quality of the electric motorcycle comes to light. Harley-Davidson has left no stone unturned and there is nothing to nitpick about here. The paint is well finished, the switchgear which has been borrowed from the same parts bin as the other motorcycles is tactile and the rubberised finish on the grips lend a premium feel.
Harley has equipped its first electric motorcycle with a ton of features. To start with, there is the 4.3-inch, full-colour TFT display which can be adjusted horizontally to suit the rider’s viewing angle. This touchscreen unit can be connected via Bluetooth and display turn-by-turn navigation, the exact location of the LiveWire as well as set up a geofence to prevent it from exiting a pre-set geographic boundary. As for electronic riding aids, the LiveWire has a six-axis IMU which hosts Harley’s ‘Reflex Defensive Rider System’ or RDRS.
This package, which comes as standard includes an exhaustive list of rider aids like a traction control system, cornering ABS and linked braking as well as something which Harley-Davidson calls the ‘Drag-Torque Slip Control System’ which modulates torque and reduces rear-wheel slip under sudden deceleration. Apart from this, the motorcycle’s electronic wizardry also spells out hill hold control and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
With the 15.5kWh battery lurking in between the cast aluminium frame, the LiveWire does look bulky. After all, that battery pack contributes to around 113kg of the motorcycle’s 249kg weight. So does it feel like a traditional Harley? Not quite. Once the bike is off the side stand, all that weight is hardly noticeable. It is designed to be a streetfighter of sorts and offers a slightly leaned-forward riding position and rear-set foot pegs to complement the character.
The LiveWire can be turned on like any other Harley-Davidson motorcycle; only when you crank it up, there is absolutely no sound. The display lights up with green ‘ear-like’ lights and the motorcycle sends pulsating vibrations to the seat to let the rider know that it is alive. Now, the LiveWire offers seven ride modes- Eco, Rain, Road and Sport along with three customizable modes that allow the rider to adjust power, regenerative braking and throttle response. Mighty cool indeed!
Well, we were advised to begin testing on 'Road' mode before switching to 'Sport'. One twist of the throttle and I knew why. With the entire 116Nm of torque available right from zero, the LiveWire surges through with a jet-like whir and sans any lag whatsoever. With a little dramatic slide from the rear wheel, the LiveWire hits triple-digit speeds in the blink of an eye and is sure to leave one grinning from ear-to-ear.
As fast as it is in a straight line, the LiveWire feels effortless to tip into corners. Yes, the suspension feels a bit stiff, but the handling is precise and the motorcycle feels well balanced overall. And to bring it to a halt, the LiveWire employs Brembo callipers on both ends which offer good bite and feedback. The regen braking further helps in reducing speed and compensates for the clutch which would normally be used for engine braking.
For whatever little time we got on the LiveWire’s saddle, the electric motorcycle left us impressed. Except for the massive size of the battery, which will get smaller over the years, Harley’s LiveWire is pretty much a wholesome package. It is insanely quick, easy to use and delivers an engaging riding experience. Moreover, it won’t heat up in traffic and with a range of around 150kms that can be achieved in 40 minutes of fast charging, the LiveWire addresses the major concern that comes with owning an electric motorcycle. In fact, for a motorcycle that offers 105bhp and 116Nm, even a minimum range of 120kms is more than adequate.
Now the biggest question here is- ‘When will the LiveWire be available in India?’ Well, Harley says that it would take a while since India’s fast-charging infrastructure is yet to be fully developed. Nevertheless, we can’t wait to get our hands on one to bring you a detailed road test on Indian roads. Stay tuned!
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