Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire First Ride
Project LiveWire from Harley-Davidson has caused fierce debate. Think Harley Davidson and you think the stereotypical big, loud V-Twin’s, all black and chrome, Easy Rider and riding down Route 66. Well Harley-Davidson are out to completely flip that notion on its head! Project LiveWire is electric. Yes, electric. We headed down to the secret roads of Millbrook Proving Ground on the UK leg of its European tour before France, Germany and Holland. Read on to see what we thought of in our Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire First Ride.
They’ve been producing motorcycles for over 100 years and are instantly recognisable all over the world. They guys at Harley-Davidson are by no means giving up on this heritage they’ve worked so hard to create, but are now keen to be the ones to take things to the next level.
Since the news of this new direction Harley-Davidson were taking when they announced the idea last year, we will be honest, the office wasn’t particularly convinced. As a rider and Harley-Davidson owner, part of the whole appeal about riding bikes and Harley-Davidson’s in particular, is that feeling you get, winding back the throttle, that gorgeous signature sound rumbling away beneath you and roaring off into the distance. Nothing much normally comes close and quite frankly, we can’t see how an electric motorcycle, especially a Harley-Davidson could even come close to replicating this?
How wrong we were!
Firstly this looks like no electric bike, or what you might expect of one. Up close, our opinion began to change. They’ve ditched the usual heavy steel they normally use and instead, gone with a beautiful looking light cast aluminium frame. This is the first time in Harley-Davidson’s history they’ve made such a radical change in frame materials which goes to show they mean business. And the bike looks stunning! They’ve gone with a much more modern and futuristic look which makes total sense given that it’s a one of a kind electric motorcycle. The single seat and therefore, no space for a pillion, helps to give it a sportier look and move it away from classic Harley, without moving too much!
The moment I swung my leg over it I was sold! There’s no old fashioned analogue dials or instrument lights, but just one LCD Screen showing you everything you need to know. So, flip the kill switch and the screen comes to life, then select which mode you want on the touchscreen and you’re ready. There are 2 different modes to choose from, a “Range Ride” (giving you a higher return on mileage with what battery power you have) and a “Power Ride” (disregarding economy for all out power!) Obviously I selected the latter! It’s a little odd at first as I’ve never ridden a bike before that was totally silent after starting it. Once you pull away and wind the throttle open, it’s a completely different story!
The noise this thing makes is phenomenal. It’s a combination of that whiny whistley whir from a jet engine and something from science fiction or Star Wars. It’s difficult to put into words but believe me, it’s like nothing else.
It will accelerate from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds which is more than fast enough, and will get you up to speed far quicker than most of the current Harley-Davidson lineup. The way the AC Motor delivers its power is fantastic. The power comes in very smoothly but there is no lull or let up until you reach its top speed. The electric motor re-generates power back into the batteries when you back off the throttle, giving you the engine braking and the feel you’re normally used to on conventional bikes.
The handling of Project-LiveWire is superb and although you’re essentially riding one big heavy battery with wheels, it’s not shy about being thrown about in the corners and deals with everything you can chuck at it. All of the handlebar mounted switchgear is straight off the usual Harley-Davidson machines making the rider feel comfortable and at home. Being automatic and not having a clutch or gear shifter is slightly odd at first, but once you get your head around it and keep turning that throttle, bringing in that amazing noise from the motor, you soon forget about it.
Unfortunately, the downside is, Harley-Davidson are currently only using Project-LiveWire to judge people’s opinions and reactions on electric motorcycles. So it’s not for sale! When asked to complete the questionnaire after my time riding, one of the questions asked was “If Project Live-Wire was put into production, would you buy this motorcycle”. Hopefully by ticking the Yes box on the survey, it has gone some way in helping convince Harley-Davidson they should put this into production. I’d certainly be making room for one in the garage!