A quick ride on the Harley-Davidson Livewire

PORTLAND, OREGON—Harley’s Livewire electric motorcycle is a few months away from hitting showrooms (17 dealers across Canada), but we’re here in Portland to ride it. You’ll read my full ride report asap, but for now here’s some info you might find interesting.

The 78 kW (105 hp) electric motor produces 86 lbs.-ft. of torque as soon as it begins spinning — that’s litre-bike torque right off the start. The electric motor uses reduction gears to transfer power to the rear wheel, and those gears are designed to produce the Livewire’s unique whine. Antifreeze is used to cool various electrical components, which is why there is a small radiator mounted behind the fork.

The main 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery is contained in an aluminum case, which also contains the battery management electronics; the entire assembly is called a Renewable Energy Storage System (RESS), and it is manufactured by Samsung. The 250-volt RESS takes 12.5 hours to charge fully from empty when using the provided 110-volt charger (Level 1), which plugs into a standard wall outlet.

Using a publicly accessible 24 kW DC fast charger (Level 3) will replenish the RESS fully from empty in one hour, or to 80 per cent charge in 40 minutes. A 12-volt lithium-ion battery powers the lights and high-definition instrument panel.

You can plug the Livewire into a Level 2 charger to replenish the battery, but it will charge at the same rate as the Level 1 charger, so there’s no advantage to doing so.

The RESS is a stressed member of the chassis, combining with bolt-on frame channels and separate steering head to provide rigidity.

Claimed battery range is impressive: 235 km in the city (regenerative braking helps extend range); 152 km of combined city and highway riding. I tested the range and will tell you what I got in my upcoming review.

The Livewire is manufactured entirely at Harley’s plant in York, Pennsylvania. It will cost $37,250 in Canada.

7 thoughts on “A quick ride on the Harley-Davidson Livewire”

  1. Way overpriced compared to competitors. Even well-heeled collectors would be foolish to waste $37 large. HD is delusional if this is their future.

  2. I like the idea of an electric but it does not fit my riding style at all (or budget atm). I do not commute on a bike, city riding is too dangerous for me. I do long days of sport touring. I stop fairly regularly but always at a remote or quiet area, often to swim and cool down. My town/city stops are gas & food, which I eat at the next quiet spot. The only realistic electric option for me would be a battery swap system. However, I am certain that the manufacturers will never agree on a common battery pack, therefore at age 57 I do not see ever owning an electric, unless it is a scooter I use for my seniors retirement residence in Arizona! Or an electric golf cart with solar panels on the top. Cam

  3. $37 grand, huh?
    Wow, heheh… that uses to be a good down-payment on a house.
    An elite tool for the well-to-do – just like every other Harley?
    I’d sooner have the supercharged Kawi (touring model) plus $10 grand.
    So good luck with that, HD!

  4. Costa, when you do your full review, could you include a map of Canada showing all existing level 3 charging stations? Then could you show the most direct distance between them (this might not be necessary in some urban areas) so that we can compare that to the actual highway range you get. Then we can get a sense of in how much of Canada you could use this, if you wanted it for more than just a $37,000 commuting bike.

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