Harley-Davidson Livewire review. Subscribe to Electric News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!
Harley’s first all-electric motorcycle may just have the qualifications to influence the most hard-core riders.
Not only is the Harley-Davidson Livewire the best Harley ridden, but it’s also proof that electric motorcycles can have real personality.
Model tested: Harley-Davidson Livewire
Electric motor/s: H-D Revelation
Drive battery: 15.5kWh lithium-ion battery
Torque: 86 ft-lb
Top speed: 115mph
Range: 95 miles combined (MIC Combined Test – Non-WLTP)
0-62mph: 3.0 seconds
Kerb weight: 249kg
The price of Harley-Davidson Livewire is less than £29,000. Yes, you’re not mistaken. Now, of course, it is not the most expensive motorcycle made by Harley, but please think about it: you can have a top-of-the-line zero motorcycle SR/S and a traditionally powered Yamaha MT-07 at the same price as a Livewire. Ultimately, this is a halo product designed to bring wealthy early adopters to the Harley brand.
Electric Harley-Davidson, but you already know that, don’t you?
Launched in 2019, the Livewire is arguably the most talked-about new motorcycle of the past decade. Not only has it starred in the critically acclaimed “Long Way Up” tour show with Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman (motorcycle PR hasn’t gotten any better, just ask BMW), but Harley’s decision to reposition itself as a tech company has also caused a sensation world.
After all, who could have predicted that Harley-Davidson-a company that is not usually associated with technological innovation-will become the first mainstream manufacturer to produce cutting-edge electric motorcycles? not us. But this is undoubtedly a brave move, at least according to the rumors, the wider public seems to be aware of it. When shooting bikes for this feature, every five minutes or so, a random passerby would stop and ask: “Is this a new electric Harley?”.
So, Livewire has been successful as a marketing campaign, but how does it feel to actually ride? Well, before we hit the road, let’s evaluate the hardware. Its core is a battery up to 15.5kWh and a compact electric motor. We will talk about acceleration later, but in terms of range, Harley claims that Livewire should be able to cover at least 146 miles in the city and 95 miles on the hybrid test route, which is competitive at this level, but not groundbreaking ( The city range of the SR/S Zero we tested was 161 miles).
Unlike the Zero SR/S, however, the Livewire comes standard with fast charging. The maximum DC charging rate is up to 13kW, which will restore the battery from 0-80% in 40 minutes to 0-100% in 60 minutes. If you can find a fast charger at your local bike stop, that’s enough for a bacon spread and a cup of tea. There’s also a cable and three-pin plug under the seat – plugs into your 240-volt household power supply and charges up to 13 miles per hour.
At the same time, the build quality and attention to detail are top-notch. Everything from the charging port on top of the “tank” to the chunky switchgear feels built to last, and the paint finish on our “Orange Fuse” example is excellent. Then there are LED lights, TFT dashboard, keyless ignition, Showa forks and Brembo brakes as standard – this package makes the sticker price even more palatable.
From the moment you hit the start button, you can tell that a lot of time and effort went into making Livewire a truly beautiful product. Not only do the vertical light bars on either side of the TFT screen turn green to let you know Livewire is running, but you can also feel a heartbeat-like pulse (generated by an electric motor) through the handlebar and seat base. This eliminates the need to wiggle the throttle to check if it’s “on” – I find myself doing it a lot on zero SR/S.
The fact that you don’t have to worry about a clutch or any gears also makes the Livewire scarier than a big scooter, as does the impressive natural throttle connection. There are four different riding modes (Eco, Rain, Street and Sport), each controlling a number of riding parameters; Eco mode feels perfect for city-centre work and still provides enough punch to keep driving away from the lights , while Sport mode adds engine braking and instant throttle response that feels ideal on fast and flowing country roads.
But with no clutch, no gears, no noise, surely it doesn’t offer the raw thrill of a gasoline-powered motorcycle? Well, that’s certainly something we worried about before throwing our legs over a Livewire, but the good news is that it only takes a full start to quell those fears right away. 0-60 takes just 3.0 seconds, with silent speed changes and you basically feel like you’re flying – we know it’s a cliché, but it’s true. And because the Livewire comes standard with cutting-edge advanced traction control (it makes the latest supercar systems feel outdated), you can feed it full beans around every corner without worrying about being spit out.
You also don’t have to worry about keeping up with your teammates in the corner, because despite the curb weight of 249 kg (approximately the same as the BMW GS adventure bike), Livewire provides a good balance and predictable handling. Of course, you do need to strengthen a bit to quickly change direction, but the chassis will never get knotted, and the Michelin Scorcher tires have plenty of feel and grip.
That said, your partner may be a little frustrated with how often you need to stop to recharge. We reached the remaining 8 miles (about a 68-mile journey) on a dynamic journey from South London to Goodwood Circuit in Chichester. 76 miles on a single charge — great for a quick morning blast or commute, but not so great if you want to go further.
The £28,995 Harley-Davidson Livewire will never appeal to the masses. As we mentioned in the introduction, you can have a top-of-the-line Zero Motorcycle SR/S and a conventionally powered Yamaha MT-07 for the same price as Livewire. Honestly, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
But in pure design practice, Livewire is nothing short of a victory. Not only did Harley lay the foundation for great ergonomics and a beautiful fit and finish, but they also proved that electric bikes can be fun and enjoyable. If this is the future (and Harley has confirmed that their lineup of electric motorcycles will expand), we say bring it.
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