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First ride: Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle screams raw power

This weekend I had the opportunity to test the long-awaited new Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle, the LiveWire. As excited as I was to have the opportunity to mount the LiveWire before its launch, I did not have the highest expectations. I thought that the LiveWire would be a bicycle that looked better than it was. But it turns out, LiveWire is a great power beast that expects to be unleashed.

Driving test Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Harley-Davidson invited a select group of reporters to Brooklyn this weekend to take the LiveWire for a test on the Formula E track. The closed and winding track was designed for low race cars with good grip, not for motorcycles

But even with zero runoff and walls closing on every corner, I did my best to press the LiveWire. And boy, I was surprised what this electric motorcycle could do!

This weekend we finally learned the important technical specifications that Harley-Davidson had been keeping secret for so long. The most important thing is that we learned that the engine has a rated power of 78 kW (105 hp) and that the battery capacity is 15.5 kWh. Both are huge for an electric motorcycle and were the first clues that the Harley-Davidson LiveWire is not just to show.

  Test of Harley Davidson LiveWire test review

That's the smile of an Electrek writer who is about to become one of the first LiveWire users

But he really does not have the feeling of how 78 kW feels in a 549 lb (249 kg) vehicle until he actually opens it.

And, fortunately, I had some ways of doing it, as you will see in my video below.

Video of Harley-Davidson LiveWire

The LiveWire can reach a top speed of 110 mph (177 km / h).

However, I reached a maximum of 87 mph (140 km / h) before falling short and I had to rely on the Brembo Monoblock brakes to drop an anchor before getting off track.

Fortunately, the driver assistance systems on the LiveWire work perfectly. The ABS brakes and the lifting of the rear wheels worked very well when braking sharply. Traction control is also a good feature, although I was not willing to try that in these tight turns. Save it for when you need it accidentally on the highway. And the anti-wheelie system meant I could take full advantage of the powerful acceleration of the LiveWire without having to worry about having to keep the front wheel down.

With a time of 0-60 mph (0-97 km / h) of only 3.0 seconds, and another 1.9 seconds to reach 80 mph (129 km / h), the LiveWire accelerates like nothing that has been mounted before. And part of the thrill of that crazy acceleration is that you do not have to worry about the gears. With the turn of a doll (and an attempt to cling to it) you are moving quickly listening to the sweet moan of the drive train.

Speaking of which, make sure you watch the video above to listen to it. That LiveWire sound does not come from any artificial noise. That's the combined sound of the 90º bevel gears and the unique longitudinally mounted engine, plus a bit of belt buzzing, just in case. And to be honest, it sounds pretty sweet. The bike is quiet, do not get me wrong. But by no means is it silent. Anyone who enjoys the auditory response to the activation of an engine will understand the joy of listening and feel that LiveWire responds to their inputs.

There's nothing really "Harley" in the sound, despite what the company will try to tell you. And I think that's fine. The LiveWire is designed for a new generation of young riders (and rich, let's be real) who do not necessarily connect with the germinated and chrome Harleys of yesteryear. And it is likely that this new generation will connect better with the aggressive whistle of a high-powered, high-torque electric motor than a century-old gas engine. The LiveWire seems to connect with the cyclist in a way that gas bicycles can not. Instead of sitting on a bicycle that vibrates and vibrates, the silent silence and the electric scream create a more intimate bond. And as someone who has now driven gas and electric Harley-Davidson motorcycles, I definitely feel more connected to the latter.

Another way that LiveWire creates a connection with the cyclist is through his "heartbeat pulse". This step through me for a loop when they described it to us in the presentation, but feeling it made all the difference. Essentially, when you are sitting still but the bike is on and ready to go, there is a slight haptic response on the handlebar in the form of a pulsating feeling. It's not overwhelming, but you feel it. And the objective is that the cyclist knows that the bicycle is on and capable of firing at any time, for fear that the lack of noise in the engine will lead to a false sense of security. Essentially it is a gentle reminder that the bike is ready to shake, even if you can not hear anything.

Is it a necessary feature? No. But it's a pretty good added touch that I enjoyed, and anyone who disagrees with it can disable it in the settings.

Speaking of the configuration, there are four driving modes and three customizable modes. I probably should have tried the Rain and Echo mode, but I was having a lot of fun in the Road and Sports mode, and I forgot that there was anything else.

In any case, there are almost too many adjustments and buttons to the point of being overwhelming. Maybe that's something from Harley, I do not know. I'm not a Harley guy, at least not yet (although the LiveWire would probably change that if I could afford it). But each handlebar is adorned with an almost overwhelming number of buttons and switches. Half expected two different key switches that had to be turned simultaneously to launch the nuclear weapon.

Okay, it probably was not as complicated as the bridge in a nuclear submarine, but there was certainly much more than the lights, horns, indicators and buttons of standard mode that I'm used to.

But the LiveWire is also more connected than I'm used to, with the H-D Connect system that offers all kinds of interesting improvements, such as on-screen navigation, data telemetry and more.

Combine these intelligent features with high-end components such as the Brembo brakes, the fully adjustable Showa suspension, the Michelin Scorcher sports tires and the touch screen, and you have a very nice machine that has more power than most people will know. to do with.

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Harley-Davidson is not wrong about who they are going with LiveWire. This is a premium bike for a premium customer. If you are not yet using designer labels and buying premium brands, then there is a good chance that this is not the bike for you.

And that's why it's not the bicycle for me either. At least not yet.

Do not get me wrong, I loooove have a LiveWire. I rode it everywhere, every day and told the world.

But I will not be able to buy one of these in the short term. Like most people, I simply do not have $ 30,000 for a motorcycle, no matter how fun driving is. And before going to the OL & # 39; H-D to build an expensive bicycle, consider that this is the only gas bicycle company that offers an electric bicycle yet. Others, such as Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph and BMW, are still in the patent or concept stage, and none has any firm commitment to build anything that comes close to LiveWire. So at least Harley is approaching the plate and is hitting him quite hard.

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But with the new Harley-Davidson portfolio of five different electric motorcycles, including the smaller options that do not even require a motorcycle license, there will be many more opportunities for people like me to buy an electric Harley. And if your next variants of electric scooter, electric motorcycle, electric bicycle and light electric motorcycle are anything like LiveWire, they will be high-performance, well-built machines. And assuming they are more affordable, I can definitely see myself buying an electric Harley-Davidson in the future.

What do you think of the electric motorcycle LiveWire? Let us know in the comments below!

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