Electric motorbike review: Harley-Davidson Livewire

Harley’s first all electric motorbike may have enough power to win over even the most dedicated bikers

In short

The Harley-Davidson Livewire is more than just our favorite Harley, it’s also a great example of how electric motorcycles can be fun to ride.

How much does it cost?

The Harley-Davidson Livewire is available for as low as PS29,000. You read that right. Although it’s not the most expensive Harley motorcycle, you can still get a Zero Motorcycles SR/S or a Yamaha MT-07 with conventionally-powered Yamaha MT-07 for about the same price as a Livewire. This is a halo product, which is intended to attract well-off early adopters of Harley.

What’s it all about?

You knew it was an electric Harley-Davidson.

The Livewire, which was launched in 2019, is undoubtedly the most talked about new motorcycle of the past decade. It has been featured alongside Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor in the highly acclaimed ‘Long Way Up’ travel show (PR for motorcycles doesn’t get better than BMW), but Harley’s decision in 2019 to reposition itself in tech has caused quite a stir in the bike industry.

Who would have thought that Harley-Davidson, a company not usually associated with technical innovation, would become the first major bike manufacturer to make an electric motorcycle? We are not. It’s a bold move and one that the public seems to be aware. Every five minutes, someone would stop by to take a photograph of the bike and ask, “Is that the new electric Harley?”

The Livewire is a marketing tool, so it’s a big success. But what about riding? Let’s first look at the hardware before we get on the road. The battery is paired with a small electric motor to power the entire system. We’ll talk about acceleration later. However, Harley claims that the Livewire should cover at least 146 mi in the city and 95 on a mixed route. This is competitive but not revolutionary for the class (the SR/S Zero tested had a range of 161 mi in the city).

The Livewire, however, is equipped with fast charging capabilities, which is not available on the Zero SR/S. The maximum DC charging rate of 13kW is impressive. This will charge the battery from 0-80% in just 40 minutes to 0-100% within 60 minutes. This is enough time to get a quick charger at your local biker station and grab a breakfast bap or a cup of tea. The cable and three-pin plug are located under the seat. It can be plugged into your household’s 240-volt supply to deliver 13 miles per hour.

The build quality and attention to detail are top-notch. Every part, from the charging port at the top of the tank to the bulky switchgear, feels durable. The paint finish on our Orange Fuse example was outstanding. There are also standard-fit LED lights and a TFT dashboard. Keyless ignition, Showa forks, Brembo brakes, keyless ignition and keyless ignition – all of which make the list price seem more manageable.

What’s it Like?

The Livewire is a well-crafted product. From the moment that you press the starter button, it’s clear that a lot of time and effort went into making it a great product. Not only does the TFT screen display vertical light bars turn green to indicate the Livewire is active, but the electric motor also produces a pulse through the base and handlebars of the seat. This eliminates the need for you to turn the throttle to see if it’s on – something that I did quite often with the Zero SR/S.

Livewire is no more dangerous than large scooters because there are no gears or clutches. The throttle response is also impressively smooth. There are four riding modes: Eco, Rain, Street, and Sport. Each controls a variety of riding parameters. Eco mode is perfect for urban work, but still packs enough punch to make Uber drivers scream. Sport was ideal for country roads, thanks to its enhanced engine braking and quick throttle response.

It doesn’t have a clutch, gears, or noise so it won’t give you the same thrills as a petrol-powered bike. That was a concern that we had before jumping on the Livewire. But, thankfully, it only takes one full-bore start and you can forget all your worries. You feel like you’re flying, with 0-60 in 3.0 seconds. There is no sound to accompany the constant turn of speed. The Livewire is equipped with an advanced traction control system that makes supercars feel old-fashioned. This means you can enjoy every corner of the road without worrying about being ruined.

The Livewire is also very predictable and well-balanced, despite its 249kg kerb weight (about the same as a BMW GS Adventure bike). Although you will need to work a little to change directions quickly, the Livewire handles well and the Michelin Scorcher tires provide plenty of grip and feel.

However, it is possible for your friends to get frustrated by how many times you have to stop for a charging. We had 8 miles left to go on a fast ride from South London to the Goodwood Motor Circuit near Chichester, a trip of approximately 68 miles. This is a great way to commute or go for a quick morning ride, but it’s not the best way to travel further afield.

Should one be purchased?

The Harley-Davidson Livewire, priced at PS28,995, is not going to be popular. You could buy a Zero Motorcycles SR/S with a powerful engine and a Yamaha MT-07 with a standard engine for less than one Livewire. Truth be told, this is exactly what we would do.

The Livewire is a great design exercise. The Livewire has proven that electric bikes can be fun and also lust-worthy. Harley has nailed the basics, with great ergonomics. We believe this is the future, and Harley has confirmed that their electric bike line-up will expand.