Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have been spotted riding their specially equipped Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycles in Ecuador on their Long Way Up adventure.
Photographer and tour guide Raphael Erhard (pictured with Ewan and Charley above) says he ran into them while leading a tour for Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental last month.
“They were really friendly and curious about what we were doing, especially Charley,” he says.
“They seemed to be enjoying South America a lot, they told me they’d just stayed at a small coastal lodge the night before and were heading to Quito the day we met. They seemed just really chilled out and open.”
Since the pair started in Tierra del Fuego in September and were last month in Ecuador, they are now expected to be somewhere in Guatemala or Mexico.
Their backup Rivian pickup truck was last seen in Guatemala a week ago.
Charley and Ewan have both previously said they would like to ride the Baja Peninsula, so that could be a detour as they head north to Alaska on their adventure.
While Charley and Ewan are riding LiveWire electric motorcycles, their videographer, Claudio Von Planta is on a petrol bike.
“They told me they were really happy with their bikes, the range being somewhere between 250 and 350km, I don’t remember which,” he says.
According to Harley, range is about 150km on the highway and about 235km in the city.
“Charley said they wanted to focus on electric motorcycles on this journey and after trying out a Zero and a few other brands, they chose the LiveWires as they felt best.
“They’ve made it so far, so it seems to be working. And no, I haven’t seen any generator-laden back up trucks anywhere.”
Tech and crew
The adventure started in September when some of the crew posted the Instagram images on this page.
There have been a few modifications to the bikes for this adventure and there is quite an extensive back-up crew involved.
Apart from new wheels, other bike modifications include: windscreens, engine guards, highway pegs, bash plates, auxiliary lights, saddlebags and fender bags.
They also seem to have removed the rear guard and plate holder.
The crew consists of two electric Rivian R1T pick-up trucks which have 650km of range.
They are also supported by two Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4WD vans and a Ford F350 pickup truck.
So we suspect they are carrying DC fast chargers with them.
Harley claims their Fast Charge (DCFC) technology will recharge a flat battery to 80% in 40 minutes and full in 60 minutes.
Maybe the trip won’t benefit Harley’s LiveWire or electric motorcycles in general, like Long Way Round and Long Way Down did for adventure riding and the BMW GS range.
However, it should be hugely entertaining!
Harley certainly doesn’t need another PR disaster with the LiveWire.
It has so far experienced one disaster after another.
Firstly the bike was delayed a month going into North America dealerships.
Then several dealerships refused to pay big money to instal DC fast chargers in order to sell them.
Sales have also been a disaster as customers have baulked at the $US29,950 (about $A44,000) ticket price.
Harley then had the PR disaster of having to temporarily pull the plug on production to fix a problem with one charger.
Long time coming
The long-awaited third Ewan and Charley travel documentary has been a long time coming.
Charley has been telling us they have been planning their Long Way Up America trip for about 10 years.
The problem has been that Ewan has been so busy with Hollywood movies he could not afford a few months off.
There was also the fact that Ewan is ambassador for Moto Guzzi and Charley is ambassador for Triumph.
The pair rode BMWs in their 2004 Long Way Round and 2007 Long Way Down.
In 2015, Ewan said he may ride from California to the tip of South America on a Moto Guzzi Stelvio. That never happened and the Stelvio was retired a year later.
Charley told us last year that Ewan’s relationship with Moto Guzzi would not necessarily foil their plans:
We’ve been talking about it a long time and if the stars align we will do something like a Long Way up from Tierra Del Fuego to Alaska in the next couple of years. It really is close now. Ewan’s always had a loose relationship with Moto Guzzi so there’s no conflict there.
But rather than Moto Guzzi and Triumph, the pair have opted for the new Harley-Davidson LiveWire.
While it was thought they would go all the way to Alaska, Charley recently said the ride would go from Argentina to LA.
Maybe they don’t want to cover the same territory through Canada and Alaska that they did in the Long Way Round.
Long Way Back
It’s been a long time between trips for Ewan and Charley.
From 14 April 2004 to 29 July 2004, they rode across Europe and the USA in Long Way Round and from 12 May to 4 August 2007 they rode from the top of Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa for Long Way Down.
With Ewan becoming increasingly busy with Hollywood movies, Charley squeezed in the 2006 Dakar rally for his series, Race to Dakar, and has produced several other travel shows.