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Up close with sporty Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire leads parade smart desert charging 2019
LiveWire unveiled in Milwaukee

The electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire arrives next year with more sporty components than the Livewire prototype unveiled in 2014. 

Sporty features

It features, fully-adjustable Showa suspension and massive dual discs with four-piston Brembo callipers on a 17-inch front wheel instead of a single disc on an 18-inch wheel.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
Fully adjustable Showa rear shock

That sounds like a recipe for a quick and sporty bike, although the brakes are overkill as the LiveWire has regenerative braking like most electric vehicles. Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire

That means when you slow down on the throttle it substantially retards your progress, harnesses the kinetic power to recharge the battery and doesn’t need much in the way of conventional braking power.

In fact, when I tested the prototype in 2014, I hardly touched the brakes.

Harley-Davidson greenies eight electric motorbike Alta sporty
MBW riding the LiveWire prototype in LA in 2014

Press unveiling

The “design validation” LiveWire was wheeled out for the world press today at the Harley-Davidson Museum at the 115th anniversary celebrations in Milwaukee.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
World press scrum

Company spokesman Paul James would not reveal any tech specs, such as power, battery range or charging times.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
Paul James wheels out the LiveWire

However, the larger battery surely means more range than the original with 100km and faster charging times with the addition of a fast charger.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
Bigger battery and motor underneath

Charging is via connectors under the “fuel cap” on the tank. One is for connection to the mains with the cable stored under the seat and the other is for an optional DC fast charger.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
Two charging connection plugs

The bike will be ridden in the 115th anniversary street parade on Sunday by HD boss Matt Levatich, but Paul didn’t have the fuse to switch on the bike and show its touchscreen instruments.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
Touchscreen instruments

Paul says it’s not a production bike yet, but is “cosmetically correct” to what they will sell next year and has the same turbine sound as the original, derived by meshing the gears.

While there is no clutch or gear shifter because the belt drive is direct inked to the motor,  the LiveWire will still feel like a normal street bike, especially to Harley riders, as it comes with conventional Harley switchgear.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWireSporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
Familiar switchgear

It even features the Touring range toggle switches and, of course, Harley’s left and right indicator buttons on the left and right controls.

There are quite a few cosmetic and technical differences to the original Livewire apart from the larger battery, sporty components and LED lighting.

While the original had an oil-cooled motor and water-cooled controller, this also has a water-cooled charger. The larger battery is still air-cooled, but with much bigger cooling fins.

LiveWire will be available next year in the USA and Europe. There is no word yet on when Harley-Davidson Australia will import it.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
The compliance plate gives nothing away

Alta collaboration

In March, Harley-Davidson acquired a stake in American manufacturer Alta Motors which makes electric off-road motorcycles.

Alta Redshift MXR Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles EV sporty
Alta Redshift MXR

However, Paul says Alta had nothing to do with wither of the LiveWire models.

“That was a small equity investment for early development work which is wrapping up soon and we will have no further involvement with them,” he says.

Harley plans adventure, streetfighters and electric bicycles sporty
Design sketches of upcoming Harley electrics

He says Alta would have provided technological assistance with the range of future smaller electric bikes and electric bicycles that were unveiled earlier this month along with a bold new model line-up of conventional bikes, including the Pan America adventure bike.