Lots has happened in the Harley-Davidson world this year, with the main news that the electric initiative kicked off by former CEO, Matthew Levatich, has largely been shelved in favour of a steady-as-she-goes, cost-cutting programme instituted by new CEO, Jochen Zeitz (also Chairman and President of the company).
Into this new world enters LiveWire, the halo electric product developed under the Levatich years. We figured at the beginning of 2020 that a price of
around $NZ45k would make this a fairly exotic offering, based on indicative pricing in the US. Now Harley-Davidson’s new LiveWire is available for
preorder at an eyebrow-raising $NZ53,995. It is only available from EV-specific H-D outlets (which will also have fast charging facilities), and deliveries
begin after September.
LiveWire is pretty much the antithesis to everything ever done by Harley-Davidson previously in its 117-year history. Propelled by the H-D ‘Revelation’
electric powertrain, the LiveWire motorcycle is evidently capable of hitting 100 from standstill in 3sec, haste enhanced by a single-speed transmission.
Dynamics are said to be optimized by a rigid aluminium frame, Showa adjustable suspension components and an exacting centre of gravity. Stopping duties
are handled by Brembo monoblocs. With a claimed range of 235km, performance is optimised “for the urban street rider”. Highway range falls to around
150km. A 0-80 per cent battery recharge takes 40 minutes and a complete recharge is dusted in one hour.
Owners will appreciate the braking effect of the power regeneration mode which acts to recharge the battery on the go, especially in stop-start urban traffic.
In total, there are seven selectable ride modes.
H-D says to expect little in the way of vibration, heat or noise, except at start up when the engine ‘pulses’. There’s also a tuned hum on the go.
Maintenance is minimal, with no oil to change, no spark plugs, air filter or primary drive to service. However, drive belt tension, gearbox oil, brake
fluid and brake pads, and tyres should be checked at recommended intervals. The battery has a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.
Safety systems include cornering ABS and TC, and motor torque control. A 4.3-inch colour TFT touchscreen caters to info needs. All lights are LEDs. Paint
options include Yellow and Orange Fuse, and Vivid Black.
Aftermarket options include a two-up seat and tail section, a screen blade, and a motorcycle cover with a charging cord port, amongst a host of other accessories.
Unsurprisingly, to date US sales have been mainly to older bikers, not the younger set the company wishes to attract. Analysts suggest sales of 400-1600
LiveWires this year, which is less than one per cent of H-D’s total annual sales.