Was it worth the long wait?
Harley-Davidson has been teasing its first electric motorcycle, the Livewire, since dinosaurs roamed the earth. We first rode it way back in 2014. It featured prominently in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but seemed as much a part of Marvel's fantasy world as the superheroes themselves. Harley has been teasing us about the Livewire for at least five years now, showing it off from time to time but never giving us any more significant information about it, even at the 115th-anniversary opportunity. That ends today, however.
Today's news came not at a motorcycle show, but at CES 2019, which focuses more on electronics and technology. Vehicles have become a much bigger part of the show in recent years, though, as the line between them and high-tech gadgetry becomes more and more blurred. Not only was the Livewire there in all its glory, but Harley also showed off prototypes of an electric dirt bike and scooter, as well as a concept drawing for four potential models. We'll write about these in another article.
Finally, we get some official specifications of the Livewire's performance. It'll do 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The range will be about 110 miles. It will charge off any standard household outlet at Level 1, as well as support Level 3 fast charging. H-D did not provide any charge times. But it did provide a price: $29,799. You can now look up a dealer that will be able to sell you the Livewire on H-D's website.
There's still a great deal that we don't know—the size of the battery or the power of the electric motor, for example. Harley's always a little bit cagey about ratings like this anyway. The Zero SR is known to have a similar 120 mile mixed city/highway range with a 14.4-kilowatt-hour battery. The Livewire is probably a bit heavier than the SR, so we could be looking at a low to mid-teens kilowatt-hour battery. The range is not out of line with other comparable electric bikes, but certainly short of a typical Harley touring bike. You'll be hard-pressed to finish your poker or toy runs on the Livewire.
While performance specs are scarce, we do have lots of information about the H-D Connect Service, "an LTE-enabled Telematics Control Unit coupled with connectivity and cloud services using the latest version of the Harley-Davidson App." The bike will be connected to the cloud. Owners can check the battery charge and expected range remotely, know where it is and if it's been tampered with or moved, and automatically receive service reminders. Perhaps this is why the Livewire was revealed at an electronics show rather than a motorcycle show.
Finally, since a giant part of the Harley experience is the sound, the Livewire promises "a new signature Harley-Davidson sound as it accelerates and gains speed. This new futuristic sound represents the smooth, electric power of the LiveWire motorcycle." We don't know if this will be the turbine whoosh of KITT from Knight Rider or a modernized version of the classic "potato-potato" sound. What we do know is that unlike other Harleys, adding loud pipes to the Livewire won't help amplify the sound.