Europe got its first glimpse of H-D®’s new production electric motorcycle at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show
Harley-Davidson® managed to infiltrate the four-wheeled extravaganza of the Geneva Motor Show this year with its new LiveWire™ electric motorbike, orders for which open in April, with first deliveries at the end of the year.
Although the two-wheeled machine stood out among all the cars, LiveWire was very much on-trend, its powertrain fitting in with the electrification theme of much of what was on display at the show.
The origins of LiveWire – which has existed in prototype form since 2014 – lie not only in the obvious need to minimise the effects of all vehicle emissions on the environment, but also in a realisation of how personal mobility is changing. Harley-Davidson took a step back, looked at trends in transportation and came to the belief that electric vehicles are the way forward.
It demonstrated and tested LiveWire prototypes extensively to get as much feedback as possible. As Marc McAllister, the company’s vice-president of consumer portfolio management, told us: “We had more than 10,000 people ride Project LiveWire motorcycles – the media, the general public, as well as dealers and customers.
“The most exciting thing was the acceptance of the idea of an electric Harley-Davidson and the excitement from the general public that we might do something like Project LiveWire. That gave us the confidence to continue to invest and deliver a great experience.
“Of course, you get the feedback on general concerns around EVs, about range and the long-term quality of the vehicle. I can tell you neither are a concern with the LiveWire product.”
Every inch a Harley
The raw statistics of the LiveWire make it quite clear that this is a special machine – by any measure, not just in the context of EVs. A 0-60mph time of under 3.5 seconds and a range of 220km (137 miles) per charge make it obvious that this is a motorcycle for bikers everywhere. And it’s every inch a Harley-Davidson.
“Engineered from the ground up by Harley-Davidson to Harley-Davidson quality standards, it's going to be built in York, Pennsylvania, to our same exacting production standards, so it's a fantastic motorcycle,” McAllister said.
The electric nature of LiveWire has required the company to carefully consider the design and engineering of the bike, in order for it to fulfil all the qualities associated with a Harley-Davidson.
“The motor is really slung low, below the battery, because the motor on an electric motor is quite heavy, full of magnets. So we're bringing the heaviest part of the vehicle down low, and then the battery on top of that, to really make sure that that vehicle is well balanced. The battery itself is part of the structure of the motorcycle, to give the frame and the handling the rigidity you want. And then from there on out, it's coupling that with great motorcycle technology with a great suspension system, braking, and the beautiful dynamics.”
Designed to thrill
As the numbers suggest, the performance can be summed up in one word: thrilling.
“It's maximum torque from zero rpm, so it's fun: it will put a smile on your face, no problem. I think once you experience it for a while, you'll realise what a great motorcycle it is. It's beyond just an electric experience: it's a great ride.”
Harley-Davidson also announced at Geneva that it has bought StaCyc, a manufacturer of electric bikes for children, in an attempt to grow the next generation of riders, with McAllister telling us: “We plan on broadening the portfolio so that everyone in the family has access to a Harley-Davidson, regardless of where they are in their riding career.”