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Quickspin Harley-Davidson LiveWire | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

Harley-Davidson’s Project LiveWire may have broken cover on the set of the latest Avengers movie, but the electric prototype is no cobbled-together movie prop/publicity stunt.

Perched atop the single seat, the rider is faced with the same working environment as a petrol-powered bike. Given Harley-Davidson’s heritage, the last thing it’s going to do is invent a motorcycle controlled by a joystick. The straight handlebar is fitted with standard switchblocks, and the only thing which looks non-H-D is the single TDF LCD touch screen – which keeps the rider informed about all the important stuff (including speed, power settings and range).

The revolutionary bike utilises an aluminium tubular frame and the suspension consists of a upside-down Showa Big Piston fork and a cantilever shock. Despite the bike being locked into Eco mode for my test ride in California, the sparky Harley’s three-phase 55kW (75hp) engine was still good for a 0-100km/h sprint in around 5.5 seconds.

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It should do it in around four seconds in Power mode. Torque is 70Nm and the range is 85km. The LiveWire is unique in its use of a longitudinally-mounted three-phase AC induction electric motor, which drives the rear wheel via a single-speed bevel gear and belt. Harley claims the sound of the motor resembles a fighter jet. I’d say it’s a little whinier than that. Most surprising is the way the bike feels and handles like a conventional motorcycle.

Harley claims the sound of the motor resembles a fighter jet. I’d say it’s a little whinier than that

None of the components feel like a compromise between quality, lightness and appearance. The suspension is firm and comfortable, easily managing the LiveWire’s 200kg-plus weight, while soaking up the bumps. The single front disc brake and twin-piston caliper provide strong bite, with stopping assisted by the electric motor’s regenerative braking.

Other than the odd feeling of pulling away from a standing start in silence, and the weird sensation of your left hand fingers instinctively reaching for the non-existent clutch, it takes very little time to get comfortable and confident on the LiveWire. Its drop-down handlebar, rearset footpegs and single racer-style seat allow you to cradle the machine like a nimble café racer. Flicking it into a corner and powering out the other side is super-easy and the bike’s a seriously fun thing to ride.

ENGINE

Configuration Brushless electric motor
Power Source Lithium-ion battery
Controller Three-phase AC induction, regenerative deceleration
Cooling Passively air-cooled
Power 55kW @ 1rpm (claimed)
Torque 70Nm @ 1rpm (claimed)

TRANSMISSION

Type Clutchless direct drive
Final drive Carbon belt

CHASSIS

Frame material Cast aluminium
Frame layout Trellis
Rake Not given
Trail Not given

SUSPENSION

Showa Front: USD Big Piston fork, fully adjustable
Rear: Cantilever shock, fully adjustable

WHEELS/TYRES

Wheels Aluminium, hollow spoke
Front: 18-inch Rear: 17-inch
Tyres Michelin Front: 120/70ZR18
Rear: 180/55ZR17

BRAKES

Front: Single disc, two-piston caliper
Rear: Single disc, single-piston caliper

DIMENSIONS

Weight 210kg (claimed)
Seat height Not given
Max width Not given
Max height Not given
Wheelbase Not given
Fuel capacity Not applicable

PERFORMANCE

Fuel consumption Not applicable
Top speed 150km/h (limited)

CONTACT & SALES INFO

Testbike Harley-Davidson USA www.harley-davidson.com.au
COLOUR options black
Warranty Not applicable
Price NA

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This article appears in AMCN Vol64 No06