Ijustwant2 ride.com

Before this past weekend I have, to the best of my knowledge, never been in the same room or on the same road as an electric motorcycle.  That changed when Harley Davidson picked me to ride one of their prototype electric motorcycles known as PROJECT LIVEWIRE.

Harley Davidson stated that these bikes are hand built proto-types to gauge the response of the public for EV motorcycles. Well, if these are hand built proto-types they are exceptionally well conceived and assembled proto-types.   I looked closely at the fit and finish of the bikes before my time to ride and was very surprised at the quality of the work, these bikes are as well done as any production motorcycle.

Ticket to ride!

Ticket to ride!

My test ride was held at the Project LIVEWIRE event at Rommel Harley Davidson, Annapolis, MD.  While anyone could show up and check out the event only pre-selected folks got to take the bikes out on the road.  Why me?  I have no idea except maybe they read this blog (LOL) and my post on what it would take for me to buy an electric motorcycle.

The event itself was well laid out by HD.  They had a display tent that had a strapped down LiveWire which allowed folks who did not get the invite to “test ride” to at least get an idea of the feel of these bikes.  The tent also had a display of HD gear, a video “safety briefing” for the test riders, and a Twitter vending machine.  The Twitter vending machine was cool, if you twitted #projectlivewire along with a code it would drop you a LiveWire key chain!

Seeing motorcycles in person is, as always, more important than seeing them in pictures or on video. While I am a cruiser and touring bike kind of guy I do appreciate the styling and good looks of many sport bikes. The LiveWire leans way closer to the sport bike side of design then it does to a cruiser. Overall I would give look of the bike a thumbs up. I liked the color scheme as it merged with the frame and how they used polished aluminum to “display” the engine.

Speaking of the engine this is another thing that the videos just don’t do the bike justice. The sound of the motor is that of a jet turbine spinning up and down, very impressive. While it is not the normal Harley sound it is unique and is very noticeable. Another thumbs up.

When the time for my ride came we were given another short safety brief on the fact that the acceleration was strong, there is no clutch and that the bike decelerates quickly when you roll off the throttle.  The deceleration is quick enough that the briefer recommended that we tap the break to let the following bikes know we are slowing. That was sound advice as it did slow more quickly than you would expect with normal engine breaking.

Ijustwant2 ride.comRolling out with a police escort it was very evident that the briefings were correct, the bike takes off with a purpose, I bet there have been a few close calls in the first few seconds during this LiveWire tour, but not in my group of four.  I did reach for the non-existent clutch once as we pulled out of the lot; luckily it was only that one time! J

On the street the bike was more nimble and solid then I expected for a proto-type.  It handled very well, not as well as a performance sport bike, but I was very aware that it would move in any way that I wanted, including a short weave through pothole. As the ride was in urban Annapolis area the roads were rough to ok at best.  The front, inverted shocks and the rear mono-shock smoothed out the ride so that I really noticed the lack of a rough ride. Stopping was firm and quick, between the disc brakes and the engine deceleration I am sure that, if one was brave enough, this bike could do a stoppie.

The most interesting and entertaining aspect of the bike is its acceleration!  There was only one spot on the ride where I could really get on it so I hung back from the group to make sure I could really hit it and when I did WOW. I rolled on the throttle hard but not to max as I was not sure what would happen based on all the safety briefings. This thing just took off the claim of 0-60 in 4 seconds has to be true. I went from about 20 MPH on the ramp to well over the speed limit (the first number might have been an 8) as fast as I could smile and exclaim WOW!

The ride itself was only about 5 miles and thus way too short to really tease out the pluses and minuses of a proto-type motorcycle. But I was interviewed, in person, and via a survey after the ride. Many of the questions asked were around many of the things I stated were part of considerations for buying an electric motorcycle. In particular HD asked about range, charging times, customization and price. I added short statements about battery life and that while I liked the look of the LiveWire, I would need to own a cruiser style bike v. a sport bike version.

My biggest disappointment was that my Go Pro camera did not work as expected.  For what ever reason I only got the last minute of the ride, as we were pulling back into the dealership.  I have no idea why it was not on, nor how it came on just as we returned…. oh well.

 

All in all I have to give HD a big thumbs up for this effort. It was very well done for a “proto-type” and its performance, in this limited exposure, exceeded my expectations. Thank you HD for allowing me to participate in Project LiveWire.

Comments
  1. […] everyone has to take notice when Harley Davidson rolls out their prototypes on a nationwide tour. I got to ride one of the bikes a few months back and I was impressed how well they performed/looked for prototype […]

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