Interestingly, the latest in motorcycle technology is an appeal to energy savers across the nation and across the world. Harley Davidson, which started building motorcycles in 1903, has just recently begun to showcase their latest advance in technology: the electric motorcycle. Named the LiveWire, this electric bike is not yet on sale, but is being previewed by the famous motorcycle company in order to get riders’ feedback and expectations of what they believe the electric motorcycle should be like. So far, bikers who have tested out the motorcycle have responded positively. The critics’ reviews of the latest electric vehicle technology are not as harsh as one would assume they would be.
The Project LiveWire exposition began last week in New York City, and was met with a lot of excitement from the riders who were able to test drive the new bike. Exhibitions will be held beginning this week starting on the original Route 66 and moving throughout the U.S. and Canada. They will also be taking the bike to Europe to judge its reception there as well. Harley Davidson leadership explains that the new electric motorcycle sounds like “a fighter jet landing on an aircraft carrier,” advertising a smooth yet powerful jet-like feel to the ride.
- The new LiveWire technology, though electric, is surprisingly not as weak one might think. The battery itself reportedly weighs around 250 pounds! Other features include:
- Lightweight bike frame (the case that surrounds the battery only weighs 14 pounds)
- Hollow spokes and light, aluminum wheel frames
- Sleek look (There is no exhaust system, so it allows the bike to take on a tighter, more stream-lined look). Most of the driving components cannot be seen from the outside.
- Quick acceleration: The bike is advertised as being able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds!
- Three-phase AC induction motor which, though quieter than gas-engines, is not too quiet.
- Top speed of 92 mph (governed)
- 74 horsepower
- 52 foot-pounds of torque
- Lithium battery with 53-mile range that takes about 3.5 hours to recharge
- Regenerative brakes
Critics and Questions
Electric technology is still relatively new, especially when used with motorcycles. But, as new as it is, it is especially new to Harley Davidson. The Milwaukee-based company is known for producing bikes with a “bigger is better” mentality. The tougher, the stronger, the louder, the better. So when Harley Davidson announced Project LiveWire, this came as a bit of a shock to the Harley Davidson faithful. Since the company announced the new project, critics have questioned the direction that Harley Davidson is going.
LiveWire is certainly not the first electric motorcycle to be produced (Zero and Brammo are two major examples), but it is the first produced by Harley Davidson. Critics question whether the bike will hold up on long rides. Though it may turn out to be a better city bike used to commute and tackle heavy traffic rather than a tour bike to take on long rides, the LiveWire still offers an exciting upside to motorcycle technology and insight into where that technology may take us in the future.
Photo: Harley Davidson