Riding the Harley Electric

Review of the Project Livewire bike.


I’m not much of a cruiser fan or even much of a Harley fan.  However when I got the opportunity to ride Harley’s electric bike I was more than pleased to slide across the saddle.


I have to admit to being a total petrol-head.  Not only do I enjoy the smell of gasoline but there is a certain thrill about riding something that sans wheels, would be considered a bomb.

There is a lot of passion and violence contained in the internal combustion engine.  This is in stark contrast to the elegance of electricity.  No fumes, no explosions; just seamless potential to kinetic transfer of energy.


The experience began with Laura and I rolling up to the Sonoma Harley Davidson dealer in a truck loaded with road race bikes.  We signed in and got to watch a video about the bikes and the ride.  We were still waiting for the previous group to return so we chatted with the harley engineers about the bikes.


The lead follow style ride was a short 5 miles and a very relaxed pace.  This didn’t really allow any testing of the bikes limits or potential.  However being as it was the first electric bike I have ridden, I was still impressed with the way it built speed.  The throttle was mapped to be particularly slow so that you could not get into too much trouble with the instant torque of the electric motor. I found this particularly odd because by the time my Suzuki would be full stop, the Harley would just start moving at a walking pace.  This did however allow for a very easily controlled low speed throttle.  No twitchyness at all.  Perfect for lane-splitting or parking lots.

The bikes were riding on adjustable Showa suspension that felt plush yet stable.  I am assuming that the traditionally Harley riders would have considered this ‘firm’.

Overall my only complaint other than the brief jaunt around the block was that the throttle tube had a lot of play in it side to side.  To my dismay they informed me that it was the same part used on all the other Harley models.

It will be interesting too see if they decide to move forward and make this into a production model.  While I can say that I would be interested in it as a commuter as-is.  If the price is in the mid-20’s as I expect that it would be, I would much rather gravitate to the far more irresponsible Yamaha R1M.  I’m sure there will be plenty of good electric bikes when I am old and slightly mellowed out.






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