Harley-Davidson's Livewire is not only the brand's first attempt at making a production electric motorcycle, but it's also one of the first production motorcycles from any major manufacturer to be offered for sale to the public.
How is it for a first effort? Great, but expensive. The Livewire's build quality and performance truly lives up to the hype surrounding its long gestation, but with a decidedly average list of components and an average range for an electric motorcycle, it's hard to see where Harley justifies its near-$30,000 asking price.
The heart of the Harley-Davidson Livewire is a 15.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack which is paired with a 105-horsepower electric motor and a single-speed final drive. Harley says this combination is good for a combined city/highway range of 95 miles with the capability to fast-charge the battery to 80% in 40 minutes.
Go back in time 10 years and ask anyone which major motorcycle company would someday release an electric model, and I bet nobody would have guessed it'd be Harley-Davidson. Yet here we are, it's 2020 and the LiveWire is a real bike that you can buy. But is it worth the nigh-$30,000 asking price?
To start with, it's hard to ignore how the LiveWire looks. It is -- to my eyes -- a gorgeous machine. Everything about it seems to have been considered not from the point of how it would fit in with the rest of Harley's stable, but rather, how the brand could make a definitive statement on electric motorcycles. Aesthetically, I think Harley hit that nail on the head. With its massive finned battery case riding atop the almost Hellcat-blower-like electric motor, the LiveWire is just the right mix of Americana and futurism. I think of it as being cyberpunk for boomers, but in a good way.
Being electric, it doesn't really sound like a Harley, either, something that will likely put off quite a few brand loyalists. But that doesn't mean that it lacks an audible personality. The LiveWire makes a really pleasant and surprisingly aggressive electric whirr that lives somewhere between a Star Wars speeder bike and the Jetsons' spaceship.
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