2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review – First Ride

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire

Editor Score: 81.75%

Engine 19.zero/20
Suspension/Handling 12.zero/15
Transmission/Clutch 10/10
Brakes 9.5/10
Instruments/Controls Four.25/5
Ergonomics/Comfort eight.zero/10
Appearance/Quality 9.zero/10
Desirability 7.zero/10
Value three.zero/10
Overall Score 81.75/100

To consider the 2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire, it is advisable to let go of every little thing you already know – and every little thing you assume you already know – about Harley-Davidson. The haters will cry that is a solution to a query no person requested, instinctually sh*tting throughout Harley for seemingly alienating its core, inner combustion, buyer (simply take a look at our Facebook put up for proof).

But the truth is The Motor Company (truly, the motorcycle business as an entire) is in want of some new blood to exchange its ageing core of riders. And, whether or not you prefer it or not, it’s additionally no secret that the electrification of transportation and private mobility are the best way of the longer term. Now, earlier than you stand up in arms, know this: Harley-Davidson isn’t turning its again on its conventional inner combustion bikes.

But as any good monetary advisor would inform you, it’s good to diversify. Which is why, along with its line of cruisers and baggers, we’re going to see a big and distinctly totally different lineup from Harley-Davidson within the coming years, together with Adventure bikes, Streetfighters, and sure, electrics.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

It nonetheless sounds bizarre to say, however that is an electrical Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Now, it’s very uncommon for the CEO of a producer – not to mention Harley-Davidson – to attend a press introduction for a brand new mannequin, and but there Matt Levatich stood in entrance of us. He took the stage and addressed the assembled crowd of journalists to emphasise how critical he and the corporate are to creating the following era of riders globally, to shift mindsets, and to draw present and future riders of all ages. Livewire is the halo product to prepared the ground ahead for a lineup of Harley EVs to return.

So yeah, this bike is fairly vital to The Bar-and-Shield Brand.

An All New Motor Company

If you’ve been conserving observe of the E-moto area then you definately’re little question accustomed to Livewire. The first prototype of the machine was inbuilt 2012, and since then, 33 bikes similar to it have been produced – at nice expense to the corporate – and brought all throughout the globe in an initiative that amounted to an enormous focus group higher often called the Project Livewire Experience. Hell, we even bought the prospect to journey the bike a number of years in the past.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

Former MO E-i-C, Kevin Duke, may be seen right here on a prototype Livewire from the Project Livewire Experience. The 2020 Livewire isn’t in any respect the identical. Compare and distinction with the picture above and a few variations embrace the variety of brake rotors, headlight cowling (or lack thereof), motor, battery, shrouding, and the tail part.

What you see right here is a completely totally different motorcycle to Project Livewire, says Chief Engineer Glen Koval, and whereas it seems very comparable, it doesn’t have a single shared half. This familiarity was intentional as a result of, as Koval defined, the design of the bike is crucial to Harley-Davidson, and H-D design facilities across the motor. At least now, the design transient may be grammatically right. Look a little bit nearer at outdated and new Livewires and refined variations will reveal themselves.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

This beast of a battery is what Harley calls the Renewable Energy Storage System.

Positioned low and contrasted by its silver coloration, the liquid-cooled inner everlasting magnet motor – codenamed the H-D Revelation Motor – is a focus for the attention and produces a claimed 105 hp (78 kW) and 86 lb-ft of torque the second you twist the throttle. Housed above it’s the RESS – Renewable Energy Storage System – or battery to you and me. Rated at 13.6 okayWh nominal (15.5 okayWh max), Harley stands behind it with a guaranty of 5 years with no mileage restrict. Even past that five-year span, H-D believes the battery will final the lifetime of the motorcycle. Its air-cooled aluminum housing acts as a giant warmth sink, whereas the fins serve double-duty for cooling and making an attempt to recapture that finned aesthetic so acquainted on Harley’s V-Twins. It’s rated at 146 metropolis miles, in line with the MIC commonplace, and 95 miles mixed metropolis/freeway, which is a extra reasonable quantity. Of course, anybody with a heavy proper hand could make these numbers fall means down.

Interesting factor in regards to the battery: Weighing in at roughly 215 lbs, the RESS is an enormous construction positioned centrally within the motorcycle. Using it as a load-bearing member of the chassis means it soaks up a lot of the lateral motion of a standard body. Koval and his group took benefit of this and designed the aluminum “frame” (it’s extra like a construction) round it to have extremely skinny partitions, making it so gentle you might choose it up with one hand. Look nearer and also you’ll see there isn’t a single weld on the body or swingarm. Instead there are a collection of bolts. Koval revealed this was the important thing to creating the Livewire platform modular to provide future fashions. Remove the six bolts securing the top inventory, change it with a distinct one with altered geometry angles, and you’ve got a completely new entrance finish. Swapping elements may be performed all through the bike, basically making an erector set motorcycle.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

Bolts, not welds, are what maintain the thin-walled Livewire body intact. At the fore of the photograph you possibly can see three of the six bolts conserving the top inventory (left) in place. Pop out the outdated, pop within the new, and you’ve got a brand new motorcycle!

Harley might have a degree about motors being central to the corporate, however to me, my eye is first drawn to the fake gas tank. In this case, it’s the cost port housing. A contemporary tackle the basic Peanut tank, the filler cap opens to disclose each a J1772 and DC quick cost port. Using the latter, a depleted battery can attain 80% cost in 40 minutes. A full top-off takes an hour. The slowest charging methodology – the offered Level 1 charger that plugs into your commonplace family wall outlet and is saved below the seat – will take about 10 hours to replenish a useless battery.

From there, componentry is extra acquainted. Showa offers the suspension with the SFF-BP fork and Balance Free Rear Cushion-lite shock (each totally adjustable), with Brembo supplying braking energy with two 300mm discs and radial-mount, four-pot calipers. Co-branded Michelin Scorcher tires contact the bottom in widespread sizes: 120/70-17 entrance, 180/55-17 rear.

What you possibly can’t see is the Livewire’s RDRS, or Reflex Defensive Riding System, in any other case often called digital rider aids, as is changing into extra prevalent in motorcycling. Based on a Bosch six-axis IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) programmed with proprietary Harley-Davidson software program, this enables for Cornering ABS, Cornering Enhanced Traction Control, Rear Wheel Lift Mitigation, and a Drag Torque Slip Control System; basically stopping rear wheel lock from regenerative braking (say, on a moist highway or on slick surfaces) – consider it as an digital model of a slipper clutch.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

The touchscreen TFT show is evident and informative, and Harley even says it really works with gloved palms, although my gloved palms would say in any other case. Self-cancelling flip indicators are cool, however why has Harley reverted again to placing the flip indicators on either side?!

Livewire comes with a complete of seven totally different journey modes – 4 preset and three customizable by the person. The 4 presets are Sport, Road, Rain, and Range. Judging by the names it is best to have the ability to inform how every meters energy, however what isn’t immediately apparent is the quantity of regenerative braking every is ready to. Sport, Road, and Range supply quantities that might really feel immediately acquainted to anybody coming from fuel bikes. Rain mode limits regen to assist keep away from the rear wheel getting free (as a result of TC doesn’t work off-throttle, keep in mind?).

Finally, there’s H-D Connect. Being a product aimed in the direction of youthful, extra prosperous prospects, these identical individuals are additionally extra tech-savvy. With H-D Connect, the subscription-based interface makes use of mobile connectivity to connect with an app to offer the proprietor motorcycle standing, charging standing, notifications, cost station areas, service reminders and updates, and might even notify the proprietor if somebody is tampering with their bike and observe it if somebody does determine to roll away with it. Livewire’s TFT touchscreen show additionally has Bluetooth connectivity to sync together with your cellphone and supply turn-by-turn navigation and music/name info on to the display screen.

A Harley That Doesn’t Make A Sound

With all of the hype and tech stuff out of the best way, what actually issues is what the Livewire is prefer to journey. Portland, Oregon was the chosen locale by Harley for a number of causes: First, in line with Harley reps, there’s a excessive inhabitants of EV house owners on this space, which results in the second level: DC quick charging networks are quickly rising right here. And third, our 65(ish)-mile journey would embody the environments Harley envisions Livewire house owners occupying; a slog by means of town to get to the twisty roads en path to work.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

Livewire’s ahead bend isn’t too excessive, however the journey does really feel a little bit harsh, at the least for lighter riders. An fascinating characteristic is the Haptic Pulse, or “heartbeat,” of the motorcycle at a cease. Basically, when Livewire isn’t transferring, it’ll ship a pulse from the magnet spinning across the rotor that looks like a heartbeat each second or so. The vendor can set it to excessive, low, or flip it off fully. Our take a look at bikes have been set to low, and personally, it felt gimmicky; as if somebody was behind me bumping my rear tire each second or two.

Hopping on, my preliminary impression was how slender the Livewire is. This undoubtedly ain’t your common Harley. The rider triangle sits the rider a little bit ahead, however and not using a windscreen it’s simply sufficient to chop by means of the wind at larger speeds with out feeling like an excessive amount of of a sail.

Like all electrics, the intoxicating a part of the journey is twisting the throttle. It’s no totally different with the Livewire; twist your wrist (particularly in Sport mode) and grasp on for expensive life, as a result of this factor will rip your arms off. Acceleration is mindblowing, and if you happen to’re courageous sufficient to look down on the clear and vibrant TFT gauges, the speedo will skip a number of numbers on the best way to triple digits. Eventually the thoughts adapts to the thrust, will get used to the silence, and begins to understand the convenience of twist-and-go bikes, which then affords the mind some room to note different issues.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

For instance, Livewire’s journey high quality is considerably shocking. It felt as if I might really feel the tires rolling over the pavement, with every little imperfection transmitting itself by means of the tires and to the bars within the type of buzz by means of the bars. Suspension compliance at each ends felt a little bit harsh, too, although it appeared as if (at the least for the shock) there wasn’t a lot preload dialed in. Too stiff a spring perhaps? Weird, contemplating most inventory spring charges are spec’d for 150-pound small dudes like Yours Truly, however perhaps H-D sprung the bike for the (heavier) common American as an alternative. Nonetheless, on clean pavement the Livewire rewards the rider who flows by means of the corners. Try to power the 549-pound bike and it’ll protest, primarily by displaying a slight tendency to wish to stand whereas path braking. Bikes this heavy shouldn’t be manhandled anyway.

Initially I used to be apprehensive the comparatively small 300mm rotors wouldn’t be as much as the duty of slowing this heavy bike down repeatedly. However, in Sport mode (the mode I stored it in solely) regen is ready to roughly 80%, and after a little bit of experimenting, you discover you possibly can merely use the regen to wash velocity for a nook with out touching the brakes in any respect. At gradual speeds you possibly can even regen all the best way to a cease. So, if you find yourself a little bit too sizzling, regen blended with a small dab on the Brembos ought to set you proper. Of course, if you happen to’re the kind who prefers freewheeling, setting the regen to a decrease setting will imply extra work for the Brembos.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

After 65 or so miles fully in Sport mode, and with me abusing the battery with a heavy proper wrist at each alternative, my Livewire confirmed 22% battery remaining. Had I ridden like a standard, sane particular person, I really feel pretty assured the rated 95 mixed metropolis miles could be attainable.

The Dawn Of A New Era

Of course, treating the Livewire like a sportbike is kinda lacking the purpose. Harley-Davidson would love you to imagine Livewire isn’t for an present “type” of rider. It’s for somebody who desires a premium electrical motorcycle.

And that is the place I see an issue.

In all equity, the Livewire is an excellent electrical motorcycle, deserving of the premium standing Harley-Davidson has thrust upon it. It checks all of the packing containers a top-shelf electrical ought to: brutal energy, beauty, acceptable vary, fast-charging functionality, and tech-heavy options. But right here’s the factor: At practically $30,000 ($29,799), it prices mainly as a lot because the Energica Eva, which rings in between $21,656 – $30,443 (However, this excessive worth contains each choice Energica has obtainable for it, together with baggage, covers, and anodized bolts. Opt for simply the efficiency choices and also you’re taking a look at $28,190).

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

More importantly, it’s considerably dearer than the Zero SR/F ($18,995 – $23,295), which some would say is the standard-bearer within the class. It has a lot of the identical tech, charging, and efficiency options, and arguably handles higher. Regardless which of the three you want higher, the barrier to entry is excessive, which means those that can cross it are an extremely small group.

But what’s worst of all for electrical bikes (at the least as of this writing) is the dearth of federal incentives to offset this massive preliminary price, relegating these machines to the prosperous few who think about themselves early adopters and really need an electrical motorcycle. To assist offset this, all licensed Harley-Davidson Livewire sellers (of which there are roughly 250 globally at press time, 150 within the U.S.) will supply free DC quick charging for 2 years to all Livewire house owners. Further, Harley will present U.S. Livewire house owners with 500 okayWh free charging in any respect Electrify America DCFC stations. That comes out to about 40 expenses.

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Review

Ultimately you both just like the Livewire otherwise you don’t. It doesn’t essentially do something flawed, however it doesn’t blow the class away, thus making it arduous to justify the fee over the competitors. But give Harley credit score for lastly getting within the sport. This might be the jump-start the business wants.

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