Update, 3/7/19: Harley-Davidson announced a longer range estimate for the LiveWire at the Geneva auto show in March, which this story has been updated to reflect. A chief electric motorcycle competitor, Zero, had just released the SR/F, with 160 miles of range and fast onboard charging.
Forget loud pipes, the latest Harley-Davidson hums decisively as the rider cranks the accelerator grip.
The iconic American motorcycle company has teased its efforts to develop an electric motorcycle for several years. Now it has committed to an on-sale date and price for its long-awaited LiveWire.
On its website, the company announced in January that the LiveWire will be available for $29,799, not including mandatory delivery charges, at Harley-Davidson dealerships starting in August.
It also released more detailed specifications about the electric motorcycle. Harley estimates the LiveWire's range at 140 miles from a lithium-ion battery pack that sits on top of the longitudinal, permanent magnet motor sitting at the bottom of the frame to lower the bike's center of gravity. The company didn't release the battery size.
A CCS Combo charge port will sit under the port where the gas cap would be on most bikes. It can give the LiveWire a full charge on a Level 3 fast-charge port in a little over a half-hour. The bike also comes with a 110-volt cord-set to charge overnight in owners' garages. Strangely, plugging into a standard Level 2 electric-car charger won't deliver any faster charge than using a standard outlet.
Harley also quotes a 0-60 mph acceleration time of less than 3.5 seconds—seriously quick, but not as quick as a Tesla Model S P100D in Ludicrous mode at a drag strip. (A bike probably doesn't need to be.)
The LiveWire's instruments sit on a full-color, 4.3-inch touchscreen that can show navigation and audio streaming information (for helmet speakers), as well as speed, remaining range, and other driving displays.
Riders can choose custom performance settings such as efficiency and "throttle" response. An adjustable Showa suspension allows riders to dial in their own settings for comfort and performance.
An H-D Connect cell phone app will allow owners to monitor charging and efficiency as well as get security alerts if the parked bike gets bumped, moved, or tampered with. It will deliver maintenance reminders and let owners set "riding challenges" for the number of miles in a day, week, or month and track their efficiency over time. Location data will show where the bike was parked and provide a tracking service if it is stolen. The bike has its own cellular data connection and the services are powered by Panasonic's cloud computing.
2019 Harley-Davidson LiveWire gauge screen
The LiveWire comes in three colors: Harley orange, yellow, and black, but buyers will have access to many of Harley-Davidson's custom features.
Bringing silent electric power to Harley-Davidson's freedom-loving base of buyers could open a few eyes to the technology's potential.