RideFast October 2019


SA's best motorcycle magazine

Harley-Davidson—it looks more European

than American. LED lights add more to this

European look, especially the rear brake light,

headlight, and front blinkers. The LiveWire

appears to have a gas tank, though that area

serves as the location of the charging port.

When you plug it in, the plug is where one

would traditionally fill up on fuel.

with a softer throttle response and more

regenerative engine braking. Customizing

the maps is simple due to the touchsensitive

4.3-inch TFT color dash. For

example, adjusting the traction control is just

done by sweeping a finger from low to high.

12. The ergonomics are typical of an

upright naked sportbike, the LiveWire

placing you in a slightly forward-leaning

position. It’s just enough for sporty ergos,

but not enough where it puts weight on the

wrists while riding. The handlebars are wide,

which assist in easy maneuverability during

slower parking-lot speeds and through

city traffic. The setup was comfy for my

nearly six-foot frame and 32-inch inseam,

though long stretches of miles would have

me moving around a bit to get comfortable.

The 30.7-inch high seat allows for limited

movement during longer rides. Again, this

motorcycle is optimized for in-town riding.

13. Harley also went premium with

Showa suspension components, which

assisted in sharp, sport-like handling.

The LiveWire has with a 43mm inverted

Separate Function Fork – Big Piston (SFF-BP)

and a Balance Free Rear Cushion Lite (BFRClite)

shock. I didn’t feel a need to adjust

suspension, though it was a bit harsh on

bumpier in-town sections. The chassis holds

a sharp line during cornering, and is stable

under heavy braking and acceleration.

14. Also attributing to the stellar

handling are the Michelin Scorcher Sport

tyres, which allow for easy turn-in due to

their high-performance sidewall design.

Shod on 17-inch cast aluminum five-spoke

wheels that look very Marchesini-ish, the

sizes are 120/70 and 180/55. This means

you’ll have plenty of options available to you

should the Michelin’s not meet your needs.

15. Harley-Davidson chose Brembo

brakes for the LiveWire. A four-piston

monoblock caliper squeezes a 300mm disc

up front, and a two-piston caliper out back

modulates the rear 260mm disc. The front

brake has an easy pull on the brake lever and

precise engagement for smooth trail braking.

Speaking of the latter, I quickly stopped

trail braking, and relied on the regenerative

engine braking to slow the bike down in

corners. The LiveWire’s chassis settles

quickly, allowing me to maintain a smooth

line when cornering either before or after

heavy braking.

16. Though electric, Harley includes a

“Haptic Pulse” that reminds riders there’s

still a Harley engine beneath them.

Activated by the magnets in the Revelation

engine, the LiveWire delivers a subtle

pulsing—like a heartbeat that lets you know

the engine is truly alive. Remember nudging

your friend’s rear tire at a stop? That is what

it feels like—someone is lightly tapping the

rear of the bike as you sit at a light or any

other stop. You can deactivate it through your

dealership, or set it on high or low pulsing.

The Haptic Pulse stops once riding and is only

felt while stopped to reproduce an idling feel.

It’s a good reminder that the engine is on.

17. Some don’t like the look of a large

battery within a motorcycle, so Harley-

Davidson’s design team focuses your

attention on the engine below the battery

through some sleek flowing of lines and

the silver engine bottom. The tailpiece

is sporty and clean, especially the bar that

appears like a horseshoe over the rear tire

and connecting to the swingarm. This holds

the brake light, license plate, and rear turn

signals; the skinny brake light is especially

attractive. When viewing the LiveWire from

behind, you would never recognize it was a

19. The LiveWire is H-D Connect

compatible, which allows you to

download an app (iOS or Android) and

connect the motorcycle directly to the

app. The app allows riders to check various


• Motorcycle status (battery status and

available range, riding mode, riding stats)

• Enhanced security (bike location, if anyone

is tampering with it, suspected stolen alert)

• Charging status and notifications (battery

charging percentage, Level 3 charging

station locations)

• Service reminders and notifications

20. Harley-Davidson has not provided

any production numbers. Starting in

September, the 2020 LiveWire will be

available in 250 worldwide authorized

dealerships, with 150 of those in America.

Each of these dealerships will have a

minimum of one trained LiveWire mechanic

and salesperson, along with a free Level 3

charging station.

21. Harley-Davidson says the

LiveWire’s battery has a five-year,

unlimited mileage warranty. H-D says

the longevity of the battery is ten years,

depending on how much it’s used. Also, the

LiveWire comes with 500 kW of free charging

at Electrify America fast-charging stations,

though you only have two years to use it.

22. In targeting the typical EV

purchaser—think of the culture of the

typical Tesla owner—Harley-Davidson

nailed it. Harley-Davidson unapologetically

markets the LiveWire towards a new

demographic of well-to-do riders—ones

of diversity in mostly urban areas and are

willing to go against the status quo. The

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire is built

for prospective customers with other

luxury items in their lives, such as clothing,

technology-driven homes, and, of course,

four-wheeled EVs. This premium motorcycle

does what’s needed and has enough power

and comfort to appease various levels of

riding, from in-town commuting to spirited

twisty-road ripping.


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