Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Project Livewire, Harley Davidson's Electric Motorcycle

    When I learned that the new Harley Davidson electric bike was going to be at our local dealer, I headed right over to sign up. Perhaps they recognized me as the noted motojournalist that I am in my dreams, but more likely there were enough rides to go around.  At any rate I was invited to come and ride the Project Livewire Electric Motorcycle. 

The Project Livewire truck set up in the Sonoma County Harley Davidson parking lot.   


  I talked to Mike Daniels, the west coast tech for the Project Livewire Experience. He said there were 33 of the hand built bikes in existence. He said there were 11 on on tour on the west coast, 11 on the east coast and 11 in Europe.
   I really liked the bike it was fast, fun and light. I had no problem transitioning from a gasoline engine to an electric motor. The bike uses regenerative braking which helped to make the bike feel like it was well under control at all times. The bike is fast and since there is no shifting it feels like the thing would accelerate forever. 
   The one thing I didn't like was the sound. Harley Davidson is obviously very concerned that the bike have a distinctive sound, a recognizable Harley signature sound. I suspect that the sound of this motorcycle is made by something other than its motor and gears. At any rate the sound of the bike was annoying. 
   So would this motorcycle sell? That's the million dollar question. If these things were as cheap as scooters, there might be one in every garage in America, but I don't see the words inexpensive and Harley Davidson often used in the same sentence.
   Poor range, the bugaboo of both electric car and electric motorcycle, is the main problem. The commuter market would probably be the place for the Livewire. Ride to work then plug in, ride home and plug in, repeat.
   Will this bike become a production bike, problematic, however the bike is already a success because of the publicity and interest it has created. It might also influence how R&D projects are viewed by the Harley Davidson Motor Company in the future.