Baldy Experiences Harley Davidson's Latest Electric Innovation, the LiveWire Motorcycle

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Derek Larke

Initially skeptical about Harley's LiveWire, I was surprised by its departure from traditional Harley aesthetics. The V-Rod, a personal favorite for its beauty, didn't fare well in sales, possibly due to its unconventional Harley design.

Harley's promotional photo of the LiveWire intrigued me, though it seemed atypical for the usual Harley enthusiast. The absence of the iconic Harley rumble was notable. It raised questions about electric motorcycle startups like Tesla, which have been pioneering in the electric vehicle space.

Joe Gustafson, Harley-Davidson's PR Lead with a background in motorcycle journalism, faced my barrage of questions about classic Harleys. His expertise shone as we discussed the satin chrome and polished aluminum of traditional models.

The unveiling of the LiveWire, set in stealth mode at the dealership, was a stark contrast to the photos. Its tangible quality and finishes were unexpectedly impressive. The bike accommodated both my 6'4" stature and Vilen's 5'7" frame comfortably. The absence of a clutch and gearshift was disorienting, a stark deviation from my ingrained motorcycling habits.

The LiveWire's acceleration capabilities were tantalizing, especially considering the nearby Oakland hills. Vilen, a designer, admired the bike's satin paint and the cast aluminum frame's elegant design.

Charging options included a standard SAE Combo CCS connector and a Level 1 charger for home use, promising fast charging times at any Harley Davidson dealer in Ontario. The "tank" was actually a housing unit for the bike's electronics and charger. The high-voltage wiring, sealed and sourced from a third party, was conspicuously orange, matching the industry standard for high voltage lines rather than the bike's color.

Joe and Josh's national preview tour for the LiveWire, featuring a specially designed semi-trailer, was a part of their promotional strategy. The bike's weight remained undisclosed, but my guess hovered around 525-575 pounds, especially considering the size of the battery, which resembled a four-cylinder engine.

I value the auditory experience of riding, usually preferring a subtle rumble. Harley addressed this by engineering a distinctive electric turbine sound, which I found appealing. The bike's craftsmanship, especially in the light fixtures and finishing touches, was evident upon closer inspection.

While the satin paint was beautiful, I pondered if a silver and black design with red highlights would be more appealing. The LiveWire's price tag, at $29,799, is steep, but considering its appeal to a tech-savvy crowd, especially in places like Silicon Valley, it could find its niche. As an adventure rider with diverse tastes, I'd consider renting the LiveWire for city explorations.