Of all the new Harley-Davidsons we’ve seen in the past few months, the LiveWire is arguably the most forward thinking. For a brand that trades on American muscle, 115 years of heritage and that ‘potato potato’ sound, the whole project is a huge leap into the unknown.
Now at this year's Eicma Milan Motorcycle Show, Harley have unveiled further details to their 2019 LiveWire, available to pre-order in January.
Harley-Davidson LiveWire top features
Top spec: The LiveWire clearly has performance in mind as it's fitted with Brembo monoblock front brake calipers gripping dual 300mm discs and fully-adjustable Showa suspension front and rear.
To increase confidence in the ride, the machine is also fitted with ABS and traction control, both of which come as standard. Also included are co-branded Harley/Michelin Scorcher tyres - 180mm at the rear and 120mm up front. You can also tailor the performance of the LiveWire with seven rider modes, with four predetermined by Harley and three customisable by the rider.
Fill ‘er up: Powered by a small 12-volt lithium-ion battery, the LiveWire can be fast charged through the tank, or you can charge it from a wall socket with the leads under the seat.
Get connected: The full-colour TFT dash has connectivity in mind, so it can pair with a phone over Bluetooth for calls, music, mapping and bike diagnostics.
The specs: No word from Harley on range, power or price yet but they have promised that it will come with all the latest rider aids and that it will be powerful enough for you to need them. What we do know is the LiveWire features a Rechargeable Energy Storage System composed of lithium-ion cells, which lives in a cast-aluminum case, lined with cooling fins.
Twist and go: The LiveWire has a twist and go transmission through a step down gearbox, which Harley-Davidson think will make it more appealing to non-riders. The LiveWire's permanent magnet electric motor will also produce instant torque the moment the throttle is twisted.
"This is a big moment for us because our engineers have been working away on it for years and now they finally get to show it to the public," says Paul James, Director of Programme Management. "It’s kind of a relief in many ways. We’ve done so much work to move it on.
"A lot of people are looking at it and thinking – 'hey I rode that bike two years ago' – well this one is a next generation vehicle. It shares very few parts with the LiveWire from four years ago.
"One big step forward is the connectivity, so as well as phone connectivity such as calls and mapping it will also pair with your phone to tell you when it’s done charging."
It’s not all about Bluetooth and WiFi though – there’s still good old fashioned power too.
"We went to great lengths to ensure the air-cooling fins on the power pack were just right," adds James. "They’re functional, too - helping to dissipate heat when it’s going at high speed. And let me just say it’s very fast."
Reaching a broader spectrum of people
Even for a big brand like Harley-Davidson, there will be challenges in getting people to buy into electric vehicles.
"We know some of the first buyers will be existing Harley owners but in order for us to be successful, it will need to reach a broad spectrum of people. We expect some of the first adopters will be electric vehicle enthusiasts who might not be motorcycle riders right now. They’re the sort of people who want to be first, they want to be innovators and they don’t mind paying for new technology."
Harley won’t be drawn on price just yet, although looking at the final spec and finish, we wouldn’t be surprised if it was in excess of ￡30,000. There are plans for cheaper bikes in the long term though with four more electric motorcycles by 2022 that will fill in the rest of the range.
An all-new Harley-Davidson range
The below video is a preview to a series of new Harley-Davidson models, which were revealed to the world around a month ago.
With 21 new bikes planned across the next four years, including an adventure bike, sports naked and urban mobility e-bikes, the brand's change of focus is aimed squarely at attracting a newer, younger audience.
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