Quick Ride: 2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire

THE LiveWire, the highly anticipated fully electric halo bike from Harley-Davidson, has finally hit Australian roads, with its official media launch this week giving us an opportunity to hop on board and hit the streets in silence.

That statement in and of itself doesn’t sound very Harley-Davidson. There’s no iconic trademark potato potato thump to scare the neighbours or make the dogs bark. Instead the LiveWire is powered by an electric motor.

Harley-Davidson describes its newest ride as a premium offering, with a $49,995 ride away price tag to go with it, and looks set to launch additional electric models to sit below the LiveWire, and expand its offerings in this unique space.

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For those a little apprehensive about this whole move to EVs, we can tell you that riding the LiveWire is an absolute blast, albeit a little surreal without the traditional Harley-Davidson soundtrack.

It’s the combination of everything that’s great about Harley-Davidson, paired with the goodness of naked sports bikes, to create a futuristic machine with instantaneous throttle response and smooth power delivery.

The LiveWire feels much more capable than the 105hp (78kW) that it boasts. There are no gears to flick through that can interrupt the torquey goodness either. It can sprint from 0–100km/h in 3.0 seconds.

The fun that can be had trying to achieve that resulted in many a loud giggle under this rider’s helmet. It’s in its element somewhere north of suburban speed limits, that’s for sure.

Regenerative braking is also a new sensation, and one that’s key to the LiveWire’s usability. Braking as you roll off the throttle is much more abrupt than a normal motorcycle, but throttle control is good and easy to get used too.

Our press ride took us from Lane Cove, across the Harbour Bridge and to Brighton Le Sands, giving us the chance to experience just how nimble and light the LiveWire is. At 251kg, it’s certainly a lightweight when compared to other Harley-Davidson models.

From there it was off to Cronulla and the opportunity to test the various ride modes (Range is the default), with Road mode providing increased performance and throttle response. There’s also Sports, Rain and three custom modes to choose from.

Post lunch, it was time to cut loose in Sports mode on our way to Kurnell, where the true capabilities of LiveWire, and its performance heart, became apparent. It’s a very impressive experience to say the least.

We had the full gamut of road conditions thanks to city traffic on our way back to Sydney, and the electric Harley-Davidson handled itself well, no matter the scenario. It’s quite simply, a tonne of fun to ride.

Fitted with Brembo brakes and Michelin Sport Scorcher tyres, as well as Harley-Davidson’s RDRS system, the overall package works very well. It will be interesting to see what the bike’s like to live with over a longer period, particularly when it comes to charging.

The lithium-ion batteries installed in the LiveWire will come with a 5-year warranty, whilst the motorcycle itself will get the standard 2–year Harley-Davidson new bike warranty. Scheduled servicing is expected to follow normal protocols too.

The 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire is available in Yellow Fuse, Orange Fuse and of course Vivid Black. All accredited Harley Davidson EV dealers will have a DC battery charger installed onsite.

Harley-Davidson are targeting the LiveWire at early adopters as well as traditional Harley-Davidson owners. In no way is this bike aimed at replacing touring or Softail models, but is seen as a way of enticing newer buyers to the brand as well.

The bike’s maximum claimed range is 253km, dependent on the physical characteristics of the rider, wind, riding style and ride mode. Considering Australia’s poor vehicle charging infrastructure, it could make life interesting for new owners.

Our 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia as part of a one-day media launch event. Pictures courtesy of Mark Watson.

Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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