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February 11th, 2019

The Hog that went Electric: Harley Davidson Livewire

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Written by: Eli Petrov
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Project Livewire initially started started in 2014 as a prototype. It was a test to gauge the interest of the public and potential consumer towards a new technology , an electric motorcycle from Harley-Davidson aimed for urban commuters. They went on a tour demonstrating the motorcycle and collecting feedback. HD decided to continue working on the project and bring it to the market for production. Due to it being electric, and having no gears to shift, it is easy to ride and has instant torque. This bike will propel you to 60 in 3.5 seconds and will keep you on the streets for 110 miles before you need to stop for a charge. Obviously with this type of range, it won’t before those that like to take road trips. The to keep the center gravity optimal, the motor is mounted low within a rigid aluminum frame. Along, with dual disc Brembo brakes, and an adjustable suspension, the Livewire is made to perform and be a fun bike to ride. Let’s get this out of the way early, the big question is “how much will it cost?” As of now the price is set at $29,000. It obviously isn’t for everybody, but before you assume anything, learn more about this machine and what it means for them in innovation as a motorcycle manufacturer.

According to HD, the Livewire is powered by a permanent magnet electric motor. We know typical Harley’s will be heard long before their seen.  You might think since it is electric you won’t be able to here the motorcycle coming down the road, if that’s the case, you are wrong. This bike produces a loud noise, that, well, sounds electric! The noise it produces sounds louder as speed increase.

For chassis and suspension, there is an aluminum frame along with powertrain as a stressed member to increase structural rigidity. For shocks, the engineers have chosen to source some fully adjustable units from Showa. According to Harley “ The Showa® BFRC-lite® (Balanced Free Rear Cushion-lite) mono-shock rear suspension is complimented by Showa SFF-BP® (Separate Function Fork-Big Piston®) up front, balanced to match the performance and adjustability of the rear shock and deliver exceptional low-speed damping control – ideal for composed control in typical urban riding conditions.” Harley has been labeled as low tech and low performing, as you see, they are working on changing that perception.

The motorcycle uses a 12v lithium ion battery to power accessories, and for the motor RESS (Rechargeable Energy Storage System). To charge, someone can extend a cable under the seat to a house wall plug. For faster charging a level two or three, DC fast charge can be used at public charging stations. In place of analog gauges, there is a 4.2in touchscreen that displays information. Rider assist aids featured are antilock brakes and electronic traction control The motorcycle is can be synced with a smartphone using the H-D connect app. Using the app, riders can remotely check to monitor the range as the bike is being charged, help riders find charging stations, send notification if the bike has been moved or bumped.

Just as the V-Twin engine was a major visual component in the HD’s traditional motorcycles, the electric motor, that is cast aluminum and featuring cooling fins, is displayed on the livewire. By the looks of it, Harley Davidson brought on some extremely talented surface designers to work on this project. The bike’s design does not look out of this world or futuristic. It is modern but tasteful. It has traditionally shaped tank that flows into the rider’s seat, which raises up and sharpens at the very end of the passenger’s section. A rear fender tightly hugs the higher performance michelins that this machine is equipped with. If you’re worried you won’t be able to kick it into gear and wake up your neighbors on a Sunday morning, don’t worry Harley is still making the classic hogs they’ve been known for.  It’s exciting seeing the Classic American manufacturer, Harley Davidson developing in regards to design and engineering.

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