In a year of what feels like dozens of course-changing and earth-shattering announcements issuing forth from Milwaukee, H-D has added even more fuel to the fire with the European debut of the all-new LiveWire electric bike at the 2018 EICMA Show in Milan. Sure, we've seen the bike already in the States, but The Motor Company has also tossed out a few more juicy details for the upcoming model, which is set to be released in just a few months' time.
It’s teased us throughout the year with multiple pronouncements before finally unveiling a built motorcycle in Milwaukee at the company's 115th anniversary back in August, and now many of the eagerly awaited specifications on LiveWire are here at last.
The first spark behind H-D's electric motorcycle began with Project LiveWire, first revealed as a prototype in 2014 meant to gauge the potential of Harley's idea of an electric-powered motorcycle in the market. But LiveWire didn't get the actual production go-ahead until the company's announcement of an accelerated rider-building strategy (“More Roads To Harley-Davidson”) in July of 2018. And then, we finally saw a built motorcycle in Milwaukee at the company's 115th anniversary back in August.
The bike in EICMA appeared as a production-ready motorcycle, and Harley says it's looking to deliver a full portfolio of electric motorcycles by 2022. During the presentation, Vice President of Product Planning and Portfolio Marc McAllister revealed the finer details about the first electric two-wheeler from Harley-Davidson.
So what about that electric powerplant? Turns out it's a permanent magnet electric motor that produces torque the instant that throttle is twisted, no clutch or shifting required. The LiveWire's motor sits low in the frame to shift the center of gravity and improve handling at any speed, and because there's none of the rumble you'd find with an ICE, the bike is designed to emit a tone that increases in volume with speed. In a world of annoyingly quiet Priuses, it's a nice touch. Supporting the motor is a RESS (Rechargeable Energy Storage System, or the main battery) composed of lithium-ion cells surrounded by a finned, cast aluminum housing.
The powertrain is complemented by an aluminum frame, in which the motor is also a stressed member, thereby increasing rigidity. Suspending the LiveWire's form is a premium, fully adjustable Showa system, consisting of a BFRC-lite (Balanced Free Rear Cushion-lite) monoshock rear and an SFF-BP (Separate Function Fork-Big Piston) up front, which has been tuned to balance the rear shock and deliver superior low-speed damping.
Of course, you have to control the whoa too, and for that the LiveWire is outfitted with Brembo Monoblock front brake calipers and dual 300mm discs, all enhanced with an Antilock Braking System (ABS) and Traction Control System (TCS)—both are standard features.
Tech components go hand in hand with electric-anything, and here it's a color touchscreen TFT display above the handlebar to give the rider a wide range of information and allow access to Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, music, and more. The LiveWire can also be further dialed in with seven selectable riding modes—four of which are set from the factory and three that can be selected by the user. The LiveWire is also equipped with a small 12-volt lithium-ion battery to run the lights, controls, horn, and display. Charging is done via an on-board Level 1 charger that plugs into a standard household outlet, and all Harley dealers who sell the LiveWire will offer a public charging station.
The focal point on any given Harley model is invariably the glittering V-twin engine, and the LiveWire is no different—except that it has no V-twin engine. But with its eye-catching case and muscular shape, it's obvious the electric motor still is the main focus of this Harley too. To define it even more, the cast aluminum case for the RESS has been styled with functional cooling fins, and even the bodywork looks like it's made of anodized metal.
The all-new Harley-Davidson LiveWire will be on sale next year, and further details, more product information, and details of the pre-order process and pricing are to be released January 2019.