New LiveWire One ridden at Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Goodwood Festival of Speed gave us the chance of ride a custom LiveWire One race bike created by SMCO

The LiveWire One ridden at Goodwood Festival of Speed

IN among the throng of race and road bikes at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed was a rather different race-bred machine. It was the new LiveWire One, created by SMCO and raced in the Roland Sands Super Hooligan race series.

And this wasn’t some static display tucked away in a far-flung corner of the estate. Its batteries were charged, and the rear shock was buried beneath an inch of discarded rubber. This bike was here to be ridden, and Harley-Davidson (LiveWire’s parent company) had given Visordown the chance to do the hammering!

The run up the hill took place on the final day of the event and we were the first bikes to take to the hill. Luckily I’d already been up the Hill on another bike earlier in the week, meaning all the boring paperwork and kit scrutineering was already done. Heading to the bike paddock, I battle my way through the crowds and head over to where the new LiveWire is parked for a chat with its makers, brothers Aaron and Shaun Guardado founders of SMCO (Suicide Machine Co.).

While the LiveWire One is, for all intents and purposes, pretty much the same as the outgoing (soon) Harley-Davidson LiveWire. The rebrand has taken place to make owning one of the bikes an easier pill to swallow for newer, younger riders. I think it also goes some way to pleasing the dyed-in-the-wool H-D fans who can’t stand the thought of Harley making an electric bike!

New LiveWire One ridden at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Standing next to the bike in the paddock before my run, it’s clear that this is not just a stock bike with some aftermarket sticker kit slapped on it! There are trick billet racing rear sets, lightweight racing wheels, bigger front brake discs and full carbon fibre bodywork. Not only that, but the traction control is also disabled permanently, and the ABS has been deleted.

A quick chat to Aaron prior to my run reveals two things, firstly, it’s a bit of an animal to ride, and secondly, the rear tyre is knackered! It’s done countless burnouts from cold over the weekend and it looks very second-hand. “Just take it easy out of the corner and on the brakes” is the worldly advice I’m given. Right, got it.

After being held at the startline for what seems like an eternity, I’m finally waved forward to fire the LiveWire up the Hill. In an attempt to drag the cameras onto the bike, and away from the Thornton Hundred and its Worlds Fastest Bobber, I drop a hefty burnout on the start line, pinning the throttle. To my amazement, the speedometer instantly flicks up to 125mph, and the entire start line fills with acrid tyre smoke! Once the air clear a little, I’m given the nod by the starter and we’re off up the hill.

With no traction control and a shafted back hoop I was cautious on the throttle until I'd got up to speed, but when you open up one of these things, Jesus Christ they take off. Before it’s even started, I’m flying under the footbridge and nervously slowing the bike down for the first righthander. I can feel the bike fighting to clamber over the horribly squared-off tyre, although once it's on its side it starts to feel at home.

One of the most noticeable differences between this and the stock LiveWire One is the riding position. It’s a feet-back, almost drag racing stance. It’s weird when you first get on the thing but makes sense in the corners. It’s not a bike that you chuck all of your body off the seat, instead rolling your upper body into the corner and leading with your shoulder. Comfortable? No. Effective? Yes!

Pinning the throttle out of the first corner I pin myself to the tank and just enjoy the feeling of accelerating faster than pretty much anything on two wheels can. A lot of folk on the Visordown social media channels talk about electric bikes removing the excitement from motorcycling. That’s complete bullshit. With no engine noise to contest with, you are less excited, it heightens the sensation of speed. With no noise to analyse, the brain can focus on everything else that’s going on around you, it really focuses the mind!

I brake super early for the first left-hander at the end of the straight, drop the bike on its side and am given a little wobbly warning from the front. I sit the bike up a little and fire up the next straight, past the grandstands and onto the flint wall. It’s only when I watch the clip of the run back that I realise how quick I went through there, it definitely didn’t feel that quick – or that narrow!

The final stretch of the FoS Hillclimb is a series of short straight and slower corners until you get that glorious drag up the hill and over the line. Timing my run on the Insta360 camera and I manage a 1:08.61 on the SMCO LiveWire race bike. As the bikes aren’t timed officially, basically it means nothing, although to me it’s quite interesting. The FoS course is 1.16-miles long, taking into account my time up the hill, I clocked an average speed 61mph – topping 120mph on the main straight. I’ll take that!

Many thanks to Harley-Davidson and LiveWire for sorting the run up the hill.