Harley-Davidson LiveWire (2020) range recharge and road-test

Visordown was lucky enough to try out the new Harley-Davidson LiveWire for two weeks of riding on UK roads for the first time

THE Harley-Davidson LiveWire is one of the most talked-about new models from the Milwaukee factory in recent years. It not only marks the biggest departure for a brand that has deep roots in the cruiser segment, but also a move to creating an electric motorcycle for the modern age.

This test wasn’t the first time I’d ridden a LiveWire though, I’d already been to a press test in Barcelona at the tail end of last year. Press tests are good, you get to sample the bike on some great roads and with back up from pro photographers, but you don’t get the same ownership experience that a punter gets when they buy one.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire video review

To fix that, we got hold of one for an early autumn review to see if what we’d found out on the press test was accurate. And more importantly, to find out what the bike is like to live with as a daily bike.

Firstly, my impressions of the speed and handling of the Harley-Davidson remain unchanged. It is still the best handling Harley-Davidson I’ve ever swung a leg over. It's quick to turn, feeling nimbler and more dynamic than it 210kg weight would have you believe.

It may not be the most powerful or torquey electric motorcycles on the market, but that doesn’t hold it back. It feels super quick, with the most direct and focussed throttle connection of the lot. Pin the right-hand twist-grip to the stop and the LiveWire will hurl you up to 85mph quicker than pretty much anything else with two wheels and a battery.

It’s also blessed with some of the best brakes of any of the electric motorcycles I’ve had the pleasure of riding. The Brembo Monoblock grab onto 300mm discs and provide you with unbelievable amounts of stopping power. The feel at the level is good too, and the rear brake is just as eye-opening.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire range and recharging test

The Harley is equipped with a 15.5kWh Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) which is a collection of batteries held in the finned box within the frame. Plugging it into your three-pin plug at home will give you a full charge overnight.  Find yourself a roadside fast charger though and you’ll be able to pour enough electrons in to get to 100% in the time it takes to grab a coffee and a spot of lunch.

While filming the video you can see above, I had the bike plugged in for around 45 minutes and it charged from 20 to 85 percent during that time. That provided me with just over 100 miles of charge and enough to get me back to Gloucester to return to the bike to Harley-Davidson. Though the BP Chargemaster app I can see it cost me exactly £2 to buy those miles.

Helmet on and off we go, down the A46 and then along the A429 towards the Cotswolds. It’s not the most direct route but it does include the most opportunity to recover some energy through the bike’s engine braking regeneration system. After a spirited but sensible ride, I’d covered nearly 70 miles and rolled into my destination with just over 15 miles range left in the bike and an indicated 12 percent left in the battery.

Verdict

After spending some more time with the LiveWire in a real-world scenario, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the only electric motorcycle I’ve ridden that I genuinely believe in. When it tells you that based on current riding conditions you have a certain number of miles left, it’s pretty close to the mark. I also found that the bike accurately predicts the amount of time a given recharge will take. It’s also the electric bike that you can get on and actually ride like a petrol bike and not be worried about range. A spirited ride along mixed roads should mean between 80 and 100 miles is on the cards, with more urgent adventures topping out at between 60 and 70 miles.

It might not be the most comfortable, cheapest, or easiest to ride electric motorcycle on the market, but in my mind, it is the class leader. Although at nearly £30k, you really wouldn’t expect anything else.