A twist of the throttle and the motorcycle smoothly and quietly pulls away from a stop, feeling like something attached to the end of a long, invisible elastic band. The bike accelerates cleanly into traffic, making barely a sound until you really twist the grip, when a high-pitched whine emerges from the electric motor and drivetrain mounted low between your feet as tied to its roots as is H-D, something that's been three years in the making. Harley engineers wanted to get it right, and you can understand why. For many owners, the noise and distinctive vibes of a big V-twin are key aspects of the experience.
But not entirely. While all electric bikes have some level of futuristic whirr to them, usually thanks to the reduction gearing, the sound in the LiveWire is much louder than most. Mind, even at full-throttle LiveWire is still far quieter than a Fat Bob with straight pipes at idle. It's a piercing, progressive noise that turns heads. For many riders, turning heads is what it's all about.
LiveWire backs up that sound with performance. 74 horsepower may not sound like a lot, but it's more than a Sportster 883 -- and, at about 450 pounds, roughly 100 pounds lighter. That, plus the instant torque of the electric motor, means plenty of oomph, enough to get the front end very loose should you get a bit too aggressive with the throttle.
Still, with no clutch or shifting to worry about, it's very easy to ride. Quite comfortable, too, with an upright riding position and pegs that are neither too far forward nor too far back for casual city touring. That said, one H-D engineer told us there's still plenty of ground clearance to get your knee down hits the track.
Unfortunately, with an estimated range of just 53 miles, you probably won't complete many laps. Indeed this is more intended to be a city commuter, enough to get you to work and back, then charging up overnight -- a process that takes about 3.5 hours from empty.
Persuading the company's loyal followers will be a huge challenge, but perhaps the best part of LiveWire is how it's being launched. Harley-Davidson representatives are taking trucks of the bikes to major dealerships and motorcycle gatherings around the world, giving hundreds of test rides and asking only one thing in exchange: opinions. They really want to know what their faithful think about this thing, and you can be sure they'll take it right back to the drawing board if that's deemed necessary.
But it isn't. LiveWire feels like a great bike that's fun to ride