ANYONE in any doubt about how quickly mainstream motorcycle manufacturers are going to transition to the brave new world of electric motors can put those doubts away for good. Harley-Davidson will release this battery-powered rocketship later this year to “selected markets” and we can expect to see them for sale in Australia late next year.

And the steeped-in-history American V-twin stalwart is openly talking about embracing the new technology, with references to “a full portfolio of electric motorcycles by 2022”.

In case you’re not concentrating, that’s three years away.

The first cab off the electric rank is called the Livewire and, although we have not seen power or weight numbers, we have seen one performance measure that’s caught our eye — 0-60mph in “under 3.5 seconds”.

The word “under” is particularly significant because, if we have our Hog trivia right, the fastest production H-D so far was the now-discontinued V-Rod muscle bike with a factory-claimed 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds — so “under 3.5 seconds” is Harley’s way of telling the world that its first electric bike will be quicker in a straight line than any piston-powered machine it’s ever made.

But the technology is still young and there are still some limitations compared with petrol engines. The battery range will only be 100 miles or so, making the Livewire a city-only proposition, for the time being at least.

Zero Motorcycles, another American company pioneering electric motors, says its SR ZF13.0 model (sorry, we have no idea what the numbers and letters mean) is good for 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds but can only manage a top speed of 102mph and generates a modest 67 horsepower.

Harley’s battery will need charging overnight to take it back up to full power, although there is quick-charge technology that will be available at your local Harley dealer if you’re on the road and need a top-up.

We’ll be particularly interested to see how the bike sounds, given how much Harleyphiles love their noise (the company says “the LiveWire model is designed to produce a tone that increases in pitch and volume with speed”, whatever that means) and whether the Livewire steals sales from other Harleys.

Our bet is that H-D is chasing a whole new bunch of trendy young enviro-friendly folks to recruit to the Harley brand, leaving the big thumping V-twin to satisfy traditional buyers who’d rather keep gulping petrol and vibrating at the lights. (We’re too polite to tell the youngsters that electric engines actually run on coal from their local power station.)

Here’s Harley’s video on the Livewire from YouTube (it’ll take a tick to load):

Here’s a link to USA Harley’s Livewire page. Click here.

And here’s more info from Harley’s official press blurb:

Harley-Davidson announces Livewire motorcycle full specification and ground-breaking future electric concepts

The LiveWire motorcycle represents the future of Harley-Davidson, bringing high-performance electric propulsion, evocative design, and cellular connectivity to today’s rider. The first of a new portfolio of motorcycles that provides an all new two-wheel experience, the LiveWire motorcycle delivers thrilling acceleration, agile handling, premium materials and finishes, and a full suite of electronic rider aids and interfaces for a completely connected experience.

The performance of the LiveWire motorcycle will deliver an exhilarating ride for seasoned motorcyclists, while its clutch-free design also makes the experience for new riders easier than ever. The launch of the LiveWire model supports Harley-Davidson’s 2027 strategic objectives to reinvigorate its U.S. business, accelerate the pace of international growth, build the next generation of riders globally and establish the company as the leader in the electrification of two-wheeled transportation.

“We’re at a historic juncture of the evolution of transportation, and Harley-Davidson is at the forefront,” said Harley-Davidson CEO, Matt Levatich.

“Innovation that moves the body and soul has always been at the heart of our brand, and this next chapter in our history is about creating products and opportunities for existing and aspiring riders of all ages and walks of life.”

An all-new Riding Experience with Iconic Harley-Davidson Power

Accessible to new motorcyclists and a thrill for accomplished riders, the LiveWire motorcycle is the perfect combination of power, performance and technology.

Features include:

  • Powerful acceleration: from 0 to 60 mph in under 3.5 seconds. The instant torque provided by the H-D Revelation™ electric powertrain can produce 100 percent of its rated torque the instant the throttle is twisted, and 100 percent of that torque is always available.
  • Twist-and-go ease of use: Electric power requires no clutch and no gear shifting, greatly simplifying operation for new riders. All riders will appreciate the braking effect of the power regeneration mode as it adds charge to the battery, especially in stop-and-go urban traffic.
  • H-D Connect Service: The LiveWire motorcycle is equipped with H-D Connect, which pairs motorcycle riders with their bikes through an LTE-enabled Telematics Control Unit coupled with connectivity and cloud services using the latest version of the Harley-Davidson App.
    This technology makes the LiveWire motorcycle the first North American mass-market cellular connected electric motorcycle. With H-D Connect, data is collected and transferred to the app to provide information to the rider’s smartphone about:

    • Motorcycle status: Information available through H-D Connect includes battery charge status and available range from any location where sufficient cellular signal is available. This allows the rider to remotely check the charge status including charge level and time to completion. Riders will be able to locate a charging station with ease thanks to an integrated location finder built into the H-D App.
    • Tamper alerts and vehicle location: H-D Connect indicates the location of the parked LiveWire motorcycle and alerts can be sent to the rider’s smartphone if the bike is tampered with or moved. GPS-enabled stolen-vehicle tracking provides peace of mind that the motorcycle’s location can be tracked (Requires law enforcement assistance. Available in select markets).
    • Service reminders and notifications: Reminders about upcoming vehicle service requirements and other vehicle care notifications will be provided to the rider through the H-D App. In addition, riders will receive automated service reminders.
  • Performance and range optimised for the urban street-rider: With the ability to travel an estimated 110 miles of urban roads on a single charge.
  • Handling and control: The LiveWire motorcycle chassis is designed to deliver agile handling for confident control on urban streets and a thrilling ride on curving backroads. The H-D Revelation powertrain sits low in the motorcycle to lower the centre of gravity and help the motorcycle handle well at all speeds and make it easier to control when stopped. The motorcycle also features premium technology — Electronic Chassis Control is standard and features a cornering-enhanced Anti-lock Braking System and Traction Control. The systems are fully electronic and utilise the latest inertial measurement unit and ABS sensor technology.
  • Distinctive Harley-Davidson sound, minimal vibration: The LiveWire motorcycle features the HD Revelation electric powertrain which produces minimal vibration, heat, and noise, all of which enhance rider comfort. The LiveWire model is designed to produce a new signature Harley-Davidson sound as it accelerates and gains speed; this new futuristic sound represents the smooth, electric power of the LiveWire motorcycle.
Harley-Davidson LiveWire™ revealed at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

From Project LiveWire to LiveWire Motorcycle

The vision behind the production LiveWire motorcycle began with Project LiveWire, revealed as a prototype in 2014. Through a traveling demo program, Project LiveWire gave potential customers the opportunity to provide feedback on what they would want from a true Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle and shape the evolution of the motorcycle in keeping with the Motor Company’s customer-led approach. The response was very enthusiastic – and the production LiveWire motorcycle incorporates knowledge gained from the development of the prototypes, feedback from customer demos, further design progress at Harley-Davidson and the latest advanced technology.

CAPTION: Elroy Jetson, eat your heart out. Yep, it’s a Harley too — but there’s no release date for this one yet. We’d ride this to work, no worries. Wonder if it’ll pull monos?

Harley-Davidson Reveals Two Groundbreaking Lightweight Electric Concepts at CES

Harley-Davidson, also revealed two new concepts in its next generation of two-wheeled transportation at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Alongside the production 2020 Livewire motorcycle, these two concepts look towards a new electrified chapter of Harley-Davidson’s story that will continue with innovative approaches to transportation and technology, wrapped up in evocative styling and design.

As part of the push towards a different future, these concepts explore the potential of urban mobility and two-wheeled adoption. Both concepts bring Harley-Davidson’s expertise in expressive two-wheeled experiences and push boundaries in design and technology.

In 2018, Harley-Davidson’s More Roads announcement provided a vision that includes new products in additional motorcycle segments, broader access, and to strengthen our dealer network. These two concepts are proof positive of that vision, alongside the production 2020 LiveWire, and point to a broad portfolio of electric two-wheelers designed to establish the company as the leader in the electrification of mobility over the next several years and inspire new riders with new ways to ride.

The all-new Harley-Davidson LiveWire Motorcycle will be on sale in only select markets this year. For Australia and New Zealand markets, the Livewire will be released in late 2020. For more information on the new Harley-Davidson LiveWire motorcycle, as well as updates on future additional bikes, please visit for more details.

CAPTION: This one, not so much. (Is it just us, or is there something kinda Deltek Rockhopper going on here?)


Peter Terlick

2 thoughts on “Very big, very fast and all electric — the quickest Harley ever made is coming to Australia next year

  1. I wonder who the target market is for the Livewire? HD trade on their tradition, not their technology – just look at the barely tepid reception the (now out of production) V-Rod got when it was introduced. I think the die-hard HD ‘aficionados’ will not let go readily, so the Livewire is going to have to appeal to a new market segment. This new segment is unlikely to buy into the HD ‘lifestyle’ and therefore unlikely to pay the premium their traditional buyers do. I expect pricing is going to be the thing that will determine success or failure of this venture, because when the Japanese electric bikes hit the market – and they will come, for sure – it will be technology, capability, and competitive pricing that will sell them, not the name on the tank. Interesting times ahead, indeed.

  2. A good read, very interesting and informative. I’ve ridden v-twins for over 40 years, looking forward too the sound and power.

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