Project Livewire test ride

On June 19th, 2014, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company made a big announcement – the launch of a prototype electric bike dubbed Project Livewire. This was certainly a big surprise for HD purists as well as the rest of us. The first images of the concept bike looked promising. With its sleek styling, flowing lines, black with red and chrome accent paint scheme, it looked nothing like the traditional American-made cruisers that the factory has been putting out for the past 100 years.




HD purists were up in arms against what they perceived to be the company selling out to the Prius-driving, latte-sipping, tree-hugging hippies. The rest of the riding crowd – the sport bikers, the younger riders, the technology lovers and the electric bike aficionados – were curious but skeptical. Electric bikes have thus far been the province of small startups like Zero and Brammo who have consistently been putting out production quality street and dirt bikes since 2006, and one-off pioneers like Eva Håkansson, whose ElectroCat was to the first electric motorcycle to complete the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in 2010.

I’ve kept an eye on the evolution of electric bikes ever since the Zero first launched. The ride reports were promising but the limited range (approximately 40-50 miles between charges) and the lack of charging station infrastructure meant that it would be a while before I put down serious money for one. The old school motorcyclist in me was a little reluctant to give in to this change. Thus, I imagine, it has always been, from the switching over of landlines to mobile phones, and paper maps to GPS units, all changes that have happened in my life time. There is no stopping disruptive technology though, and the world moves forward whether or not you choose to go along with the change.

How did I get this incredible opportunity to ride a Project Livewire concept bike? Long story short – Jeff Henshaw of Microsoft Corp wrote a brilliant open letter to Harley Davidson congratulating them on making such a bold move urging them to bring these bikes to production immediately after fixing the range and battery charge time issues and pricing them to right to make them accessible to a different crowd. Harley Davidson HQ took note and contacted him, offering to set up a special test ride day for Microsoft motorcycle riders, a community that I’ve been fortunate enough to have been a part of for almost ten years. This would be part of their Project Livewire Experience Tour. When I saw that the Livewire had a low seat height of 31″, I signed up immediately and made the cut for the small group of riders who would get to ride the bike the tour hit Seattle. Major thanks to Jeff for making this happen!



Related Posts

Share This