Harley-Davidson LiveWire

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Harley-Davidson LiveWire
Harley Davidson Livewire at Motorcycle Live 2014 01.jpg
ClassElectric motorcycle
EngineElectric liquid-cooled longitudinally-mounted three-phase induction electric motor[2][3]
Top speed115mph
Power105 hp (78 kW)
Torque86 lb⋅ft (117 N⋅m)
TransmissionSingle speed, belt drive via bevel gear
Frame typeCast aluminum trellis frame[2][3]
Weight460 lb (210 kg)[2] (dry)
Fuel capacity15.5 kWh
At MCN Motorcycle Live NEC Birmingham, 2014
Left side, Birmingham, 2014

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire is an electric motorcycle by Harley-Davidson, their first electric vehicle. Harley-Davidson says the maximum speed is 95 mph (153 km/h)[4] with claimed 105 hp (78 kW) motor.[5]

The LiveWire, released in 2019, targets a different type of customer than their classic V-twin powered motorcycles.[6]


The LiveWire was first displayed to the media in June 2014. Prototypes were made available for public test rides at US Harley-Davidson dealerships later in 2014, then Europe and Canada in 2015.[3] The LiveWire was inspired by the "Mission R" electric superbike,[7] and the powertrains for the prototypes were developed in collaboration with its manufacturer, the electric motorcycle and electric powertrain technology company Mission Motors.[8]

As the prototype was unveiled in 2014, the motor was to be mounted longitudinally, under the frame. A bevel gear was planned to change the direction of rotation 90° to drive a gilmer belt to turn the rear wheel.[3] In the prototypes, the bevel gear gave the drivetrain a unique whirring sound, compared to the sound of a jet turbine,[9][10] or as a writer for The Verge said, "like an oversized vacuum".[11] According to Wired magazine in 2014, Mission Motors provided technical assistance on the motor controller.[4]

In January 2018, Harley-Davidson announced that the motorcycle was entering production and would hit the market in 18 months.[12] Preorders were planned for January 2019.[13] The first deliveries were made in September 2019 but were temporarily halted due to an unspecified charging issue which Harley-Davidson resolved as of October 2019.[14]

Harley-Davidson said Swiss rider Michel von Tell rode a LiveWire to an unofficial electric motorcycle distance-ridden-in-24-hours record in March 2020, covering 1,723 km (1,071 mi).[15] Von Tell, accompanied by local journalists, began in Zürich, Switzerland and rode to Stuttgart, Germany, continued along Lake Constance, and finished in Ruggell, Liechtenstein, in a total time of 23 hours and 48 minutes.[15][16] The previous record of 1,317 km (818.27 mi) was set in 2018 on an electric Zero S.[17]

In 2020, the streaming video series Long Way Up followed Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman riding LiveWires from South America to North America. 13,000 miles, through 13 countries over 100 days.[18]


When the electric motorcycle concept was unveiled in 2014, it was called "the most radical departure in the 111-year history of the brand" by a Fox Sports commentator.[19] Other industry observers see the development of the LiveWire, and the potential development of an electric product or product line, as part of a shift towards "people who might not ordinarily be drawn to Harley's traditional loud, heavy, expensive motorcycles"[2] and "the product of a painful corporate revolution long in the making"[20] as Harley-Davidson uses new technology and markets to a wider customer base.[20] The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel compared the LiveWire's styling to that of former Harley-Davidson sport bike subsidiary Buell.[9]

The Hollywood Reporter noted that an electric Harley-Davidson could become a status symbol like the Tesla Model S, and that the new Harley-Davidson had been placed in Avengers: Age of Ultron.[21] Road & Track posted spy shots from the set in 2014, and reported that Harley-Davidson would gauge the reception by the film's audience as a sort of global market test of the product concept.[22][needs update]

Powersports Business said that initial customer reactions to test rides in New York in June 2014 were "overwhelmingly positive" but also noted some negative reactions to the tuning of the regenerative braking system.[23]

Jalopnik said the LiveWire, at over $29,000, is "far too expensive" given the performance, range and charge specifications.[24]

TechCrunch writer Jake Bright said the LiveWire pricing “was too damn high” but gave Harley Davidson props for an EV debut that “checked out as a legitimate e-motorcycle entrant” while “passing the sniff test” of the company’s traditional chrome and steel clientele -- “who aren’t exactly the Tesla crowd.”[25]


Technical specifications include:

  • LiveWire test on FormulaE track, New York, 2019
    Motor: 105 hp (78 kW), longitudinal design,[26] 86 lb⋅ft (117 N⋅m) torque[27]
  • Power transmission: 90 degree gearbox with belt-driven rear wheel[26]
  • Cooling system: liquid, shared by motor and controller[26]
  • Battery: 15.5 kWh (56 MJ), 13.6 kWh (49 MJ) usable,[28] Samsung cells, with 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty.[26][29]
  • Charging: supports Level 3 DC Fast Charging; comes with Level 1 charger that can be stored under the seat.[26]
  • 17-inch front & rear wheels [30] *Single disc, 2-piston front brake[citation needed]
  • 549 lbs in running order[citation needed]
  • Cast aluminum frame and swingarm
  • LED headlight
  • TFT dashboard
  • Trellis frame
  • single speed powertrain[27]


  • 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 3.0 seconds[26]
  • 60–80 mph (97–129 km/h) +1.9 seconds[26]
  • Top speed: 114 mph (183 km/h),[26] electronically-limited[27]
  • Range: 146 mi (235 km)[24]


  1. ^ "Harley-Davidson Releases Further Details On 2019 LiveWire At EICMA Show". Harley Davidson. November 6, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Carpenter 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Conner 2014.
  4. ^ a b Davies 2014.
  5. ^ "2020 LiveWire Electric Motorcycle Specs & Pricing". Harley-Davidson USA. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  6. ^ Carpenter, Susan (August 8, 2019). "An Electric Harley Loses the Growl but Still Aims to Turn Heads". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  7. ^ "Will We Ever See The Electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire?". CleanTechnica. February 22, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  8. ^ MacDonald, Sean. "Pioneering Electric Motorcycle Company Mission Motorcycles Files For Bankruptcy". Jalopnik. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Barrett 2014.
  10. ^ Harloff 2014.
  11. ^ Kastrenakes 2014 "LiveWire is nearly impossible to hear when out among New York City traffic. When revved indoors, however, it lets off a high-pitched whine that sounds more like an oversized vacuum than a vehicle."
  12. ^ "Harley-Davidson Is Making an Electric Motorcycle". Bloomberg.com. January 30, 2018.
  13. ^ "Here's Your First Official Look at the Harley-Davidson LiveWire Electric Motorcycle". Popular Mechanics. November 6, 2018.
  14. ^ O'Kane, Sean (October 18, 2019). "Harley-Davidson resumes production of first electric motorcycle after charging issue". The Verge.
  15. ^ a b Sebastian (March 20, 2020). "Motorrad Online Harley Weltrecord". Elektroauto-News.net (in German).
  16. ^ Baumann, Uli (March 23, 2020), "1.723 km in 24 Stunden auf Elektromotorrad", Motorrad
  17. ^ Pfeiffer, Michael (September 17, 2018), "1316,88 Kilometer in 24 Stunden", Motorrad (in German)
  18. ^ "Long Way Up YouTube trailer released ahead of Apple TV+ debut", Motor Cycle News, September 1, 2020
  19. ^ Gastelu 2014.
  20. ^ a b Saporito 2014.
  21. ^ Walker 2014.
  22. ^ Nunez 2014 "Expect a full promotional blitz next year as Harley-Davidson gauges reaction to its radical new concept by putting it in front of a massive, global audience of moviegoers."
  23. ^ Powersports Business 2014.
  24. ^ a b Lee, Kristen (January 7, 2019). "The 2019 Harley-Davidson LiveWire Is Far Too Expensive". Jalopnik.
  25. ^ Bright, Jake. "The missing links to grading Harley-Davidson's EV pivot". TechCrunch. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h Toll, Micah (July 12, 2019). "Full specs revealed on the 78 kW Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle". Electrek. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  27. ^ a b c Gastelu, Gary (July 17, 2019). "2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire test ride: Rebooting the brand with an electric bike". Fox News.
  28. ^ "EV LIVEWIRE(tm) Model Specifications ELW" (PDF), Harley Davidson
  29. ^ Krok, Andrew. "Harley-Davidson LiveWire owners will get free charging from Electrify America". Roadshow. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  30. ^ "Harley-Davidson LiveWire Electric Motorcycle". Thunderbike. November 9, 2018.


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