Harley-Davidson LiveWire: Electric thrill ride in more ways than one
It is sleek and fast and hugs corners with the precision of a guided missile. And despite a 15,000rpm rev ceiling, it is uncharacteristically quiet.
This is LiveWire, Harley-Davidson's first production electric motorcycle.
During a 100km test loop from Portland's downtown hipster coffee and restaurant joints to twisty roads near hilly Folkenberg, I was impressed.
The LiveWire's short, wasp-like tail and fairing-covered LED headlight give it an aerodynamic silhouette.
You immediately zero in on its finned lithium-ion battery and brightly cased electric motor cradled in a cast-aluminium frame.
With 105bhp and 116Nm of torque, the 249kg LiveWire accelerates from 0 to 96kmh in three seconds. With a top speed of 176kmh, it takes only 1.9 seconds to go from 96kmh to 128kmh.
On a full charge, which takes an hour via Harley's DC fast-charge station, the bike can cover about 235km for city riding or 152km for a combination of city and highway riding.
Its riding posture is palatable, with a slight lean to its wide handlebars minus the discomfort of raised footpegs.
You push a button to power up the belt-driven LiveWire, but there is no roar to greet you. Instead, two green lines appear on a 4.3-inch TFT dashboard and a haptic pulse is felt in the saddle, indicating the LiveWire is ready to go.
When going into my first bend, I instinctively reach for an imaginary clutch and gear lever. It takes time to get accustomed to the LiveWire's automatic, twist-and-go operation.
As it is near silent, you can ride and hold a conversation with the rider next to you.
Your inner thighs stay cool as there is no heat from an engine.
Unlike conventional motorbikes, LiveWire's electric motor delivers instant torque at all rpms.
Its Brembo front brakes, however, lack initial bite, which I easily compensated for by braking earlier in faster turns.
What is reassuring is its intelligent reflex defensive riding system, which combines four safety measures into one.
You get cornering anti-lock brakes, cornering traction control, rear-wheel lift mitigation and drag-torque slip control, which prevents rear-wheel lock during regenerative braking over slippery surfaces.
Whenever you roll off the LiveWire's throttle, its regeneration process feels like engine braking. The strongest "engine braking" tug is felt in Sport mode, one of seven selectable riding modes.
The LiveWire has high connectivity. You will be alerted on your mobile phone via its Harley app if someone attempts to steal your motorcycle. You can check its battery charging status and the nearest charging station. Phone pairing allows you access to navigation and other infotainment functions.
LiveWire will be available in North America and Europe by September at about US$29,000 (S$39,700).