Harley-Davidson's 2020 LiveWire: Sound and look of the future
I am a little excited.
On July 11, I will be heading to the US for an up-close look at the Harley-Davidson 2020 LiveWire and ride it.
I am feeling the buzz for this new sporty ride as it is the brand's first production electric motorcycle. Who would have thought that Harley, synonymous with large-capacity motorbikes often seen in Hollywood movies, would be taking the electric route?
Despite the early manifestation of the LiveWire, called Project LiveWire and shown to regional journalists lucky enough to ride it briefly in Sepang, Malaysia, in 2014, I was still not sold on the idea.
I figured it was a marketing exercise. I imagined Harley did not want to break rank with the rest of the industry, so it had to show it was considering making environmentally friendly motorcycles of the future.
Like many enthusiasts who love the masculine Harley motorcycles for their torque-ready engines, as well as the vibration and heat they produce between your legs, I believed Harley's plan to go electric would never happen in my lifetime.
But like my 79-year-old father, who had previously vowed never to speak into a small boxy device (a mobile phone), let alone carry it with him in his pocket, I have conceded.
In today's tech-driven world, you will be left behind on the road shoulder if you do not keep up with others in the fast lane. I am glad Harley recognises this. The LiveWire marks the start of exciting two-wheel products from the company.
To inspire more people worldwide to experience the exhilaration of riding a motorcycle, the company shared details of its More Roads to Harley-Davidson growth plan through 2022.
It will be broadening access to its brand by adding new models - street fighter and adventure tourer motorcycles - that do not fall within the traditional cruiser genre Harley-Davidson is known for.
Five years after the Project LiveWire announcement, the specifications for the 2020 LiveWire look impressive. Its electric motor, the Harley-Davidson Revelation electric powertrain, can accelerate from 0 to 96kmh in under 3.5 seconds.
It has anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control and electronic chassis control - all fully electronic and using the latest inertial measurement unit and ABS sensor tech. On a single charge, the LiveWire can achieve 176km for urban street use.
Said Harley chief executive officer Matt Levatich: "...This next chapter in our history is about creating products and opportunities for existing and aspiring riders of all ages and walks of life."
I foresee I will need to ride the LiveWire with an open mind. I will also need to get used to riding a motorcycle that does not have a clutch lever, let alone that familiar Harley exhaust note. But its designers have assured a comfy ride with minimal vibration, heat and noise, calling the whirring motor sound the LiveWire makes a "new signature Harley-Davidson sound".