Well before that happens, non-electric vehicles will have been banned from the centers of major cities in Europe and elsewhere. But transportation isn't just getting from Point A to Point B—it’s about all the experiences in-between. From public transit, to ridesharing, to personal ownership, and more participation models, electric two-wheeled vehicles will play a key role in bridging the divide between where you are, where you want to go, and, most importantly, how you want to feel along the way.
Harley-Davidson® will continue to propel the performance of two wheels into the future through innovation and exploration, as it has done for the last 116 years, attracting the next generation of riders from around the world. Or, as Matt Levatich, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson says, "we will lead the next revolution of two-wheeled freedom to inspire future riders who have yet to even think about the thrill of riding."
Planning for that future started in earnest in 2010, when the company started working on its first electric motorcycle concepts, and the technology it would need to make them a reality. Four years later, the world got its first look at the results, with the unveiling of Project LiveWire™. Harley-Davidson took that prototype on the road to engage with motorcyclists around the country.
Since its initial conceptualization, LiveWire™ has evolved to deliver a truly premier riding experience with the latest in connected riding technology and top tier performance. It’s the next generation motorcycling brought to life. A key feature of LiveWire™ is that it will a highly connected motorcycle experience with the H-D™ Connect service.
Harley-Davidson's engines have always been known for their torque. It's here that the switch to electric propulsion truly stands out, for LiveWire™ is a true performance bike. No internal-combustion engine can deliver 100 percent of its torque instantly; only an electric motor can do that.
The headline figure is that LiveWire™ will reach 60mph from a standstill in three seconds, with a top speed of 110mph. But the bike's performance envelope is about more than just 0-60 times. The electric Harley-Davidson has another trick up its sleeve to bond with its human. "Haptic sensation is something I'm very excited about," says Brad Richards, Vice President of Styling and Design at Harley-Davidson.
"Some very smart engineers got the motor to have a heartbeat. And that did a couple of things. For me, it began to solve the problem of the haptic response, but it's also a safety feature. Electric motorcycles are viciously powerful. If you blip the throttle it has the potential to take off! The pulse lets the rider know it's live, the power's on. It's a great part of the bike that I don't think anyone else has. That to me is what makes our bike truly unique, it's not just an appliance," Richards said.
Its Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS) system marries together the cornering-enhanced Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Traction Control System (TCS), and Drag-Torque Slip Control System (DSCS) to monitor and manage front and rear brake torque as well as motor torque to the rear wheel to enhance rider control and balance vehicle performance across diverse riding environments. The system is fully electronic and utilizes the latest six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) and ABS sensor technology. The separate functions of RDRS work together to give the rider more confidence and control in less-than-ideal situations.
With so much readily accessible power and torque, LiveWire™'s electronic rider aids provide varying levels of intervention to best suit a rider's mood and the conditions of the day. Its Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS) system marries together the cornering-enhanced Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Traction Control System (TCS), and Drag-Torque Slip Control System (DSCS) to monitor and manage front and rear brake torque as well as motor torque to the rear wheel to enhance rider control and balance vehicle performance across diverse riding environments. The system is fully electronic and utilizes the latest six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) and ABS sensor technology. The separate functions of RDRS work together to give the rider more confidence and control in less-than-ideal situations.
Switch LiveWire™ to Road Mode and it becomes a little less extreme in each regard. The ABS and TCS will intervene earlier, to offer a rider peace of mind. Range Mode, as the name suggests, prioritizes the battery's state of charge. The throttle is remapped to give a smooth response to inputs, and there is a high level of energy regeneration to boost range. Similarly, Rain Mode is about all-weather performance. The RDRS will intervene much more readily when LiveWire™ is ridden in traction-limited scenarios.
Finally, each rider can configure their own custom modes. Power, regeneration, and throttle response can each be set from 0-100 percent (in one percent increments) and TCS can be set to low, medium, or high intervention. This way, you can have your own preset that provides the same power and throttle response as Sport Mode, but with less regenerative braking, or any other potential combination of the four different variables.
For the final part of our look at the Harley-Davidson LiveWire™, an innovative new electric motorcycle, we'll focus on its battery. If the LiveWire™ was to proudly wear the Harley-Davidson name, it had to be able to deliver stunning performance and sufficient range. To achieve that in a car usually involves adding hundreds of pounds of weight—something that is unacceptable on a motorcycle.
Instead, the design and engineering team were able deliver a bike capable of 0-60mph in three seconds and a range of up to 146 miles while keeping weight to a minimum through advanced battery chemistry and construction.
"From 1903 onwards, the brand has been known for trying to do some really innovative things, so in that context, an electric Harley-Davidson wasn't that far from the ranch. The real trick was trying to align it with the tenets of Harley-Davidson design," says Brad Richards, Vice President of Styling and Design at Harley-Davidson.
That meant celebrating LiveWire™'s powertrain, not hiding it. "We don't cover it up. The powertrain is the crown jewel. Most electric bike products are pretty much two wheels with a black plastic box between the wheels, but we couldn't execute it that way. The first prototype did that and it looked half-finished. So we had to apply the Harley-Davidson tenets in a way that made sense and was authentic," Richards said.
Harley-Davidson chose Samsung SDI, one of the industry leaders, as its partner for battery technology. LiveWire™ sports a 15.5 kWh high-voltage battery pack, also known as the Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS).
"The way we tied LiveWire™ in was removing the black plastic box. One of the functions was to keep heat load off the battery and let it cool itself. We realized we could do this with aluminum finning, like an air-cooled engine. It puts the bike's anatomy on display and celebrates its functionality. We treated it the same as the rest of our powertrain; the outside shape reflects mechanicals on the inside. We weren't overstyling the bike. There's a beautiful battery case with sculpted fins; the polished powertrain is a work of art," he explained.
Additionally, LiveWire™ is also able to use DC Fast Chargers (using the CCS plug and charging protocol). Using a DC Fast charger will take LiveWire's RESS from 0-80 percent state of charge (i.e. how "full" the battery is) in 40 minutes.