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Tue, 19 May 2015

Project LiveWire Experience At Millbrook Proving Ground

A review from Marketing Manager, Nuala Mooney, on her LiveWire Experience...

I’d already made up my mind about Harley-Davidson and what it means to me and many others, so I wasn’t sure what to think or expect when I found out I would be riding the H-D electric concept, LiveWire. The curiosity was intense and the questions were endless… How will LiveWire deliver a true Harley experience? How could it possibly – it’s electric?  How is this actually going to sound?

Friday 15th May, I travelled to Millbrook Proving Ground with Sales Manager, Fiona Rutherford to test ride the LiveWire. Neither of the two of us had any idea how just how fantastic the hours ahead of us were going to be.

Upon arrival at Millbrook, we found out all photography was prohibited because we’d be sharing the track with a few top end car manufacturers testing their new and ‘in-development’ vehicles. H-D provided a professional photographer, but it was disappointing not to get any pictures of our own... Okay, maybe there was one cheeky selfie.  

After a small trip in the Millbrook minivan, we were met with the impressive LiveWire Experience site. The Livewire prototypes sat majestically, true works of art – just like any ‘traditional’ Harley-Davidson. The futuristic appearance of these bikes wouldn’t have made a time travelling Delorean or hover board look out of place beside them.  

During their presentation, H-D explained more about the design and concept of LiveWire and why they wanted to challenge perceptions and push boundaries. This innovative and contemporary motorcycle only weighs 210kg. The brand new frame combined with the statement swing arm has been one of the key drivers for design.  One element that presented the design team with a challenge was trying make the batteries “look sexy” – but in true Harley fashion, they’ve nailed it.

The LiveWire has two ‘modes’ selectable from the touch screen display; range and power mode. Power mode reduces the range in order to deliver more on the throttle. I was liking the sound of power mode! Blips of the throttle for some signature Harley rumble were not welcome on this motorcycle as even the slightest movement on the throttle powered the back wheel. The moment you realise you’re a poser…

It was time to ride. The Alpine route came first with steep inclines, descents, hairpins and more. As I set off, the instant power coupled with perfect balance was the beginning of the most powerful Harley experience I’ve ever had. The noise was outstanding. It really did sound like a fighter jet which genuinely surprised me. As the twists and turns unfolded, the bike impressed me more and more.  The regenerative battery charging kicks in as soon as you roll off the throttle giving an almost sudden stop, which meant brakes were barely needed. I may have reached for the clutch once or twice, but you soon become accustomed to the fact that neither gears nor clutch exist. Twist and go, it’s easy.

We eventually ended up on the track where I managed to max out the bike at 95mph. The delivery of power is like nothing I could have ever imagined nor have I ever experienced before. Truly awesome.

Overall, this for me wouldn’t be an ‘instead of’ bike, it’d be an ‘as well as’ bike. It’s a second bike that would be ideal for commuting. The LiveWire is light, agile, fast, and uncomplicated – not to mention cool. It doesn’t give you the same warm feeling firing up a v-twin does but it does give you the same grin from ear to ear.

It doesn’t look like a Harley, but the familiarity of the emotions I felt before, during and after I’d ridden it confirmed it was a Harley. This bike has a soul, something I thought it wouldn’t have because it’s electric and also because of its styling.  It’s not traditional, it’s not chrome, it’s not Dark Custom – it’s LiveWire! And that’s exactly what it turns you into after you’ve ridden it.