British Columbia

EV rider: Harley-Davidson fans kick tires of new all-electric motorcycle

Harley-Davidson, known for its powerful hogs, showed off its electric Livewire at dealerships hoping to attract a new kind of rider.

Company showed off its Livewire at dealerships, hoping to attract a new kind of rider

The all-electric Harley-Davidson Livewire at a dealership in Vancouver on Nov. 24. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Harley-Davidson is hoping to become known for something other than its rumbling hogs — an all-electric motorcycle that hums rather than roars.

Over the weekend, it showed off its Livewire motorcycle at dealerships in Vancouver.

"This is the future, the beginning of electric motorcycles," said Jeff Martinez with the company.

Harley-Davidson is the first major manufacturer to offer electric motorcycles at dealerships. Only 1,800 have been built this year, with the sticker price around $37,000.

The Livewire has few similarities to the stereotypical Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It has a futuristic design, no tail pipes and no emissions.

"It is a vastly different experience than driving a gas-powered motorcycle," said Martinez. "It's just instant on-off power."

The bike has no clutch because there are no gears. All riders have to do is flick their wrist and the motorcycle goes. The company says the Livewire can do 0-60 km/h in three seconds and has a battery range of 235 kilometres of city driving.

While the regular Harley roars, the Livewire whirrs:

Motorcycle enthusiasts got to try out Harley-Davidson's entry into the electric vehicle market in Vancouver on Sunday Nov. 24, 2019. 0:08

Martinez says the company wants to move into the future with electric vehicles, just like car manufacturers are.

"This would be a fantastic commuter bike," he said.

Enthusiasts who went to dealerships in Vancouver to check out the bike mostly say they are impressed with it.

Bruce Stout has driven an electric car since 2013 and works with the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association. He says as he turns 70, he wants to buy a motorcycle, and the Livewire couldn't be more perfect for him.

"This is going to be golden, this is going to get a lot of people into motorcycles," he said.

Kenson Ng says the simplicity of the Livewire is appealing to him. The all-electric motorcycle has no clutch or shifting. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Others said they were impressed with how simple the motorcycle is to ride and operate.

Sylvia Yoon has been riding Harleys for 40 years and said she would consider buying a Livewire.

"This would be very simple, a good winter ride," she said. "It would save a lot of gas money."

Harley-Davidson says it is trying to appeal to a different demographic with its all-electric motorcycle. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

But some purists aren't convinced. Al Dixon, who has owned 42 Harley-Davidson bikes since 1969, says he's not interested in the electric version.

"It's not a motorcycle," he said. "It doesn't look or sound [like a Harley-Davidson], it doesn't burn gas, it's got no heart, no soul, it's just an electric motor."

Harley-Davidson says it is developing other electric motorcycles in addition to the Livewire.

With files from Deborah Goble

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