BIKER DAD: Test ride, the electric Harley Davidson comes to the Gulf Coast

Biker Dad

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) – It’s a new, revolutionary twist in the road. It’s been an almost 120-year journey for Harley-Davidson to get here. Now, you can see the future for yourself at Harley Davidson of Pensacola. And if you’re lucky enough, like me, you’ll get to ride it too.

Pensacola is one of the few dealers with the first electric Harley in stock. And recently, they let me take their Livewire for a test ride.

Photos courtesy: Harley-Davidson of Pensacola

A shiny black box with a thick cord is now planted in front of the dealership. The small new feature is ironically parked next to the motorcycles it will likely make obsolete one day. The box is a quick charging station for the new Livewire. A blue Harley shield emblazoned on the box indicates this dealership is one of the few equipped to sell and service the electric Harley Davidson.

Before jumping on the bike, there were a few things I needed to be acutely aware of. First, 100 percent of the torque and 100 percent of the horsepower is available immediately at the flick of the wrist. This means no revving the engine unless you want the Livewire to wheelie right out from under you. The second, there’s almost no sound. This makes revving the engine pointless, but also means drivers won’t hear me coming.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: No transmission so no shifting. A guide from Pensacola HD takes off from the dealership onto the busy street out front. He’s riding one of the two Livewires at the dealer, I’m on the other right behind. At first, you get the sensation that it feels a bit like a toy, like a Razor scooter or a Power Wheel. But flick the wrist a little more and I realize this is no toy. The bike is fast, or more accurately, it’s quick. A futuristic whir zips from the motor, at least until you coast to a stoplight. Then, zero sound. If I were on a gas bike I’d think it had died on me.

But green light, another twist and you’re off… fast. It obviously rides more like a street bike than a HOG. It’s as agile as is quick. If I had to describe it quickly on the spot I’d use three words: fast, fun, and most importantly the future.

Harley has been working on the Livewire for years, in fact, I rode the prototype 5 years ago when the motor company took it on a cross-country tour. The production bike stays pretty close to the prototype in look and ride. But it has tons of options not on the original, and a longer battery life. Adjustable shocks, and a state-of the-the art touch screen. It basically looks like a large cell phone on the handlebars, but it lets you control all sorts of things, including ride mode.

It’s a very fun ride overall. If I could afford to have a stable of bikes, this would be in it. But I won’t be giving up my gas-guzzling Street Bob for one any time soon. That’s partly because the bike isn’t cheap. The MSRP is right at $30,000. This is, however, a leap for the motor company and just the start of the world to come. Imagine electric baggers with extremely long battery life and all of that torque! The day is coming, the question is just how soon. We’re living in exciting times for motorcycles, and hopefully, these changes will inspire a younger generation to get on two wheels too.

Please be careful out there, and follow me on social media:

Chris Best is the News Director for WKRG. He’s a husband and father of four. He’s also a motorcycle enthusiast.


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