Jay Leno Rides Harley-Davidson LiveWire Electric Motorcycle. His Opinion.

Complaints from the traditionalists are melting away. The Harley-Davidson Livewire electric bike concept may be produced sooner than you think, of course with some needed improvements regarding range now limited to 50 miles and maximum speed currently 92 mph. A presentation of the H-D electric bike followed by Jay Leno taking it for a ride and giving his opinion. (22 mn)

11 Responses to “Jay Leno Rides Harley-Davidson LiveWire Electric Motorcycle. His Opinion.”

  1. 1 PJ Hyland Aug 14th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    When I test rode the Live Wire at San Diego H-D a few weeks ago I was impressed with the amount of torque the thing puts out. It’s pretty common knowledge that electric bikes can snap your head back under heavy acceleration but the tech who traveled with the Harley-Davidson van told me that he was convinced that the Live Wire could out accelerate a stock Hayabusa for the first hundred yards. So you’re probably wondering did I manage to get the front wheel off the ground. Yeah; by a couple of inches for a second or two. Plus it didn’t take more than a couple of stop signs before I felt comfortable enough to attempt the maneuver. Mind you now, I ride a Deuce. I’m not used to doing wheelies. Sure I can get the Deuce’s front wheel off the pavement by an inch or two for a second but the accompanying adrenalin rush often leaves me a bit drained both emotionally and physically. While the act of getting the Live Wire’s front wheel up was exhilarating the bike felt so stable during the process that I wasn’t as stressed by the behavior.

    I seldom ride sport bikes (metrics) so I’m probably not the one to comment on the handling characteristics of a sport bike-styled motorcycle. That said the thing handled like it was part of my anatomy. It’s almost like it was intuitive. I swear it could anticipate when I wanted to make a turn.

    When I got back to the dealership and the Harley-Davidson people asked me what I thought about the Live Wire I told them that if they could adapt the battery so that it would give me 150-200 miles on a charge and then modify it so that it would fully charge up inside of a half an hour from a standard 110 AC outlet and then design a model that looked like a Twin-Cam Softail Custom, and of course they’d have to price the thing right, there’s a good chance that I would consider buying one.

    I was fortunate; one of the guys in my test-ride group had owned a Zero electric bike. The Zero has a range extending feature that will allegedly give the bike around 170 miles of range. He considered it the ultimate commuter vehicle. The bike could be charged from a standard 110 AC outlet. He would ride it to work and leave it charging all day so that it was ready for the return commute. He told me that the Live Wire felt like it handled a little better and packed a little more torque that his Zero.

    Never, during my life-time, did I think I would ride an electric motorcycle. Either I’ve out-lived my expectations or the engineers involved with the project have over-achieved.

    Jay didn’t happen to mention that the rear-view mirrors on the prototype were essentially useless in their position under the bars. I remember having to contort my aging neck into painful positions in an attempt to checkout traffic to my rear.

    Keep the good stuff comin’ Jay I’ll see you at The Love Ride

  2. 2 Woody Aug 15th, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    “with some needed improvements regarding range now limited to 50 miles” and there lies the crux of the problem. You can’t demand technology by snapping your fingers and it’s silly to put something into production prior to it being feasible (unless you’re getting subsidized to “just do it anyway”). There’s no lack of $$$ incentive to develop the batteries needed to make electric vehicles or cure cancer, and eventually we’ll get both, but it seems silly to offer substandard products in the meantime.

  3. 3 Axzl Aug 15th, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    And what do we do with all the toxic waste that these batteries become after they die?

  4. 4 martin twofeather Aug 15th, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Should have been Tesla not general electric!

  5. 5 nicker Aug 16th, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Electrified transpiration is OK for running errands.
    But for gear-heads there is no point in owning a scooter that can’t be customized beyond Paint & Bling.

    So where does that leave “an industry” built around customizing a ride with 4 moving parts.


  6. 6 G.O. Aug 17th, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Id say ask the electric drag bike guys what they think about this bike..they continually strive to eek more power from their creations and seem to continue to gain additional speed & times out of their machines..so the aftermarket potential is still there to a degree. Those guys are easily doing over 200mph right out of the box…ask Larry McBride what he thinks…hes’s ridden one several runs and broke a record first time out..

  7. 7 nicker Aug 17th, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    “… aftermarket potential is still there to a degree …”

    Fine, but the point is:
    “To the degree” that it would support a custom MC “Industry”………… ???


  8. 8 Woody Aug 18th, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    @nicker-except for exhaust mfrs. there will be every bit as much for the aftermarket to develop for e-bikes (once they find a battery design that will make them a full-use bike) since there are all the usual add-ons. Different wheels, tins, lighting, handlebars, seats, bling etc. The electrical aspect lends itself to HUGE aftermarket performance items, as there are endless “maps” to control how much current is available and how it’s delivered. We’ll also see “performance re-winding” options and complete new electric motor swap kits no different than what S&S offers now. E-bikes have the potential for more aftermarket $$$ than a 30″ front wheel 😉 (WHEN BATTERY TECHNOLOGY IMPROVES)

  9. 9 Blackmax Aug 18th, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Just one (Rich) man’s opinion
    Would I test ride the damn thing?
    Damn Skippy, I would !!!!
    Would I Buy one?
    Hell, F^(&ing No !!!
    Not even if they fixed the mileage problem
    I like my noisy, gas-gussling V-twins (and Parallel twins) just fine

  10. 10 nicker Aug 20th, 2014 at 12:03 am


    Well OK if you say so….. But i don’t see it.

    I’m with Blackmax on this.
    I’ll even go as far as putting a teaspoon of bean oil in the gas tank just to make on old Triumph “smell” period correct…… 🙂


  11. 11 Woody Aug 20th, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Mmmmm, bean oil 🙂 Seriously though, the only downside may be the next tuners/choppers looking like they escaped the corporate IT Dept instead of a machine shop.

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