The LiveWire S2 Del Mar
Performs as good as it looks
Before we start let’s get a few things sorted, declared and clarified. LiveWire is a whole new adventure in electric machinery. When it was launched first it may, or may not, have carried the Harley, dash (don’t forget the dash, they’re very picky about that one) Davidson logo. These days it’s very much not part of the Harley range. That’s because it’s not a Harley, it’s a LiveWire. LiveWire happens to be 100% owned the people at Harley-Davidson. It’s also only available from official LiveWire dealers. These LiveWire dealers also happen to be Harley-Davidson dealers. Ownership and distribution are owned by the parent company but that’s where it ends.
Now that that’s cleared up and out of the way we'll get on with the story. The latest iteration of the LiveWire moves the game on considerably. I’ve ridden the original one I’ve found absolutely nothing to complain about. My experience was, indeed, very much the opposite. These things are nothing short of exceptional. The direct drive with no clutch or gear selector is a bit strange at first. Strange, that is, until you open the throttle. Then the fun really starts. The power keeps coming and coming and coming. With no need to do anything other than twist the throttle all of the bikes weight ‘disappears’ and it accelerates like the proverbial rocket.
Enough power and battery life to live with
The first time I rode one was on a test circuit in the south of England. The bike was impeccable in the handling stakes, and I found the acceleration to be absolutely perfect in terms of controllability. Simply roll on to go and shut off to stop. Rather like a real bike only different! LiveWire has features such as feeding power back to the battery when the throttle is closed under braking and the ‘clocks’ have been TFT affairs since way before they were seen on anything else. So much of the machine either is, or was, ground breaking.
The LiveWire has been used by the polis, as they’re known locally, in Glasgow to escort the VIPs at COP 26 a few years ago. Reducing the old carbon foot print and such. Staying with law enforcement, it’s been put to good use as part of the PSNI BikeSafe fleet.
Now the original LiveWire, or LiveWire 1, is being joined by the second model in the range, the LiveWire Del Mar.
Like almost all two wheeled EVs this is a bike which has primarily been designed for urban and extra urban riding. ‘Fuelling’ couldn’t be more convenient. It can be charged from a public charging point or from a regular domestic electricity supply. This enables the rider to make the most of the bikes ‘downtime’. The bike is easily charged when the rider is off the machine in the office, at home or anywhere else that a power supply is available.
The future looks bright
While the perception that the charge levels won’t allow for enough range or last long enough, this preconception has proven to be false. Most of us who use our bikes in the city do so for both short amounts of time as well as over relatively short distances.
But the technology is impressive. All the of the LiveWire bikes benefit from the companies ever evolving updates. These are delivered to each one wirelessly via a dedicated app which the rider pairs to each machine exclusively. These over the air updates allow the bike to receive the latest technology and improvements as they are developed in the factory.
Roll on to go and shut off to stop
The electronics suite is very interesting. The delivery through the app allows for access to a whole lot of information. This includes ‘event detection’, allowing the rider to know if the bike has been moved or knocked over when the they’re away from it, as well as having the relevant data to hand if a road traffic incident should happen.
Having the app also allows for all of this to be presented to the rider via their phone. The Del Mar's smart phone interface will also put you in control of all the bikes statistics. From here you’ll be able to see your riding history, check the weather forecast as well as your ride history. You can also store your licence and insurance details. An owners manual also ‘lives’ in here and roadside assistance can be used from the app. It’ll even let you know your bikes tyre pressure.
The bike handles impeccably
But back to the charging question. Using an up to date, level two, public charger allows the bike to charge from 20% to 80% in less than an hour and 15 minutes. If the LiveWires battery is completely flat then a few minutes short of two and a half hours will see it all the way back to 100%. Using the charge cord that comes with the bike will allow the rider to plug into any standard socket. This will take longer, cost less and make for an ideal overnight or day long ‘fill’.
Having a ‘big’ bike that doesn’t use a conventional engine, but rather one that has a relatively large battery where a motor would be on a traditional machine is intriguing. There are simply no internal moving parts in this battery and therefore no noise other than the sound of the tyres rolling. Having absolutely nothing on the left hand side of the LiveWire also makes for a novel way to ride a bike. There’s no gearbox, so no clutch lever and no gear shifter. Power is delivered via choice of different modes, the usual rain, road and sport. Rather remarkably it still manages to weigh in at only 195.5kg kg,
As a result of all this the ergonomics are the same as any other traditional bike of the same style but the riding experience is vastly different.
I've found nothing to complain about
LiveWire sits on a pair of 19’ wheels. To my mind this shouldn’t work. They would appear to be the wrong sized wheels. But they do work and they work perfectly well. Mind you this was always ging to be the case since it sits on a pair of fully adjustable Showa forks which are complimented by a monoshock from the same people down the back.
I’ve found nothing to complain about
All of this is very good, but as a traditional motorcyclist the bike is a whole lot of fun to ride because of it’s fantastic power delivery. Because it’s a direct drive affair there’s no building up the power through the rev range , it simply sends it to the back wheel instantly. The rider simply controls how much gets delivered with the throttle. The acceleration is, indeed very impressive, it can go from zero to 100KPH in a time of only three seconds. The roll-on acceleration, meanwhile, is like something from a sci fi movie with a staggering 263 Nm of torque on tap! What’s not to like?
Management of all this power is controlled via a 6-Axis IMU and Bosch technology. There’s also cornering ABS which runs independently on each wheel as well as a list of new technology.
The piece of electronic support that I find particularly interesting is the drag torque slip control. What this manages is the rear wheel slip. Once the bike is rolling at over 15 kilometres an hour this will join forces with the ABS system and prevent the LiveWires rear wheel from locking when using it’s battery power regenerating brake function.
All of this is complimented by an equally clever traction control system, the cornering ABS availability is also part of the new bikes ‘talent’. With all that torque on tap it would be easy to experience some unpleasantness if the bike couldn’t transfer it to the street. The traction control will ensure that the rear wheel doesn’t spin up and will do so even in the rain.
New riding opportunities abound on the Del Mar edition of the Livewire. All of this stuff sets a new benchmark for two wheeled EV machines across the market, not just in their own brand.
The electric motorcycle offerings continue to evolve. The electric race series run by Ducati promises huge learnings and a significant opportunity to move the game on.
For us civilians a test ride is readily available from Belfast Harley-Davidson. The two H-D stores here in the Republic are not yet LiveWire dealers. If you’re buying from the southern part of the country they’ll sell you one ex VAT and without the VRT and also sans a ‘blond’ reg plate. You can then import it yourself. At the moment there is very little clarification on how the Irish state will trat the taxation on these and other EVs.
Just wear some PPE when you’re on one. Riding around in a suit might look cool but it offers any of us the opportunity to really regret our choices!