Harley Davidson: Project Live Wire

 

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Some of The Miss-Fires that attended the Project Live Wire unveiling party at Harley Davidson NYC. Leeft to right: Rachael, Corinna, Suzanne, Valerie, Robyn, Melissa, and Shillae.

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Recently, several members of The Miss-Fires were invited to be among the first to view and ride the first HD built prototype electric motorcycle, Project Live Wire. We attended the party at their new, show room store in Soho, where we were able to try the bike out on a stationary rig that allowed you to feel the bikes 0-60 in under 4 second potential. It was a great night of wine and discussion about the future of motorcycling with the men and women behind the concept bike. It left us all itching to get home, rest up and head back over the next day to try the bikes out on a street test ride. Here are 4 very different riders thoughts on Project Live Wire…

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Heidi Hackemer

You know how everyone is running around talking about “the future”? This watch is the future or this phone is the future or this stupid dating app is the future. I work with a lot of tech companies so I hear this shit a lot. So when this bike came around, I was definitely curious, but I also was internally rolling my eyes a bit at the “future” hype. I love Harley, but feared that the brand was buying into it’s own bullshit with this talk.

But despite my future hype jadedness, I WAS really looking forward to getting on this bike. I’m a Wisconsin native and grew up about an hour away from Harley headquarters. People from home bleed Harley. It’s religion. And when it came time to get my proper bike, even though I flirted with other makes, at the end of the day there really was no question for me. It was always going to be a Harley. I ride a 48 Sportster and I’m really in love with my bike. She’s a rumbling brute and I love being a part of the Harley gang.

So I was psyched to get on it and hoping that it was as futuristic as they were saying, as I’m always rooting for Harley to win.

I got on the night my test ride at the party and my first reaction to the bike was shock at how light it felt. I was tipping that thing pretty hard side to side and I felt like I was playing with a toy.

The next day was the test ride. I have to admit, it felt a little odd to hop on a Harley, hit the power button and essentially hear nothing. I always, regardless if I’m just going on a short trip, love that moment when I start my bike and it roars to life. It always feels like it’s time to play. So to see a touch-screen light up instead was a bit odd, but also kinda charming in a weird way.

I’m sure the other girls can evaluate the ride of the bike better as they’re way more experienced, but my short take on the specific handling is that it was really easy to manipulate and handled NYC bumps and bangs well. Also, the jump in acceleration was really nice. I felt like had I had the chance to open it up more I could have really gone.

The negatives? The braking is odd, so fast and absolute. I’m sure I would get used to how to work it, but the first time got some speed and then slowed down I felt like I was going to go over the handlebars. Missfire over! Oh my god I would have never lived that down. Ha!

I also do worry about the lack of sound. The sound that it makes is really cool – I felt like I was in Star Wars. But, as we all say, a loud bike is a safe bike and I definitely use my engine as a signal, especially in the city. This bike doesn’t have that sound and you can’t rev it to get some stupid driver or pedestrian who is texting to wake up. That worries me.

Finally, I’d love to Harley up the look a bit. I think they went more plastics in the body because the battery is heavy, but personally I’d like to be able to grunge, matte and/or blackout the bike.

My overall experience, however is this: you know when you’re going on a long ride and you get up into your high gears, sit back and get into the zone? Where you feel like you’re floating? This bike felt like that even at ten miles an hour. It feels otherworldly, like you’re on a cloud. That sense of float left such an impression on me. I wanted to ride it for an hour to see if the sensation held.

Overall, I think this is a great step forward for the brand. This bike isn’t competing with my 48 anytime soon. It’s just a different bike. And that’s totally cool.

Looking at it through my urban lens, I think there’s so much potential with this bike. I believe the charging infrastructure will exist in the cities, it’s light and easy to handle so men and women can get on board and I hope that the eventual price point gets it to mass accessibility.

When you consider that 75% of the world’s population is going to be urban by 2025, and cities are going to be crowded and difficult to transverse (check out the traffic issues in Sao Paulo or the public transport issues in Tokyo for a glimpse of that future), motorcycling seems to be a really smart transportation option of the future. And to think that Harley is making something that is environmentally friendly, city friendly, gender friendly… well, it makes this little Wisconsin girl proud.
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Melissa Diaz

I want one now! Loved riding the Harley Davidson LiveWire! The Future is here! Amazing piece of art and technology!

Just got to do some single block laps dreaming of being on the West Side Highway, but I’ll definitely take it on being allowed to ride a $200k prototype! Really crazy having no clutch and being in “drive” as soon as the motorcycle is on, even though it’s completely silent. And, letting this thing respond to put itself in neutral once you completely stop was interesting and then you just hit the throttle to take off. And, once I got to open her up, take off indeed. No problem speeding well the heck up. A caution that as soon as you let up on throttle the bike completely slows to stop, so you gotta tap the brake so others behind you know you’re stopping. Sure, one guy who rides an HD White Glide did say it sounded like he was riding a vacuum cleaner (though 5 minutes later he was really into the ride) but I seriously dig the futuristic sound and feeling like I’m borrowing one of Tom Cruise’s Oblivion or Mission Impossible Motorcycles!

I couldn’t love electric and innovation more, plus the thought of no more wars/battles guarding oil fields/rigs or depleting our planet’s natural resources. The cost of the electric for the same 100 mile charge that my monster goes with also be somewhere around a 10th of the price!

I’d like to think I may have to be first in line once this bike is released (and a full figure is dropped to make it (hopefully low) 5 figures to obtained). I’m definitely smitten!

Your turn next Ducati!

 

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Valerie Figarella (MotorGrrl)

And, a mega thanks to Megan Baldock and Harley’s COO Matt Levatich for personally inviting my staff and I to this event.  I’d also like to give props to  The Miss-Fires,  for spreading the word.  Truly this group of ladies and my staff is like no other, whom I couldn’t be prouder to ride with and who’ve already given me so many amazing experiences but today’s prototype riding lunch break will surely be one of my best ever!

The Big Buzz Electric motorcycles,  I think everyone we know has friend or knows a friend of  friend doing a prototype on electric cycles.  Zero so far has been the leader in with the most per mile per charger factor.   Harley Davidson is no cupcake when it come to R&D. From the risk with Buell to now, the electric trend.

Not letting pride and tradition get in their way to keep up with Jones’.  It’s  great to see Harley step outside it’s comfort zone from big burly loud traditional American motorcycles to  it’s counterpart:  “Project Live Wire” – a sport bike with quick braking that’s super quite (uber quite) and Star Trekky futuristic display,  their electric prototype.

HD is sure challenging it’s customers and potential customer.  Their prototype “Project Live Wire” is automatic has a  mono shock and a front floating rotor still leaves me with some questions .  Though I didn’t have the opportunity to open the throttle, I did get the  gist of its lightness, cornering, maneuverability, and quick braking power (especially upon deceleration) .   The word on the street is people( including myself) miss the loud heart pounding  rumble of a Harley.  I think it’s great to see Harley break through barriers and try different things and continue to be a force in this industry.  But I think, they need to make a loud electric bike.  I will always love and treasure our American Beauty: an old school Harley Davidson; it will never get old.

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Corinna Mantlo

I can honesty say I have no idea why I got an 8am phone call on a saturday morning from Harley Davidson in Florida, inviting me to test ride their newest creation, as i’m generally the only weirdo at a HD event on vintage british iron, and though i giggled to myself for days about the spectacle I’d make arriving for the test ride on my 1968 BSA Lightning hotrod, and having to ask where the kickstart is on this new fangled future thing, I was thrilled to have been selected and truly excited to ride the bike.

I am in complete support of the engineering pioneers building the future of motorcycles. Electric motorcycles even now, with their limited 70 mile range fill perfectly a need for fuel conserving, planet conscious commuting conveyances for over crowded urban environments, and with 74 hp and 52 lb-ft of torque, they also have amazing potential on the track if you can hack the electronically restricted top speed of 92 mph.

The test ride was done in heavy traffic in downtown manhattan. Not ideal conditions at all to really test the potential of the bike, or technical handling in tight turns, but I found it very interesting as like I said I think of these as the perfect mode of transport for urban commuters. For this application, the light and nibble feel of the bike was perfectly suited. The automatic transmission freed me up from my constant battle of up shifting and downshifting at ever stop light which can be maddening, and I immediately felt right at home with the smooth automatic acceleration and deceleration and the bikes unique sound. by the second time around the block I was having a blast. The bike leaned and turned around cars and corners and the suspension handled our NYC potholes well. The read out display and sound design make the future feel like Tron (1982) which I think is perfectly appropriate. It is a future bike. It shouldn’t look like it’s dressed up like a classic Harley, though I give props to the design team for styling the uber modern bike to have a unique look that still completely fits into the traditional HD branding.

I am honored to have been able to ride one of only 33 built and though Harley has no plans to release the bike for sale, it is a step in the right direction and it’s great to see Harley (who is no longer known as a company pushing the envelope to develop new bike technology) making strides for the rest of the industry to follow.

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Video Recap of Project Livewire

 

 

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