Yes, 100% electric- Forbes’ headline was “Hell Freezes Over.” For angels and devils alike, Saturday was time for some good clean fun, at least briefly. Project LiveWire is, currently, not Product LiveWire. The Harley-Davidson Motor Company is taking the rideable demonstrator bikes on tour, officially to gauge interest and get rider feedback (though see below). I caught the caravan at Brian’s Harley-Davidson, between Philadelphia and Trenton (thanks Brian!).
Anyone familiar with Harley-Davidson knows that, if nothing else, they’re experts at brand management and promotion; this tour date was no exception. It had to be; LiveWire is both a leading-edge technology and “wedge technology,” in a wedge demographic. I’ve already seen a call for a boycott from Harley hardliners. Hardliners created, in part, by prior successes at branding.
What you’d notice right away- even before stepping in the canopy- is the sound of the “Jumpstart” test stand doing a run. Previously, Harley-Davidson brought static motorcycles to events, with the rears on dummy dynamometers. Bike novices could twist a real, working throttle for the first time, and be introduced to Harley’s hallmark growl and rumble without actually knowing how to ride. For the LiveWire tour, the Jumpstart version lets people experience near-ideal “throttle” response, with little or no spool-up lag, clutch losses, or other drivetrain slop. Just realtime torque, throughout a near-ideal powerband too. EV enthusiasts know that shifting and clutches/torque converters are actually bug fixes, not features. Now the Jumpstart “riders” do, too. In any case, the throttle curve could be reprogrammed arbitrarily by someone with access. Continue reading