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Experience the future
Charging the Harley-Davidson LiveWire. Photo courtesy of Ed Darmanin.

Clean Transport

Experience the Future — Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Why would you choose to ride a Harley-Davidson LiveWire from Sydney (New South Wales) to Cape Tribulation in Queensland, and take the longest route? This is the question I asked Ed Darmanin in a recent interview. It is all about the challenge, the sense of adventure, and of course, the recapturing of a lost youth. Ed chose to ride his electric motorcycle 3800 km winding up and down mountains on back roads, rather than the direct route up the highway which is only 2600 km.

Experience the future

Ed with his Harley-Davidson LiveWire. Photo courtesy of Ed Darmanin.

Inspired by the Leyland Brothers TV series in the late 1970s, Ed rode all over outback Australia on dirt bikes in his early 20s, making his own Super 8 home movies. He even tackled the Strzelecki track solo across the desert from Queensland to South Australia. More recently, Ed drew inspiration from the series The Long Way Up.

Ed’s dad passed away not too long ago and he started to realize that he, himself, was getting old. “I wanted to experience the future before it was too late,” he told me. So in April of this year he went out and bought an electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire.

Ed hadn’t been on a motorcycle for about 20 years and had never ridden north of Brisbane. So now was the time, and Cape Tribulation was the goal. He filmed the journey as it happened.

There are fewer than 50 Harley-Davidson LiveWires in Australia. The bike has a 235 km city range but on the highway riding at 110 km/h will only give you about half of that — hence the reason for the slower scenic route. “To get a longer range you need to find the cruising speed that works,” Ed explains. “So I followed the Great Dividing Range, riding at 80 to 90 kph. It was fun riding and I got more range. I could do 180 km between stops. I planned a route with fantastic roads and towns with fast charging. Most days I managed about 350 km.”

Experience the future

Charging the Harley-Davidson LiveWire. Photo courtesy of Ed Darmanin.

As you would expect from Ed (a retired electrical engineer), the trip was meticulously planned. Ed has been driving electric cars exclusively since 2015, having travelled 160,000 km in that time, and knows his mathematics. The LiveWire charges from empty in one hour at 20 kW on a DC fast charger, and 10 to 12 hours at only 1.5 kW from a power point. On a Level 2 AC fast charger, it is slow, at level 1 pace charging only. The battery capacity is 15.5 kWh, with a usable capacity of about 14 kWh.

Each day Ed would leave his motel with a full charge gained from overnight charging from a power point, time his lunch break at a town with a fast charger, then slow charge overnight ready for the next day. Ed used the Queensland Electric Super Highway.

However, things don’t always go to plan. The best example of this was the leg from Townsville to Cardwell. He left Townsville with a range of 182 km, but had to do 207 km because the charger was offline in Cardwell. Ed had to do an extra 25 km to get to the charger in Tully. He did this by riding at 60 km/h until he knew he had enough range to get to the charger, then sped up to 80 km/h. Once again, it looked like he would run short, so he dropped to 75 km/h. He arrived with 1% of range left in the tank! “On trips like that, you have to conserve energy at the beginning of the trip.”

Asked about high points of his trip, Ed recounts the challenging ride on days 2 and 3 travelling the winding mountain roads as extreme weather and flooding washed away roads in northern New South Wales. “The extreme weather, landslips, road works and gravel roads just added to the adventure while reminding me of some of the crazy trips I did in my younger days.” The Harley-Davidson LiveWire is an electric high-performance road bike, but Ed tells me that it handled the gravel roads surprisingly well and his videos appear to support that.

When he stopped to charge, people often admired the bike and asked lots of questions. One gentleman said: “never thought I’d ever see one of these — read about them but good to see it up close.”

Despite the fact that old-school Harley riders generally don’t think much of the LiveWire (“It doesn’t have that Harley Davidson rumble!”), there are some benefits in riding electric and it’s not just about the quiet ride as you cruise the backroads through mountain ranges. On a petrol motorcycle, it can be difficult to operate the clutch and the gears while leaning hard into a corner. Electric bikes have no clutch or gears, so the rider can focus more attention on getting a perfect line into and out of the corner with 100% torque on tap the whole time. There is no heat radiating from the motor or battery, so it is much cooler in heavy traffic. And when it comes to the sound, the Harley-Davidson LiveWire motor goes through a 45-degree bevel drive, so it makes a turbine-like whine when you accelerate hard, producing a unique futuristic sound all of its own.

Then there was the fun stuff. Not just the fantastic scenery and the winding roads, but the opportunity to take the bike in a lift and charge in a friend’s apartment on the 5th floor. All the power points in the garage were locked off. Kids just gotta have fun.

Something tells me that Ed Darmanin is going to continue to experience the future. I wonder what is next as he seeks another challenge with his Harley-Davidson LiveWire before it becomes too easy?

Experience the future

Welcome to Cape Tribulation. Photo courtesy of Ed Darmanin.

 
 
 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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