I was at Great South Harley Davidson in Newnan, GA on Tuesday 10/07/14 doing a sticker stop for The JOY FM. The Project Live Wire 18-wheeler was in the parking lot. Project Live Wire is Harley’s experiment with electric motorcycles. They’ve made around 30 of the bikes and are taking them to 30 dealerships around the US, Canada and Europe through 2015. The plan is to allow riders to try out the bikes and provide some feedback. Harley will then study that information and decide whether or not to proceed with manufacturing the Live Wire.
Test rides were going to be available at Great South that Thursday through Saturday. I had already scheduled a day off for Friday, but since riders had to reserve a test ride slot ahead of time, I figured there was little chance that there was still a spot available. I checked with Kevin Lloyd, the general manager, and I was right. All of the test rides had been spoken for, except for the five Kevin had held back for media. And I qualified as media, so I grabbed a slot.
My test ride was scheduled for 12:45 PM on Friday. My wife, Teri, and I showed up a little before Noon. I filled out some paperwork, signed a fairly standard waiver (I think it was standard, I was a little too eager to throw a leg over the Live Wire to actually read the thing), watched a short training video and then entered the staging area with the three other riders who made up my group. We each got on a bike and sat through a short briefing with a Harley rep. And then it was out onto the road.
[A short video of my Live Wire experience]
The Live Wire is amazingly quiet, only making a slight jet engine-like noise on acceleration and a bit of a whirring sound, reminiscent of the flying cars on the Jetsons, on deceleration. There’s no clutch or shifter on the Live Wire, the only controls for making the bike go or stop are the throttle and the brakes. And the brakes are almost extraneous, the throttle response is so immediate that rolling forward on it slows the bike with no hesitation. But I did use the brake, if only to flash the brake light so the rider behind me wouldn’t run up my back at stop signs.
The ride itself lasted around 15 minutes, taking us on a few back roads near the dealership and then onto US 29 where we could open the Live Wire up a little, to around 60 mph. That responsive throttle didn’t take much of a twist to hit that speed. I wish we’d had a little more open road and time to see more of what the Live Wire was capable of. But that 15 minutes will have to do, at least for now. If Harley does bring the Live Wire to market, and it’s priced within my budget, I’ll be lining up at Great South, at least for another test ride.