I had the opportunity to spend some time with a 2019 H-D Livewire. Just in case you have not heard of the bike, Livewire is Harley-Davidson's entry into the electric motorcycle market.

Is it a beginner's bike? Just the nearly $30k price tag would make me say "no", but the feel of that cost could be relative. So, "maybe". How about power? Most of H-D's promotion of Livewire has dwelt a LOT on the enormous amount of power that the bike can send to the rear tire. Is it true? Don't doubt the advertising at all, from 30 mph to 70 mph Livewire is capable of greater acceleration than any other bike that I have ridden. This includes late model BMW S1000RR, Yamaha R1, and an AMA pro Aprilia 1000. However, Livewire has something that none of the other bikes has, tremendously adjustable power modes. Livewire is packaged with four pre-set modes and can hold up to three user programmed modes. In Sport mode, yes, the power is pretty nearly unusable unless you have a lot of straight road in front of you. However, in Rain mode, Livewire is incredibly docile. The H-D XG500s that we use in the Riding Academy New Rider Course may be more aggressive. Livewire, set to Rain mode, would be very, very, beginner friendly.

How about weight? At 550 lbs, not bad at all. Better than that, the weight is very well distributed. Since nearly all of Livewire's weight is in the energy store (battery), with that mass dead centered in the machine, the whole package is surprisingly easy to manage. By weight and dimensions, Livewire is pretty beginner friendly, but not for riders with short inseam. Livewire's seat height is in the moderate to tall range. The riding position is somewhere between standard and sport. Seating is pretty much upright but the foot pegs are pretty much straight down from the seat. I liked it, but among H-D riders, was in the minority.

Livewire's componentry seems top notch. Front and rear suspension are high-quality, fully adjustable, fully rebuildable, latest technology, from Showa. The ride was very, very, nice. Very controlled and soaked up roadway irregularities with minimal fuss. Since my test riding was restricted to an urban setting, all curves were pretty low speed so I cannot comment on how well Livewire does under more sporting conditions. I suspect, well, though.

If you like gadgetry and technology, Livewire will keep you entertained. You can stay at the basic level with the bike's controls and adjustments, or go deep into the various systems and fine tune Livewire to every conceivable riding condition. My favorite power mode was "Range", one up from Rain. Road and Sport produced more power than was necessary and did not have Regenerate settings high enough to recover much energy. Range provided very good, easily usable, power and response, along with an easy to live with Regeneration level that notably extended Livewire's range. To the rider, Regeneration feels like you are using the rear brake. In Range mode, it feels like moderate rear brake use.

In addition to power modes and regeneration, Livewire also has ABS which works very nicely, far better than any other H-D I have ridden. Livewire's ABS also works when leaned over. The degree to which ABS intervenes varies with lean angle. Pretty neat. Related to ABS, Livewire has Drag Torque control. DTC prevents rear wheel lockup, ABS alone takes car of overbraking but DTC prevents Regeneration from putting too much drag on the rear drive too. Livewire does not have linked braking or hill-hold control. Hill holding is a non-issue though because Livewire does not use a manual transmission or clutch. Livewire has traction control that functions in a straight line and while leaned. Depending on the setting chosen, the rear tire can be allowed to spin under acceleration but power will be managed if things get out of control. TC can be turned off and you are on your own.

So, Livewire is a really sophisticated, really expensive, motorcycle which can be set to be quite beginner friendly. However, there would be the need to avoid the temptation of setting the thing to Wacko mode. I can envision that a lot of Livewires could have very short lifespans.

One more thing, at every charge, it took less time than predicted.