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What it's Like to Live With a LiveWire in New York City

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Jalopnik released a new review of what it's like to live with the the LiveWire in New York City.

When I tell my friends that I ride a motorcycle in New York City as my daily, they think I’m crazy. When I tell them it’s an all-electric 2022 LiveWire One, they think I’m absolutely nuts for a multitude of reasons. But an electric motorcycle is the ultimate form of transportation in the city, and I’m here to tell you why.

Charging and Range
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Nearly every time I park or stand near my bike, at least one person will walk up to me and say something to the effect of, “Cool bike! Electric? What’s the range?” Sometimes I feel like I should walk around with an FAQ card, or a LiveWire spec sheet.

Electric vehicles thrive in the city. My LiveWire One gets nearly 150 miles of riding in city traffic when fully charged, thanks to the low speeds and frequent regenerative braking. Admittedly, things get a little worse on the highway, where I average around 70-80 miles per full charge.

The truth is that sustained high speeds drain the battery faster, while stop-and-go traffic keeps the battery happy and drains it at a slower rate.

With my typical use in city traffic, I only really need to charge the bike once a week. Many parking garages in Manhattan have some sort of EV charging station available. If not, I can still charge the LiveWire using a standard 120-volt wall plug — albeit slowly.

The apartment building I live in has an underground garage where I’m allowed to plug in and recharge. I gain about 11 miles of range per hour when charging on a conventional wall plug, but I can fill a depleted battery in an hour or less if I can find a Level 3 charger.

I take the LiveWire on day trips to places like Bear Mountain, which is around 90 minutes outside the city, to do some cruising. I’ll typically plan to stop and charge somewhere scenic while I eat lunch. As long as I’ve planned ahead, range hasn’t been an issue.

Admittedly, this is not a road trip vehicle. I wish it could be, but it just isn’t made for that. Thankfully, I picked up a MotoTote Max hitch-mounted rack for my Lexus GX470 so I can bring the LiveWire with me on road trips. I’m in Florida on a work project this month, and was stoked to bring my bike with me. I get a lot of questions about how I set up my SUV to haul a 560-pound bike comfortably, but that’s another story that deserves its own post.

Parking and Security
I keep my SUV in the city but use it mainly for hauling gear or traveling outside of Manhattan; parking any car in the city for errands or meetings is difficult and expensive. These challenges almost never apply when you have a motorcycle.

I’ll often just hop on my motorcycle and ride to a meeting anywhere in the city, parking essentially wherever I fit on the street. You’d be amazed how easy it is to fit a motorcycle between parallel-parked cars, even in those neighborhoods where parking is basically a blood sport.

I worry about theft, but the LiveWire One has a fork lock and a built-in GPS tracker with a cellular transmitter that alerts me via text if anyone touches it while I’m away. Its anti-theft technology is certainly not 100 percent secure against a determined thief, but the features are reassuring. Just to be safe, I try not to park it outside overnight in the city.

Performance and Handling
If you’ve watched enough 0-60 mph EV videos on YouTube, then you’re aware that electric vehicles have gobs of torque. Riding an EV motorcycle is like strapping yourself to a very quiet rocketship with no clutch to pull and no gears to shift. The Livewire One will go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in three seconds flat, and is even rumored to have a top speed (locked by the manufacturer) that would give a Lamborghini a run for its money.

Some people ask me if I miss shifting gears and hearing the loud exhaust of a conventional motorcycle. Listen, I’ve owned plenty of American muscle cars from the ’60s, and have a Porsche 964 as a project car. I love rowing my own gears and listening to the music of my car’s exhaust, but there’s something to be said for a motorcycle that offers immediate power, doesn’t transmit any heat to its rider, and is quiet enough that I can easily hear traffic around me.

Atop my LiveWire, I can focus on maneuvering through city traffic instead of shifting gears. I know it’s not for everyone, but if you keep an open mind, you can learn to love the benefits of an electric motorcycle. Not to mention, most EV bikes have adjustable drive modes that change the torque output, throttle response and regenerative brake settings to suit your mood or riding conditions.

One potential issue with electric motorcycles is weight: they are heavy. My current LiveWire One, and the Zero DS I owned previously, both weigh about 100 pounds more than comparable gas-burning bikes. That being said, they both handle really well and love carving corners. These EV bikes carry their weight low in the frame, and at speed, both bikes feel very light on their feet.

Faults and Challenges
As you can tell by now, I love my EV motorcycle. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize its faults, which basically come down to three challenges:
  • Price: Most electric motorcycles are significantly more expensive than their gas-burning competitors. You have to really want the performance, style and distinct riding dynamics of an EV bike to pay the premium.
  • Range: No, EV bikes aren’t road trip machines... yet. And they’re not ideal for folks who live in rural areas far from charging stations. Right now, electric motorcycles do well in urban settings that have a good charging network and mostly stop-and-go traffic.
  • Charging: This is the biggest issue with EVs right now (and not just with electric motorcycles). I can’t tell you how often I’ll go to a charging station and find half its chargers are broken or offline. This is an issue with new Level 3 chargers especially. Things are steadily improving now that EVs are getting more popular. But for now, I still rely on apps to find charging stations, or to research which EV stations are active and get good reviews before planning to use them along new routes.
Verdict and Conclusion

Look, I can list a bunch of reasons why I love my EV motorcycle, but it’s hard to fully understand until you ride one yourself. The experience is just so unlike that of riding a combustion-powered bike. The LiveWire One is smooth, silent and powerful. As with any enthusiast vehicle, there are drawbacks and sacrifices to be made. But when I’m zipping around NYC on the LiveWire — riding a wave of instant, silent torque — the bike’s shortcomings are the last thing on my mind.
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Certainly true for Portland Oregon as well. But maybe slightly better for having open roads in range.
I spend a lot of my time currently in a dense urban environment that gets very hot in the summer. The LW is the bike I'll pick over the other 11 I have almost every time. I can easily go for 2 weeks on about 60% of my charge. No engine/exhaust/radiator heat baking my crotch or the rest of me. The instant acceleration, excellent brakes, and good handling make the LW an excellent urban vehicle.

Unless I plan on traveling way outside the city limits, I don't ride any of my other bikes as often as before. As a result, I am seriously thinking about selling some of them since basically with the LW all I need is a decent touring bike and maybe a bike for my track days. While the LW wasn't cheap, it might save me money in the end.

While it has some quirks, I think HD got a lot of things right. I still hate the lack of fast L2 charging.
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Now that I have 9 Kwpr hour in house for my dads car I do see your point.. I also kinda hate the lack of a charge timer...
Charge timer is another annoyance. I am just going to order the Setec CCS charge and wire it in. It will basically be an L3 charger that will be operating at L2 speeds. I can also use it with one of my Teslas and I'll take advantage of the federal tax credit for charging infrastructure. It is a 30% tax credit up to 1k for the charger and installation. That greatly reduces the effective cost for me and my usage LW will benefit a lot from it.
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Charge timer is another annoyance. I am just going to order the Setec CCS charge and wire it in. It will basically be an L3 charger that will be operating at L2 speeds. I can also use it with one of my Teslas and I'll take advantage of the federal tax credit for charging infrastructure. It is a 30% tax credit up to 1k for the charger and installation. That greatly reduces the effective cost for me and my usage LW will benefit a lot from it.
Setec CCS charge? Is this what you're talking about?
What power does it require in your house to install? I attempted to parse the sure but failed.
I am going to order the 10kW version. It is their "portable" charger. It is this one here.

All you need is 220V singe phase (it does support 3 phase but unlikely your home will have that). Based on some conversation in another thread somewhere here, it should supply about 7-8kW to the LW. So from empty to full, it would charge in about 2 hours. I am mostly looking at being able to increase the charge level a significant amount in about an hour of charging.

So often I go out and the bike may be lower charge level than comfortable. I only get about an 8-9% increase per hour of charging. So with this I can keep my bike at a lower SOC (state of charge) when not needed yet charge up fairly quickly when I want to go somewhere. The lower average SOC will reduce battery degradation. I am not charging super fast this way either so not putting as much stress on the battery either and I can dial it back on the Setec to a lower setting.

I plan to wire it to a NEMA 14-50 outlet so I can easily remove it if I move. That limits my input to 40amps continuous. With the CCS1 connector, I can use an adaptor for my Tesla which will charge faster than the Tesla mobile connector (32a) but not as quick as my Tesla wall connector (48a). So it is a win/win. It negates the LW's crappy L1/L2 charging rate with something a lot quicker but not such a high rate that it will be very detrimental to the battery.

Also it is pretty affordable. I think I'll be under 3k delivered and installed. Then I'll get the $1k tax credit, which is better than a tax deduction (about 2.5:1 for me), and it costs me less than an onboard charger upgrade for a Zero.
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Ah this makes sense then... I could see this being worth it for multiple vechicals. Still not the same value as a $400 L2 but worth it for your longer commute.
That is my thought. I can dial up or down the output of the Setec depending on my needs. Based on back of the napkin math, it might do 0-100% in about 1.8 hours. So only about 40-50 min slower than at a fast L3 charger and the convenience of home.

If you have a NEMA 14-50, makes it super easy to wire in and then it is "portable". That does limit the input though to 40 amps which limits the output of the Setec. I am okay with that as I mentioned it is faster than my Tesla portable charger and far faster than the L1/L2 of the LW. Given the tax credit is so advantageous, it is a no-brainer for me. Putting on a NEMA connector makes it plug and play for me.

I've also found that getting a NEMA 14-50 wired in typically isn't expensive. Alternatively, there are options so you would plug share with a 220v dryer as well. So if you had a dryer in the garage, would be simple and cheap to do (relatively) but that would limit you to about a 30 amp circuit I believe. Your LW would still charge much faster than L1, and it is still tax deductible.

The tax credit is just icing on the cake and the added convenience and usability is worth more than the less than 2k net it will cost me. AND... if I get another electric bike that supports CCS charging, I can use it with it if I ever get rid of the LW as some point. I can also hardwire it in and get higher output if I really need it with another vehicle. So it sort of future-proofs my EV charging environment.

Most importantly if eliminates my biggest gripe with the LW; slow home charging options.
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