Here's my review of the Livewire:
I road my Empulse to the demo event at the HD museum. It was the longest one-day ride I've done yet. I consumed about 20 kwh of L2 charging, and about 3 kwh of L1 charging at the HD museum. The only issue was my ChargePoint RFID card must be dead because none of the stations were accepting it. Total trip distance was 204 miles per my Garmin. My last leg was 53 miles and I arrived home with 3% remaining. Perfect
On to the LiveWire. It was great to go the Milwaukee event because the Engineers that actually worked on the bike were there. Most of them had mentioned that they had ridden an Empulse and were interested in my impressions of their version. They are not going on tour, so the rest of the stops are going to be dealing with partially-trained Marketing monkeys. (In full disclosure: I was a Marketing major.) The focus of the project was to show consumers how good an electric motorcycle could be if battery technology could support the performance, and Harley's opinion is right now it can't. But I suspect they believe battery tech will soon be their definition of ready. Because of this attitude, the bike was designed around being a good demo bike without acknowledging the battery's limitations. This means no on-board charger (to charge you need something outboard to convert AC to DC...everyone else has a built in charger which is somewhat complicated to package), and tiny battery. I did pop the plug cover on the display bike to see what it was, and it looks like a MIL-SPEC connection.
It looks like they went with higher end suspension components (relatively speaking, it is a Harley). They covered everything else, so no seeing the high power electronics. I did try to ask some specific questions and got stonewalled. I asked what kind of cells, and the engineers had no info to give. I asked about Mission Motors, and again, no comment. I did ask specifically about battery overheating at highway speeds and everyone was adamant that it wasn't a problem.
On to the test ride. The reach is a lot longer than the Empulse, but leg position felt about the same. The bike felt heavier despite being 10 pounds lighter, and the steering felt much lighter (too much, IMO). The touchscreen was interesting, but hard to use while moving, and the optional information wasn't particularly useful. I wish I would have noted the odometer before I left, but it's not on the home screen and I didn't discover the odometer until after I started messing with the screen. I got on the bike with about 90% SOC. The two modes offered ~26 and ~53 miles for power and range modes, respectively. (I didn't understand this since the only difference between modes is usually peak power and throttle mapping...which really don't impact range that much unless the rider spends a lot of time at WOT. I actually get better range in Power mode on my Brammo thanks to better throttle mapping.) I selected power mode for my test ride. There is no option to switch modes once selected without turning the bike off (I can switch modes on the Brammo only when not moving). GoogleMaps' estimate has the ride at 4.3 miles, and I used about 8% of SOC. One of the riders used 12%. I estimate my Empulse would have used 4% or less with the type of riding we were doing.
Riding a direct drive was nice. I didn't miss the transmission lash of my Empulse as much as I thought I would, surprisingly (this has been a complaint of a lot of Empulse owners, including me, but I'm trying to say I didn't notice the lash not being there). The throttle tuning was new and I never felt really comfortable with it. Power would come on very slow (relative to my Brammo), but once moving it was constant and predictable. I suspect they would go more aggressive with the production version when they don't have to worry as much about people crashing their demos. (Someone did crash in the round-a-bout in my test ride group.) They said no wheelies in the pre-ride briefing, and I asked if it would do one, and they confirmed. I didn't want to be the one to test that aspect...I would bet the Empulse is faster through 1st gear, but the LiveWire would take the lead shortly after. I wish we could have gotten the bikes to highway speed to see the difference there where the high power equipment would make the biggest difference, but no such luck. They have regen mapped to bring the bike to a stop, although it is very predictable. My Brammo doesn't regen when going less than 5mph, meaning I have to brake to come to a stop.
My favorite part of the bike? The sounds. Somehow the bike has two different notes. While cruising, it sounds much like the Empulse. But accelerating or decelerating produces a hydraulic whir. Apparently that is an unintended consequence of the angle gear. It was pretty cool.
So in conclusion, this engineering exercise has similar performance to an Empulse, but can't charge and can't go more than 25 miles. I think it does a great job in putting electric motorcycles in the public's eye, and showing the type of performance that can be expected if someone buys a Brammo or Zero right now. In my (biased) opinion, the Empulse is much more refined, but Harley put forth a really good effort. When Harley is ready to move electrons, I think they will give Brammo and Zero a run for their money.