You will be stunned by our choice for the 2019 Bike of the Year! Read on.
Unlike previous years, I have not ridden a lot of the new bikes this year. Manufacturers don’t seem to like what I have to say, so they don’t readily supply them.
Reviewing new bikes is getting fairly pointless, anyway. Each year bikes get that little bit better, lighter, more economical, faster, etc.
Even on paper, there are no huge advances in performance.
As for style, that’s down to personal preference.
So the exercise of naming a bike of the year seems fairly pointless.
For example, how could an adventure bike win over a sport bike, cruiser, tourer, naked, neo-classic, etc?
And each year there seem to be new niches being added to the market to target new riders.
So for me, the bike of the year is not the fastest, most powerful, prettiest, most technological, best value, the biggest seller, etc.
In fact, the bike we have chosen seems to have been a bit of a sales flop and is quite expensive. It isn’t even available in Australia yet!
So here goes … drumroll please.
2019 Motorbike Writer Bike of the Year
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric!
This is a landmark bike in our beloved industry.
It’s the first full-size electric road motorcycle from a traditional motorcycle company.
While the others have talked about electric motorcycles and shown us some future designs and working concepts, Harley got in and produced it.
Ok, it’s been a bit of a sales flop.
The bike was supposed to be released in September, but deliveries were delayed.
Then they had to temporarily halt production to fix a fault with overheating chargers.
When they did arrive in US showrooms, customers did not exactly flock to buy them at $US30k (about $A44k).
They won’t even arrive in Australia until “late” in 2020.
And when they do, they may cost more than a full-dresser Ultra Limited tourer!
But not only is the LiveWire an historic landmark in our industry, it’s also a damn good ride.
I tested one around the streets of Portland, Oregon, and into the mountains and forests around the town.
It looks great, it’s lightning fast, super-smooth, handles very well, has loads of electronic gadgetry, it’s comfortable and brakes are exceptional given the added assistance of enormous electric motor back-torque.
Apart from the price, the drawbacks are limited range (235km city, 152km highway), about 11 hours to charge off the mains and limited fast-charging infrastructure.
These issues will slowly be overcome with rapid advances in battery technology. Cleverly, Harley will be able to update easily its battery and even its supplier.
The LiveWire won’t change the minds of those who don’t like the idea of electric motorcycles. That includes those who simply want a bike to make noise, even though the LiveWire has a pleasant “whooshing” turbine sound.
Despite finding the LiveWire exciting to ride and admiring the tech, I certainly wouldn’t own one. I still love the pulse and feel of a conventional bike.
In fact, the bike I am most looking forward to riding in 2020 is the insane 208hp Ducati Streetfighter V4!
But I’m glad an established motorcycle company finally made the leap of faith with a proper electric motorcycle.
Let’s face it; electric motorcycles are inevitable, especially with countries such as Sweden planning to ban all fossil-fuel-powered vehicles from 2030.
Our decision will not be popular, but it will cause controversy and it will get people talking about the future of motorcycling.
Let’s hope the LiveWire paves the way for a future of interesting and exciting motorcycles.