The electric motorcycle world is hotting up with the announcement of the Harley Davidson LiveWire and the Victory Empulse TT. So which one would we have?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that the Harley is just a concept, a vision of what could be. Concepts always have the wild edges smoothed off when it comes to the finished version. The Empulse TT is a real live motorbike that is heading into production, so we’re comparing apples and oranges here for a start.
The Empulse TT is a revised and rebranded version of the Brammo Empulse R and its set to go on sale in the US. Parent company Polaris claims a typical range of 65 miles, which really isn’t a lot, although with careful throttle management and the regenerative braking in full effect then you can squeeze 100 miles out of the bike. Then the Empulse takes 3.9 hours to charge from flat, providing you have the Stage 2 charger to hand.
While one of the major benefits of battery power is that you just don’t need a gearbox, the Empulse TT has one to enhance the sporting feel. Riders can just leave the bike in third and treat it like a twist and go, or shuffle through the gears like Valentino Rossi, the choice is yours.
Handling should be adequate, too, a dryweight of 213kg means the bike isn’t the spriteliest on the market, but considering the high capacity battery on board it is no heavyweight either and it should be more than a match for the Harley Davidson. Harleys have never been the best handling bikes on the market, let’s be honest.
The LiveWire was hailed as the most radical move in Harley Davidson’s 111-year history when it was unveiled and it certainly looks like no Harley that has gone before. The American firm could have been forgiven for staying true to its chopper roots, but instead went truly radical and drew inspiration from former subsidiary Buell with its electric sportsbike.
It weighs in at 210kg and comes with the electrical equivalent of 74hp, which is a big advantage over the Empulse, although it gives up some torque with just 52lb/ft at its disposal.
The Harley is limited to 95mph, so the performance edge goes to the Polaris, but then there are so many neat touches on the American bike, including the TFT screen, that it will win legions of fans when it inevitably goes on sale. Until then, fans will have to make do with its appearance in the Avengers film and a plethora of on-screen cameos that will build anticipation, but it’s hard to believe this bike won’t eventually hit the market.
When it does, there will be other major players battling it out for the title of the best electric bike in the world. But when a bike comes with the emotive Harley-Davidson name, Buell styling and the kind of buzz that this machine has generated without even hitting production, it’s hard to bet against the LiveWire.