SINCE the launch of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, most of the dirt aimed at the machine is the now-familiar range, recharge, and price type of chatter. Fair enough, the first electric bike from H-D is a pricey bit of kit, but as this story confirms, it’s not limited to just urban riding.
Diego Cardenas is the man who spent his 50th birthday doing what he loves, riding bikes. After lending his newly acquired Harley-Davidson LiveWire out to US journos for some road tests, he came to the opinion that a long-distance (like, properly long-distance) trip on the machine was not out of the question.
To put the theory to the test, Cardenas decided to celebrate hitting the half-century in style, by riding south to north, from the Mexican border to the start of Canada, a mammoth 1,400 miles.
Rather than simply taking the bike to the extremes, with speed runs or an Iron Butt Rally (1,000 miles per day), Cardenas decided to try and disprove some of the myths that accompany electric motorcycles – most of which are held by people who have never ridden one.
To help plan the trip, Cardenas used the Plugshare app, allowing him to plan a route that included charging spots on the way. As an IT engineer and scuba diver, he also knew that planning for the unforeseen was important, meaning that a plan-B charging point was always needed in case of broken charging stations.
Speaking to Elektrek about his trip, he said:
“My biggest concern was broken stations! I was a scuba diver in the past and I am an IT professional, so I know that redundancy or backup systems are needed to avoid downtime. So, when I started to plan the trip using the Plugshare app, I would try to locate charge stops that had multiple stations and a secondary stop within a few miles of the primary one.
“Now keep in mind some locations that were planned did not have an option, especially the I-5 corridor in the central California valley or entering Oregon. For the most part, it all panned out. I also tried to arrive at each stop with at least 7 miles of range so in case of an emergency I could reach the secondary station. There was one instance where there was no backup station and the primary was down, so I decided to end that day’s run early and spend the night at a hotel where I charged with the bike’s Level 1 cable.”
Considering the ride took place in summer, it wasn’t the bike or Cardenas that ran into problems. In fact, the only time the bike had to be moved under another vehicle’s steam was when his wife fainted from heat exposure!
“On my third day on the road, my wife suffered a heat stroke episode during one of our stops and fainted. I triaged her on the spot and got her back up. We rested in the car for a few hours, and once she felt better, I asked her if she wanted me to call it quits. My family comes before anything else in life. She told me that she was fine, and she wanted me to continue. So, we got back on the road for the next 80 or so miles.
“When I got to my next stop, I realized that I did not have the bike’s key fob. That meant the bike would not start if I turned it off! So, after exhausting all options, including trying to start the bike with my PIN, we had to trailer the bike back 80 miles to see if we could find the key where she fainted. Upon our arrival we did not find the key, so plan C was initiated, which was to have my oldest daughter send me my spare key fob from LA. This meant I had to stop for another day and a half on the journey.”
While the feat of riding up the west coast of the US still doesn’t totally show that electric bikes are on a par with their petrol-powered competitors, it does at least prove that with some planning and forethought, a long tour on an electric bike isn’t out of the question.
It is probably best to take a support crew in tow though!