LiveWire Del Mar Electric Motorcycle First Ride: Test the Lightning
If the last thing you need is trying to convince your partner why you need to buy another motorcycle, then do yourself a favor and never ride a LiveWire S2 Del Mar. Because as soon as you do, you’ll want one. Believe me, it happened to me.
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle brand has just reopened reservations this morning for its second electric motorcycle model, the S2 Del Mar. The first batch of reservations opened in May for the launch edition, but they sold out within 18 minutes.
The company allowed me to do a quick test drive before bookings reopened, and now I can’t imagine going back to my old boring life before this bike.
That’s not to say the Del Mar is perfect, but the bike itself checks almost all of my boxes. The only major downside is that it’s still a bit pricey, at least for a bike that will admittedly be widely used in a commuter role by most riders.
It’s certainly more affordable than the $22,799 LiveWire One, which currently serves as the brand’s flagship electric motorcycle. LiveWire had hoped to launch the production version of the LiveWire S2 Del Mar at a price closer to $15,000, but inflationary pressures and supply chain drama pushed the price up to $16,999. It’s still a big step in the right direction compared to the price of the LiveWire One, but it still keeps it a little out of reach for a lot of riders.
If you can swing it, you’ll be glad you did. Check out my first ride video below showing my morning ride on the S2 Del Mar. Then read on for all the details.
Video of the first round of the LiveWire S2 Del Mar
Recently Revealed Del Mar Specs
Along with opening orders for the S2 Del Mar, LiveWire also revealed more concrete specs and performance.
Updated city range is listed at 110 miles (177 km) on one charge, and we’ve also gotten more info on charging options. Level 1 (think: normal wall outlet charging) and Level 2 (think: public charging station) will be available on the bike, but there’s no Level 3 DC fast charging like on the LiveWire One.
Even so, the company says a Level 2 recharge from 20-80% (indicative of actual charging stops) will take around 75 minutes. That’s longer than a coffee break, but it does mean that a lunch break or a shopping spree could eventually put an almost full charge back into your “tank.”
We don’t have an exact power rating yet, but the bike has off-the-line performance nearly equal to the LiveWire One, with a 0-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds. And when I put the bike in Sport mode, I can vouch for what it feels like. There’s no clutch or shifting to get in your way, either. You go from feet on the ground to flying at 100 km/h in just the time it takes to say, “Well, I’m going to be damned.”
The 418-pound (189.6 kg) Del Mar is a bit lighter than the 560-pound (254 kg) LiveWire One, so with the same acceleration times, it stands to reason that it will be rated slightly lower than the 78 kW of the LiveWire One. engine.
LiveWire hasn’t announced the Del Mar’s top speed, but let’s just say it’s higher than you’ll ever need. I put it at speeds I didn’t have to reach on a New York freeway and it seemed to have plenty of room to go. I wasn’t about to risk my license (or a speeding ticket on a bike I didn’t own) by pushing my luck further than I already had, but suffice it to say that what whatever the top speed, there’s no road America that you’ll be able to hit it legally.
To me, the Del Mar felt like a Goldilocks bike. It has a shorter reach than the LiveWire One, which means you sit more upright and don’t feel like you’re leaning forward over the tank to grab the bars. But it’s not too small either and gives you enough height above the poles so your legs aren’t tucked under you. It’s not a cruiser, but it’s at least closer to that end of the comfort spectrum.
I’m a more relaxed type of rider anyway. As fun as it can be to squat in an Italian sport bike, I’m much more comfortable in a comfortable upright position. And so the S2 Del Mar speaks to me.
I actually thought the Del Mar would be smaller than it was. Whenever I looked at pictures of the Arrow platform, which is basically the structural combo of battery and motor that the Del Mar is built on, everything looked so compact. But the bike still has serious presence when you get on and throw a leg over it. No one will think you’re on a small bike.
And when you blast them at a traffic light, leaving them in your dust, they’ll be sure you weren’t on a toy bike.
When it comes to battery capacity, we’re still in the dark. LiveWire does not disclose this information yet.
Based on the company’s suggested city range of 110 miles and a Level 2 recharge time of 20-80% in 75 minutes, I’d bet the battery will drop into the 9.5-10.5 range kWh. But that’s just an educated guess at this point.
What I can tell you is that I got about 40 miles (64 km) on the bike and used 55% of the battery, which equates to a combined range of about 73 miles (117 km). This ride included everything from city traffic to unreasonably fast highway speeds, so that’s probably a pretty fair “mixed” range figure. If you actually do city driving or keep it at least under 55 mph, that 110 mile distance is probably within reach.
Between my city and highway driving, the Del Mar felt equally at home in both worlds. It’s small and light enough to be a nimble urban vehicle, yet large and powerful enough to be comfortable on any highway.
The only thing that was a bit lacking was any sort of sound. To be fair, I was testing the bike in and around New York, and so the cacophony of the city was never going to allow the nuisance of a modest direct-drive electric motor. But with a pair of LiveWire Ones on either side of me for much of the ride, I could hear their motors more than I could hear mine.
To be honest, the LiveWire One has always been a bit louder than I would prefer. It sounds cool, and the bevel gear mechanics that make that sound add to the coolness. But when you really lean into it, you get a pretty loud signature sound. The Del Mar, on the other hand, is so quiet I couldn’t really hear it in the city. It left me wanting a bit more auditory feedback. But maybe if I had been in a quieter neighborhood, I would have heard what I was looking for.
Even so, the fact that the three of us (including my two LiveWire riding partners Chris and Jon) can all carry on a conversation while riding speaks to how nicer it is to be on quiet electric motorcycles than on ICE bikes. growling.
All in all, I had a great time flying the LiveWire S2 Del Mar and came away very impressed.
I originally expected to find a downgraded LiveWire One, but instead I was presented with a bike that rivals the performance of the LiveWire One, but in a more comfortable and handling package.
Of course, the LiveWire One will always have more range thanks to its larger battery and faster recharge times thanks to its fast DC charging capability. And if you want to do cross country, this is the best bike. But for someone who just wants a missile on wheels to zip around town and local highways, then the S2 Del Mar is the ticket.
It nestles right between bikes like the Zero FXE and Zero DSR when it comes to price and range, meaning it offers a nice option for a mid-weight e-bike with more range than most. Any commuter should need it, but at a price that doesn’t go over $20,000 and enter flagship electric motorcycle territory.
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