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Mountainview Harley-Davidson Checks Out Project LiveWire

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By now most of the Harley world has heard of Project LiveWire.  If you haven’t, my question is; Where have you been?  For those hiding out under a panhead, Project LiveWire is designed to showcase the launch of Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle. While not yet for sale, Project LiveWire is designed for the purpose of finding out what riders, new and old, expect of an electric Harley.

The tour launched in the US on June 24, on historic Route 66 and is not scheduled to come to Canada until sometime in 2015.  But.  Mountainview Harley-Davidson managed to secure a spot for a ride at LiveWire’s stop at Eastside Harley-Davidson in Bellevue, Washington.  After receiving a call confirming the one spot, on Thursday Aug 7th, we arrived at Eastside Harley (after taking the scenic route) a little after 9:30.

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Karen, with whom I’d booked the original spot, told me that Thursday was supposed to be fully booked, but some were not showing up for their appointments so she would be able to get both Cam & I on the test ride without a problem.  So after filling out the required paperwork, we were ushered into the LiveWire Experience tent and shown an instruction video on the motorcycle operation. Then we waited for out turn.
While we were waiting we had an opportunity to talk to Scott Cook, the General Manager of Eastside Harley-Davidson. He told us that Thursday was supposed to be fully booked by Microsoft but less than a third of the group showed up. “Jeff Henshaw, one of the developers for Xbox who has been a Harley rider for years, learned about Project LiveWire before the dealership and immediately called me. I was actually in the doctors office at the time. He wanted to make a $1,000 deposit so he could buy the first production model to come off the line. This morning, he used three GoPro cameras to record his test ride!”Finally our names were called, “This is a pretty impressive little bike. Make sure you get a chance to test that throttle.” Cook said with a grin.”

What is unique about LiveWire is the motor is mounted longitudinally, under the frame and a bevel gear changes the direction of rotation to 90° to drive a gilmer belt that turns the rear wheel. The same bevel gear gives the drive-train a whirring sound akin to jet plane. The motor produces 72 horsepower and 52 pound-feet of torque and Harley claims they’ll reach around 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds. The prototypes are electronically limited to 90mph and they have limited range. Around 60 to 80 miles depending on what mode the ride selects, distance or higher-performance “power” mode.
The first thing you notice when you get on LiveWire is that it’s light (460lbs) and when you push the start button there is almost no sound or vibration. What you do feel are the fans cooling the electric motor and batteries and there is no exhaust heat or fumes. There is no clutch, it doesn’t need one. The power is continuous so once you twist the throttle it goes. We were warned not to try to “rev” the engine while we were sitting there. There is a single disk, two-piston front brake but once your hand is off the throttle it comes to a rolling stop quite quickly.
With a slight, tentative, twist of the wrist we were off (with one of Jeff Henshaw’s drones following us through the parking lot). LiveWire handles like what you would expect from a sport-bike. The difference is that when you do twist that throttle (and you really want to) the transition from zero to light-speed is almost instantaneous. So much so that I got a bit of a head-rush. When Cam tried it for the first time, something malfunctioned, the LCD screen flashed an error code and the bike shut down. A quick restart got the bike going again and we were able to take enjoy the rest of ride. My only initial complaint would be thatby the time we had completed the short test ride, the sound of the motor was starting to get to me. But, these are the types of situations Harley is looking for and one of the reasons LiveWire is touring the country.
Harley hasn’t said yet when the LiveWire bikes will go on Sale. Spokesman Tony Macrito said they won’t launch during the tour, which still has to tour Canada, Europe and possibly Asia. Pricing also hasn’t been revealed a one estimate was that they will be under $15,000. Harley is trying to reach a more diverse demographic and lower pricing would be one way to get more people on their products.

Back in Business

Im back!  After months of technical difficulty, Mostly by Motorcycle is back.  Many, Many thanks to my friend Dean who has spent hours trying to unravel the mystery that was my hosting server.

We have been so busy, there hasn’t been time for many road trips yet.  Therefore not many pictures to show off but some pretty exciting things are coming down the road for us.  Stay tuned for more soon.  In the mean time I hope you enjoy a little collection of photos from my archives.

What I Learned on the Camino: Tech and Photography

This article is the last in my series “What I Learned on the Camino”  WARNING:  This is going to be a long post.  When I was doing research before my Camino, I really wanted someone to go through their gear “post” Camino and do what I am about to do now.  This is for those of you reading, that are about to do the Camino or just curious about what technology I carried All. That. Way.

Tech & Photography

There are those that are able to do the Camino with no technology at all.  I am not one of those people.  To start with John was at home anxiously following my progress.  It wouldn’t be fair if I did’t check in with him at least every other day or so and let him know survived another day.   Then, of course I had to post on Facebook and the MbM blog.  Then there are the photos.  I love taking photos.

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Bienvenidos a Villafranca | Villafrance del Bierzo . Spain

When I was getting ready for the Camino I didn’t know what to expect in the way of computer access.  I knew from reading the blogs of those who had done it before me, that wifi was widely available along the Camino (or so I thought).  But because so many people have smart phones, laptops and tablets, computers (available to the public) are becoming scarce.  So my weapon of choice was was the iphone.  I will have to say I am fairly impressed with it.  I am not going to do a review of the 5, you can google the reviews anywhere on the internet, besides, they already have come out with an newer version.  But I am going to say, smartphones in general are perfect for the Camino-ite.  They are lighter (smartphones, not the Camino-ite, although you certainly are lighter after walking 650kms) than a tablet or a laptop and they fit in your pocket.  The cameras on most newer smartphones are fairly good and if you are looking for a great point and shoot, they are comparable to a lot of the point and shoot cameras out there.  My iphone came through for me in some pretty low light conditions and takes some decent night shots as well.  The 5 is also great at taking video.  Although the microphone is sometimes too good at picking up sound.  I was videoing a group of dancers in Leon and I didn’t know, until I played the performance back, that the microphone was also picking up comments of the crowd behind me as well.  My only complaint is that the digital zoom just doesn’t compare (and never will) to the optical zoom on my DSLR.

Iphone Gallery

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The great thing about my iphone is that it also has icloud backup.  This means any pictures you take are automatically uploaded to the cloud and are safe if anything should happen to the phone.  I also had my phone synced with my flickr account (with the privacy setting set to “Private” so I have a chance to go through them before they are broadcast to all on the interwebs).  But of course all this “back-up” depends on wifi.

Impressed as I am with my 5, I was a little nervous about depending solely on it to document the trip of a lifetime.

I have been an amateur photographer since I picked up my Mom’s 35mm Pentax SLR when I was 10.  I don’t profess to be an expert but I don’t think I am too bad at it either.  When digital proved it’s staying power, I saved my pennies and purchased a Cannon Rebel XT-i with a 18-200mm sigma lens.  I loved it and took some great shots with it.  Nevertheless, I was planning for the Camino.  So everything needed to be lightweight and compact.  It didn’t help that my beloved 10 year old Cannon weighed about the same as an actual cannon!!  But, I am of the mind that a good photographer does not depend on equipment alone, skill also factors into the equation.  I reasoned that because my camera was getting old, and because it weighed a tonne AND it and the case took up a lot of space in my saddle bag causing me to leave it at home on motorcycle trips AND because I needed to brush up on my photography skills anyway, I took a deep breath, sold my DSLR and purchased an older Nikon CoolPix P7000 from a friend.

This is a great little camera.  Light, compact and has some manual features to satisfy my creative side and a great optical zoom that would allow me to take some close-ups of whatever I felt it necessary to take close-ups of.  It also takes great landscapes, of which clarity was sort of lacking in my iphone.  Since I had visions of epic landscapes and capturing Don Quixote galloping across the massetta chasing windmills, I wanted to make sure I had the ability to capture him in all his glory.

Nikon Gallery

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The Nikon, though, didn’t have cloud backup available.  I could have purchased a wifi SD card but they were super expensive and some of the reviews I had read on them said they were slow and sometimes didn’t work at all.  I was worried that if, after a few days, I had a lot of photos to upload, it might take more time than I was allowed on borrowed wifi.  That and the largest card I could find was a 16 gig.  If I filled it up, I couldn’t transfer to a regular SD card and I couldn’t afford to buy several 16 gig cards.  In our present day digital paranoia, we have everything backed up 3 ways from Sunday but when I used 35mm there was no backup.  I took two 32 gig cards with me, carried the phone, camera and cards all in a waterproof stuff sack in my “pack pocket” and hoped for the best.

Wifi in Spain is abundant.  Most bars and restaurants have it.  It’s usually password protected and all you have to do is buy something and they will give you the password.  BUT, having said that, sometimes the signal is crap, its restricted or like often happens in small villages, not available at all.  In my experience, more often than not, trying to make skype calls can be an exercise in frustration.  Other times, like in Ponferrada, the hostel had wifi for the hospitaleros but wanted the pilgrims to pay exorbitant fees to use their computers.

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12th Century Templar Castle | Ponferrada . Spain

We eventually picked up a Spanish SIM card.  There are many different companies that sell them.  We got ours from Vodafone because, well, that’s what was available at the time.  It was 10 euros that included some minutes but we ended up adding some for (I think) 10 euros.  The card is not a necessity for the most part, but it became a necessity in our case, when wifi kept dropping the call.  The problem with a Spanish SIM is it has to be set up and if your Spanish is limited, like mine, this can become an issue.  While we were on the Camino my brother got very, very sick.  Between the small villages, bad wifi and messing with the Spanish SIM card, it took us a few days to be able to get the full story from home.

Ultimately, the tech you take is whatever you feel comfortable with and are willing to carry.  The “willing to carry” part is important.  I saw some lugging gigantic cameras with big lenses and others who carried laptops and tablets in 40 lb packs.  If you want to carry it, bring whatever you want.  I realized that carrying the pack, using hiking poles and gawking at all the beauty that is Spain, then trying to capture it in a picture just wouldn’t do it justice.  Spending all the time worrying about all the technology just detracts from this experience.  Don’t get me wrong.  I took plenty of photos (almost 3000), spent time on the internet and phoned home regularly.  But I think by keeping everything simple, and knowing that it was simple, allowed me to enjoy the experience all the more.  

Thanks for reading my series, What I Learned on the Camino.  Check out my previous posts in this series, What I Learned on the Camino:  Gear and Footwear.  You can also read my other posts about the Camino here.  And don’t forget to subscribe so all of my new posts will land directly in your in-box.

Until next time

Please Enjoy Responsibly,

Andrea