Renowned adventure travelers and successful actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman have been spotted leaving Ushuaia, Argentina on uncharacteristically quiet electric Harley Davidsons.
Their crew consists of a wide variety of support vehicles to recharge the battery packs and their favorite cameraman, Claudio von Planta from Long Way Round and Long Way Down.
AdvPulse has a variety of photos and a good write up about their trip in a recent article if you want a TL;DR version of what’s happening.
I’m not here to be a go-to for rehashed motorcycle news. I’ve done that before.
What needs to be addressed for all keyboard adv travelers and enthusiasts is the scrutiny they are facing by choosing electric motorcycles to tackle the trip instead of their trusty BMW GS platform.
Many thought the pair would take the new Stelvio from Moto Guzzi as Ewan has been somewhat of a brand ambassador since the last world trip through Africa.
Why Harley Davidson and Why Electric?
Let’s address the obvious. You cannot take an RTW trip unsupported through sparse, remote areas with an electric machine.
The point is to prove the platform and boost Harley Davidson’s falling consumer trust. That’s my guess at least.
Fewer Harleys are being sold among boomers and Harley is struggling to get younger buyers into the brand. I’m no analyst but it could be because they last for a long fucking time (regardless of what you hear on the internet) and younger buyers are consuming newer, varied Japanese and European machines.
Historically, Harley has kept producing ancient machines with small updates and upgrades here and there. If you were born at a time when all there was available for a motorcycle was a Harley, you probably stuck with it as it’s what you learned on.
For me, being born in 84 and not getting on a motorcycle until 2005, you could say I had a lot to choose from. Why get a used $16,000 cruiser when I can get a cheap Ducati Monster for $5k and be “unique”?
The answer lies in generation differences and options. Namely, options though.
Hopefully, it pans out for Harley. In order for them to survive, they need to stay relevant to younger buyers.
The $30k LiveWire platform could make a killer daily for baristas to take to work but the price is still up there.
The new battery they have called the RESS (Rechargeable Energy Storage System) can give you an 80% charge in 40 minutes with a quick charger or 100% in about an hour.
That’s not too fucking shabby.
Ewan and Charlie will likely have a few spare batteries charging at all times in their support vehicles. Once drained, they’ll swap them out and continue the journey, hand candy out to locals, and pose with rural farm animals.
Sounds like a good ole bloody time, chap.
And why not the new Adventure Touring model from Harley? Surely Milwaukee has a few test mules close to production right? Well, it’s not slated for release until 2020 but it could have been great timing with the release of the documentary at the same time.
Chances are though, that going electric would make for a more interesting film and show more people the reliability of battery-powered machines.
Even if America doesn’t quite have many battery charging stations outside of major city centers, it could renew interest in the classic American brand.
It’s quick to assume Harley probably paid good money to the two actors’ production company but the question of if they were in a bidding war with BMW or Moto Guzzi remains to be seen.
I’m sure the new documentary will shed some light on their decision.
Either way, I’m looking forward to what they put out when Long Way Up hits streaming services in 2020.