Is Charley and Ewan’s ride a PR disaster?

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are currently (pun) riding specially equipped Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycles in what some suspect could be a PR disaster.

Critics claim their choice of bike is ridiculous. 

After all, the LiveWire has limited range (about 150km highway and about 235km city) yet they are riding thousands of kilometres from the bottom of South America to ether LA or Alaska.

PR disaster?

While Harley must be hoping it will encourage people to ride electric motorcycles, we doubt it will.

In fact, it may be an unmitigated PR disaster for both Harley and electric motorcycles in general.

We can just see them running out of juice while riding up the Andes and having to wait hours for their huge contingent of back-up vehicles to arrive.

Then they will sit around for hours while their bikes are charged up using DC chargers on the backs of their support vehicles.

Yes, we can see that could be HUGE turn-off for potential electric motorcycle customers. A PR disaster, in fact!

So if Charley and Ewan want to motivate riders to go electric, it could be a big fail.

Charley and Ewan adventure on LiveWire

Entertainment boon

But if they want to entertain, it could be a huge boon for their Long Way Up series.

Their 2004 Long Way Round and 2007 Long Way Down series were entertaining because what they did was difficult and had minimal back-up.

These days, adventure bikes are much better equipped and accessories, cameras, intercoms, etc are so much lighter and cheaper, anyone can do the same.

That’s why Charley and Ewan needed to do something different, something difficult and something that we mere morals could not do.

They have done more than just strap on some dual-sport tyres and wire wheels.

The Long Way compatriots have cleverly organised a real adventure.

It will present heaps of dramas that will make great viewing.

In fact, we are interested to see how the cold temperatures will further erode the LiveWire’s range as batteries don’t like cold.

Tech and crew

The adventure started in September when some of the crew posted the Instagram images on this page.

Since then things have been quiet so we don’t know where they are.

There have been a few modifications to the bikes for this adventure and there is quite an extensive back-up crew involved.

Apart from new wheels, other bike modifications include: windscreens, engine guards, highway pegs, bash plates, auxiliary lights, saddlebags and fender bags.

They also seem to have removed the rear guard and plate holder.

The crew consists of two electric Rivian R1T pick-up trucks which have 650km of range.

They are also supported by two Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4WD vans and a Ford F350 pickup truck.

So we suspect they are carrying DC fast chargers with them. 

Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle
Mobile DC fast chargers at work

Harley claims their Fast Charge (DCFC) technology will recharge a flat battery to 80% in 40 minutes and full in 60 minutes.

Maybe the trip won’t benefit Harley’s LiveWire or electric motorcycles in general, like Long Way Round and Long Way Down did for adventure riding and the BMW GS range.

However, it should be hugely entertaining!

Harley disasterHarley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle

Harley certainly doesn’t need another PR disaster with the LiveWire.

It has so far experienced one disaster after another.

Firstly the bike was delayed a month going into North America dealerships.

Then several dealerships refused to pay big money to instal DC fast chargers in order to sell them.

Sales have also been a disaster as customers have baulked at the $US29,950 (about $A44,000) ticket price.

Harley then had the PR disaster of having to temporarily pull the plug on production to fix a problem with one charger.

Long time coming

Ewan heads off on his latest adventure

The long-awaited third Ewan and Charley travel documentary has been a long time coming.

Charley has been telling us they have been planning their Long Way Up America trip for about 10 years.

The problem has been that Ewan has been so busy with Hollywood movies he could not afford a few months off.

There was also the fact that Ewan is ambassador for Moto Guzzi and Charley is ambassador for Triumph.

The pair rode BMWs in their 2004 Long Way Round and 2007 Long Way Down.

In 2015, Ewan said he may ride from California to the tip of South America on a Moto Guzzi Stelvio. That never happened and the Stelvio was retired a year later.

Charley told us last year that Ewan’s relationship with Moto Guzzi would not necessarily foil their plans:

We’ve been talking about it a long time and if the stars align we will do something like a Long Way up from Tierra Del Fuego to Alaska in the next couple of years. It really is close now. Ewan’s always had a loose relationship with Moto Guzzi so there’s no conflict there.

But rather than Moto Guzzi and Triumph, the pair have opted for the new Harley-Davidson LiveWire.

While it was thought they would go all the way to Alaska, Charley recently said the ride would go from Argentina to LA.

Maybe they don’t want to cover the same territory through Canada and Alaska that they did in the Long Way Round.

Long Way Back

It’s been a long time between trips for Ewan and Charley.

From 14 April 2004 to 29 July 2004, they rode across Europe and the USA in Long Way Round and from 12 May to 4 August 2007 they rode from the top of Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa for Long Way Down.

With Ewan becoming increasingly busy with Hollywood movies, Charley squeezed in the 2006 Dakar rally for his series, Race to Dakar, and has produced several other travel shows.


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