The Legendary E-venture of Ed Darmanin | Harley Davidson Livewire

This Aussie retiree made an 8,500 km journey across the country on an Harley Davidson Livewire 

 

How do you plan on celebrating your retirement? A whirlwind tour of Europe? Spending a few months relaxing on a beach in Thailand would be my answer. 

But Ed Darmanin, a recently retired electrical engineer from Sydney’s Northern Beaches decided to take the journey of a lifetime, an adventure never yet attempted across the Australian outback, riding himself into the history books along the way. 

Ed bought himself a Harley Davidson Livewire as a retirement present and decided to ride over 8,500km across Australia – a feat never attempted on an electric motorcycle. He made the trip in two separate journeys, firstly from Sydney to Cape tribulation, then an incredible trip across the Nullarbor Plains from Perth to Sydney, a whopping 4,500km journey. 

Now, a journey like this takes a massive appetite for adventure, some careful planning, a bit of luck and surely some lack of self preservation? But Ed being the absolute legend he is, tackled it head on. 

Before we get into the journey, we want to do a quick dive into the HD Livewire. 

Livewire is a pretty impressive bike, Harley Davidson launched it back in 2019 and was one of the first truly global brands to take an electric bike to the commercial market. The Livewire has the classic look of a Harley with all the innovation of an electric drivetrain. Sure it sticks out a bit on a Harley showroom floor against all the chromed up cruisers, but it the Livewire does look distinctly Harley. 

The 2022 model has a 15.5 kWh battery with a top speed of 175 km/h with a motor that will give you about 105hp. The riding range on the Livewire ranges between 110 km of highway riding and 250 km of city riding. 

Your classic Harley riders tend not to think much of the Livewire – mostly because it doesn’t give you that signature roar. But Ed went into some detail of the benefits of riding Electric on an adventure like this. Firstly and most importantly, complete immersion in your surroundings. The Livewire is near silent, which when you’re taking mountain roads breathing in some of the most picturesque landscapes Australia has to offer, silence is bliss. However, give the throttle a hard turn and the 45-degree bevel drive produces a turbine-like whine. Some part of the kid inside you lights up at the futuristic sound of the acceleration – It’s just freakin cool. 

But more than quiet rides through back roads, no clutch and no gear changing made handling around tight corners much simpler, and with all that torque right at your fingertips, mountain riding became less of a technical challenge, and added a bunch of fun to the experience. On the other end, heavy traffic became much easier because there’s no heat radiating from the battery or motor. 

However, for all the comfort, there’s one major concern you have to consider when taking a journey of this magnitude, battery range and charging stations. Ed didn’t seem too stressed about it though.  

“I wasn’t worried about the bike breaking down or running out of charge. At one time there was a gap of 1400 km between chargers” – Ed

The first leg of his journey took him from Sydney to Cape Tribulation in North Queensland. The quickest route for this trip along the coastline totals about 2,700km and about 31 hours in a car. However, Ed decided to take the scenic route. Taking the backroads up and down mountains, the trip ended up racking up to 3,800kms.

Ed recounted the most memorable parts of the trip were the challenges he faced on days 2 and 3 navigating extreme weather, flooding and washed away roads in Northern NSW. “The extreme weather, landslips, road works and gravel roads just added to the adventure while reminding me of the crazy trips I did in my younger days.”

In the early 80’s Ed rode his Kawasaki 1100 from Perth to Sydney. A right of passage for true Aussie adventurers. 40 years later and he’s decided on round two, but with some new toys. “A part of the reason I bought the Harley was because I was retiring, and I wanted to relive my youth, but I also wanted to experience the future of motorcycling before I got too old,” he said.

Pleased with how the Livewire handled the Cape Trib journey, he turned his sights towards the Nullarbor Plains.

Now, Perth to Sydney trip is no simple feat, 4,500kms in total. Now, I think this is absolutely bonkers. Crossing the Australian desert from west to east is a treacherous journey, electric vehicle or not, for one main reason – the distances between rest stops. So, how did he do it?

The Livewire gets between 110 – 250 kms on a charge going from highway riding to city riding. This Nullarbor trip is mostly highway so you can only count on 150 kms of range at a time, maximum. There can be up to 200 kms between rest stops, and looking at the EV chargers along his route, there was a leg of 1,400kms between Madura WA and  Tanunda SA with no fast charging. So… how the hell did he do it!? 

There are some significant tailwinds this time of year which helped the range a bit, but Ed’s secret to the journey – patience. Riding on highways like he was in a city, making the most of the regenerative braking systems, and the good ol’ kindness of strangers. 

 

Ed was constantly doing Maths in his head and adjusting his speed to match the range he needed to make the next stop. You could easily get 200+ kms to a charge if you just have the patience to maintain a slower speed and take your time. After a day of slow riding, he would pull into the rest stops and ask to plug his bike into the regular type 1 (standard wall outlet) power sockets. For the HD livewire this would take about 11 hours to get a full charge, but again – the key to this journey was patience.  

There were days where Ed had to travel at 50 km/h for up to 200 km before he was to reach the next rest stop. If he rode at 100 km/h he would have had to walk the rest of the way after only getting 120 kms out of the battery. He recounted on another leg of the trip, between Ravensthorpe to Esperance, it was cold and raining in addition to a headwind he had to ride in for 200km. 

There were plenty of other slow travelers on his route towing caravans and the like. Ed even passed one man cycling across the Nullarbor, two who were walking and one who was running across the country just days ahead of him. However, to his research, no one had ever made the trip on an electric motorcycle before. A pretty safe assumption given that there are less than 50 HD livewires in the country, and even fewer electric tourer motorcycles capable of making the journey… for now. 

It took Ed 21 days in total to make the journey from Perth to Sydney – the first time he made the trip on his Kawasaki it took him just four. Ed’s journey is absolutely incredible. We considered going into detail about the highs and lows of the trip, but honestly – head to his YouTube channel and check out the adventure for yourself, it’s a great watch. 

It’s an impressive feat of adventuring and it fills us with pride to see how Ed is setting a new standard for electric adventuring in this country FILLED with opportunities. 

Ed reached out to the Australian Electric Motor Co. recently and started some conversations about the next journey he’d like to make, there was even some mention of a certain Energica Experia being put to the ultimate touring trial. With a highway range comfortably hitting 200kms and urban riding range significantly higher due to a 45% larger battery pack in the Experia Vs the Livewire – we’re pretty excited to see what records Ed will be setting on one of our bikes. Watch this space to see how that turns out, we certainly will be! 

 

Don’t Stop Here

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