Is Charley and Ewan’s ride a PR disaster?


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Jan 5, 2006
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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 disaster
Harley-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.

The post Is Charley and Ewan’s ride a PR disaster? appeared first on Motorbike Writer.
When I first read that they were doing electric bikes on this trip it was a bit of a WHY moment.

Electric bikes are a long way from being practical in most cases until they can solve the range issue.
I too thought why would they try this stunt on electric bikes that have a range of about 150 miles.
The support system for this venture has to be enormous - not to mention the cost.
I would be very surprised if this venture boosted sales.
However, good luck to them.
When I first read that they were doing electric bikes on this trip it was a bit of a WHY moment.

Electric bikes are a long way from being practical in most cases until they can solve the range issue.
I think you are spot on. If one's riding is primarily in a metro area, I suppose electric bikes are fine - until one has to repolace the batteries.

I too thought why would they try this stunt on electric bikes that have a range of about 150 miles.
The support system for this venture has to be enormous - not to mention the cost.
I would be very surprised if this venture boosted sales.
However, good luck to them.
I agree with you; I doubt this adventure will boost sales of electric bikes. But it will bring electric bikes to the forefront of news.
I doubt it will do little to enhance the appeal of electric bikes. As Carl said, they may be practical for city riding but not for cross country. Too easy to cover up the truth by having fully charged back up bikes etc. etc. not to mention the hugely expensive fast chargers that will dramatically shorten the life span of the no doubt very expensive batteries and that normal customers could never afford anyway. May be fun to watch though.
The success of LWR and LWD was due to the interaction between Charlie, Ewan, the rest of the crew; the places they went and largely the people they met. Remember Egor with the guitar and AK47? They were able to make an entire episode out of that interaction. I think those elements will decide if LWU will be a success or not, rather than the bikes and even the route tbh. YMMV.
They are a bit older now . Taking an e bike on the pavement will probably keep frame repairs way down compared to the first go round ....
Sadly I think electric bikes will eventually triumph (just to keep it relevant to this forum) but I am worried we would be even more invisible to other road users due to the whisper quiet nature of electric bikes.
Everybody hears me coming on the Bonneville! Perhaps clothes pegs and football cards on the spokes?
Will they still be ridden simply for fun? Don't ask me, I thought mobile phones were mildly useful as you could phone and text. I had the original Nokia. The most exciting thing it about it, you could change the cover to whacky colours and I'm embarrassed to admit my current phone is still the iphone 4s. In all honesty at my age I simply don't care what the next generation get up to. Their world, their choices. We have the climate warriors causing mayhem in Melbourne again this morning. If they have their way we will all walk everywhere, wear shoes made of leaves, eat broccoli and live in caves again. This is known as Cliveganism. It will also require about 95% of the worlds population to disappear to be triumph..ant.
Mine is a five model but thinking of one those new flips with huge #s and a big red button that calls every one you know when you fall down and 911 at the the same time of course .
95 percent plus one guy in particular would get things on track

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