Moto must-watch – The Long Way Up

by | Sep 18, 2020 | News, Videos

Charley Boorman and Ewan McGreggor are back after a 12 year hiatus, in the latest installment of their Long Way series – the Long Way Up

Your level of interest in watching two blokes travel from Argentina to Los Angeles through South and Central America by motorcycle, will probably depend on what stage of the lockdown blues you’re in. Regardless, Boorman and McGreggor’s on-screen friendship and passion for motorcycles might be just the thing you need to get you by! 

Just to re-cap. The pair changed the motorcycling world in 2004 when they loaded their gear on some BMW R1150GS’ and travelled the ‘Long way Round’ from London to New York. Motorcycling in the early 2000s had been dominated by people in leather suits that looked like they were from a Power Rangers set and race-bred superbikes that were always 5-seconds off high-siding their unsuspecting rider into the next postcode. Boorman and McGreggor made ‘adventure riding’ popular and are widely credited with the number of GS’ sitting outside of cafes around the world.

Anyway, back to the Long Way Up. Airing on Apple TV+, this series sticks to the previous recipe. That is, following Boorman and McGreggor on their motorcycles as they travel from a place you’ve heard of, through places you’ve never seen or heard of, to a destination you know.

The key difference this time around is that everything’s electric. Gone are the BMW GS’ and their boxer-twins, replaced by modified Harley Davidson LiveWires and their permanent magnet motors. Even the support cars are electric, with the team driving Rivian electric utes.

While the BMW GS had been their chosen steed to date, the decision to go electric was made as much for the additional challenge as it was to prove that electric bikes were a viable, long distance travel option. In saying this, the pair didn’t want the fact their bikes were electric to get in the way of the adventure. 

Head over to Apple TV+ (there’s a 7-day free trial) to watch the first episode.

 

The bikes

KTM 390 Duke

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, Harley goes and drops an all-electric motorcycle, making it the first mainstream manufacture to do so. To be fair, Milwaukee’s been developing the LiveWire for the past six years, with more media leaks than a shovel-head has oil leaks.

The LiveWire’s powered by a permanent magnet electric motor, which puts out 105hp and 116Nm, and is mounted below the battery to lower the centre of gravity. A low centre of gravity is great on a heavy bike and the LiveWire’s definitely one of those, weighing in at just under 250kg.

KTM 390 Duke

The LiveWire channels its power through a single-speed, clutchless gearbox, with gearing that will see you twist and go all the way up to a claimed 180km/h. If you’re seeing those numbers on the speedo, we’re guessing you won’t get near the claimed 235km city and 152km open road range. Recharging time is dependent on the type of plug you use. Hook up to a three-pin house plug and you’ll be waiting 10hrs for a full ‘tank’. Find a fast charger though and you’ll have a full charge in an hour.

Boorman and McGreggor’s bikes aren’t the LiveWire you’ll get from your local Harley dealer (for $50k AUD!!!) though, with Harley providing some useful mods. The mods included the front-end from Harley’s upcoming Pan America adventure bike, a widened rear-wheel and modified subframes to carry their camping gear and clothes. Amazingly, the pair suffered no mechanical failures during their trip, something that couldn’t be said of the bikes used for their previous journeys. 

Check out a full review of the standard LiveWire (by someone who’s ridden it) over on MC News Australia.

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