This is the maintenance schedule and service intervals for Harley-Davidsons first and only electric motorcycle, the LiveWire. After 2021, Harley-Davidson announced they were spinning off LiveWire into a subsidiary brand.
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire wasn’t the first electric motorcycle, but it was a first for Harley-Davidson and it was a doozy! With genuinely quick performance, extremely good handling, and a motor that — despite lacking pistons — seems to actually have soul, the LiveWire was unusual, and quite successful. The only fly in its ointment was the very high sales price that was out of reach for many, especially outside the US.
You might think “wait, you have to maintain an electric motorcycle?” and the answer definitely is yes. It has tyres, water cooling, brakes, suspension, and so on, and so it needs some attention. It’s true the engine may fail less often, and the maintenance isn’t as hard, but there’s still work to do.
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What you need to maintain the Harley-Davidson LiveWire
So you bought a premium bike but you still want to maintain it yourself? Respect. Here’s a quick shopping list of what you’re likely to need for your maintenance work. Some is available online, but a lot of it you have to get from the dealer.
|Part||Harley-Davidson LiveWire spec|
|Brake fluid||You need to use DOT 4 brake fluid only, e.g. Castrol DOT 4. This is the same as nearly every motorcycle.|
|Coolant||Harley-Davidson says you should use “Harley-Davidson Extended Life Antifreeze and Coolant”. The HD-branded coolant is however just nitrite-free ethylene glycol pre-mix.|
|Transmission lubricant||You need Harley-Davidson EV Gear Oil, which you can only get from a dealer.|
|Brake pads||Use EBC HH pads (sintered) for long life and great performance. You need two pairs of FA630HH up front and one pair of FA266HH for the rear.|
|General lubricant (chassis)||Use lithium soap-based coolant to maintain chassis components like the swing arm and bearings.|
|General lubricant (controls)||Use silicone grease to maintain the brake lever.|
|Electrical lubricant||Use a contact lube to keep electrical connectors corrosion-free.|
|Belt tension||You need to make sure your belt has the correct tension. Easiest way is… with an app! Use Gates Carbon Drive (Android, iOS). It listens to the frequency of the belt when you pluck it like a guitar string. You can also buy a belt tension tool to do it the old-school way.|
|Fork rebuild kit||It comes across very infrequently, but get a fork rebuild kit from Harley Davidson to re-do the fork seals, springs, and fluid.|
Maintenance schedule for the Harley-Davidson LiveWire
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire has 5 mile (8km) minor service intervals, and 10 mile (16 km) major service intervals.
The real advantage to maintaining the LiveWire (and other electric motorcycles) over almost any other motorcycle is that you don’t have to do stuff related to the engine — no oil to change, no spark plugs, no intake and exhaust. Things don’t get as hot and don’t fail. Oh, and there’s no valve inspection interval!
But what’s interesting is that the Harley-Davidson LiveWire is liquid-cooled. As with many Harley-Davidons, they recommend their own brand of coolant and don’t tell you what’s in it. It’s likely it’s an OAT or HOAT (organic, long-life) coolant that’s ethylene glycol-based.
HD recommends many of the following be done by a dealer or experienced mechanic, but you do you.
|Check operation of electrical equipment and switches||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Check front tire pressure, inspect tread||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||1|
|Inspect front brake fluid level||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Check DOT 4 front brake fluid for moisture||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Check hand control switch housing screw torque||X||X||X||X||X||X||1, 2, 4|
|Check master cylinder and left side handlebar clamp screw torque||X||X||X||X||X||X||1, 2, 4|
|Inspect and adjust steering head bearings||X||X||X||X||X||X||2|
|Lubricate steering head bearings||X||2, 5|
|Check coolant system freeze point and inspect for leaks||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Coolant||X||80K km (50K mi)||2|
|Replace transmission lubricant||X||X||X||3|
|Inspect brake system for leaks, contact or abrasion||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||1, 2|
|Inspect high voltage cables for contact or abrasion||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Inspect rear brake fluid level||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Check DOT4 rear brake fluid for moisture||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Brake system flush||2 years, or sooner if moisture content is >3%||2|
|Inspect brake pads and discs for wear||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Check front axle nut torque||X||X||X||X||X||X||1, 2, 4|
|Inspect and lubricate jiffy stand||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||2, 3|
|Lubricate brake controls||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Check rear tire pressure, inspect tread||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||1|
|Inspect drive belt and sprockets, adjust belt||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||2|
|Check rear axle torque||X||X||X||X||X||X||1, 2, 4|
|Check 12 volt battery & terminal torque & clean connections.|
Lubricate terminals with contact lubricant.
|Rebuild front forks||X||2, 6|
|Road test to verify component and system functions||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
Notes on the maintenance schedule (from the Notes column)
- Perform annually or at specified intervals, whichever comes first.
- Should be performed by an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer, unless you have the proper tools, service data and are mechanically qualified.
- Perform maintenance more frequently in severe riding conditions (such as extreme temperatures, dusty environments, mountainous or rough roads, long storage conditions, short runs, or heavy stop/go traffic).
- For torque instructions, see Shop Practices in the service manual.
- Disassemble, lubricate and inspect every 30000 mi (48,000 km).
- Disassemble, inspect, rebuild forks and replace fork oil every 50000 mi (80,000 km).
About the Harley-Davidson LiveWire
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire caused a huge stir when it was announced, then when pricing was released, then when people got to ride it.
Firstly, even if it weren’t an electric motorcycle, so much other stuff about the LiveWIre is radically different for a Harley Davidson:
- It’s a standard bike, not a cruiser. Yes, HD does make a few standards, but cruisers are their bread and butter.
- It’s pretty light for a Harley-Davidson bike
- It’s high performance. Great engine performance (a genuine and easy-to-achieve 0-60 or 0-100 km/h of 3 seconds), has very good handling, and excellent braking.
- The range is… decent. Not terrible (but decent for an electric)
- There’s lots of rider tech, including Bosch Cornering ABS to keep you safe everywhere
Basically, if HD had put together the LiveWire with some other engine, say a 120-150hp V-twin, and charged half the price — it would have been compelling in a different way.
But the LiveWire an electric bike. So what gives? This is a company that tried to patent its “potato, potato” sound, after all. Now that sound has been replaced with an electric whine. (Here’s a great “Raw Onboard” video from Schaaf riding the LiveWire that gives you insight into what it sounds like.)
The truth is that the LiveWire is an awesome bike. It absolutely rips. It’s so easy to ride, and so easy to ride fast. An easy riding position, clutch-less instant torque off the line, and really competent handling mean that it’s a better bike than most people are able to handle.
The closest thing I can compare riding the LiveWire to is a BMW S 1000 R. A fuss-free sports motorcycle that makes torque everywhere so you don’t need to shift. But you still do need to shift on the S 1000 R. Or it could be like a DCT version of a Honda Valkyrie, if that were a thing (it’s not… yet).
There are only two downsides to owning a LiveWire.
- The battery life is relatively short. Expect to take a break roughly once every ~60 minutes (you have to be a bit strategic as you can’t at all count on finding a charging stop every time you’re running low). Charging time isn’t slow, but it isn’t too long (you’ll have to wait around for 30-60 minutes, depending on the type of charger, how much you want to charge, etc.)
- They’re expensive. Ye gods! New they were around US$30K. These days they’ve come down a bit, but they’re still pricey. In other parts of the world, they’re less affordable due to other taxes and fewer incentives on electric vehicles.
So if you’re planning on using your LiveWire for weekend escapes you might be out of luck, unless they’re very close by, or if you’re blessed to be living in a part of the world with lots of charging infrastructure. But the electric Harley is still awesome as a commuter or a sport bike — just a premium one.
Manual for the Harley-Davidson LiveWire
The above maintenance schedule and notes came from the manual, which is available online here.