Electric Adventures

Long Way Up, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s latest long-distance motorbike adventure from Ushuaia to Los Angeles, has got a lot of us thinking about electric-powered travel. The boys travelled 13,000 miles in 100 days through 13 countries on two Harley Davidson LiveWire motorcycles, with Producers Russ Malkin and David Alexanian each driving a Rivian R1T 4×4 support truck – all electric prototypes that were tested out on some of the toughest terrain the Earth has to offer.

As the road trip unfolded, the challenges were clear – limited mileage due to battery power (Charley said they had a lot of “range anxiety” on the trip!), long breaks between charging stations and limited options to recharge in remote areas, and severely reduced battery life riding in cold weather or against the wind. Hats off to the team for finding ingenious ways of countering these problems – Ewan drafting behind a Sprinter van to conserve his almost-dead LiveWire battery was particularly memorable!

As someone who enjoys the thrill of long-distance travel to remote places, it seems to me that at the moment the technology isn’t yet up to speed (sorry!) with the desires and demands of adventure travellers who want to get properly off the beaten track and explore without the constant worry of having to plug in. The Long Way Up team were way ahead of the curve in terms of pushing these electric bikes and cars to their absolute limits to see what they could (and couldn’t!) do – and undoubtedly this has contributed big-time to further work to bolster the performance of production-ready models, which Harley and Rivian have both indicated will be out in the market next year.

As we know, though, technology moves fast (smartphones weren’t even a thing when the boys did their first Long Way Round trip in 2004!) and I’m thinking it won’t be long before we’ll be seeing much more viable off-road electric adventure bikes and 4x4s with much greater range and charging capabilities.

Time will tell. Like many people, I’m not ashamed to say I love my petrol bike and car, which afford me comparatively unrestricted long-distance adventures in far-flung locations. But Long Way Up has made me curious to find out more about the new range of green machines and it may not be long (cost permitting) before I too become an electric explorer…

3 thoughts on “Electric Adventures

  1. Alexlebrit

    Ah, electric adventures, are they possible? It’s something that caused a fair amount of discussion on the Adventure Bike Riders Facebook group that I run, and it’s safe to say the jury is still out.

    I think they’re doable, just, but it’s going to need a change of mindset, slow and steady is the order of the day. It was interesting to occasionally catch sight of the Livewire’s instruments while watching Long Way Up so often the speed was hovering in mid-thirties to mid-forties even on the smoothest finest roads. It’s definitely a case of less Guy Martin and more Millward and March.

    And it’s going to mean plenty of interaction with local people, so maybe ditch the Adventure Pyjamas and the space helmet, dusty jeans, muddy jacket and open face are the way to go, so we look less alien and more approachable, after all asking for electricity is a very different thing to paying for fuel.

    And personally, I’d look at the opposite end of the spectrum to the boys’ all singing, all dancing Harleys, weight and complexity are the opposite of range. Their Stage 3 fast chargers got them nowhere until they reached the states, and as we saw the current needed to juice up a big lump of Milwaukee’s finest tripped switches all up the spine of South America.

    So for me the ideal would be the electric equivalent of the good old Honda Cub, and coincidentally such a thing sort of exists in Reiju’s Nuuk Tracker. Performance is akin to the average 125, the top speed of 115km/h or 71mph is nothing to be sniffed at, the maximum range of 265 km or 165 miles is positively class leading and a charge to 50% in 1¾ hours means that the 400km or 250 mile day becomes possible if you’re happy to set off at the crack of dawn and top up during a long late lunch. Throw in the fact you can remove the batteries to charge them in your hotel room overnight and it might be the best E-Venture Bike on the market today.

    And if you painted it red, and squinted a bit it could even look a bit like a Honda Postie bike.

    Reply
    1. Jeanie Davison Post author

      You make some really great points there, Alex – totally agree with all of them, pretty much.

      Electric could be a blessing in disguise as it will force adventure bikers to slow down and properly experience the countries they’re riding through.

      And I hope you’re right about the smaller bikes being the best models to go electric. I’ve never been a fan of the big BMWs or Harleys but would love to ride a battery-powered Suzuki TU250X! 🙂🏍

      Reply

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