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…