Is the LiveWire One 2022 strong enough to keep you safe?

LiveWire One 2022 Noise and Safety Review Highlights:

  • Some riders worry that an electric motorcycle like the 2022 LiveWire One isn’t loud enough to draw attention to itself, making for riskier riding conditions.
  • Not only is the LiveWire One not quiet, it’s loud and distinct enough to be noticed by pedestrians even in noisy environments, and it has several standard safety features.
  • There are other ways to stay safe on an electric motorcycle besides massive sound waves

Whether you ride an electric motorcycle or drive an electric car, those curious about electric vehicles ask many of the same questions. But the two-wheeler crowd isn’t just interested in range and charge times. Many still believe in the “noisy pipes save lives” myth, which makes them wary of something like the 2022 LiveWire One. busy streets. However, while the LiveWire One doesn’t have a noisy pipe, that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.

The 2022 LiveWire One isn’t V-noisy, but it’s still loud

2022 LiveWire One rear 3/4 | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

Yes, compared to their petrol counterparts, electric motorcycles are rather quiet. However, like four-wheeled electric vehicles, battery-powered bikes aren’t completely quiet (unless they’re designed to be). And the 2022 LiveWire One is no exception.

Before briefly riding the One and Zero SR/F last year, I thought they would sound pretty much the same. But while both bikes made noise, Harley’s electric motorcycle was no vocal match to the Zero. And after driving the 2022 model for several weeks in and around Chicagoland, I can confirm that it has a distinct voice. Not a loud voice, mind you, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Most four-wheel electric vehicles I’ve driven or ridden made some variation of a high-pitched white noise. This is not what the One looks like. Initially, you only get a faint hum from the drive belt bevel gear. Then, once you accelerate, the electric motorcycle starts to sound like a jet turbine designed by someone who had The Jetsons repeat. It’s that piercing, warbling, futuristic moan that, combined with the style of the One, made me imagine I was riding the light cycles of tron the legacy.

Is the 2022 LiveWire One as loud as, say, the new Harley-Davidson Nightster or Indian Scout? No. But I’ll let you in on a secret: above 40-45 mph, the rushing wind starts to drown out the engine. Also, if a gasoline motorcycle is really noisy, I put my earplugs on early. I didn’t need to do that with the LiveWire One precisely because it’s not noisy at city speeds. So somehow I could hear it more clearly than with an ICE bike.

Can other people hear you coming to the LiveWire One 2022?

The front view of a black 2022 LiveWire One in a suburban parking lot
2022 LiveWire One front | Matthew Skwarczek, MotorBiscuit

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The supposed point of loud exhausts, however, at least for motorcycles, is not that you hear the engine better. Rather, it is so that everyone around hears your bike better and thus detects your presence earlier. That’s why some riders are nervous about e-bikes like the 2022 LiveWire One: they think it’s not loud enough to get noticed.

Now I’ve seen drivers so distracted it would take a horn to get their attention. But let me assure you, horsemen, you don’t have to worry about the One being too quiet to be safe.

First, although it applies primarily to electric cars rather than motorcycles, NHTSA requires electric vehicles to emit sounds at speeds of up to 19 mph. These sounds can’t sound like anything natural and need to be loud enough for pedestrians to hear them clearly, Roadshow says. So legally the LiveWire One has to be loud enough for people to hear it coming.

Second, in 2015, NHTSA published a study on noise from electric motorcycles and heavy-duty vehicles. Granted, the study only looked at two bikes, a Zero S and a Brammo Energia. Anyway, at 19 mph the S put out 59.6 decibels of noise and the Enertia gave out a whoop of 66.5 decibels. For comparison, typical suburban background noise peaks at 50 decibels while a car passing you on a city street emits around 70 decibels. In short, the sounds of electric motorcycles are powerful enough to catch your attention.

Plus, I can personally confirm that the LiveWire One 2022 is loud enough to get noticed. I was passing a suburban train station, going 20-25 mph, just as a bus was idling in the other lane. Yet the whine of the One’s turbine still made someone sitting on a bench in front of the station look up from their phone and follow my progress. If the sound of this bike can cut through the racket of a bus, it should be just fine in car-only traffic.

The LiveWire One has strong standard security features

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Luckily, the LiveWire One 2022 doesn’t need a speakerphone to keep you safe. In addition to Brembo brakes, Harley-Davidson has equipped its flagship electric motorcycle with several standard safety features:

  • Improved cornering ABS
  • Drag-Torque Slip Control (rear wheel slip control)
  • Improved cornering traction control

Each of the One’s ride modes adjusts traction control as well as regenerative braking, throttle response and power settings. Additionally, in addition to the four built-in modes – Rain, Autonomy, Road and Sport – the bike has three customizable modes. And rain mode’s gentle throttle and power settings came in handy after a brief downpour. Even with the streets of Chicago soaking wet and an overenthusiastic Prius driver squealing his tires, the One pulled away from stops without a single tire noise.

You don’t need loud noises and wild sounds to be safe on an electric motorcycle

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Speaking of chirping, that’s ultimately what’s at the heart of the LiveWire One’s loudness concerns. One of the fundamental principles of motorcycle safety is to “assume you are invisible”. And some runners think the best way to get around is through noisy pipes. But you don’t need loud sounds to be seen on a LiveWire One or any other electric motorcycle.

First, ATGATT: all the gear, all the time. Also, make sure your gear is brightly colored or at least reflective. Second, move into your lane, stay in view of others’ mirrors, and maintain a two-second gap. And while loud pipes won’t save lives, using your horn wisely can help.

In short, yes, the 2022 LiveWire One is strong enough to make its presence known on the road. However, the sounds it makes are not its or your main security tools.

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