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ADV NewsEwan and Charley’s New “Long Way Up” Series Going Electric?

Ewan and Charley’s New “Long Way Up” Series Going Electric?

 News out of Argentina may reveal the bikes Ewan and Charlie will ride.

Published on 09.08.2019

When Charley Boorman said there would be a “twist” to his and Ewan McGregor’s new adventure documentary “Long Way Up,” we’ll bet zero among us guessed the duo would be riding electric bikes, far less that those e-machines would be manufactured by Harley-Davidson. 

But Argentinian outlets have reported that McGregor arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina with David Alexanian, director and producer of Long Way Round/Down, shortly before the arrival of four factory-crated LiveWires — presumably two for riding, one for a cameraman and one as a backup. So yeah, no BMWs this time, or Triumphs, or even the quirkier Moto Guzzi V85 TTs McGregor promotes, the bike many guessed would be the “twist.” 

Also arriving in Buenos Aires alongside the Harleys were two cutting-edge electric pickup trucks manufactured in Illinois by Rivian, a company devoted to building “Electric Adventure Vehicles.” These trucks are said to deliver up to 400 miles on a full charge, while the Harley LiveWire is claimed to provide 146 miles of stop-and-go travel per charge or roughly 95 miles of combined city/highway. 


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It would be tough enough to travel coast-to-coast on backroads in the U.S. without a struggle to charge up this collection of e-vehicles, so we’re assuming the additional vehicles that landed, two 4×4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans and a single Ford F350 (V8 6.2), will carry some mobile DC fast chargers as well as crew members, spare parts and the spare bike. 

A little about the 2020 LiveWire, the flagship of a forthcoming series of EVs from Harley-Davidson: Only a handful of journalists have tested this machine so far and then only during a Portland-based press launch limited mostly to city streets. Cycle World called the LiveWire “impressive and very refined,” with light handling and tons of torque off the line. In keeping with a street fighter theme, its Showa suspension is reported to ride firm. The LiveWire weighs in just over 500 pounds and costs a bundle: $29,999. 

While this surprising choice of mounts will mean we’ll watch a very different adventure unfold along the windy coast of Patagonia — certainly one with fewer off-road antics — fans of McGregor won’t be surprised by his choice to showcase electric vehicles. In an interview out today in Scotland’s sundaypost.com, McGregor explains he’s been obsessed with electric vehicles for a long time. While the interview concentrates on a vintage VW bug he’s converted to e-power, he also mentions his “fascination” with Harley’s LiveWire and the future it represents: “It is exciting, and for sure it is the future. In 20 years we won’t be burning petrol in our engines any more, we will be plugging them into the wall.”

We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the e-powered posse as it presumably takes a shakedown run south along the east coast of Argentina to Tierra del Fuego and the obvious launchpad of Ushuaia. Route details have not been announced yet but Charley previously reported the journey will start in South America and continue North to Los Angeles. On the other hand, since this new journey’s first “twist” is about environmental consciousness, maybe they’ll head north toward Brazil and the vanishing Amazon. 

Whatever turn it takes, the resulting adventure is sure to be interesting. 

Photos: Autoblog

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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53 thoughts on “Ewan and Charley’s New “Long Way Up” Series Going Electric?

    • It does kinda suck, doesn’t it? The world is passing you by, and the best you can do is whine. LOL

      ““It is exciting, and for sure it is the future. In 20 years we won’t be burning petrol in our engines any more, we will be plugging them into the wall.””

    • Quite true. Electricity on the surface sounds fantastic….until you follow the line back to its source. See no evil, hear no evil. Harley threw a crap ton away to advertise for this show…..it would be a huge farse to have a catastrophic motorcycle failure(run out of energy), however there is likely massive biased non disclosure of future mech problems to save company face.
      Electric is a big twist….but if there motive is driven by “climate change”… why dont they just ride bicycles….or walk.
      Braap!….braaap! To _______!…_____!

      • Honestly, the only thing that’s required for Rivian and Harley to be successful in this endeavor is that they finish. Historically, the BMWs used on the other series broke down,even to the point that they had to buy another bike. BMW still ended up selling the shit out of those bikes. Any “major” failure can be edited to show it wasn’t THAT bad or just adds to the adventure of the trip. I think this is going to be a pretty good PR stunt for Rivian, HD, and electric vehicles in general.

    • Less and less electricity is made by coal. The US used to be 50% powered by coal and now is less than 30% powered by it.
      Also, nowhere in the article does it claim they will charge on any specific source. However, electricity always emits less CO2 than using gasoline. (AAAS 2015)
      Argentina, for example, uses almost no coal and gets 53% of its electricity from hydroelectric power plants and another 5% from nuclear power plants. The majority of the remaining power is from natural gas or oil.

      • Hydro is terrible for watersheds and ecosystems in general, and puts some species to the brink of extinction (see whooping crane). Nuclear waste is fatal to all living things in short doses for 25000 years and there are still no safe long term storage options. 25000 years ago we were living in caves, just started to make rope for the first time and there was still 10,000 years left in the last ice age. Solar and geothermal are the only way.

  1. It will be interesting to see how these vehicles fair…. Regardless I always enjoyed watching their content should make for some interesting road side repairs…

  2. What a farce, once again a team of support vehicles needed to help these blokes out, and supply back up power too this time… I don’t agree with this whole trip, the world is not yet ready for guys trying to go across continents on electric bikes, this is not a realistic venture for the rest of us in the real world … I won’t even bother following it, thank you very much.

    • There are 4 people who have crossed the US on all electric motorcycles unassisted. Terry Hershner did it first in 2013, and a couple of other guys did it in 2017. I have traveled through all the lower 48 states on electric motorcycles unassisted, just using EV charging stations and RV Parks for electrical power.
      It will be interesting to see if the charging locations cause them to adjust their route.

    • So it’s legitimate only if they do THEIR trip YOUR way? They have done the adventure bike trip to death, so let them do something different. No reason to get upset about it. Do your own adventure and let them do theirs.

  3. Disappointing – I was expecting a true off-road adventure for their third effort – and on a bike that is capable of it. Even Zero could have provided more of this than HD. I had looked forward to this – but with this decision, they lost me – peace out.

    • What’s more of an adventure? Taking the right bike for the trip or taking the wrong bike? In my opinion, taking the wrong bike and making it work is more entertaining to watch than another dirtbike video of going over stuff it was made for.

  4. I’ve owned a dozen different motorcycles over my lifetime but I’d be willing to bet electric motorcycles are going to be everywhere like it is now in the bicycling world…I used to be a hater too

  5. I’ve owned a lot of different motorcycles. and ridden close to 500,000 miles (280,000 on one BMW). Currently one of my bikes is a 1015 Zero SR. Made in Scotts Valley California I love this bike for short runs under 75 miles. Its lite (420 lbs) and fun. Until you ride one you can’t know the appeal.

  6. I’m not sure I’m convinced that needing three full-sized gas-powered vehicles (plus two more full-sized electric ones) to haul all the charging equipment (which no-doubt includes gas-powered generators) does much to promote the “environmental consciousness” of the two electric-powered bikes, nor of the whole project in general. I’m sure it’ll be an interesting watch, though!

  7. what is the point of riding electric bikes if they have to be followed by gas trucks with gas generators to recharge the electric bikes? It shows the vehicles are not practical and probably produces more pollution (gas truck and gas generator) than if they just ran on Gas bikes with a smaller gas truck (the truck would be smaller and lighter if it didn’t have to carry generators for charging the bikes!). It might be fun for the riders, but doesn’t seem to prove anything to me except how unrealistic electric vehicles are for this kind of trip!!

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  9. Pingback: Charlie and Ewan Will Use the Harley LiveWire in Long Way Up – Robert's Adventure

  10. I’ll watch for sure…….but I know this was all backed by H.D.. I have no doubt it should be watchable but ughhh……the undertones. Face palm.

  11. Funny how all those who heat, light, and cook their food in their homes do not complain about the source the electricity is made complain when the same supply charges a vehicle!

    • its the message stupid, they are going to be pushing this climate change hoax on the viewers throughout the show, the writing is on the walls, no one wants politics (especially fake and insane) in their entertainment

      • Word. I just want my dancing monkeys to make me laugh and entertain me when Im not busy. Not try and cram there drivel down my throat. What annoys me is the hypocrisy of there idea.
        Dont preach change when you have a private jet, yacht and flew your whole crew from around the world burning petrol to make a statement against petrol….
        Wonder how Moto Guzzi and Triumph are feeling about this blatant slap in the face. Im certain they refused there sponsorships offer.
        Ewan and Charlie have certainly changed and are far from the humble duo from “long way around”

        • the moderator removed my initial comment, but it shared the same message as yours, i may watch an episode just for schadenfreude sake, “Charlie my bloody battery is dead! hold off mate we need to waste precious daylight for the crew to catchup and give me a charge!”
          haha i look forward to that scene

      • If you want to believe climate change is a hoax, you’re welcome to it on your own time. Don’t waste ours with your idiotic positions…and don’t be pissed off when AI takes your wal-mart job away. Science has brought us everything, yet you dismiss it at your peril.

        • This kind of response does more harm than good. It’s not the current cohort that needs to change (they won’t) , it’s the next. Language like this just creates division and makes everything harder foing forward. G

    • I think that is because the electric vehicles are pushed by some groups as “green” and “will save the planet”. No one is pushing a product for heat, light, and food cooking to go green or save the planet as hard as some groups do for electric vehicles.

      For the record I had an electric car for 5 years knowing well that I was still contributing to pollution.

  12. Yeah, I would agree that the armada of support vehicles kind of takes the credibility out of calling it an adventure ride. I have seen many other folks during motorcycle travels doing it the hard way… Like 2 guys I saw going over Mengel Pass in Death Valley as part of a cross country ride on Honda trail 90’s, loaded to the gills with their camping gear, food & water.

    Also, using electric bikes would be more credible if they also came up with a way to charge them in a more self sufficient or sustainable method. Having trucks with generators just hurts whatever message they may be trying to make.

  13. Mmmm can’t see the sense of electric vehicles, we still use more fossil fuels to make electricity than any other fuels. If we all move over to electric vehicles we will have to increase the production of said fossil fuel generated electricity. Tell me how is this move designed to reduce the production of green house gasses??? A move to Hydrogen would be much more effective as that can be produced without the use of increased fossil fuels & the bi product is a scarce resource… Water… no brainier

  14. Pingback: WEDNESDAY WANDERLUST: HARLEY DAVIDSON LIVEWIRE - Dirt Orcas

  15. An electric vehicle traveling the length of South America is nothing new to Claudio Von Planta; however it will be new to Ewan and Charley. Back in 2010 Claudio filmed a series called Racing Green Endurance (Google it); it documented six university students from Imperial College in London who designed an electric car using the chassis of the Radical SR-8 race car and aptly renaming it the SR-0. The SR-0 was shipped from London to Anchorage Alaska where the trip started; overall it was a huge success ending a little over three months later in Ushuaia.

    The SR-0 was entirely electric, capable of up to 500 km on a single charge, so long as the speed was kept to 80 km/hr. I traveled, from Whitehorse to Vancouver, as a support rider for Claudio with my bike serving as a platform from which he could film the SR-0 while on the road.

    If promoting green energy is meant to be a component for the trip, why not pick an electric bike that has some history. I am thinking about Zero bikes from California, they have been in the market place with electric bikes since 2006. Zero Motorcycles are exclusively an electric bike company, with an existing dual sport/adventure bike; whereas, Harley Davidson has no history in the electric bike marketplace whatsoever. Nor do they have any established history in the Adventure tourism market.

    Personally, I can’t wait to see if the trip is finished on the same bikes that they started the trip with. My hunch is that Harley will have a HUGE presence in the form of a fleet of bikes ready to swap out along the way. Harley Davidson has very deep pockets and this is nothing more than a publicity stunt ahead of an official launch. Sure one could argue that it was the same for BMW back in 2004 with Longway Round; it is worth noting tho, at the time of Longway Round BMW was already we;; established in the Adventure bike market place.

    I do hope that the trip is a success, but I am disappointed by this announcement. Nothing will feel like Longway Round, it was a fresh idea that would have still occurred without corporate sponsorship. Longway Down was done far too close to the completion of Longway Round. I was always under the impression that the last chapter, would not happen until the time was right. Sadly, with Harley’s involvement it is just a corporate publicity stunt that, for me, ruins the last chapter in what started off as a great travel series.

    • I have a feeling that the trip will start with this bike on the paved and end on the panaamerica on terrain similar to what they put the R1200GS Adventure through in 2004.

      Personally I would have loved to see them do an everyman trip. Buy two used KLR’s and no camera crews, Just a really good camera and drive across Canada on the backroads for 2 months from Labrador through to the arctic ocean.

      Buying a used KLR and driving it 15000km is probably better on the environment than building a brand new electric bike and paying for the raw materials to be extracted and assembled and flown around the world.

  16. Man they blew this one. What the first idea was to now this? It’s funny, I’ve had Harley guys bitch about my BMW on poker runs, make fun of the German crap, all the while “owning the cruiser market.” Now sales slump, their typical buyer is old and most other riders are tired of the pirate mentality, so they jump on the bandwagon of ADV’s. And why not use their new one? Because it’s a piece…this trip is now all about Harley pushing their bottom line. Keep their bikers at Sturgis and we can enjoy our trips to beautiful places and meet nice people like we always have.

  17. WELL THAT MEANS I CAN GO OUT RIDING….NO POINT IN WATCHING….CLEARLY THEY TOOK THIS ON WITHOUT A SPONSOR….AN ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE…..NOT!!!

  18. Please Charley and Ewan, reconsider! A trek through South America and even the US without any non-paved roads is going to be extremely boring. My interest in this series is very high but with electrics it will drop by at least 90%. I would have loved to see a Triumph vs. Moto Guzzi battle, but a Long Way Adventure on a street bike with a 95 mile range? Please reconsider. Any adventure bike would keep my interest.
    Thank you for considering.

  19. It’s a “Made for TV drama motorcycle adventure”, so sit back and enjoy. It will again expose the “wannabe’s motorcyclist” to our passion. For the 99.9% of the rest of us, plan well and take care of yourself on your own adventures. And dream of “full support” and paid for adventures 😉
    GK, IBR #10,426

  20. Man I sure hope not. Not to dog HD or even electric bikes (the Live Wire looks like a great effort) but don’t we all want to see some technical offroad stuff?? I don’t want to watch hours of 2 guys riding slab (quietly at that) just cruising down solid surfaces. That wouldn’t be very entertaining.

  21. electric ok on open road in optimum conditions- how much will battery drain when they stuck in dirt or mud rut and tying to get the thing out or on some sandy track or they wanna go up some hill to see something cool. A petrol bike can suck the juice in rough conditions big time. So will a battery cope? I am guessing they ditch the HD during trip – not cos bad bike per se, but wrong bike for ADV unless it is solely tarmac touring.