Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have returned on two fully-electric Harley Davidsons for Long Way Up
It’s been 16 years since actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman (in probably his most well-known TV role) rode across Europe from London to New York on a pair of BMW R1150GS all-terrain heavy-duty travel motorbikes. The subsequent book and TV series, Long Way Round, were both hits, largely thanks to some stunning photography and the affable nature of both Boorman and McGregor. Even the soundtrack sold well. In 2007 the actors did it all again with equal success for the Long Way Down; a trip from John O’Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa.
Fast forward to 2020, and we’ve been treated to the third instalment in the McGregor/Boorman travel trilogy. This time Long Way Up concentrates on the west coast of America from south to north, starting in Ushuaia, Argentina and ending up in Los Angeles, California.
This time things are slightly different; out go the fossil-fuelled machines of BMW and in come a pair of electric-powered Harley Davidson LiveWires. Interestingly enough, one review of the Harley LiveWire starts off by mentioning a lack of battery range, which has no doubt made the motorcycle choices for such an endeavour an interesting one to watch. On the plus side, the LiveWire is renowned for its comfort and cornering ability (unlike some other Harleys out there). It proves a real bit of intriguing TV for those bike enthusiasts who will be tuning in to the Long Way Up just to see how a pair of electric bikes cope with the journey and how the pair plan to recharge them (a full battery charge normally takes around an hour) in the wide open spaces they will invariably find themselves.
The journey takes Boorman and McGregor a total of 100 days across 13,000 miles consisting of 13 different countries and even more border crossings. It’s not just the bikes that have gone electric, as two of the support vehicles will be a pair of electric Rivian R1T pick-ups – the first two to be built in in fact. There were also petrol and diesel support vehicles on the journey ferrying replacement battery packs to help keep the LiveWire motorcycles charged up.
It’s interesting to look at some of the low-key promotional interviews preceding the screening of Long Way Up, with Ewan McGregor revealing that they did in fact run out of juice on occasion and have to go knocking on local’s doors begging for electricity. As he dryly points out; there is no EV charging infrastructure as yet in the likes of Patagonia… McGregor does also confess that while his Harley LiveWire did fully run out of charge on occasion, Boorman managed his electric motorcycle somewhat better and his bike did not fully run out of charge.
Ok, spoiler alert; they arrive safely – and as in previous series, there is a specially invited group of riders to greet them in LA. Naturally the duo pays homage to Harley Davidson by visiting a Los Angeles downtown dealership on the final leg. After the journey, Boorman said that while charging in the less populated parts of the Americas was a challenge, they were pleasantly surprised by the amount of EV charging points in the USA. This enabled the duo to smooth out the journey and increase travel between charges from 150 miles to around 300 miles per day.
The show premiered on Friday September 18th 2020 on Apple TV+ with weekly episodes going forward. Find out more here.
Images: motorcyclenews.com, instagram.com, Apple TV
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