A pensioner’s historic quest to ride an electric motorcycle from Perth to Sydney

When Ed Darmanin pulled on his leathers and hit the road on his Kawasaki 1100 from Perth to Sydney in the early 1980s, he was following a well-worn path.

Now, 40 years later, he is forging a new one by becoming the first to do this 4,500 kilometer ride on an electric motorcycle.

And he takes his time to enjoy the experience.

When he bought the Harley Davidson LiveWire as a retirement gift for himself earlier this year, the former electrical engineer decided to retrace his previous journey on an e-bike so he could experience new technology and admire all sites along the way.

“When I was in my early twenties, it was just about getting there,” said Ed, now 63.

This gas-powered trip only took him four days.

When he arrives at his home in Balgowlah Heights on Sydney’s northern beaches on Friday – if all goes as planned – it will mark 21 days since leaving Perth.

His electric motorcycle has a range of 200 kilometers when going slowly, but sitting on a highway at top speed reduces the mileage to around 120 km per charge.

And with vast distances to cover between charging points, Ed was happy to make the journey at a leisurely pace.

“Part of the reason I bought the Harley was because I was retiring and wanted to relive my youth, but I also wanted to experience the future of motorcycling before I got too old,” he said. -he declares.

“Now I stopped at the lookouts and took my time to walk through each of the towns and roadhouses.

“I even have time to drink a beer and chat with the locals.”

Ed says it was a treat to find a fast-charging station that fully charged his bike in an hour. (Provided: Ed Darmanin )

The Nullarbor Challenge

Before embarking on his desert trek, Ed got an idea of ​​how his bike would handle long distances by first taking it on a trip up the east coast – a 2,500km trip from the beaches from northern Sydney to Cape Tribulation in northern Queensland.

Happy with the experience, he then trucked his bike to Perth so he could bring it back to Sydney.

“In order to cover distances through the Nullarbor, where there are up to 200km between truck stops, the only way to deal with this is to go slower,” he said.

“The Nullarbor was difficult as there is almost 1,400 km of road from Madura to Tanunda without fast charging.

“Wind resistance is what consumes energy.”

The orange and black electric Harley pictured outside a Nullarbor truck stop.
Ed had to ride slower through the Nullarbor to save energy so he could get to the next truck stop to charge his bike.(Provided: Ed Darmanin )

It was a similar case when he traveled from Streaky Bay to Kimba in South Australia last week where there was nowhere to stop and recharge for around 240km.

“I was very lucky as I had a strong tailwind which allowed me to ride faster than normal so I sat at 65kph the whole time and when I got there in Kimba the battery was down to 3%,” he said.

Many stops to recharge your batteries

Ed said he called truck stops and motels to ask permission from owners before charging his bike using power outlets because it took up to 11 hours to fully charge the electric battery.

“I offered to pay but they were all very happy to see me stay and not charge me for electricity,” he said.

Ed's orange and black electric Harley Davidson is plugged in as he sits in the dining room at the Spalding Hotel.
The owner of the Spalding hotel in South Australia let Ed charge his bike in the hotel dining room. (Provided: Ed Darmanin )

There were a few DC fast charging stations along the route which made some days much easier.

“On these chargers, the bike takes 45 minutes to get 80% or an hour to fill up completely,” he said.

From Kimba he traveled to Port Augusta then to Spalding and Tanunda, where he took advantage of a fast-charging station before heading into the home stretch to New South Wales.

Climb into the record books

Ed believes he is the first person to take this trans-Australian trip on an electric motorbike, as extensive internet searches have failed to find any other suitors.

He is part of an Australian Facebook group with other electric motorcyclists and says none of the other members know anyone else who has made the trip.

“There are no online registrations and there are only 41 LiveWires available in the country.

“If someone wants to challenge me and say they’ve done it before, then prove it,” he said with a laugh.

Ed's orange and black Harley parked near a wind farm in South Australia
Ed was able to soak up the sights of the country along the way as he pauses at Hornsdale Wind Farm north of Jamestown, South Australia.(Provided: Ed Darmanin)

But he expects others to soon follow in his wake, as he says the journey will become easier for more cyclists once the government installs more fast-charging stations along the Nullarbor and when batteries cycling will improve.

“It’s the first electric motorcycle produced by Harley, and battery technology is improving by leaps and bounds, as is the way solar panels have become more efficient,” he said.

“Within five years, bikes will be able to travel twice as far as they do now.”

Ed documents his trip with a GoPro strapped to his helmet and takes drone footage as he plans to produce a mini documentary of his trip when he returns to Sydney.

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