Just in case you haven’t heard, Long Way Up is the third installment in Ewan McGregor’s and Charlie Boorman’s trilogy of long-distance motorcycle adventure rides.
What makes this one so special, though, is that the duo set out on a pair of Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycles, attempting to cover 15,000 miles (25,000 km) of incredibly remote terrain from the southern tip of Argentina all the way to Los Angeles.
[Author’s Note: There are no major spoilers here; you’re safe to keep reading.]
If you haven’t binge-watched Long Way Up yet, then don’t worry.
The series was just released this weekend with the first three episodes available on Apple TV+.
A new episode will be released every Friday, so it will be easy for you to catch up. And boy, is it worth it.
The interesting thing about the choice of motorcycle for the trip, at least from the perspective of an electric vehicle nerd like me (and more specifically an electric motorcycle nerd), is that neither McGregor nor Boorman are electric vehicle buffs.
They’re lifelong friends and motorcyclists, but they don’t have any specific electric vehicle agenda, and so they aren’t trying to shove anything down your throat. They were simply looking to find a way to test themselves on this epic 15,000-mile ride, saw that electric motorcycles were gaining in popularity to the point where they appear to be the future of the industry, and wanted to see if they could use the technology in its early days to complete such an arduous journey.
The pair are very much learning along the way.
As we learned last year, Ewan’s and Charlie’s LiveWire electric motorcycles weren’t the only electric vehicles involved in the adventure. To truly embrace the idea of traveling by EV, the duo wanted to use all-terrain electric vehicles for support roles as well. That’s where Rivian came in, providing the first two production Rivian trucks ever to serve as crew support vehicles.
Without giving anything away (it’s so hard to not give any spoilers), one of the most interesting parts of the Long Way Up series so far has been seeing how the riders on their LiveWires AND the support crew driving the Rivian trucks adapt to operating electric vehicles in the bitter cold and outlet-sparse landscape of Patagonia.
Both teams run into unexpected obstacles, often finding creative solutions that look like a mix of ingenious thinking and dangerous ideas that you joke about but shouldn’t actually try.
We’re only three episodes in so far, and the team has already battled through problems arising from operating prototype vehicles, working with a dearth of charging infrastructure, fighting off frostbite (and frost-bitten charging equipment), and struggling through the language barrier the entire time.
And they’ve only put boots down in two countries so far.
But perhaps one of the most beautiful parts of the show isn’t the trials and tribulations of man versus machine (versus the wilderness of South America), but rather the interactions the team have with the locals.
From border crossings to middle-of-nowhere hotels and random stops in between, the Long Way Up series gives us a beautiful insight into the local culture and landscape.
In true Long Way fashion, the motorcycles are just a part of the show, not the stars. It is the journey that takes center stage. And that journey is made all the more interesting by the unique challenges imposed by navigating 15,000 miles (25,000 km) on electric motorcycles.
Here’s hoping Ewan and Charlie always find a plug when they need one. Because if the first three episodes are any indication, all bets are off!
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