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A historic quest for retirees riding electric bikes from Perth to Sydney

In the early 1980s, when Ed Darmanin drove from Perth to Sydney in his leather-clad Kawasaki 1100, he followed the well-worn trail.

Now, 40 years later, he is building a new bike as the first person to complete a 4,500-kilometer trek on an electric bike.

And he takes his time and enjoys the experience.

When he bought a Harley-Davidson LiveWire as a retirement gift to himself earlier this year, the former electrician retraced his previous journey on an e-bike so he could experience new technology and take in all the sights along the way. I decided to.

“In my early 20s, it was all about getting to my destination,” said Ed, now 63.

The gasoline-fueled trip took just four days.

If all goes according to plan, he will be 21 days away from Perth when he arrives at his home in Balgoura Heights on the beach north of Sydney on Friday.

His e-bike has a range of 200km at slow speeds, but at full speed on the highway, it has a range of about 120km on a single charge.

Ed also enjoys traveling at a slower pace, as the distances covered between charging points are quite long.

“One of the reasons I bought a Harley was because I wanted to retire and rejuvenate, but also because I wanted to experience the future of motorcycling before I got too old.

“Now I parked my car at the observatory and spent some time looking around each town and road administration.

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

Ed says he was happy to find a fast charging station that could fully charge his bike in less than an hour. (By: Ed Darmanin )

Nullarbor Challenge

Before heading off on a desert crossing, Ed first traveled the East Coast to get a feel for how the bike would handle long distances. This is his 2,500 km journey from the beaches north of Sydney to Cape He tribulation in North Queensland.

Satisfied with the experience, he had the bike trucked to Perth so he could return to Sydney.

“To cover the length of the Nullarbor River with distances of up to 200 km between roadhouses, the only way to manage it is to slow down,” he said.

“The Nullarbor was challenging as it is the nearly 1,400 km road without fast charging from Madura to Tanunda.

“It’s the resistance of the wind that chews up the energy.”

An orange and black electric Harley painted in front of the Nullarbor Roadhouse.
Ed had to run slowly across the Nullarbor to save energy.(By: Ed Darmanin )

It was a similar case last week when he moved from Streaky Bay to Kimba, South Australia. There was nowhere to park and charge the car for about 240 km.

“We were very lucky because we had a strong tailwind, so we were able to go faster than normal, so we were going 65 km/h the whole time, and by the time we got to Kimba, the battery was down to 3%,” he said. He said.

lots of stops to recharge

Ed said he called roadhouses and motels and asked permission from the owner before charging the bike with a powerpoint because it takes up to 11 hours to fully recharge the battery.

“I offered to pay and they were all very happy that I stayed and didn’t charge for electricity,” he said.

Ed's orange-and-black electric Harley-Davidson is plugged in while sitting in the dining room of the Spalding Hotel.
The owner of the Spalding Hotel in South Australia let Ed charge his bike in the hotel’s dining room. (By: Ed Darmanin )

There were several DC fast charging stations on the route which made the few days much easier.

“With these chargers, the bike takes 45 minutes to charge 80% and an hour to fully charge,” he said.

From Kimba we traveled to Port Augusta, via Spalding and Tanunda to quick-charge stations before embarking on the home stretch to New South Wales.

get on the record book

Ed believes he was the first person to make this cross-Australia trip on an electric motorcycle.

He is part of an Australian Facebook group along with other e-bike riders, but none of the other members say they know anyone who has done the trek.

“There are no records online and there are only 41 LiveWires available in the country,” he said.

“If anyone challenges me and says I’ve done it before, prove it.”

Ed's orange and black Harley parked near a wind farm in rural South Australia
Ed was able to soak up the country scenery along the way, taking a break at the Honesdale Wind Farm north of Jamestown, South Australia.(By: Ed Darmanin)

But he says the journey would be easier for more riders if the government installed more fast-charging stations along the Nullarbor and better bike batteries, so that others would I hope to follow him soon.

“This is the first electric motorcycle that Harley has produced, and just as solar panels have become more efficient, battery technology has improved by leaps and bounds,” he said.

“In five years, bikes will be able to go twice as far as they do today.”

Ed has a GoPro attached to his helmet to document the trip and is filming with a drone as he plans to make a mini-documentary of the trip when he returns to Sydney.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-19/electric-motorbike-trip-from-perth-to-sydney-is-australian-first/101546196 A historic quest for retirees riding electric bikes from Perth to Sydney

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