Electric motorcycles are coming sooner than we think and the benefits could outweigh the drawbacks such as high purchase price, charging time and battery range.
Several specialist electric motorcycle companies and several traditional motorcycle manufacturers have electric bikes or scooters in the market or concepts waiting in the wings to hit the showroom.
Purchase prices will quickly come down as more enter the market and technology will solve issues of range and charging times. In fact, range is now out to 300km+ and charging times down to 30 minutes for 80% capacity.
But what are the benefits of an electric motorcycle?
Power and torque
Most importantly for riders, electric motorcycles are fast.
Electric vehicles hold the Pikes Peak hillclimb record for both cars and bikes.
An electric motor has instant 100% torque which means rapid acceleration.
The only drawback is that the power delivery is so linear there is no “surge” feeling which many riders experience in conventional fuel-powered engines.
Of course, electric motorcycles don’t belch any smoke and don’t use limited non-renewable fuel.
Electric motorcycles and scooters are particularly useful in city riding because they don’t belch smoke into the city air.
However, the environmental benefits of electric vehicles is a double-edged sword.
Some people argue that building electric vehicles takes more resource and others point to using electricity from a “dirty”, non-renewable source.
However, production methods are improving, batteries are becoming recyclable and there are many sources of renewable power including charging your bike off your home’s solar power.
While most motorcyclists love the roar of an exhaust pipe, some riders don’t and many members of the community simply find it antisocial and annoying.
If you like to listen to music or talk to your pillion while riding, a electric bike won’t introduce on your enjoyment.
Most electric motorcycles are quiet. So quiet, some say they are a bit dangerous because people can’t hear them coming.
However, manufacturers such as Harley-Davidson are doing something about the sound by artificially adding noise. In the case of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire concept, it’s as turbine-like sound derived from meeting the gears.
The development of electric motorcycle is driving engineers and scientists to try new lightweight materials and aerodynamic designs.
These new technologies will also flow down to conventional motorcycles.
Even though some motorcycle tour companies such as Eidelwiess in Europe hire electric motorcycles, touring is not really their forte.
In fact, riding in the city extends the range of an electric motorcycle because they recharge the battery through regenerative braking.