Electric Motorcycles are Here

By: On: June 26th, 20082 Comments »Updated: October 14, 2012

Tired of paying at the pump?  Go electric!  With gas prices up as high as they are, electric motorcycles are getting more attention than ever. Many people are looking for electric motorcycle info as they consider other gas saving alternatives. Unfortunately, the choices for us consumers are still very limited, but progress is being made. If you are willing to ride yours with discipline. in other words, no hot-dogging, then you will get the best return on your investment.  Oh yeah, another benefit is that you may actually make it to work and back without needing to recharge your battery.

Here’s 3 important riding habits you will need to know for going the farthest on a single charge on electric motorcycles:

1.  Accelerate Slowly:   electric motorcycles (and cars) have a lot of torque available instantly from a stand-still.  Most people are surprised how quick you can take-off from a stand-still, but the bad news is how quickly you drain your batteries doing that.

2.  Avoid Excess Weight:  the heavier the load on electric motorcycles, the harder the motor has to work.  Yes, you can put a passenger on some, such as the Vectrix, but the cost is a shorter distance you can travel before stopping to recharge.

3.  Keep Your Speed Down: some electric motorcycles can actually go pretty fast wide-open.  Driving yours at high speed will drain the battery and reduce how far you can ride.  To demonstrate this, Vectrix claims just a 20 mile range if traveling at 60 mph, but has a decent 65 mile range if you are willing maintain just 25 mph.

Vectrix Motorcycles ScootersAs with all conventional motorcycles, some electric motorcycles are better at certain things than others. Same is true with electric. The most popular of the street-legal electric motorcycles now is the Vectrix. With a 2008 list price of $9395 USD, you can even ride a passenger comfortably on it, although that will definitely reduce how far you can go between charging. Convenient features include a retractable power cord, and 3-5 hour recharge time. Battery type is NiMH (nickel metal hydride).  It looks a lot like other gas powered large scooters that you see on the roads, but maybe a little sportier.  Some police departments are using the Vectrix already.

Brammo Enertia MotorcyclesAnother new Electric motorcycle is the Brammo Enertia.  Unfortunately, the Enertia is not on the streets yet, but you can order it now for delivery later this year.  With an $11,995 USD starting price, this Lithium Phosphate battery powered motorcycle has an advertised range of 45 miles, that is if you are willing to ride at 25 mph, instead of it’s rated top rated speed of 50 mph.

For the dirt bike riding crowd, the choices of electric motorcycles are pretty much limited to the Zero. The list price for the Zero is at $7450 USD for the standard model and $8350 for the “high power” model. This thing can really hustle on the dirt. Using 168 individual Lithium Ion batteries, it weighs-in at only 140 pounds, making it very agile.  A street-legal version of this electric motorcycle is said to be on the way very soon with slightly smaller wheels.

The good news is that electric motorcycle battery technology is improving and there is a lot of research and development being put into this effort.  Let’s hope that the offering of electric motorcycles keeps increasing and that the operating ranges and power also keeps increasing as new models are developed.  I doubt I would prefer one of these over a conventional motorcycle, but I’m sure it would be fun to have one anyway.  If you have any of these electric motorcycles, or maybe a different one, what are your comments about it?  Was it worth the price?

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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2 Responded

  1. EM Cycle says:

    The high gas prices got me to thinking of ways to save. So I started a Conversion business. I’m using a 1986 600 NINJA. And as you have said, my driving technic really shortened my range. Ive decided to upgrade the power source, staying with lead acid batteries to keep the price down and be some what competitive with the manufactured bikes. Its been fun and challenging at the same time. I have enjoyed riding it, I get allot of commits about it, people being interested in a quit electric bike, But in Michigan Electric Motorcycles might be just a little slow catching on. Mark

  2. John says:

    I have been riding bikes for many years and have owned numerous bikes. I currently ride two street bikes- Vectrix legal motorcycle and Xtreme lithium e-bike. I love both bikes to death, but they are clearly different. The motors produce completely distinct power curves. Hence, the riding experience is fundamentally different and the so called attitude is almost opposite. Nevertheless, both bikes are superb. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.