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Electric motorbikes are great, so why aren’t there more?

  • Tech
  • Motorcycle
  • Electric vehicle
  • Battery pack
  • Performance indicator
  • Energy
  • mobility

Electric motorbikes are great, so why aren’t there more?

Polestar accelerates the shift to sustainable mobility, by making electric active irresistible.

As a longtime motorcycle enthusiast, I anticipation I would share my own acquaintance going full electric. Three years ago, I leased a Chevrolet Bolt, with its EPA range of 238-mile range from a 60 kWh battery. I really liked the powertrain and the all-embracing EV experience. When the lease ended recently, I replaced the Bolt with a Tesla Model 3, which offers a decidedly better all-embracing experience. The time has now come to get rid of the actual gas-powered car in our household. I bought an electric motorcycle, namely a Zero SR 13 — my 7th motorcycle since the age of 16.

Let’s talk about torque

Established in 2006, Zero Motorcycles designs and produces a range of fully electric motorcycles near Santa Cruz (Northern California). My 2017 Zero SR 13 develops “only” 70 hp but a whooping 146 Nm of torque, belief 188 kg whether its 13 kWh array pack is answerable or not! This translates into 3.3 abnormal from 0 to 60 mph. Today, Zero’s most able model, the SR/S delivers 110 hp and 190 Nm (229 kg).

The Zero SRF Motorcycle. Image: Zero Motorcycle

These torque values are not only very high in complete terms, but “peak” torque is accessible at any speed and delivered instantly, thanks to the built-in characteristics of electric motors. These values analyze very agreeably to those of gas-powered bikes. The torquiest assembly bike, the Triumph Rocket with its 2500 cc engine, is hardly stronger with 220 Nm, but it weighs 291 kg, plus gas. The high achievement Suzuki Hayabusa (1300 cc) “only” delivers 158 Nm (266 kg). How about BMW? The German brand’s torquiest bike, the 6-cylinder K 1600, stands at 175 Nm.

Charging & range: Can e-motorcycles go the distance?

The Zero SR 13’s appear range is 100 to 150 miles depending on riding conditions. Agnate to a array electric vehicle, the range of an e-motorcycle is accomplished when riding includes a aggregate of accelerations and decelerations because of adorning braking. On the contrary, canoeing on the freeway delivers the lowest range — and is the most boring! I have also accomplished fewer than 100 miles when riding hard on twisty roads. Charging is simple. The provided cable plugs into a 110V or 220V electric outlet to charge at 1.5 kW (3 kW for latest models). Zero offers an alternative 6 kW onboard charger, enabling Level 2 charging.

In addition, energy cost for an e-motorcycle is a atom of that of its gas equivalent. A full charge costs me $1.50 (night rate: $0.12/kWh)! Assuming a burning of 100 Wh/mi (62 Wh / km), that’s 1.2 cent / mi or 0.65€ / 100 km. This compares with 8 cents / mi or 7.40€ / 100 km (at local exceptional gas price*) for the sporty Suzuki Katana Sport. Not only is energy cost a 1/10th of its gas counterpart, but oil changes (and brake pads to a large extent) are also gone. However, rear tires on e-motorcycles likely need to be replaced more frequently given the absorbing torque — which I can say I do play with, given the smile it brings on my face every single time.

Yes, electric motorcycles are still more big-ticket upfront than their gas-powered siblings. The accepted Zero SR/S, with 14 kWh, costs about $20k / 20k€ vs. around $15k for the abutting agnate fuel-burning 2 wheeler. But the abrogating trend empiric in the cost of Li-Ion batteries (currently about $120/kWh vs. $1000 in 2010) means the gap will abide to close.

Zero e-motorcycles are connected

Zero’s motorcycles are connected, to some extent just like my Tesla. A phone app allows you to create a unique riding mode (max torque, max speed, braking regen, etc.), adviser charging, and offer a separate, customizable apparatus panel. Zero also pushes over-the-air updates — though not as impactful or common as Tesla — which is streamed via the phone app.

A beginning e-motorcycle ecosystem

Zero is not alone in alms e-motorcycles. A number of startups have emerged with a purpose agnate to Zero’s. Overall, they offer a broad spectrum of motorcycle types (cruisers, sportbikes, dirt bikes, urban runabouts…) and prices from below $10k to over $50k. They accommodate US-based Lighting, Fuell, and Voltu — Alta Motors went under not long after Harley Davidson invested in them. In Europe, we have Energica and Tacita in Italy, Essence in France, and Arc in the UK. China is also in the race, with Evoke and Socco. Nevertheless, Zero is the ascendant player, in a sort of Tesla-like role.

How about the incumbents? Harley-Davidson is apparently the last one I would have accepted to offer an e-motorcycle. Yet, they — and Austria-based KTM — were the first and are the only ones to do so today. Alien in 2018, the LiveWire is not as acceptable a artefact as its Zero equivalent. At $30k, it is about 40% more big-ticket than the Zero SR/F, is heavier, offers a beneath range but is quicker to 60 mph. KTM has alien two electric dirt bikes priced below $10k and has yet to offer their street bike counterparts.

A Zero e-motorcycle
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire e-motorcycle. Image: Harley-Davidon

Surprisingly, neither BMW nor the four Japanese majors — Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha — have an e-motorcycle on the market. Last year, the four Asian competitors appear a partnership to advance swappable batteries for electric motorcycles, which could pave the way for a much needed, bigger ambition. BMW presented a abstraction in 2019, but have yet to advertise a assembly e-bike.

I used to be “petrol head” — the second car I bought was a Corvette. However, the amusement of active or riding an electric car or motorcycle — which easily makes you forget the sound of a revving engine — accumulated with my adherence to clean advancement made me swap gas for electrons. And there is no going back! The electrification of motorcycles is backward behind that of commuter vehicles, but I doubtable it will pick up once incumbents put articles on the market.

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Published November 18, 2020 — 14:00 UTC

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