Have Electric Bikes Arrived?
How are we doing?
A lot of attention has been given to electric bikes as of late, much having to do with Harley looking to throw its hat in the ring. But what kind of market is Harley stepping in to? There are actually quite a few offerings, just none with a name that holds quite as much water as Harley Davidson. The live wire has received a ton of press, and for good reason. It looks to be very impressive.
It does face difficulties, though. Most are not exclusive to Harley. They typical issues we have seen in the electric car market ring true in motorcycles too. Charging times are miserable, batteries are about as trustworthy as drive through sushi, charging points are harder to find than a reasonable politician. The list goes on and on.
As with Formula E, hopefully we will see a large advancement in those pesky battery issues. The bikes they use are very impressive and if they ever stop catching fire maybe we could see a good race series. However, the bigger picture is moving battery tech forward and improving he efficiency of the drivetrain. If we can see great gains in the reliability of battery tech and the bikes in general it could begin to be seen in production bikes. Hopefully more manufacturers will become interested in MotoE and it will start to resemble Formula E more closely.
The road going version of the Energencia Ego
As of now the only maker of bikes for MotoE is Energencia. This small Italian builder has taken up the torch for trailblazing in the electric racing segment. Zero has also scored a piece of the action with their Zero TT, more on them later. The bike itself is actual pretty quick, slotting average speeds in between moto3 and moto2 bikes. The specs for the road going version don't disappoint either. It produces 159 ft-lbs of torque pushing it to 150 mph. They have tried to address the charge time with the fast charge mode that puts 85% into the battery in 35 mins. However, the full charge still takes 3.5 hours. This gives you decent range of 100 miles, but when compared to a similar combustion engine its falls a little short depending on which class you equate it with. The ticket price of $22,565 from my local dealer also slots it well above the Japanese combustion competition. However, this is about on par with a Ducati V4 or Aprilia RSV4 even though they would both leave you sitting on your Energencia mumbling about emissions and instant torque as you stare at brake lights down the stretch.
Ok so maybe one of those Zero's I've heard so much about
The newest shiniest zero is the SR/F and man does it look good, especially compared to what they have been putting out (see title picture). Unfortunately it will still set you back around $20K. It is a more street able set up and does deliver some performance. A smaller 124 mph top speed and torque output of 140 ft-lbs. However, it makes up for it with an 80 minute full charge time and a 200 mile range. Now we are talking. Something completely usable on the street with instant torque and won't leave you stranded after 100 miles, fingers crossed it doesn't break down.
They are making strides in reliability though, which is exciting. Most manufacturers are following suit. The automotive industry is figuring it out and the motorcycle industry doesn't seem to be as far behind as usual on this one.
That price still seems steep though
Yes, yes it does. Its the price of advancement though. Especially since most of these bikes come from smaller firms with lower production volume. The real question is when will the big brands step in and give it a shot. As mentioned before Harley is, but it still carries the Harley premium price tag.
Super Soco TC-Max
A company in the UK has taken note of your concerns. The Super Soco TC-Max comes in at a very reasonable $5,200. Keep in mind you do get what you pay for. It only achieves a top speed of 58mph and has a charge time of 4.5 hours. This bike isn't interested in trading punches with the Zero's of the world though. It has been aimed at taking a bite out of the 125cc market in Europe. As a city run about it does seem appealing. It would have its draw back in capacity and doesn't necessarily undercut the 125cc prices, coming in above most of them. However, for an A1 rider (it's a class of license over there, doesn't necessarily equate with what would be perceived as an A1 skill level), who is likely young, the proposition of not paying for gas or having to shift gears may be appealing. Plus the neo retro styling is sure to entice younger riders. I mean it is a good looking bike for the price with a similar visual approach as the new Honda CB Range. One of the party pieces of this bike is a removable battery. While you obviously wouldn't carry one with you, having multiple could be advantageous for some.
So electric bikes might not have taken the market by storm, but they do seem to be on the rise. What do y'all think of the new offerings? What is your favorite electric bike? When do you think we will see a electric bike of the people? Let me know in the comments!