Four-wheel vehicles have their electric motors, and it was only a matter of time when the same would happen for two-wheelers. Today, there’re more than a couple of dozens of companies developing electric cars, but only a few ones are interested in electric motorcycles.
Among the most successful models of four-wheel electric cars are Теsla, Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul, BMW i3 and Smart Electric Drive. Though, when it comes to motorcycles, there’re only few of them, and it’s more about scooters.
So why do e-bikes face such lack of popularity? The main reason is technical. Compared to large cars, motorcycles have not much of a space. If you can put lots of powerful stuff under the hood of a car, it doesn’t work like that with two-wheelers.
Year after year, engineers improve motorcycles stability, each model becomes a masterpiece, a happy medium between power and weight. None of the companies would add an electric motor and 20 kg battery to the existing models.
That’s why such bikes look more like pack mules than real stallions. For example, BMW C Evolution scooter weighing 265 kg that can go for as long as 100 km; small Yamaha EC-03 that looks more like a bicycle and can travel 43 km max; and even more toylike enduro Freeride E-XC with a travel distance of 40-50 km and pretty heavy battery (28 kg).
Although, there’s hope. First serious fleet of electric motorcycles is delivered by American company Zero. It involves all types of bikes: from lightweight enduro Zero FX to high-speed Zero SR capable of gaining 100 km in 3.3 seconds and reaching max speed of 164 km/h.
Most balanced two-wheel model from Zero can travel about 227 km on one battery and it’s weight is reasonable, if you think of the abovementioned scooter from BMW.
Brammo is its nearest competitor, having been acquired by the second-largest (following Harley-Davidson) motorcycle manufacturer -- Polaris Industries. Their bikes can reach up to 177 km/h, which sadly decreases the maximum travel distance to 129 km.
And the most promising electric motorcycle comes from Harley-Davidson -- their LiveWire working concept has completed a tour across America, whereas Europe and Canada are next. This initial version weights 210 kg, can reach 150 km/h and its battery is capable of operating for about one hour on the maximum speed, i.e. approximately 150 km.
As of today, that’s all two-wheel army that is there. But updated Zero models and official electric Harley-Davidson with LED lighting and other goodies are coming soon. The battle for e-bike market has just begun and the first players are already in place.