Wednesday, May 28, 2014

10 Electric Motorcycles Uncaged

Electric bikes look sure to be the future of motorcycling, but could they signal the end of the combustion engine as we know it?

Irresistible power, instant torque, ridiculous speed - just twist and go. Batteries are getting better, engines like those found in the Zero produce 90% less emissions and have low cost, low maintenance drive trains that produce minimal heat signature, making them ideal for many applications.
Every piece of marketing material about the electric motorcycle claims each bike is ‘the most advanced electric motorcycle currently on the market’, I swear. Trying to qualify that is beyond me. They all have the most advanced electric engines powered by lithium batteries and go like a cut snake.

How can one be superior to the other? Which one is more advanced than the next?
I can’t tell you. What we can do though, is compare real world stuff to give context to what each bike offers, below I have split them out by company and model, tried to include a standard selection of variables that will make sense to you including Price, Weight, Power (Kw and hp) and Range per charge. All prices quoted are accurate at the time of writing.
The electric engine that looks like it powers a Rotary Mazda, not a motorcycle[/caption] This should help trying to compare like for like, with your current ride for instance. I have to say though, these bikes are something else, something unknown, something amazing. Lets get started with one of the sexiest ones.

1. The Mission RS

From: United States
The Mission RS Electric Superbike

Is this not the sexiest looking super bike you have laid eyes on? Those sleek lines, the fairing… it screams speed.

They company talks about this in depth and make reference to the consumer need to embrace the technology to reach the mainstream.

You have to hear this thing. It’s quiet but deadly sounding, like a jet fighter plane from the dark side of the moon. With a 160hp motor, 120 pounds of torque at the rear wheel, and a low cost power train with less moving parts, this thing is if nothing else, next level futuristic.

Wanna feel it? Check the video below and fast forward to about 3:55 and check out this twist and go magic power on board with the reviewer, hear the excitement as his face gently peels back away from his skull. 

Technology abounds on the dashboard with incredible features that Mission believe ‘we should come to expect’ including turn by turn navigation and in depth analytics of every perspective of your ride.

It looks lke a mini Enterprise. No clutching, no gearbox, no starting the engine even. Just twist and go. The word e-bike itself is a heinous crime; let’s not call them that.

The Mission RS has a 10kw battery that can charge in an hour and a range of 225km on the highway which equals a 370km range in the city.

With a curb weight of 245kg on the 17kWh battery version, she’s a touch heavy by comparison, but it cranks out 163Kw and has a top speed of 225km/h.

Greg from the New York safety Track, sums it up perfectly at 12mins “when you are moving.. the bike disappears, the road disappears and it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to flying in my life."

 I’m in! Hook me up.

Starting at $32,499 USD for the 12 kWh version (105 miles) and moving up to the top at $42,499 USD for the 17 kWh battery (140 mile range) these bikes are at a stretch for the daily bikers but it will be worth watching over the coming years.

Check out Mission Motorcycles website, follow them on Facebook and get updates on Twitter.

Real world specs

  1. Price: $42,499 USD (17kWh)
  2. Weight: 245kg
  3. Power: 163kw / 218hp
  4. Range per charge: 225km

2. Lightning Motors

From: United States

The Lightning Electric Superbike

Lightning claim to build the fastest production motorcycle in the world. Winning the Pikes Peak in 2013 this bike means business.

Fast forward to about 2:20 in when the interviewer jumps on this thing and unloads the throttle. Just rips him back a bit. FFWD to 3:10 and watch him really rip it open passing a car and you get a real sense of just how fast this thing really is.

Incredibly fast. 0-100 in a few seconds is just ridiculous and it seems you just keep going as far as you stomach can cope. G-force material.

With some mind boggling spec and a quick charge of 30 mins possible, this bike is already pushing the limits of reality in motorcycling.

Check out their website here or follow on Facebook and Google+.

Real world specs

  1. Price: $38,000 USD
  2. Weight: 224kg
  3. Power: 150kw / 200hp
  4. Range per charge: 160-180 (20kWh)

3. Zero Motorcycles

From: California, United States The Zero SR


With four bikes in production in their range, the Zero S, Zero SR, Zero DS and Zero FX these guys are doing something right and appealing to the entry level community, with smaller practical bikes that should still thrill.

The Zero FX naturally, pumps my nads.

Pushing a strong marketing tact, ‘it’s just better’ the whole story behind this video is pure PR, appealing to the daily biker amongst us, the message here again is strong, we have to get behind them if they are going to succeed.

The campaign makes me wanna barf hipster brains out of my zombie-punk nostrils, but the bike itself looks really promising.

And notice just how ‘normal’ these people look, perched atop an everyday motorcycle .. er ...lol.

I found dealers listed in most states of Australia; Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania so if you’re interested in checking out the experience follow one of these links and book a test ride, then tell us what you think!

Of course, I signed up straight away. Will let you know how that goes. Woohoo!

Interestingly Zero were also award a contract with the US Military in 2013 to produce the Zero MMX Military Motorcycle pushing the limits of stealth by design allowing ‘rapid movement over hostile terrain in near silence and minimal heat signature. Ninja Stealth bike FTW!

The Hong Kong government are on board ordering 59 of the Zero S announced last year, read more in the press release here. I even caught an ad in the May Cycle Torque streetpaper so this one's a consumer reality. Amazing.

You can also follow them on Facebook and on Google+ as well as YouTube.

Real world specs

  1. Price: $16,490 AUD - Zero FX ZF5.7
  2. Weight: 127kg
  3. Power: 33kw / 44hp
  4. Range per charge: 113km

More Pricing

All listed prices are Ride Away no more to pay (includes all on road and sales taxes here in Australia) which is an interesting move to entice the two wheeler community.

4. Motoczysz E1pc electric super bike

From: Portland, United States

Despite the odd sounding name, this is an American motorcycle company with quite the claim to fame, winning the inaugural TT Zero in 2010 when it replaced the TTGXP. It’s also the first American manufactured motorcycle to have won a TT since 1911, which is pretty impressive! It’s not braaap anymore, it’s vrooom.

A 150kW / 200hp super bike this thing is lighting fast. With several bikes in their range the E1pc seems to be the most radical looking from a design perspective and would sure turn heads, but I’m not finding the mass appeal in their marketing here, these electric plug and play super bikes are pointed straight at the track. To win.


Onboard the E1pc at the TT Zero.
MotoCzys have a website here and you can also follow them on Twitter.

Real world specs

  1. Price: ?
  2. Weight: 238kb
  3. Power: 150kw / 200hp
  4. Range per charge: ?

5. Lito Green Motion

From: Canada

Lito Green Motion - The Sora

With it’s utterly bad-ass dragster chopped solo seat and chunky swingarm just screaming HOOLIGAN at you, the Lito Green Motion 'The Sora' is a work of art aimed squarely at the bobber and cafe racer enthusiast. It even has a fully adjustable electric seat catering for different height riders. Neat. Different, even a little niche within a niche but...

Something’s starting to say ‘hipster’ at me with this marketing campaign, but hey, if it makes hipsters ride more and talk shit less, then get on it.

It’s slightly heavier than I thought it would be at 260kg (there is no wet weight, cause there is no fuel remember?)

It has a belt drive and a 12kWh lithium-polymer battery with a ride time of approximately 9hrs and a stated range of 200km.

Interestingly, I note that most companies are quoting the reverse of the normal combustion engine performance. Where combustion engines find economy on cruise mode down the freeway, achieving better economy over distance, electric motorcycles get better economy on city commuting. The Sora for instance quotes 200km city riding range per charge vs 100km of highway riding.

The reason is simple, when an electric engine spins faster it drains more power. That makes these guys perfect commuters but not the best tourers right now and applies right across the board. Something they will overcome no doubt.

When an electric engine spins faster, it drains more power.

Check out their website here, follow LITO Green Motion on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Real world specs

  1. Price: $42,000 USD
  2. Weight: 260kg
  3. Power: *only quotes 90Nm (66.37 ft-kb)
  4. Range per charge: 200km city, 100km highway

6. Brammo

From: Oregon, United States

The Brammo Enertia Racing 2

You may know Brammo for winning the first and only TT Xtreme Grand Prix with their Enertia TTR Racing bike back in 2010.

 Looking everything the part for worldwide domination in one of the fastest and most dangerous closed road circuits in the world the TT, Brammo recognise we will probably still want to look like we are riding motorbikes, not flying spaceships unlik some.

Check this thing out in action at the TTX GP.

But they don’t stop there. Innovating through racing they are also serious enough about this to be targeting the everyday consumer too, along with Zero.

The Brammo Empulse and Empulse R.

Aimed more at the commuter these bikes are similarly in power and range to the Zero’s and with bikes in production, pricing is showing up in the States in a similar range from as low as $10,990 for Enertia Plus up to $18,995 USD for the Empulse R not including any sales tax.

They have a comprehensive website here, and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Real world specs

  1. Price: $18,995 - Empulse R
  2. Weight: 213kg
  3. Power: 40kw / 53hp
  4. Range per charge: 206km

7. Sarolea SP7

From: Belgium The Sarolea Sp7

Meet the Belgian made, Sarolea Electric Superbike.

There is nothing better in this world to observe in the flesh than the highest quality engineering and metal fabrication. You know it when you see it. I see it in watches.

I have a not-so-secret fascination with watches and have collected a few over the years, my favourite being a Tag Heuer Aquaracer, not a super expensive one but a nice one nonetheless and I see that craftsmanship when I look at it.

And so to, I appreciate this spectacular fusion of technology meets motorcycle.

The Sarolea SP7 demands your attention. Featuring a monotube carbon fibre frame, monocoque rear swingarm, regenerative breaking, no clutch, direct chain-drive and a top speed of 250 km/h pushing out 130kW (180 Hp) and weighing on the lighter side at 200kg it’s a balls deep superbike.

Built purely to kick arse at the IOM TT Zero we’ll be watching closely to see what this beast does up against the likes of the others in its class this year. 

Did you see that? 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds.

Holy batshit that’s fast!

You can follow them on Facebook and be the third person to follow them on Google+ here.

Real world specs

  1. Price: ?
  2. Weight: 191
  3. Power: 130kw / 174hp
  4. Range per charge: ?

8. Agility Motorcycle Saietta R

From: London, United Kingdom

Poor thing. The Saietta got thumped with the ugly stick.[/caption] London made Agility Motorcycles make the far out Saietta, a look that has acquired tastes I reckon. With a range of 100 miles (UK based) and a 12 mile reserve for the Saietta R and 50 miles plus a 6 mile reserve for the Saietta S, these are meant to be production ready but I’m just not buying this one as much as the others. I think it is a case of the motorcycle becoming a bit too much of a gimmick, or perhaps an altogether different type of vehicle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftjE2CFK0yo It’s definitely that tank hugger come alien shroud that has a touch too much Gieger about it for my liking. My fashion sense aside for a second, this too is a seriously fast motorcycle. 120 Nm of torque, 96.5hp weight not listed. 0 - 100m/h in 4 seconds. Incredibly fast but not the fastest amongst this lot. With a 13, 975 GBP price tag this one may be a sitter, more than a mover. The maintenance page was also down at the time of writing, with a ‘coming soon’ note that left me with a whiff of apprehension. Check out their website, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Real world specs

  1. Price: £13,975 GBP
  2. Weight: not listed
  3. Power: 71kw / 96.5hp
  4. Range per charge: 160km

9. BRD Redshift MX

From: San Francisco, United States of America

My favourie - the elusive BRD RedShift in SM trim.

Of course it would take a motard to get me fully worked up ‘down there’. And so it was I stumbled across this beast of a thing. Made in San Francisco, CA, details are a little hard to find but you can see the concept here straight up. A light lean and mean electric motard.

The RedShift MX has a two hour range and a top speed of 80mph but BRD looks to be focussed mostly on the stealth applications working with Logos Technologies on the development of this motorcycle, perhaps looking to out Zero in the battle for the US army contracts, stay tuned on that one. Read the press release here.

A bit lighter on details than the other and a rather annoying one page website that’s about all we could muster up on this intriguing electric motard.

Check out their one page site for yourself here, follow BRD Moto on Facebook and Twitter.

Real world specs

  1. Price: $15,495 USD (RedShift SM)
  2. Weight: 120kg
  3. Power: 40kw / 53hp
  4. Range per charge: 80km

10. Mugen Shinden Ni

From: Europe The incredibly sexy Mugen Shinden Ni

Designed by Japanese company Mugen, the Mugen Shinden Ni was revealed in 2013 to be designed purely to take the 2013 Isle of Man TT Zero.

I wonder if you can give one a free rev at the lights? It was of course knocked out of contention by the incredible MotoCzysz cementing their rivalry in this class for all of eternity. Ridden by the incredible John McGuinness who has only 19 IOM TT titles to his name, they were sure close but not close enough. Wanna feel that rush?

Look no further:
 

What a sexy looking super bike too! The Mugen Shinden Ni looks every part a superbike and with no real mention of production for consumers to be found online anywhere, I’d hazard a guess this is one super expensive race bike made purely for the track. Check out their website, follow them on Facebook for updates

Real world specs

  1. Price: $4.3M
  2. Weight: 240kg
  3. Power: 90kw / 120hp
  4. Range per charge: ?

Conclusion

There you have it, 10 electric motorcycles that are not the future, but are very much the now.

A little pricey still even at entry point, but honestly, not that far out of reach of most either.

Could the use of electricity, or super-batteries be the future of motorcycling?

I’m left with one questions; can you sit on it and rev it freely or do you instantly take off?

Hopefully I get a test ride on the Zero soon and can provide some answers!

Ultimately I guess, we, the consumer are going to be responsible for their success. We'll have to vote with our dollars. Until next time, stay upright people..

Back in 2009 the Isle of Mann hosted the first ever zero emissions race at the TT circuit which has since been replaced with the inaugural TT Zero. Races like this seem to have pushed the development of the electric motorcycle hardest of all, competing for fastest lap times and ultimate TT glory this is where it’s at right now for the future of electric motorcycle racing.

There is also the eGrandPrix but interestingly the site hasn’t been updated in a year. The FIM eRoad Racing event calendar isn’t showing up any manifestation for 2014 either.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is also a highly publicised closed road race, a hill climb to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado, USA and also have an all Electric vehicle category which is something to watch if you are interested in Electric Superbike racing.

Right now, it’s all eyes on Isle of Man TT Zero coming up on May 30, 2014!