Electric vehicles, both automobiles and motorcycles, continue to make noticeable improvements in both performance and range. For motorcycles, the performance ability gains have been huge, although the gains in range have not been enough to widen their appeal. People want emissions-free vehicles, and they want to pay as little per mile as possible. It may be a while, however, before electric bikes knock their gas-powered cousins out of the top spot.
Creating an electric bike that really sells and turns a profit is much harder than one might imagine, according to the New York Times. They can compete in performance, but range and price continue to hamper their competitiveness in the market.
Three Promising Electric Bikes
A silent motor, no shifting, cheap to run and sometimes quite fast — electric motorcycles do have a lot going for them. Here are some of the more notable electric motorcycle out there.
This little bike is deceptively small and slight in appearance, but it provides everything the average commuter needs to zip around town and back and forth to work. The Yamaha parts and synchronous motor, according to TopSpeed.com, allow riders to switch easily from Standard to Power mode at the push of a button. Granted, the top speed is only 25 mph, but when the rider needs to merge into traffic, power mode can make a serious difference.
What makes the EC-03 special is its affordability and its ease of use. At only $2,559, it is an affordable option for the daily commuter. The user can also charge it in a simple three-pronged wall outlet. At 123 lbs., it is quite light and maneuverable for bringing indoors or situating into a parking space.
The Zero DS is on the other end of the spectrum from the EC-03. This is a serious electric bike designed to compete in the full-sized motorcycle market. It is a remarkable improvement over its predecessor, delivering horsepower and range increases that are nearly double those of previous models.
According to Wired.com, traveling from zero to 60 mph on the DS takes only a little over five seconds. The bike sports 54 horsepower and weighs around 400 pounds. Riders have the option of a Sport mode or an Eco mode.
In Sport mode, the rider can hit a top speed of 95 mph, while in Eco mode the max speed is 70 mph and the torque is reduced to 70 percent. Range is limited to 95 miles in the city using the base battery. With a $2,000 battery upgrade, users can expect about 126 miles of range in city driving.
Driving at top speed reduces the range significantly. At 55 mph one can get about 57 miles with the base battery and 76 with the upgrade.
The Zero DS base model costs $14,000.
Falling somewhere in the middle, the Brammo Enertia aims to provide a fun riding experience in a more affordable package. Weighing in at 324 lbs., the Enertia achieves a top speed of 59 mph and costs $7,995. According to Brammo.com, the bike can get about 42 miles from a single charge.
The Enertia is made using premium components, including shocks from Elka, brakes from Brembo and forks from Marzocchi. The bike is supposed to ride quite well as a result.
Susan Carpenter of the LA Times reviewed the first model year of the Enertia in 2009, in the video below, and got some background on the company and manufacturing.
The general public may have not bought in to the idea of electric motorcycles just yet, but the manufacturers continue to push out more competitive models. The future of these zero-emission options will largely hinge upon price and range. If manufactures can improve significantly in these areas, electric models are likely to become far more appealing in the future.
Yamaha EC-03 photo from Flickr user kosabe.