Ten reasons why you should be excited about electric motorcycles

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electric_Motorcycles.jpgPhoto: Grant Ray

Electric motorcycles are slow. Electric motorcycles are expensive.
Electric motorcycles don’t go very far before they run out of juice.
Electric motorcycles don’t go “vroom vroom.” Electric motorcycles look
like bicycles. Here’s why none of that matters. >

10. Electric motorcycles are creating new bikers
When we interviewed Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher, he talked about the Enertia as being an item of “consumer electronics that you ride,” not a motorcycle. If you’re a bad ass biker you’re probably shouting “rabble rabble rabble” at your computer screen right now, but hold on, this is a good thing.

For a long time, gas-powered motorcycles have been failing to attract new riders. Sure, sales of motorcycles in this country increased 58 percent between 1998 and 2008, but the people buying them were overwhelmingly of the same demographic: middle-aged men.

Last year, baby boomers outnumbered Gen Y buyers two-to-one, a decrease from a six-to-one ratio in 2003. Despite that strong uptick, traditional motorcycle manufacturers are still almost exclusively focussed on the grey hairs. A Honda representative recently told us, “boomers will continue to bankroll the industry for the foreseeable future.” Which helps explain why they’re making $15,999 sport tourers like the VFR1200.

Now think about the Brammo Enertia. Craig says its buyers are going to be those that have always thought “I want to ride a motorcycle, but..” Maybe that “but” was “the dealer’s a dirty scumbag.” Brammo’s are available at Best Buy, they shower and smile there. Maybe that “but” was “motorcycles are dangerous.” Could you imagine something more cuddly and friendly than an Enertia? Maybe that “but” was “I don’t want to be perceived as Sonny Barger.” The Enertia looks like something out of a sexy, high-tech future, not a lame past.

In the last year, we’ve seen motorcycles on the nightly news, written about in publications that never have before and on sale in new places. All thanks to electrics. All that’s going to translate to new people getting on bikes. The hope is people who start off on an electric will end up becoming lifelong riders. Making a bike that’s more like an iPhone is going to mean those new riders are going to be younger. More younger riders means more products catered to people like you and me.

9. Electric motorcycles are improving access to off-road riding areas
One of the coolest things about the Zero X? Hit a switch on the dash to restrict it to 30mph and it’s legal to use on most bicycle trails. At a time in which access to riding areas is rapidly disappearing, that probably doubles if not triples the miles of trails on which you can ride. All at the flick of a switch.

Think of the negative image the washed masses apply to dirt bikes. They’re noisy; they’re dangerous; they tear up nature and killed Bambi’s mother. Now whisper “zero emissions” in the average voter’s ear and see the glazed look of adoration wash over their eyes.

As the population of the country inevitably continues to increase, more and more off-road riding areas are going to be under threat. Change the perception of dirt bikes and that threat is partially ameliorated. If people out walking their dogs or camping don’t hear engine noise coming over the next hill, they’re unlikely to complain or pursue political action to get your hobby banned.

Of course, if all that fails, no one’s going to hear you breaking the law anyways.

8. Electric motorcycles are changing the world
When was the last time world-changing technological innovation took place on two wheels? When was the last time the whole world looked at something happening in motorcycles and said, “wow.” That’s what happened this summer in the wake of the TTXGP, the first ever electric motorcycle road race that took place on the Isle of Man.

Cars are currently too heavy to manage much performance without necessitating the use of thousands of expensive battery cells. That’s why the Tesla Roadster adds over $50,000 to the price of a Lotus Elise. That kind of cost means it doesn’t make sense for people to use cars as a platform to develop the technology.

Michael Czysz is currently developing electric technology for a future mainstream electric car from giant Indian automaker Bajaj. He’s proving that technology on a motorcycle, the E1PC.

Brammo started as a car company, but when they started to go electric, they realized it made more sense to do it on a bike. Not only because of cost, but because electric power is just such a better fit on two wheels instead of four. That’s because electricity combines well with all the inherent advantages of motorcycles: lightness, simplicity, efficiency, size and never having to get stuck in traffic.

The Government’s even getting in on the act, offering tax rebates for electric bike purchases and giving some limited grants to companies developing them.

The same advantages that make electric motorcycles a better fit for electric power also make them a better fit for people looking to reduce the cost and environmental impact of their commute. Those people will even be able to shave large chunks of time out of that commute by switching from a car to a motorcycle. If electric motorcycles can continue to grow their own market, converting new riders and car drivers in the process, this could be the beginning of a major two-wheeled shift in American society.

7. Electric motorcycles make us look better
I recently wrote a pro-bike political column for Newsweek. Inevitably, the first comment was something along the lines of, “BUT I H8 BIKES, THEYRE SO LOUD!!!1!” Sometimes, the danger and rebellion that likely attracted us all to motorcycles in the first place comes back to bite us. There’s a reason we get more traffic tickets, there’s a reason anti-motorcycle laws are always getting passed, there’s a reason no one listens when we say we want to lane split in New York City. Electric bikes change all that.

It’s not just the noise either. It’s the image. Currently, when a politician or a voter or an SUV driver pondering whether or not to run you over thinks “bike” they don’t think a nice young man trying to get to work, they think doo rags and assless leather chaps. Our position in society is totally marginalized. All the efficiency and lack of congestion arguments go out the window once someone remembers the last time they heard a straight pipe. Because all those same people think zero emissions is some sort of holy grail we’re suddenly on their radar again. Politically, they make all our arguments bulletproof and give us allies in the green movement; socially they mark as as leaders and innovators, not neanderthals. Suddenly, people are thinking of motorcycles not as the past, but as the future.

6. Electric Motorcycles bring performance benefits
Mission_dyno.jpgThis is the dyno chart for the Mission One electric superbike. Notice anything missing? There’s no dips in the power delivery, no sky high revs necessary to reach real power, no muss, no fuss, just maximum torque available at the twist of a throttle at any speed. Nice, huh?

A single gear means there’s no gear changes and no being in the wrong gear. Want to overtake someone, just twist the throttle, no downshifts necessary. Less time spent shifting gears is a real riders on real roads performance benefit. A single gear means a decreased top speed, right? This bike still reaches 150mph.

No clutch lever means the back brake can be moved to the handlebar or, in the case of the [name of top secret electric superbike redacted] a lever to actuate the kinetic energy recovery system can be placed there. Moving the back brake from foot to handle control  makes it easier to modulate for fine control and means you can use it at extreme right-hand lean angles.

Like two-strokes, electric bikes don’t have any engine braking. Any motorcycle purists out there that don’t miss the two-stroke experience?

The lack of heavy parts spinning at high speeds inside electric motorcycles means there’s no reciprocating inertia to negatively impact the handling.

Want to adjust your power delivery for specific corners on specific tracks? The maps for electric motors can quickly and easily be altered, they’re basically computers on wheels.

Bought your bike last year and a new, more powerful motor has just come out? Buy it and swap it in. They bolt in and out with minimal fuss. The same goes for aftermarket parts.

If I was to describe to you an eminently adjustable chassis capable of being optimized for any individual environment that produced power with no negative effects on handling, carried its weight in the ideal position and essentially did nothing but provide the optimal platform from which the suspension brakes and tires could do their best possible work, you’d think I was describing the perfect motorcycle, right? That’s what electric bikes can be.

5. Electric motorcycles are changing the industry
In a meeting with a senior communications representative from a Big Four company that will remain nameless, we were told, “Google is not an important search engine.” That lack of perspective and the lack of will to look outside for information, inspiration and influence is pervasive throughout the industry. And, like the military, there’s a significant problem with senior executives promoting people that think and act like they do rather than in a way that’s good for the company. You can totally spot those guys too, just look for the ’80s haircut to match the ’80s business ideas.

But electric motorcycle companies aren’t like that. Instead of cowering in their cubicles fearing change while allowing sales to drop over 40% in 2009, electric motorcycle companies are taking risks, inventing new business models, pursuing an entirely new audience and doing all that really, really well.

Zero is cutting dealers out of the equation, selling its bikes on the Internet and shipping direct to customers. After clicking “buy it now” and waiting a few days, all a new customer has to do is put the handlebars on and connect the battery, sort of like ordering a cell phone. Want to take a test ride first? Call them and they’ll arrange for a rep to swing by with a demo bike.

Brammo is selling bikes at Best Buy, one of the largest retailers in the entire country. Want your bike fixed? Take it to the Geek Squad. Want to ask the CEO a question? Hit him up on Twitter, he’ll respond. Bitching and moaning about the products in Hell For Leather’s comments? The bike’s designer will be there to talk you down.

Think all that is just because those two companies are small? The Big Four regularly display knowledge of what goes on in our commenter discussions, yet their approach to taking action isn’t to respond directly to a customer’s concern, it’s to wait until we ask for access then complain about something written by a reader. See the difference?

Those are just a few, admittedly narcissistic examples, there’s many more. Brammo is looking at integrating Twitter into its bikes; Zero regularly upgrades its bikes based on consumer feedback then sells the upgrades to existing customers at or below cost; Mission hired a designer from outside the motorcycle world who created one of the most exciting looking bikes of this decade.

4. Electric Motorcycles will bring racing to you
Remember the Goodspeed 500? It wanted to bring bike racing to city centers in an effort to pursue an audience that doesn’t have a permanently sunburned neck. It didn’t work out, but, because of all the stuff we’ve written above, it could work with electrics.

Look at the picture on top of this article. That’s me riding the Quantya Strada around my 7th floor loft in Brooklyn. Unlike everything else that we do, we didn’t even get in trouble for that. That’s because it was quiet.

Because they’re quiet, because they’re zero emissions, because politicians and the media like them, we could see motorcycle racing close to or even inside cities. Imagine a dirt bike race through a large, undeveloped dirt lot in Brooklyn, or maybe even a road race on some closed-off streets in town Monaco-style. Thanks to electrics, it could happen. At the very least, motocross tracks should stop getting edged out by the gradual creep of suburbs.

3. Electric motorcycles are easy to maintain and extremely rugged
Unlike internal combustion motorcycles, there’s virtually no moving parts inside an electric motorcycle, which means virtually no maintenance and virtually nothing that’s going to break. Really. All the other stuff – the brakes, the suspension, the bearings and whatnot — are standard motorcycle stuff, which means you can probably service them at home.

Zero founder Neal Saiki says that you could ride any of his products underwater if you let him seal the ECU first. At some point, they plan to do that for a promo. He’s also been selling a few bikes to the special forces for use in Afghanistan. Why? Unlike gas bikes, they don’t explode when they’re shot by snipers.

2. Electric motorcycles will makes our bikes look like Kaneda’s
With battery packs and electric motors, comes the ability to reconfigure the motorcycle archetype. Batteries are small and, as proved by the MotoCzysz E1PC‘s secret weapon tail battery, can be split up and located around the bike. Motors are smaller and also bring an element of repositioning. All the means we may no longer have to ride bikes with a shape based on the horse.

They’re also bringing new rules to racing, streamlining is on the rule books for the first time since the 1950s in both the TTXGP and its copycat, the FIM e-Power series.

All the above means we could see designers radically rethink the relationship between rider and machine. We could see feet-forward bikes like the Gurney Alligator, we could see Cavefish-style lay-down bikes, we could see bikes straight out of Akira. We don’t know, but the possibility of increased comfort, increased aerodynamics, increased performance and incre
ased control intrigues us.

1. Electric motorcycles sound good

Everyone thinks that electric motorcycles are silent. They aren’t, as witnessed by this video of the MotoCzysz testing at PIR. The motors whir, you can hear the chain going over the sprockets, the tires rolling over the ground. Granted, most don’t sound as much like a TIE fighter as the Czysz. Most are really, really quiet.

That lack of noise is actually a good thing. Just because people have it stuck in their heads, let’s establish first and foremost that loud pipes don’t save lives, they just annoy others. That stupid bitch with her cell phone clamped to her ear in her Cadillac Escalade couldn’t even hear a 747 if it landed on her, much less your wimpy little sports bike and its can. What saves lives is not relying on other people to hear you and react accordingly, but assuming at all times that everyone else on the road is out to kill you. What saves lives is defensive riding.

Once you get over the lack of engine noise, the experience is actually empowering. You can hear things like squealing tires to warn of an imminent accident. You can hear sirens. You can talk to people you’re riding with when you’re stopped at a light. You’re suddenly more a part of your environment, accentuating one of the main appeals of riding a motorcycle in the first place.

Of course, there’s other advantages to being quiet too. I ride way too fast on public roads. Like serious go to jail stuff. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is advertise the fact that I’m breaking the law to every person within earshot. With a loud pipe, that could be up to two or three miles. I don’t want to say that electric motorcycles will keep you out of jail, but they help.

  • http://www.selfedge.com kiya

    Extremely well written and well thought out, this should be required reading for anybody that rides a motorcycle or drives a car.

  • Duge

    I like the torque curve, now make a “fill” station that I can hit every 150 miles and allow me to fill up in less than 5min and i’m sold…or i might just consider one as a commuter….NAWWW. BRRRAAAAAPPPPP!!!!!

  • http://www.1977mopeds.com dan

    Such a great article. I would like to also mention all the bureaucracy that Electrics get to sidestep by being off the EPA’s radar. This is what will allow unimpeded innovation to take place. It will make the importing and exporting and developing of new bikes so much easier.

    Coming from a twist and go 2-stroke background everything about Electric bikes seem to make sense as a cleaner, easier and a better way of doing it.

  • Steve F

    Funny you mentioned Brammo being sold at Best Buy right off the bat.

    Yeah, a big box electronics store is a nice, friendly sales environment, but motorcycles are not toys.

    There is one guy who bought a Brammo from Best Buy for a trip across the US. I think he had no motorcycle experience before getting his electric bike, and 5 days later he was rear-ended on an Interstate. Here’s the story: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/11/the-short-strange-trip-of-nathan-abbott-a-cautionary-tale/

    The image of a motorcycle dealer might be a tattooed motorhead, but at least that guy probably rides and give you a few tips. Frankly, if you are too chickensh*t to deal with a salesman, maybe motorcycling isn’t for you.

    • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

      SteveF – The circumstances behind Nathan’s wreck were as likely to happen to a seasoned motorcycle rider as to a newbie (which Nathan, by the way, was not… he had a riding history). The reason why Brammo is selling at Best Buy is because, as a wise man once said:
      “Selling electric motorcycles via a traditional, entrenched dealer network, therefor relying on core sustainability to come from the extant ICE market who already aren’t buying as it is will only do one thing: fail. . . .The last thing the US electric bike market needs is to act like they’re no different than regular motorcycles, sold in cheap suburban box-building outposts adjacent to strip malls or worse, on secluded Interstate access roads. Who even goes to those things? Nobody who hasn’t already, that’s who.”

      Wes – Fantastic article. You’ve been working on this one for a while, and it shows.

      • Steve F

        You make two interesting points. The first one is that an experienced motorcyclist (and you claim that he did have experience) would have as been as likely to crash.

        Well, an experienced motorcyclist would know your visibility is severely diminished at night. From his blog, it sounds like he was riding mostly at night, and his accident was at 7pm in late November (that’s the rush hour too).

        As for a sales strategy to avoid traditional motorcycle dealers and selling thru a big box electronics chain, I think it is a good idea.

        Even if you could convince a Harley dealer, for example, to carry your line, I can only imagine the eye-rolling when you ask their salespeople to show you a silent, 280lb bike.

        Instead, at Best Buy, you can have geek boys drool over the hi-tech goodness, and you will sell more bikes than a moto dealer.

        But there is a flipside to Best Buy: no one there rides. Before I got my first motorcycle, I spent two hours BS’ing at the moto dealership, and they gave me several useful tips.

        A dealership is not responsible for your safe operation, but at least there are veteran riders that might impress upon a beginner that you are not buying a toy.

        That’s the problem with selling motorcycles at Best Buy: that’s the place I go to buy my electronic gadgets and that’s what I am going to think of Brammo.

    • Core

      Wow… What a horrible story.

      I skimmed most of it,and read 100% about the accident part.

      To be run down from behind.. and by a woman. And to be put in that kind of situation, by some dipshit broad. The article did not mention any comments from the 20 year old girl/kid. So I don’t know what her excuse was. Could she not tell she was rapidly gaining on the guy? Or was she doing her nails? on her cell phone?

      It’s so ridiculous… that I can’t even get angry at her. It just makes me ponder extremely hard.. so hard in fact I am getting a headache.

    • http://www.wednesdaynightdrinkingclub.com/blogs/greasyrider/ nathan abbott

      Steve makes some solid points:

      >>motorcycles are not toys.
      –Indeed. They require a heavy investment in attention from the rider at all times. One must assume that all cars intend to kill you. Take a safety course & live:
      http://www.msf-usa.org/

      >>a motorcycle dealer might be a tattooed motorhead, but at least that guy probably rides and give you a few tips.
      –Agreed. The marketing benefits of selling @ Best Buy are clear but the training/new rider safety challenge will have to be solved. Great discussion on that here:
      http://www.elmoto.net/showthread.php?t=1633

      >>if you are too chickensh*t to deal with a salesman, maybe motorcycling isn’t for you.
      –Wise words. Motorcycles are not for the chickensh*t. At the time, the Enertia was available at only 2 retail locations in the world so I couldn’t be too choosy. That said, I’d have bought a Brammo from a flock of wild grizzly bears if I had to wear a meat suit. :-)

      Safe & happy riding, everyone.
      ~Nathan Abbott

  • Chuluun

    Nice piece Wes, I’ll be bringing it to the attention of everyone I know, especially those who don’t ride.

  • http://plugbike.com/ skadamo

    Great article! I have a few extra reasons in mind, I feel inspired to write a follow up. :D

    @Steve F As far as Best Buy selling bikes and you inferring Nathan’s crash was a result does not make a lot of sense. How does buying from a motorcycle dealer improve your chance of NOT crashing?

    Selling at Best Buy is an opportunity to push the free Motorcycle Safety Foundation safety courses. I will be very disappointed if they don’t eventually do that. With the pyramid organizational structure of Best Buy all we have to do is convince 1 person close enough to the top that pushing MSF it’s the right thing to do. With the non-standardized dealer model it is not so easy to standardize.

  • Tom

    Nice article. I have an issue with electric motorcycles that can be limited to 30mph going on mountain biking trails though. Everyone knows that some guy will get 10 feet into the forest and flip the switch back and cut up the trail for people who ride them for fitness. Most of these trails get beat up enough by over zealous bikers who destroy the trail with their own power. Most of these trails are delicate and if you can’t do them under your own power, you should go somewhere else.

  • DoctorNine

    Well written and compelling arguments. This is why I come to HFL. Thought-provoking and forward thinking news like the above, stimulates my imagination to see all the opportunity in the change we are experiencing. Thanks Wes!

  • Soma

    for me the premise of a motorcycle is
    inherently, freedom.

    most of the points you listed are already
    enjoyed with a bicycle w/o having to shell
    out ridiculous amounts of cash for arrays
    of batteries.

    9k$+ for about 30miles =/= more freedom

    granted not more fun either.

    but i dont have to pay gas/title/ins./registration
    for my bicycle…[w/ effectively infinite range]

  • http://shop.orangecountychoppers.com/merchandise.php Paul Teutul, Sr.

    But… you didn’t even mention the OCC Siemens Smart Chopper that I built (without the help of my no-good-lazy-bum of a son). It’s electric, too. Where is the love, Wes? Really? Where?

    • Isaac

      I find it hard to believe that this is eally Paul Sr.

      - Brad Pitt

      • stalin

        yeah me to,i don’t think he can spell that well
        anyway i ride ural
        Joseph

      • stalin

        yeah me to,i don’t think he can spell that well
        anyway i ride ural
        Joseph

  • Pete

    Electric appeals to me as an off road platform. I have the feeling that farmers will be far more willing to open up cow trails to folks with E-bikes. Less noise and less power equal less disturbing of the locals/trails. I totally agree with the previous poster about disliking the fact that they will be allowed on mountain biking trails. During a good mountain ride, I have to spend a significant amount of time off bike to repair embankments and obstacles that other bicycle riders have messed up. Imagine what the much heavier e-bikes will do.

    Other then that, I am really pumped about e-bikes. Can’t wait to try one out!

  • Oscar

    You failed to mention the worst drawback to electric bikes. They take hours to charge, as opposed to a few minutes for an ICE bike. Fix that and the cost and electric bikes suddenly become practical.

  • vic

    until recharge times are seriously improved or there is a nation wide standardised battery type which can be exchanged at gasoline stations(think gas canisters) electric bikes are never going to take off despite the advantages
    i would consider buying an electric motorcycle for off road use.the fact of near silent operation in the great outdoors is cool.just not in hunting season :))

  • Isaac

    Those are just a few, admittedly narcissistic examples, there’s many more. Brammo is looking at integrating Twitter into its bikes;

    PLEASE GOD DON’T TURN US INTO SOCCER MOMS ON TWO WHEELS! Texting while driving annoys me! If I saw a fellow bike do it I’d loose my mind.

  • Cameron Baum

    High-power lightweight motors and frequency-drive controls have been up to the task of making electric motorcycles for DECADES.

    We still aren’t there yet with lightweight batteries that can hold enough energy, charge fast enough, last for more than a few years without becoming weak, and don’t cost as much as stealth bombers.

    They are getting better -but yet not ready for the prime time.

    I’d love a quiet, Zero-emission, fast electric dual-purpose road/dirt bike that weighs under 150lbs, can go 200 miles at normal riding speeds, and can charge up in under 30 minutes back to full power and doesn’t cost any more than current ICE bikes. Oh, and I won’t have to replace the batteries in 2 years at as much or more than buying a whole new bike will cost.

    Then I’ll get one…

    • Isaac

      Have you heard of the ‘Nanowire LiOn Battery’? It is supposed to hold 10 times the charge and be a lot cheaper to produce. Check it out online.

  • Kidchampion

    One of my main attractions to motorcycles is that they exist at the edge of product design and engineering and their weaknesses and failures are less subjective than other forms of design. Electric motorcycles are a great example of that edge – they are pushing battery and electric motor technology and making great strides over a short period of time. I think they are ideal for city commuting, when a bike can charge during work hours. And eventually, we may see standardized batteries for motorcycles, and cars, that can be swapped out at fueling stations. You’ll pay to use a battery, not to own it. I’m excited about being able to watch these things race at VIR this summer.

  • Phil Schneider

    Excellent coverage – Thanks!

  • Dom

    Have you ever shopped at BestBuy? Have you seen horror inflicted by the GeekSquad?

    You know the 16 year old that works at the bikeshop washing bikes, I’d rather have him try to fix my computer than allow the GeekSquad to touch something that my life depends on.

  • The Shrike

    Great article Wes.My home MX track was run out of Miami because of noise. Even though it was directly below the last approach of an international airport and within a stones throw of the strip. I can totally see an MX track within city limits now.

  • Darek

    There’s a lot of wishful thinking in this article.

    No lane splitting in NYC because of the noise? More like motorcyclists making up maybe 1% of all commuters. Try to carry any weight with such numbers. I barely see 1 other bike on the road in the city outside of weekends in the summer.

    I also wonder whether you’re riding a 990CC GP bike not to be able to hear tire squeals. I have a Yoshi on an SV650 which, though not the loudest, still fairly throaty, and I can hear plenty.

    The only difference in an electric bike is the engine, and I don’t really see all these social changes taking place as a result. Will an electric bike make all maintenance on a bike obsolete? Are break systems and chains electric too? And let’s not forget about the way BestBuy rips its customers off. A Blueray of Ronin that retails for $8 at Amazon still being sold for $38 after taxes at BB. People will be running back to tattoed bike dealers in no time.

  • W

    Some of your comments may prove to be valid in the future but there are a few things to consider:

    1. “Electric motorcycles are creating new bikers” Is Brammo actually selling any bikes? Craig can say who his buyers are going to be but until they show up in significant numbers…… What is actually happening on the ground? Have electric scooters even been successful yet? How many electric bike owners or would be owners are already ICE bike owners? Just the facts please….

    The Brammo bikes have been around but 90% of the time we watch people on the street walk up and look at them with curiosity, ask a few questions and then spend the rest of the time ogling the Ducati parked next to them. Iconic cars and bikes will always be the result of desirable design or at least committed design.

    2. ” the SUV driver pondering whether or not to run you over thinks “bike” they don’t think a nice young man trying to get to work, they think doo rags and assless leather chap’ actually, this is a pretty limited view, retirees below the Mason-Dixon line are as likely to equate bikers with t-shirt/short/flip-flop wearing douches on sport bikes. Hey, I am all for Harley bashing but you can’t blame H-D for all problems or pre-conceived notions. (And as others have pointed out previously, assless chaps is a redundant term…what is the fixation with assless?)

    3. Lumping all dealerships (and what they do) into one category. does s a disservice to the many that have turned a hobby and passion into a business, that is as difficult, as it is rewarding.

    -Electric bikes are NOT iPods they are motorcycles! Riders should be educated on the appropriate gear to purchase, where to take an MSF course, etc. etc. What are the chances you are going to get that information, in the form it should take, from the Geek Squad? Even if they miraculously provide the information how will the buyer ride out in the appropriate apparel?

    -Diagnosis is diagnosis – The thing that separates good ICE mechanics from poseurs is their ability to diagnose electronic issues. You speak as if all repairs will be plug and play for electric bikes, this is a simplistic perspective. Plug and play works it a component fails, it is not a adequate approach for intermittent failures. Ask anyone who owns a BMW car…

    -Additionally, aside from the drive-train, it is still a motorcycle requiring attention to steering head bearings, suspension components and so on. Would you trust the Geek Squad kid dating your daughter to perform these repairs?

    -Title-ing, loans, and other paperwork. Really, you think Best Buy is the best for these tasks as well? So, with relatively little money to offer, Best Buy will have the ability to hire the kind of people necessary, with the right kind of training, who will stay for long periods of time in a single store and perform this work (staying current with all the individual state regulations) and get it right on a regular basis? Really?

    That’s a lot of faith to put in the abilities of untrained non-industry, employees of alternative retail channels…..

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      1. Compared to gas bike sales, electric sales aren’t significant, yet. Brammo only started selling bikes this summer, we’re talking about a segment that’s still being birthed here.

      2. This isn’t HD bashing, it’s being realistic about our position in society. There’s not many of us and people perceive us negatively. We’re never going to counteract anti-bike legislation or, god forbid, actually get pro-bike laws passed without fighting for them in a way that actually resonates with the general public. Zero emissions does just that.

      3. Of course all dealers aren’t evil, but they’re intimidating places for new riders and they don’t exactly have a lot of general foot traffic that can somehow be convinced to ride. People go to Best Buy to purchase $10,000 TVs in droves, if a few of those thousands of people also see and maybe buy an Enertia, well that’s an entirely different proposition.

      Best Buy actually has excellent staff retention and, believe it or not, pays its employees a living wage. In my experience they’re exceptionally knowledgeable and the company is providing specific training on electric bikes to certain employees.

      Safety: How does Best Buy selling electric motorcycles differ from traditional dealers selling Hayabusas to 17-year-olds? They’re pushing a safety message just like dealers do and it’s not like you don’t need a license to ride one.

  • AceCafeClipOns

    (there is) NO FUTURE!

  • http://shop.orangecountychoppers.com/merchandise.php Paul Teutul, Sr.

    Re: “assless chaps” Let’s clear this up once and for all. In my years of constructing ground-shaking polar-ice-cap-cracking choppers for my fellow-overcompensators, I have run into many of these assless chaps. For instance, Elliot… now there was one guy who totally lacked the glutes. As soon as I got him on a strict regimen of deep knee bends, his derriere began to bloom like a mushroom in goat poop. These days, he’s definitely an ass-full chap. And by “ass-full,” I’m saying he’d put Jennifer Lopez to shame.

    ‘Nuff said. Let’s get back to talking about the Smart Chopper.

  • General Apathy

    “Electric motorcycles are slow. Electric motorcycles are expensive. Electric motorcycles don’t go very far before they run out of juice. Electric motorcycles don’t go “vroom vroom.” Electric motorcycles look like bicycles. Here’s why none of that matters.”

    ALL of that matters and really trumps the rest of the article. sry

  • Steve F

    P.S. I’m not poo-poo’ing on electric bikes. I love to get one when the price drops.

    But it has to perform as well as my gas-powered bike, because I am going to ride it exactly the same way.

    That’s why I wouldn’t get rear ended by an unlicensed 20 year old chick on the Interstate, cause, I’d haul ass past an 18-wheeler and she couldn’t hit me if she couldn’t catch up to me.

  • Steve F

    Also, as a veteran mountain biker, electric motos are not going to increase trail access for mountain bikers.

    You’d understand this if you were involved with the political side of mountain biking, but organizations like the Sierra Club, the most powerful trail advocacy group, are actively trying to limit trail access to mountain bikes.

    There were already successful grouping mountain bikes in with ATV’s and MX’s for trail access in National Parks. It is laughable that enormous, remote parks like Denali or Glacier you can’t ride a mountain bike on dirt.

    There is no way to convince the Sierra Club that electric bikes are good things when they were able to kill singletrack riding in the birthplace of mountain biking, Marin County.

    I’ve seen a Brammo in action at the Downieville Classic, and I though it was pretty cool. Considering I take a van shuttle to the top, yeah, taking an electric moto instead is a great option.

    But it won’t be opening trails.

  • wyatt

    I think time will tell on this and actually i see a lot of positives and a bright future for electric bikes once it goes through its growing process. as for bashing any type of bikes its just plain silly thats why there are choices. bashing also keeps the motorcycle industry weak and our voice seldom heard on a national and state level think about it ! united we stand divided we fall or is that fail ?

  • GasBreather09

    Brammo…. making starbucks fueled squids one Best Buy at a time.

    Does motorcycling need to expand it’s demographic? Yes I can agree to that from a “business” stand point and also as a rider it would be nice to see business support the manufacturers so we dont have to watch any more of them close.

    But what happens to the elitism of current riders and the sense of a tight community when every soccer mom is putting to the grocery store on a Brammo? What if the death toll of young riders goes up exponentially because they think they are “safe” on an electric bike due to it’s lack of distance or top speed. There could be many adverse affects to making “motorcycle” a “consumer electronic”….imagine a world where every household has an iPod and a motorcycle hand in hand.

    Hopefully by then they’ll invent jet bikes that can fly and that will be the new “supersport” and I can feel proud to call myself a motorcycle enthusiasts.

    • Mitch

      In Europe motorcycles and scooters are much more prevalent and I don’t think they have an issue with tight community. Their bike mags are awesome, anyway.

      “What if the death toll of young riders goes up exponentially because they think they are “safe” on an electric bike due to it’s lack of distance or top speed. There could be many adverse affects to making “motorcycle” a “consumer electronic”….imagine a world where every household has an iPod and a motorcycle hand in hand.”

      Survival of the fittest baby! More two wheel commuters and users is great, will help legislation go in our favor, and maybe introduce a lot of cool new street rides to a very barren landscape (Let’s see, you can have a cruiser, or a race replica bike… nothing in between, sorry!)

      I welcome electric motorcycles but would be saddened if they became the only choice, rather than ‘a’ choice. I like my dead dinosaur burning bike.

    • Kidchampion

      “But what happens to the elitism of current riders and the sense of a tight community when every soccer mom is putting to the grocery store on a Brammo?”

      I know, first tattoos become mainstream (Forty percent of 26- to 40-year-olds have a tattoo, according to a 2006 study by the Pew Research Center), then piercings, punk rock clothes at the mall and now motorcycles? Jesus, can’t we buy some off the shelf rebellion anymore and feel elite about it?

    • Core

      You know, I was thinking about this as well.

      I think it would be the same as when automatic vehicles come out.

      You would think that it would give the person more ability to concentrate on the road…

      But from what I have seen, people talking on there cellphones, to cramming fast food down there throat, its the exact opposite. (I have been guilty of both, while stopped at a redlight..a few times, but I don’t make it a habit)

  • The Grudz

    Wes- another superb piece of journalism. Really. Once again, the future is very exciting. Thanks.

  • Isaac

    I think the cost of batteries is what is standing in the way. Now that ePropulsion is taking off, I don’t see them getting cheaper. Think of the HD flat screens when they first came out. They were at least 10k. Now you can have one that’s descent for about 700 bucks. Those companies wil just become the new OPEC. I hope I am wrong.

  • http://www.voidstar.com Julian Bond

    I’ll try not to have a moan about US-Centric thinking, but I can’t help but think that electric motorcycles don’t make a whole lot of sense there, while they make huge amounts of sense elsewhere. And I think at least part of this is the almost complete disapearance of the bottom end of the PTW (powered two wheel) market. Can you imagine people buying a C50-C90 cub or an Elite-125 scooter. Now go back to 1984 and Terminator. It seemed completely natural that Sarah Connor should go down to the neighbourhood store to buy some milk on a Honda Elite. That’s exactly the usage pattern that makes complete sense for an electric version of the same thing. But as that store gets further and further away and is visited less often, it just becomes a damn sight easier to wheel out the SUV.

    So how did PTWs stop being at least partly a utility and become exclusively a life style gadget? Maybe that’s one big change that Electric could bring in turning one aspect of PTW use back into straight utility.

    Now translate all this into urban and suburban living in Europe, South America, China, India with the electricity coming from wind and solar generators on the roof. The Electric PTW is now a big step up from bicycle or pedestrian leg power rather than a huge step down from a sports bike or a hog. Which perhaps explains why a search for electric bicycle on Alibaba returns 10,000 entries.

  • http://twitter.com/greatistheworld will

    Why is there any pushback from motorcyclists to electric? They aren’t a perceivable threat to anything with an ICE, and they make riding more accessible. If the industry gets bigger, everyone benefits.

    Wes has an excellent point, besides the entire brilliant article, in mentioning dealers selling Hayabusas to 17-year-olds with birthday credit cards. Alternately, it’s like saying we shouldn’t build nuclear power plants or new airports because they could be terrorist targets. There’s a risk in everything.

    Focus on the product, not the fears of an imagined potential consumer. Best Buy selling them in raw form makes sense, because they’re a technology retail company, and motorcycles are transportation technology.

    The problem with resistance to electric bikes is that this article will prove itself on the right side of history in not a decade, but in six months to a year.

  • http://www.scootinoldskool.com Orin

    Yeah, and you can ride it 40 miles before you have to plug it in for 2 to 3 hours. Not green, not even useful. If you want to SAVE THE PLANET, ride a bicycle…

    __Orin
    Scootin’ Old Skool

  • http://muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Goddamn that stupid bitch with her cell phone clamped to her ear in her Cadillac Escalade! She is ALWAYS aiming for me.

    “Of course, if all that fails, no one’s going to hear you breaking the law anyways.” – That made me laugh out loud. Thanks Wes, very, very well written. You should do this for a living. We should all be so lucky.

  • BL

    less noise, great.
    pushing development/design, sweet.
    more riders, sure.
    better public image….maybe.

    zero emissions?
    nope.

    that’s like saying you just had a free lunch.

    aint no such thang.

    envirobabble.

  • ridingdirtymaui

    I want an electric dual sport. It would fit my current commuting needs quite well. However, I am concerned about the battery waste these machines would generate. I still wonder why no one is researching hydrogen powered vehicles? If there was a safe way to store and dispense it, wouldn’t that make even more sense? And that itnwould be easier to tax. Let’s not forget that roads aren’t free. That’s the real reason our government hasn’t pushed for this sooner.

    Again, I would love to own a DS electric. I would love to ride tax free. Gas prices are beyond ridiculous on the islands. I want to save the earth and tear through the woods at the same time. Make a bike that can go 150 miles at a crack and I will sell my enduro. Make one soon before congress finds away to tax the fun out of it and the nature nutzies find another off road trail to close for nature walks. And figure out how to safely recycle the batteries. No point in trying to go green if you are going to dump toxic waste in the ground.

  • http://www.RocersCT.com R13

    It may not replace my cafe racer, but I have no problem parking them both in the same garage.

  • mark

    Hate to be negative but there will now
    be a excuse
    for those to get rid of our combustion engines

  • GusPorterhouse

    @GasBreather:

    “But what happens to the elitism of current riders and the sense of a tight community when every soccer mom is putting to the grocery store on a Brammo?”

    What happens is that we get a motorcycle-as-transport culture like they have in most of Europe. Ever wonder why some of the best, neatest bikes on the market are Europe-only? That’s why.

    As for the sense of a “tight community”, is there a single diehard football fan who wouldn’t welcome the chance to hang out, educate, and play with someone new to the “community?” Do the Superbowl tailgaters somehow invalidate the season-long fans? Making motos culturally accessible to more people can NEVER BE BAD. Motorcycling will always exist as it always has because it’s not what you are riding, but how you are riding it. Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people in Europe have a Vespa or similar as their primary or only transportation, but how does that diminish the “elitism” or “tight community” of the MotoGP fans?

    Maybe you’re a good guy, Gasbreather, but that kind of attitude is exactly what has kept motorcycling on the American fringe. If you’re really worried about new riders and “soccer moms” somehow making you less of a badass, maybe it’s time you found another way to express your raw masculinity.

  • Joe W

    Why couldn’t we trust Geek Squad for repairs to this non-toy? Moto mechanics already make Geek Squad salaries and BB could afford to hire and retain them and profit from regular moto repair rates. Maybe two mechanics covering a given area of Brammo-selling stores and homes.

    Despite most current electric bike drawbacks, the inability to easily charge while living in an apartment (and working in an office) is the only thing keeping me from swapping my gas cruiser for an electric. Electric bikes are more feasible for suburbs where more houses are owned. And maybe for hospital staff if they can tap ambulance power lines. :)

    Subtract gasoline and you subtract one significant winterization headache. Subtract extra moving parts and you subtract points of failure (which in turn makes Geek Squad mechanics even cheaper and more reliable in theory).

    Opening up motorcycling to the soccer moms would seem foolish if only that weren’t the secret to the Honda Cub’s runaway worldwide success. Shame that it couldn’t survive in the U.S. through the 80′s, though, so maybe there’s a counterpoint somewhere?

  • http://www.seomoz.org mateo

    Good write up, was an enjoyable read. A few months back I took a drive from Seattle to Portland and managed to test ride an Enertia at one of the two Best Buys in Portland (It was the one Nathan got his from because I remember the sales guy was talking about how this dude was coming in to get one and ride it cross country). I definitely enjoyed riding it and would love to have one to commute on. Although there’s no way at the moment that I would get rid of my other gas powered bikes and dedicate my love of motorcycling solely to electric bikes.

  • Beatpusher

    You forgot something- electric bikes, for all their benefits, have zero soul. I need electric for commuting but it will never replace the sweet bark and gear whining of my 1050 Triple.
    There is just something deeper to motocycling than numbers, policy, and batteries.

  • AceCafeElders

    petrol is evil.
    don’t worry about buying hundreds of things you don’t need, you don’t even use. don’t worry about buying things that need to travel thousands of miles to reach your home. be cool; buy a prius and drive it to the gym to keep fit, buy an electric motorcycle and hang it on the wall.
    life’s much better when you find a scapegoat!

    oh, and by the way… don’t worry about kids going into motorcyclism; they’re gonna still prefer the playstation: you can jump higher and it never hurts.

  • shinigami

    Wes,

    I really appreciate the passion you bring to this subject.

    One thing does stick in my craw slightly though-associating these things with “zero emissions”.

    No, sir. TRANSPOSED emissions is more like it. Because somewhere there’s a column of smoke, a barrel of radwaste, or some other filth coming out of a pipe (much bigger than the exhaust pipes on my Interceptor or CBR600RR) in order to charge these things- not to mention the issues with the environmental impact of manufacture of the batteries, the heavy metal waste resulting from both manufacture and disposal of batteries… you get my point without a wall o’ text, right?

  • Kidchampion

    “But what happens to the elitism of current riders and the sense of a tight community when every soccer mom is putting to the grocery store on a Brammo?”

    I know, first tattoos become mainstream (Forty percent of 26- to 40-year-olds have a tattoo, according to a 2006 study by the Pew Research Center), then piercings, punk rock clothes at the mall, and now motorcycles? Jesus, can’t we buy some off the shelf rebellion anymore and still feel elite about it?

  • http://www.motorsportretro.com rich

    Thought provoking

  • W

    BL and shinigami are right. In the end these things are not zero emissions or completely harmless, there is a lot of enviro-babble flying around here.

    Li batteries are supposed to be relatively harmless for use and disposal, but electric motors like those found in the Prius (I assume similar hi-efficiency designs are, or will be, used for motorcycle motors) use rare earth elements at an unsustainable rate and, somewhere, there is a stack belching smoke (at least until solar infrastructure catches up). The initial electric drive benefit is really from an economy of scale. It is easier to scrub a lot of exhaust at one location than to have every vehicle running around with its own scrubber attached (and using fuel to do it). So let’s frame the discussion more accurately.

    Meanwhile we ignore clean diesel which could have an immediate impact for both autos and bikes. The technology exists and it does not require infrastructure. We are missing a good bridge technology while we try to leap-frog to another. .

    Silly… really……and wasteful.

    I’d be happy to own a ZX-10 TDI while they work out the particulars of solar….

  • http://www.zeromotorcycles.com Gabe

    Good article Wes.

    The number one comment/complaint on here seems to be about range. Get over it people! Statistics show 50 miles is more than enough for 90% of the population on a daily basis. Keep your gas bike for screaming fast runs or long-hauls.

    Plus electric dirt bikes give you a lot more options of where and when to ride, and may in fact be the salvation of OHV parks. Plus they are rediculously fun.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHgKGgFo074
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIJ1MrYjB5c
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM9df9GGimw

    We can start adopting the new technology voluntarily now and start saving our treasured riding areas. Or you can wait until we lose most of them and are forced to switch to electric anyways and only ride in small/sterile indoor/outdoor parks.

    For example.

    http://www.carnegieforever.org

  • K2theM

    I’ve ridden the Brammo, and to my knowledge hold the speed record for it (production version – 70mph). If you haven’t, you need to. Seeing is believing as they say. While it won’t win you any drag races it out accelerates your average Bimbo Box driver or Elderly Person. Despite many people knocking it for it’s weight it handles really really well.

    If the thing wasn’t so expensive I’d have one already. It will make a perfect commuter. That is the place of electrics right now. Just like Hybrids aren’t killing “normal” cars, Electric Motos aren’t going to kill the 1000cc superbikes. There will always be a place for 150+hp street burners, but not everyone is interested in that. Just like not everyone likes HD’s, or BMW, or Ducati, the Brammo isn’t for everyone.

    My impression upon visiting the Best Buy for my test ride was that while the Brammo was sold at Bust Buy, Brammo services the bikes and not the Geek Squad. Also in the times that I have been back to Best Buy there has always been a group of 3-5 people gathered around the thing. You don’t see that at your average Moto Dealer.

  • http://jalopnik.com/people/gearhead_318/ charlie

    I have to admit, i really thought that electric bikes would sound like my laptop, but they sound Ok, i still prefer the sound of a good old fashioned internal combustion engine revving, shifting, spitting flames…

  • http://gogogarage.blogspot.com gogo

    nice. thanks

  • http://pervasivelight.com/blog/ dave

    Unlike gas bikes, they don’t explode when they’re shot by snipers.

    Okay this is retarded. Doesn’t anyone watch [mythbusters](http://kwc.org/mythbusters/2004/07/mythbusters_scuba_diver_in_a_f.html)? Snipers don’t shoot incendiary or tracer rounds.

  • http://rohorn.blogspot.com ROHORN

    VERY well thought out and written – internet motorcycle journalism I can get enthused about! Thanks!!!

  • PeteP

    OK, I love the idea of a clean, quiet bike (especially off-road) as much as anybody. However, I don’t think these things will ever get off the ground because of something that hasn’t been mentioned yet.

    Taxes.

    Currently, gas/diesel powered vehicles pay road taxes through assessments on fuel. Alternative powered vehicles pay no taxes, yet.

    There have been several high visibility cases of owners of biodiesel vehicles having onerous fines and taxes assessed against them. It doesn’t take much to assume that electric vehicles have the same liability.

    This is a problem that needs to be addressed before the vehicles take off.

  • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

    Exploding gas tanks: ok, maybe “exploding” is an exaggeration, but when you’re a soldier sitting in a Hummvee and the two dirt bikes you’re carrying on the roof suddenly start raining flaming fuel down on you, it’s probably hard to tell the difference. Check out our interview with Neal Saiki for more details.

    Zero Emissions and pollution:The argument that emissions aren’t eliminated, but merely transferred to a power station is a bit of a red herring.

    1. Electricity is way more efficient at producing power than gasoline. The Enertia gets the equivalent of around 400mpg.

    2. Power stations, even ones that burn coal, are way, way cleaner per unit of energy than vehicles.

    3. Moving what little emissions-per-vehicle remain outside of the city is a very good thing. Been to LA in the summer? All that black stuff in your snot is carbon from vehicle exhausts.

    There’s a reason we didn’t include zero emissions as one of our 10 reasons above: we don’t really care about it except for its ability to be used for our political gain. The green movement holds an awful lot of political power right now, exponentially more than motorcyclists do. Electric bikes give us a way to benefit from all that. We could even get electric motorcycles rolled into larger green legislation. You have to see the opportunity in that.

  • dsantolo

    Wes, thanks for the write up. Well written, and thought provoking. All I see, for all involved, are opportunities! And I must state that the replies are as insightful (mostly) as the article.

    Cheers

  • Sean Smith

    “Of course, if all that fails, no one’s going to hear you breaking the law anyways.”

    “I ride way too fast on public roads. Like serious go to jail stuff. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is advertise the fact that I’m breaking the law to every person within earshot.”

    As a guy who’s been arrested for evading police, and generally rides way too fast, this is a pretty big deal. I’d go so far as to say that the hoonability factor goes up exponentially when you can get rid of the noise.

    Oh, and though I’m basically of the opinion that electric bikes are totally gay, I’ve gotta say that this write up has come closer than anything else ever has in convincing me otherwise.

    I think the thing that keeps me hung up on ICEs, is the fact that there’s literally fire and brimstone between my legs, rocketing me forward with ridiculous, and often terrifying force. Something about that just makes my dick feel huge, and I think a lot of people can agree.

    • Steve F

      You should just buy a penis pump…

      • http://shop.orangecountychoppers.com/merchandise.php Paul Teutul, Sr.

        You can pick up one of those pumps in our online store at shop.orangecountchoppers.com My favorite is the “Fat Boy.”

        But that is neither here nor there… let’s get back to the Smart Chopper discussion. Did I ever mention how we can never seem to mention “Siemens” around the shop without snickering? True that.

      • Sean Smith

        Tried it. Honestly, it’s just not the same. I’m thinking of selling my gsxr for a harley. I heard the sensation is amazing.

  • http://www.voidstar.com Julian Bond

    I’ll try not to have a moan about US-Centric thinking, but I can’t help but think that electric motorcycles don’t make a whole lot of sense there, while they make huge amounts of sense elsewhere. And I think at least part of this is the almost complete disapearance of the bottom end of the PTW (powered two wheel) market. Can you imagine people buying a C50-C90 cub or an Elite-125 scooter. Now go back to 1984 and Terminator. It seemed completely natural that Sarah Connor should go down to the neighbourhood store to buy some milk on a Honda Elite. That’s exactly the usage pattern that makes complete sense for an electric version of the same thing. But as that store gets further and further away and is visited less often, it just becomes a damn sight easier to wheel out the SUV.

    So how did PTWs stop being at least partly a utility and become exclusively a life style gadget? Maybe that’s one big change that Electric could bring in turning one aspect of PTW use back into straight utility.

    Now translate all this into urban and suburban living in Europe, South America, China, India with the electricity coming from wind and solar generators on the roof. The Electric PTW is now a big step up from bicycle or pedestrian leg power rather than a huge step down from a sports bike or a hog. Which perhaps explains why a search for electric bicycle on Alibaba returns 10,000 entries.

  • http://www.suspectsunlimited.com Cru Jones

    Interesting article Wes. I would tend to side with people like Soma, General Apathy & W, but you do bring up some interesting, if not very subjective points. It’s your blog though, so what the hell. :) All in all, I guess it depends on what you need a motorcycle for and then you can make a decision if the electric bikes will work for you. I think most will find that they currently are not practical for their needs. Until the electric bike manufacturers can build up an infrastructure of charging stations, etc. they’re facing an uphill battle.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      I’m not demanding that everyone run out and buy an electric and I totally agree that the cost/performance/range equation isn’t where I’d like it to be yet. Just trying to share my enthusiasm for the potential they hold.

  • vegas

    Wow, what a nice pump. No chafing.

    The smartchopper was about the worst build I’ve seen. They used die-hard lead batts, uhg.

    I helped build one of the first off-road electrics, electricmoto/blade. The company tanked, but lots of folk copied us, so perhaps we weren’t totaly stupid.

    There are some things an electric does well, and a ton of things that it sucks balls at. Street is one of the suck balls things.
    I rode a blade for 6-8 years, no tags, no lights, just pure hooliganism, stairclimbing, doughnuts and allyway mx. I got pulled over a couple of times, just said it went 25mph, never ticketed.
    Now, i rode outside of traffic, bikepaths, railroad track accsess roads, shit like that. Go slow when it is boaring, save the juice for that one jump. Enter traffic? Are you stupid? Cars are EVERYWHERE. I ride a DR400, and a BMW-k100 now(the DR is the minimum I would ride in traffic, nix freeways), you get tired of the range thing after awhile. Range isn’t just range. The battery IS the engine. The motor is a transmission. So when a batt is small, or cannot deliver current it is very limiting.
    The charge time is a double whammy, the bigger the batt the longer the charge time. We were doing a 15min charge, but it was on a 0.8kwh batt. A 10kwh batt is going to take a minimum of 5hrs to charge(with110v, halve it for 220), and 10kwh is the minimum I would start with for a street bike. Gas is ~33kwh per gallon, with an engine getting ~20% of that to the wheels. 10kwh is 1-1/2gallons (about) which is a fucking small tank.
    10kwh of lithium-ion costs about $4k, for the cheap shit.
    If you want the good stuff, three or four times that.
    Yeah, yeah, nanotube whatever. making shit in a lab is a long way from something real.

    uhg, what a ramble…

    I watch the stupid electric bike thing, it is interesting, but untill gas is $10 a gallon, or batts undergo several magnitudes of improvement, nobody needs to worry about al gore taking away the gas bikes…

    • Steve F

      Thanks for your insight and experience, Vegas…

  • Jason Stone

    Great Article Wes, I enjoy your perspective as a fellow Car and Bike enthusiast. I think the keys will be having ready access to quick charging and longer battery life combined with cost.

    I really like the idea of being able to ride a zero on mountain bike trails. Do you have anymore info on how to tell if its legal to do that? There is so much mountain bike riding around San Diego and Southern California

    PS. to the guys talking about small bikes I just rode to LA this weekend (115) miles of freeway at 70mph and back on my WR250R with my street wheels fitted no problem. Power wise there is no issue with that bike, my only complaint is I need to get some bar risers.

    • Steve F

      I guarantee you if you started riding ranger-patrolled trails on an electric motorcycle in SoCal, the rules for two-wheeled access will change immediately to prohibit non-human powered vehicles.

      You should look at this site: http://www.safetrails.net/index.asp. These are some of the opponents against anything with two wheels riding on dirt, and they are influential.

      BTW, you know can ride a bicycle on mountain bike trails? It’s lots of fun.

  • W

    Yep, Best Buy and electric motorcycles, what could possibly go wrong?

    At least as criminal as any bad dealer there ever was but with less competency…

    http://gizmodo.com/5439590/best-buys-optimization-is-officially-a-huge-evil-scam

  • http://twitter.com/journeyzero Journey Zero

    Wow. That’s what I would call the definitive article on electric motorcycles. Excellent. I love how you offer a view of the riders, the electric riders, and the non-riders as well, with your own personal take to color and give light to the topic.

    Regarding the noise reduction, I understand that motor noise was part of the appeal and mystique of the traditional motorcycles, but what’s not to love about a world that becomes more quiet? Hopefully with the rise of electric cars and electric motorcycles, the change will be significant and we will be able to hear (real) bird singing rather that twitter chimes. Imagine that.
    Actually that’s what we’ve done with Matt Pike and Universal Everything: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXkMGZdPjrc

  • http://www.electricbikeworld.co.uk Jack @ electric bikes

    They are also easy to upgrade and tinker with, you need less specialized tools to play around with the insides of an EV than you do with a petrol vehicle.

  • Eddie Smith

    Best article I’ve read in weeks. As much as I love the whine of a smoky 2-stroke, the rumble of a Yoshi piped TL1000 or even my Z1000 washing machine, you’ve got my stoked to ride an electric dirtbike around in the house… It was fun setting off car alarms, but cops could hear the TL coming for miles. Bring on some electrics.

  • Gregory Despain

    lee macklin

  • http://armedmadhouse.com armed madhouse

    You made a good point, but have you actually thought about how it may affect other people? I don’t say you’re wrong, I just want to point out that there is more than 1 side to this story.

  • http://artrl.com/archives/3429 Renato Willetts

    Great article. There’s a lot of good information here, though I did want to let you know something – I am running Mac OS X with the up-to-date beta of Firefox, and the layout of your blog is kind of bizarre for me. I can understand the articles, but the navigation doesn’t work so great.

  • http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/upload/pdf/Senate_Sub-Committee_report_-_AUG-2006.pdf Josue Besley

    Just a little note to help keep people from scammers on this forum. Sam Congdon is an offshore promoter who has ruined many people’s lives by selling them offshore packages and then turning them over to the FBI and IRS. This guy runs two companies by the name of Rockford Global Solutions and Equity Development Group. His clients have lost millions at Bank Crozier in St. Lucia and Grenada (google failures and how FBI seized banks) as he was in on a sting operation with the FBI. He has also testified for the Senate Finance Committee on his operations and given up his U.S. based account holder list to all legal authorities including the IRS. You should not do business with him or any of his companies unless you want to come under U.S. scrutiny. Your life will be turned upside down if you try to get offshore acounts from him – Don’t Do It!

  • http://www.freecellphonetap.com Reuben Testerman

    In most European countries the Bike rules are like this:
    * Insurance is very very cheap or even free
    * No yearly fee, to keep “plates” on
    * Free charging
    * Free tollways, doesn’t have to pay like 5 dollars when you drive on the freeway

  • William

    I pretty much agree with it all. I want an electric bike for offroad. The sound of a Tie fighter is a good analogy. Thats a reasonable sound for a bike. I have no problem with that, in fact I like it. Too bad the big manufacturers mostly just copy stuff. KTM’s involvement could make a huge impact to change that since they should be considered serious competition by the others. At the least, it will give the others something to copy. I know a thing or two about old school thinking, I work for a Japanese company. I hope KTM has great success with their electric dirt bike, and I wish success to the other companies as well even if they don’t offer a dirt version.

  • Cameron

    You all know the expresion ” if I have to explain it you wouldn’t understand” Until you’ve ridden an electric you can’t understand. I’m buying one in September.

  • Tony

    I think your a little over optimistic about all the people this will bring into the fold. As a pilot we heard this when ultralights first flew, never happened! Then later when the sport pilot certificate came out. Again it brought very few new pilots. BJ Shramm brought us the first affordable helicopter and later Dennis fetters brought the first all in one affordable gyrocopter, all with dreams that this would change the world.. never happened! Fact is… people who love motorcycles have it in their blood and those who dont usually end up splattered on the road because they were doing something that just wasnt inside them.
    Your article was well written but you almost make it sound like when soccer moms are riding electric bikes there will be no more deaths, you are wrong.. there will be more! Also you are wrong…loud pipes do save lives, of course not out on a highway where someone pulls out on you but more so in traffic and congested situations where you need people to acknowledge your there.

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