MIC sets standards for electric motorcycle range

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Gone are the days of manufacturers claiming a range of “about 60 miles.” Instead, there is now a detailed process for determining range using a dynomometer and temperature controlled air. The short synopsis on The City Riding Range Test Procedure for Electric Motorcycles is: there are two tests, one for bikes that have a top speed over 56.7 mph and one for bikes that don’t. The fast bikes are run on the dyno at an average speed of 19.6mph and a top speed of 56.7 mph. Slow bikes get an average of 17.7mph and a top speed of 36.5 mph. This simulates stop-and-go urban riding and should return reasonably accurate range numbers.

Photo: Grant Ray


When I say reasonably accurate, what I mean is that the accuracy doesn’t really matter all that much. There are tons of variables that make it impossible to accurately predict everyone’s range. The big deal here is that we’ll be able to directly compare range numbers of electric bikes in the same way that we compare gas mileage numbers for cars. Now, you’ll have a consistent, independent standard when cross shopping different models of electric bikes.

  • noone1569

    Hmm, I surpass that top speed for the fast bikes everyday on my commute to work. Traffic on the main urbanesque root into downtown moves ~65 mph.

    As Sean states at the bottom, and I believe much more so than in a car, these estimates are irrelevant aside from a generality.

    • Grive

      Yeah, but that’s pretty much the best you can hope for when it comes to quoted mileages in tests. I mean, my commute involves 75mph stretches soon after I leave my immediate neighborhood, and my girlfriend inolves nearly gridlocked traffic for the same amount of time.

      Whatever test cycle you decide to come up with, it’s going to be a rotten lie for a sizeable amount (if not most!) of the population.

      Making it so companies can’t say “It’ll go 100 miles*… *downhill with a nice tailwind” would be a huge help in dealing with electric bikes in the market.

      However, based on the article (haven’t read the actual file), I have a nagging issue. What about aerodynamic performance? Doing this test on a dyno disregards that. Now, I know bikes are hardly the most aerodynamic things out there, but still… it seems like it’s going to negatively report on the bikes that actually try to improve fuel economy.

      • Sean Smith

        So far they’re all naked bikes, and even if they had fairings, your frontal area would likely be about the same. A sleek race fairing would help out with efficiency, but only if you were in a tuck.

        Like I said, the thing here isn’t accurate range figures, but a hard number that you can use for comparison purposes. So what if it doesn’t go as far or if it goes farther than is advertised. You’ll know for certain how a bike stacks up against the other electrics with this test.

        • Grive

          Yeah, I get the intent behind this push, and I’m all for it.

          I’m not quite knowledgeable of how much does the drag coefficient affect motorcycle efficiency at those speeds, it’s just that it jumped at me as a possible issue.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    Your mileage may vary.
    Thank you, MIC. Next stop, government regulation of range estimates for electric motorcycles.
    I actually think it (regulation) would be a good thing.
    *disclaimer: I work for a regulatory agency.

  • HammSammich

    This is great news, and a major step towards pushing the legitimacy of electric bikes, and it’s also evidence of the maturity of the technology. I’ve been intrigued by electric vehicles for a long time, but in the motorcycle industry we’re really seeing the first truly affordable and practical vehicles. (Daydreaming about that Brooklyn Motorized bike…)

  • Charles

    I wonder if we could get gas mileage ratings for gasoline bikes the same way?

    • Sean Smith

      Ha, this is pretty similar to the testing they do to get mpg numbers. Read all about it here.

      If you’re curious as to what your gas mileage is, my preferred method of calculation is to fill the tank completely, reset the trip meter, commute or ride like you usually would until you’re nearly out of gas, then stop, fill up again, and take note of how much gas you burned. Divide your mileage by that gas number, and you’ve got yourself a 100% accurate MPG number.

      • Charles

        That’s not the point – I’d rather know what a motorcycle will get before I buy it!

        • Sean Smith

          If you want the future predicted, I’d talk to a fortune teller ;)

          • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate BeastIncarnate

            I hear Grant does a mean Miss Cleo.

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    I think it’s great to have a standard. Unfortunately, this one strikes me as having been heavily influenced by the electric moto MFGs to inflate estimated range. It’s so painful to see this kind of consistently short-sighted behavior from the electric startups. They are already working from such a huge credibility deficit; it will come back to bite them in the form of disappointed customers.

    • Sean Smith

      I doubt it. The guys buying electric bikes right now are what you’d call early adopters. It’s the same kind of person that stood in line for an iphone when they first came out. And then again for a 3GS. And again for the first generation ipad.

      They don’t care that the tech they’re buying is going to be full of bugs, out of date in 3 months, and generally not live up to anyones expectations. They’ve gotta have it right now because it’s whiz-bang and cool.

      • http://pics.zenerves.net/index.php?gallery=vehicules tropical ice cube

        French motorcycle mag “moto-revue” is back from California, meeting with the Zero guys… My my, if you read French, don’t miss it:
        http://www.motorevue.com/site/ecologie-ou-economie-telle-est-la-question-59154.html – yeah, it’s an humourus bill by Enguerrand Lebec on the fact that they don’t answer to range question, charge the bikes on the field with huge diesel generators (the journos emptied the bikes in 10 minutes, were not allowed a second run). It smelled to them like a start-up bubble thing, a bit like the ‘net in the nineties, but with federal loans to grease the deal & inflate their Managenment Income. They met over there with people doing, talking, thinking money, finance, marketing opportunities – and these guys where driving F350s while munching TripleBigFatMacFood anyway!

  • Keith

    “…and should include reasonably accurate…”
    This is an estimate and I don’t see it being any more or less accurate than the MPG for gas vehicles.
    Of course it’s not perfect but it will allow you to compare bike A to bike B.

  • frankieapples

    So if I understand how the MIC works, company A can have MIC test their new e-bike and report it’s “average range.” This can then be used as a standardized benchmark to compare any other manufacturer’s “average range.” Since the MIC isn’t regulatory, they can only limit the use of their name in association with claimed “average range.” This about right? Will there be some sort of MIC seal that shows they used this standardized testing method?