Ask An Expert: Why Do Electric Motorcycles Weigh So Much?

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EV-Weight-Top

Electric motorcycles like the Mission RS are now achieving performance parity with their Internal Combustion Engine counterparts in every metric but one: weight. Wes asked Derek Dorresteyn, Chief Technology Officer at San Francisco start-up BRD Motorcycles: Why do electric motorcycles weigh so much? — Ed.

Electric motorcycles are heavy first, because they choose applications with high energy demands and, second, due to batteries with low energy density.

Electric motorcycles (EVs) are being built now that deliver on power, weight and range, but not every type of motorcycle or use is appropriate for electric drive. To understand the weight differences between the EV and the gas bike, let’s start by breaking it down to basic systems: chassis, drivetrain and fuel/energy source.

Gas or electric, a motorcycle chassis for a given application has the same structural and ergonomic requirements and should weigh the same. Electric drive (motor, controller and gear reduction) has a massive power density (kW/kg) advantage over ICE drive (motor, transmission, air/fuel intake, exhaust), not to mention superior power delivery and throttle response. Not surprisingly, that leaves most of the difference to the extra mass of the EV’s battery pack.

Today’s best battery tech (lithium chemistries) stores significantly less energy (power x time) per unit mass (kWh/kg) than gasoline. So, while EVs get more power out of less weight, they get less energy (i.e. range) out of more weight. How that balances out depends on the vehicle you’re trying to build. But, the general rule is that electrics are going to excel when the energy demands are relatively low and be heavier when the energy demands are high.

The energy needs depend on the use and rider expectations of a given category. A scooter rider and a touring rider expect different things from their equipment; one is light, used at lower speeds over relatively short distances (low energy), the other is large and built for driving long distances at high speeds (high energy).

Electric Motorcycle Weight

An example of a good fit being met now by an EV is the comparison of a Zero S or Brammo Empulse to a Honda CB500F. The EVs have similar power (~50 hp), weight (~225 kg) and ranges (~160 km) that falls within the expected use of many CB500F riders (commuting, light sport riding). Matching consumer expectations becomes more difficult in an EV for the liter class sportbike rider. They aspire to 300 km days, with a lot of that spent at extra-legal speeds. This takes a lot of energy; somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25 kWh given average sportbike aerodynamics.

Even with the superior energy density of gasoline, this usually means a midday fill up. Despite the huge mass advantage an electric motor has, there is no way with current battery technology to fit that much battery on a sportbike within the typical wet weight ranges (~210 kg) of the ICE sportbikes. Electric sportbike manufacturers then have to balance the compromise of range vs. weight.

Electrics benefit from a large reduction in gyroscopic forces coupled with smooth power delivery, so these bikes can “feel” lighter than equivalent ICE bikes, with their large rotating crankshafts. The examples in the market and on the track (Energica Ego, Mission RS, Lightning Superbike and Brammo Empulse RR) seem to all be converging around 275 kg as that balance point.

So, you could say the short answer as to why electrics weigh so much is, “liter class sportbikes.”

The choice to build an EV for a market with difficult-to-meet range expectations is the reason some EVs are heavier. For the EV motorcycle designer, it boils down to identifying the right factors to balance (mass, power, range and cost) to deliver a product that meets consumer needs. EVs are finding their niches in these places consumer needs can be met now with good choices and technology.

The second part of the answer can be found in the different choices companies make around battery technology. This will take another article to really dive into, but not all EV battery strategies are the same. For example, the A123 battery cells (121Wh/kg) like those used in the Fisker Karma have far less energy than the Panasonic cells like those used in the Tesla Model S (240Wh/kg). For a given range, the Tesla batter is going to weigh 40 percent less. On a 15kWh motorcycle, this would be a 150 kg difference.

My company, BRD Motorcycles, has made a similar choice to Tesla, developing a proprietary, high-energy battery platform to keep weight low and deliver the range customers demand while also providing a great power-to-weight ratio.

In the coming years, EVs will see ranges increase, mostly driven by improved batteries, helping the market for EVs to expand into more segments. That said, don’t plan on replacing your Gold Wing with an EV just yet.

Related Links:
Riding Derek’s Bike: BRD RedShift On the Snake

The Fastest Electric Motorcycle: World Exclusive Mission RS First Ride

Why Range Is An Issue: A Shocking Truth

  • Chris Cope

    My best friend has a PhD from MIT. This is the way he writes (all the time). I don’t understand him, either.

    • grindz145

      In the coming years kW, kWh and wh/mile will be as familiar to the average motorcyclist as hp and mpg. Beat the curve and impress your buddies at the bar.

      • drivin98

        Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram) is the expression that makes the most difference with electric vehicles. The bigger the number, the better.

        *Caveat: Currently, batteries will a lot of watt-hours per kilogram don’t have as much power output ability (usually expressed as a “c” rating), so you need a largish pack (as in the Tesla Model S) to make up for this drawback.

  • Khali

    I am really willing to see 2 days:
    - The day when the balance between cost, range and power is enough for me to buy a commuter EV
    - The day when range on EVs doubles or triples ICE vehicles, making them appropiate as main vehicles.
    I have read about Graphen, a carbon-based crystal-structured material which currently delivers 10x the capacity of lithium batteries…but also which structure can be adapted to have any kind of properties, so for example you can build a motorcycle with graphen chassis, which will store the energy, or a Smartphone with graphen touchscreen, which will also be the battery.
    When this material is a production reality, EV’s will be a reality as main transportation.

    • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

      The largest battery Brutus electric bike has 280 miles of range in the city, 210 on the highway. It’s a very heavy bike, but it’s in the right ballpark for a big cruiser bike.
      http://brutusmotorcycle.com/brutusV9.html

  • William Connor

    I am hopeful that someday the EV technology for motorcycles is more practical and useable for long distance riding. I have ridden an electric bike and it’s pretty fun.

  • james

    Im not sure why this needed an entire article, they are heavy because they are using stupid battery electric tech that will always lose out in the weight stakes, its just that simple. Sadly EV bikes dont make sense for probably 50% of the bike market that likes to go for a long ride every month or so, even way more often for some, rides of 500 miles + are not uncommon for riders even longer. I get the need for electric cars but bikes are already so efficient, seems like they are just cashing in on a trend which is true, the only reason we are seeing electric vehicles now is because the marketing makes sense, we have had the capacity to produce them since the dawn of the automobile.

    • HammSammich

      “Electric drive (motor, controller and gear reduction) has a massive power density (kW/kg) advantage over ICE drive (motor, transmission, air/fuel intake, exhaust), not to mention superior power delivery and throttle response.”

      • CruisingTroll

        What makes you think energy density is going to increase exponentially in the next 10 years? Are you misapplying Moore’s Law to a technology to which it doesn’t apply?

        Energy density is advancing. Slowly, not exponentially.

        • Richard Gozinya

          I don’t know if I’d say slowly, considering how fast it’s improved in recent years. But I don’t care for the claims of exponential improvement. It’s too pie in the sky, wishful thinking, we just don’t know for certain how much it will improve. There’s a lot of very promising stuff on the horizon, but until it’s here, EVs will remain something someone has to actually want, not something people will cross-shop with ICEs. The only current exception to that is the Tesla Model S.

        • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

          Perhaps not exponentially, but battery tech is moving quickly.

          In 2002 the best production EV batteries were NiMH cells used in production hybrids and prototype EVs like the 1st gen RAV4 EV, ~63 Wh/kg at the 12V module level. (Lithium ion batteries at the time were pretty common in laptops, but not in cell phones)
          http://www.evnut.com/rav_battery_data_sheet.html

          I recall seeing speculation that EV NiMH cell pricing was around $1500/kWh at the time.

          In 2012 the best production EV batteries were the NCA lithium cells used in the production Tesla Model S, ~240 Wh/kg.

          Tesla hasn’t announced anything about their cell cost, but speculation is in the $200-300/kWh range.

          Another 4x gain in energy / cost density may require another chemistry. We’ll see how things play out.

          • CruisingTroll

            Remember, there are four technical challenges for the battery tech to meet, not one.

            1) Straight up energy density.
            2) Energy discharge rate. Capacitors have incredibly high energy density, along with an incredibly high discharge rate. Which is why we don’t use capacitors for powering EVs.
            3) Recharge rate.
            4) Longevity, i.e. how long the battery will last, not how long the charge will last….

            • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

              All of those metrics are improved by virtue of improved energy density and cost reductions and fitting a larger capacity battery in a similar weight / volume budget.

              1. 4x improvement in energy density over a decade. (Tesla’s NCR is 4x, Zero’s Farasis cells are about 3.5x).

              2. Power is mostly a concern for small batteries. Tesla’s cells, for example, have a similar relative discharge rate as the 1st gen RAV4 EV’s NiMH cells, but because you can pack so much more capacity in then the power scales as well.

              While there is still generally a tradeoff between energy density and power density, the energy-dense Farasis cells that Zero is using are around 2000W/kg, compared to the 200W/kg of the RAV4 NiMH modules.

              4x to 10x improvement in a decade.

              3. Similarly, charge rate goes up with capacity (this is also why capacitors are not used to charge). Even the 60 kWh Model S can safely charge at 120 kW.

              The more practical limitation is infrastructure, and unfortunately the lowest common denominator hasn’t improved much in terms of power (though happily standardization and availability are hugely improved). The 1st gen Rav4 EV can charge at up to 6 kW with its onboard charger. Tesla’s Model S can charge at up to 20 kW with twin chargers, provided that it can find a 70+ amp J1772 EVSE.

              4+ x improvement in battery charge acceptance in a decade.
              3x improvement in onboard charge power on production-class vehicles
              20x improvement in “best-of-breed” charging capabilities
              1x improvement in typical charging capabilities :

              4. If you have 4x the capacity, then you only use 1/4 the cycles to go a given distance (all else equal).

              Modern lithium varies pretty considerably in charge cycles.

              NCR18650B is close to what Tesla is using in the Model S; like the NiMH modules, it is rated for 1000 cycles (so 4x total range).

              Zero’s cells are rated for 3000 cycles to 80% (2012) and 2000 cycles to 80% (2013).

              • Richard Gozinya

                “While there is still generally a tradeoff between energy density and
                power density, the energy-dense Farasis cells that Zero is using are
                around 2000W/kg, compared to the 200W/kg of the RAV4 NiMH modules.”

                Both of your numbers are way too high. In the case of the batteries Zero uses, about 10 times too high, in the case of the NiMH, about twice as high.

                • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

                  Power density, not energy density.

                  The NiMH figure is right out of the datasheet.

        • HammSammich

          No, I realize that Moore’s law doesn’t apply to battery tech, and I admit the term “exponentially” was probably hyperbolic. Regardless, given the progress in materials science, over the next 10 years it is completely reasonable to assume 1.5-3.0x increases in capacity. That likely means electric bikes with a 300 mile usable range (or significantly lighter bikes with a range comparable to today’s much heaver bikes). My point was to illustrate that the technology is really in its infancy. Clearly, electric bikes are not going to rapidly displace ICE bikes in all applications. But they are certainly not just a marketing gimmick as James’ seems to assert.

          • james

            OK great well call me when it can do what any other bike can do and thats do a proper days riding, i would burn through a battery pack by lunchtime.

            Also saying a zero s is lighter than a cb500 is great, but a zero S is; 1. a crappy bike, 2, uses very crappy components so its no surprise its light, chop stick thin forks and dirtbike sized brakes dont weigh much. 3. How much range does a zero get, way less than any of the bikes you mentioned.

          • CruisingTroll

            Infancy? No, it’s NOT in it’s infancy. That’s the “Big Lie”. Electric Vehicles have been around for MORE than a century. Battery powered electric motors have been in CONTINUOUS use and production for even longer. Hybrids? Railroads have been operating ICE/EV hybrids (aka “diesel-electrics” ) for almost a century. With the exception of steam locomotives on tourist railroads and excursion trains, almost every locomotive on American & Canadian railroads is either a hybrid or straight up EV. There are a few battery powered locos (where weight IS AN ADVANTAGE) for special environments, now going on decades of service.

            No “infancy” at all, simply the application and refinement of mature technologies to a particular “underserved” transportation sector.

            Cordless tools are very instructive, because in many ways they face similar limitations. It’s significant that the real market breakthrough in cordless tools wasn’t the development of Lithium-Ion batteries. It wasn’t the development of the fast charger.

            It was the swappable battery pack.

        • Generic42

          Correct, but the overall advancement of electric vehicles is moving very quickly.

          Look at the results for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb to see how quickly E-bikes have progressed from “not even competitive” to “king of the hill” They have made the same progression in race times in 5 years that the ICE bikes made in 50

          • CruisingTroll

            Racing IS NOT the real world, even though many great advances have been made due to racing. In the real world, the KEY EV limitation is recharge time. Sure, if you could build an EV that can run an Ironbutt Rally without recharging, then an overnight recharge would likely be acceptable. That’s not where we’re at, and it doesn’t look to be anywhere on the horizon. Until you can simply pull into a station and roll out 3-5 minutes later with a full charge, EVs will not be primary vehicles for 95% of Americans. Simply put, EVs are not convenient, a factor that will cripple their acceptance in the country that originated 7-11, McDonalds and Starbucks.

            It should be noted, it’s not simply the true convenience that people look at, but the POTENTIAL convenience. Thus, the guy who only commutes 10 miles a day is still going to be wary about an EV because he MIGHT decide to do the 300 mile trip to the beach/mountains/Vegas next weekend…

    • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

      “stupid battery electric tech that will always lose out in the weight stakes”

      Zero S weighs about as much as a CB250, makes more power than CB500. The larger controller used by the racing bikes bump power by about 30% with almost no weight penalty.

      BRD Redshift makes more power and weighs less than CRF250M.

      The weight comes from trying to add range, not add power.

    • Richard Gozinya

      True, electric vehicles have been around a very long time. But the technology wasn’t all that good until recent years. Nor was there much, if any money invested in developing the technology. In the next 10 years, give or take, they’ll very likely outperform ICE’s in every metric. There’s already batteries in development that will do that. Solid state, lithium air, graphene, lots of really cool stuff.

      • runnermatt

        Just wanted to add. Electric cars were first produced in the early 1900′s (190X- 19teens) and were equivalent to the early gasoline and steam engine cars. The electric cars were actually marketed to women because they were “easy to drive” for the simple reason that automatic transmissions had not been invented yet. I learned a lot of this from the website JayLenosGarage.com . He had a large section on bikes including his Desmodici (I probably spelled that wrong), Henderson, and Brough-Superior’s as well as one’s he doesn’t own like the Mission Motors Mission-R. The bike section can be a little hard to find now as I think Jay’s site is being organized more for cars. Just use the search section on the main page.

    • http://www.faster-faster.com/ Marc Fenigstein

      james, I’d be really really (really) happy with 50% of the bike market. If you are buying a bike for 500 mile trips, I wouldn’t recommend an electric. I also wouldn’t recommend a Vespa or a CRF. See the last line of Derek’s article. Gas does two things much better than electric: range/tank and cost/range. Riders that do long days are going to want a gas moto in the garage for the foreseeable future. Riders that do short days will have more options.

      For us, it’s not about efficiency. It’s about power delivery and control. Because they’re dynamically balanced, motorcycles benefit from that even more than cars do. I can do things on the electric I can’t do on my KTM – it turns me into a hero. Not for everyone, but definitely for some people.

  • Jonathan Berndt

    hmm i just saw on the news this morning, a Tesla car burst into flames, too soon to know why but…

    • Richard Gozinya

      Because ICE vehicles have never burst into flames?

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        Now Richard, we all know that gasoline is not flammable.

      • Jonathan Berndt

        im also thinking of Boeing’s problems with the same type of battery technology…

        • Generic42

          Which was shown not to be the batteries but a wiring interconnect. How many times has your laptop spontaneously combusted? Risk of battery fire is low.

        • Richard Gozinya

          And yet, somehow it’s news, even though there were 187,500 vehicle fires in 2011 in the United States. As to the why, the car suffered a front end collision, one of the battery packs was damaged and caught fire. The fire didn’t spread to the other battery packs (There are 16 of them), nor did it spread into the cabin.

          The fire department did have difficulty putting the fire out, having to cut into the frame to get the battery’s fire fully extinguished.

    • John
    • Generic42

      And here are the details from Tesla
      http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/model-s-fire

      Pretty sure if your gas powered car had a 3″ hole punched in the gas tank near the exhaust the results would have been similar.

    • Generic42

      Directly from the article:

      “The nationwide driving statistics make this very clear: there are
      150,000 car fires per year according to the National Fire Protection
      Association, and Americans drive about 3 trillion miles per year
      according to the Department of Transportation. That equates to 1 vehicle
      fire for every 20 million miles driven, compared to 1 fire in over 100
      million miles for Tesla. This means you are 5 times more likely to
      experience a fire in a conventional gasoline car than a Tesla!”

  • contender

    I wish someone would’ve asked when the stinking RedShift will be available.

  • Toly

    “An example of a good fit being met now by an EV is the comparison of a Zero S or Brammo Empulse to a Honda CB500F. The EVs have similar power (~50 hp), weight (~225 kg) and ranges (~160 km) that falls within the expected use of many CB500F riders (commuting, light sport riding). ”

    This is plain wrong. The CB500F range, even in semi-aggressive riging is well over 200 miles, ie over 320km. This is more than double of the EV range mentioned in the quote above. And no, I don’t “expect” to refuel my CB500 every 100 miles.

    • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

      When I had a GS500, I fueled it up every 150 miles, to have a small reserve (~3.8 gal tank).

      Frequently when I left the house in the morning I would have less range than an electric bike that charged overnight.

      • CruisingTroll

        Yes. And a 5 minute stop and the corner gas station would give you range greater than the overnight charge. 2-3 hours later, another 5 minute stop and you’re on your way for another 150+ miles. Rinse, repeat.

        versus stopping how long to charge???

        • grindz145

          Hah, I almost responded with a coherent rebuttal, and then I saw your username and I couldn’t help but laugh.

        • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

          No question that gas is faster to fill up on a long trip.

          I didn’t ride my gas bike a ton .. maybe 7000 miles in 3 years. Figure a 5 minute gas stop every 150 miles, around 3.5 hours in total (not counting the time I spent waiting for the engine to warm up, next gas bike will definitely be fuel injection). I probably went on a dozen ~100 mile rides, but only one 200+ mile ride.

          I put 10000 miles on my electric bike in the last year, and in total spent perhaps 2 hours “waiting” to charge on stops that I would not have taken on a gas bike. Granted, part of that is because I used the electric bike when it made sense to do so, and took another vehicle on the trips where it was poorly suited.

          The two closest times I came to running out of “energy” were on the gas bike; in both cases I left the house with maybe 60 miles left, decided I didn’t have time to fuel up, and rode it pretty deep into reserve.

          Just my experience as a rider.

          • CruisingTroll

            Which is an experience shared by a great many other riders. Out towards the other end, there are riders like me. I put 7-25k a year on my motorcycle. I’m no ironbutt, yet I’ve crossed the country in 5 days on my m/c. Doing so on a EB would have required 20 recharges. 16 of them during the day. Knock off the 5 recharges that can take place during an extended lunch, and that means I still have to make 11 2-3 hour stops. I’m not sure how many folks will find that acceptable, 4-6 hours per day just chillin’ and chargin’. (This is all assuming that a network of easily accessible and compatible charging locations develops). I don’t think I would, and I was traveling for pleasure.

            One thing I haven’t seen addressed is what’s the support structure for EV’s that run out of juice on the road?

            EVs have a niche, as suburban commuters, generally secondary vehicles. Get groceries, yup. Race 25-60 miles? Ooo-rah! Go to Grandma’s 3 states away? Not yet. Perhaps someday battery powered EVs will get there, or perhaps someone will invent Mr Fusion or at least a cheap fuel cell instead, and EVs will displace the ICE as the motive mode of choice.

            Since I don’t think that day is anytime soon, I hope I live long enough to see it…. :D

            • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

              The electric bikes that can cross the country in a reasonable fashion are pretty heavily modified.

              Terry Hershner’s modified 2012 zero gets ~150 miles of highway range and can charge in < 1 hour, provided he can tap into 3+ J1772 charging stations.

              A similar production electric bike would likely cost in the mid $20k range TODAY, if produced in similar volumes as Zero's less expensive bikes.

              5 day cross-country trip would mean around 600 miles per day .. probably 1 overnight charge (110v would be fine) and 4 mid-day charges. That's 1 per meal and 1 extra sometime during the day for a break.

              All of that assumes the infrastructure is in place, ie multiple J1772 charging stations, near logical places to stop .. which of course it is not, except along select routes.

      • jonoabq

        Yes, but with a conventional motorcycle the wait time to “fill up” is about five minutes and can be found just about anywhere. Run low/fill up/continue on your journey largely uninterrupted…EV’s, not quite so simple.
        Rather than look at “range” as a stand alone measure it should be considered along with the “time” it takes to go from point A to B. Increase the distance between A and B enough and EV’s simply can’t compete.
        A Concourse EV would be pointless, a KTM 1290 naked would be awesome.

    • jefflev

      Of course, if you ride an EV aggressively, like in the canyons, up and down hills, you won’t get even close to 100 miles. I speak from experience, not conjecture. Thank you one day to Vern at the Rock Store for letting me plug in for an hour so i could get home (I live 15 miles away). I’m glad i wore a pack and lugged the charger around.

      Add in the fact that, when asked confidentially, nobody really knows the lifespan of these batteries. The biggest factor, according to an industry guy, is the amount of “deep discharge” versus “shallow discharge” events over the history of the battery. He believes that these events could alter the life of the battery by years. And replacement batteries ain’t cheap. This data is not acvailable via hybrid history because those batteries are constantly charging. So its not an apples to apples comparison.

      All bikes will be in electric in the future. Wayyyy off in the future. But they just aint there yet.

      • grindz145

        The only benefit of having extended range for a commuting application is so that you don’t have to stop as often at a gas station. An electric motorcycle never does this, so you will save time. That is the point here. You can have a lighter faster electric motorcycle, if you don’t insist that it will achieve range parity. At no point did anyone release an electric touring bike.

        • jefflev

          i think you are missing the fact that ” if you don’t insist that it will achieve range parity” is a very watered down description of the range. An EV pushed a little in canyons got me about 65 miles. And then I had to charge it for 5 hours.

      • CruisingTroll

        In addition to the question of how deeply the battery has been discharged, how fully charged, how often fast charged, there is simply the question of the temperatures the battery has experienced. Charge/discharge levels can be controlled by the charging system in order to prolong battery life, albeit at the expense of practical energy density. Temperatures, on the other hand, are beyond the manufacturers’ control. What are the EB engineers doing to manage both operating temps AND the effects of ambient temperatures?

  • Christopher

    This article is useless without mentioning Amarok, frankly. 30KG lighter than any 600cc sportbike, right now.

    • grindz145

      Amarok is an insanely awesome group of renegades, but they don’t make a production bike. The cell technology they’re using is not consumer friendly (which is perfect for a racebike). However, it puts it into a different category I think and that’s why it’s not quite comparable.

      • Christopher

        I respectfully disagree. The article asks why all electric bikes are heavy. The answer is they don’t have to be. I don’t think the fact that the Amarok exists only in race-form at the moment disqualifies it utterly from discussion. All of the bikes in this article started out as heavy racebikes too; nothing changed from race/prototype to production.

        • Robert Horn

          I hate to say this, but the Amarok is far from a proven design. Has it finished a race yet?

          Removing battery weight to gain performance on an electric bike is the same as removing fuel from a rocket to launch it higher – it doesn’t work that way on paper or in real life.

          • Christopher

            Removing *weight* from a machine to lessen the power requirements works quite well, ask any rocket scientist.

            It would have finished its first race, but for a red flag 1/3 into it, and no time to recharge for a restart. Even with twice the battery weight it’d still have come in around supersport 600 weight. As to the design itself being proven, it’s true that the bike doesn’t have a lot of kms under it but the architecture it’s derived from was proven long ago under far worse than racetrack conditions.

            • Robert Horn

              The red flag was 2 miles into the race. The race is almost 12.5 miles. Please re-check your math.

              The Amarok racer is an interesting project – I look forward to the team’s return here in Colorado for next year’s hill climb.

            • stever

              Removing fuel weight from a rocket to lessen the power requirements doesn’t work at all. Removing fuel to reduce the energy needed to move the vehicle reduces the energy you have to move the vehicle. There is a reason rocket scientists don’t simply remove all fuel from rockets and then just watch them float up to the heavens!

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsiolkovsky_rocket_equation

              You need fuel to boost the payload. Then you need fuel to boost the fuel that boosts the payload. Then you need fuel to boost that fuel, and so on.

              • Christopher

                I emphasized “weight” not “fuel weight”. I’m well aware of the principles of rocket science.

                • stever

                  but not reading comprehension :(

                • Christopher

                  Really?

                • Robert Horn

                  Battery weight IS fuel weight when comparing bikes & rockets. Again: BATTERY WEIGHT.

                • Christopher

                  Yes, battery weight is fuel weight. I didn’t say otherwise. I’m not the one with the reading comprehension problem. I said:

                  “Reducing *weight* from a rocket to lessen power requirements works well.”
                  Not:
                  “Reducing fuel weight from a rocket to lessen power requirements works well.”

                  Do you and Stever see the difference? Do I have to elaborate further on the distinction between these two sentences? Did I really need to specify what I thought was obvious, that I was discussing weight of components not fuel, since component weight ultimately dictates how much fuel is needed?

                  Regardless, feel free to pan my reading comprehension skills over something else I didn’t say.

                  To answer your (Robert) original comment, I agree it’s an unproven design, but the concept I is quite sound. The resulting component weight reduction leaves a lot more room for fuel/battery, but to my knowledge the amarok left the starting line with almost as much juice as the zero bikes. The red flag was the difference between finishing and not finishing, that much is certain.

                  The design is NOT based on simply removing battery weight. I don’t know where you and Stever got the idea I meant that or that the the bike was built around that idea.

  • Zach

    He sure used the word ‘deliver’ a lot for a guy whose company’s own electric bike is already about a year overdue.

  • http://www.faster-faster.com/ Marc Fenigstein

    Hi, folks. Derek is a busy dude, so I’ll do my best to answer Qs (poorly) on his behalf.

    Toly – D was careful to not say the ranges were the same, but that the range of the EVs fits the use case for many riders of the CB500. Some folks will do long days of recreational riding or touring on these, but many are using them as daily riders and fill up once a week or so. The electric option fits the latter, not the former. Sidenote: he also didn’t claim price parity – we’re all well aware of how that equation currently works out.

    Zach and contender – believe me, this is more painful for me than for you, but we ARE cranking on the production bikes and they’ll be out mid 2014. I wish starting an EV company were more predictable, but there is a lot that is out of our control. When we (Brammo, Zero, Mission, CRP) are all the size of, say, Triumph, launch dates will get steadier.

    On battery tech, the average YoY improvement is about 7%, nowhere near the doubling every 18 months of Moore’s law for processing speed, so don’t expect to obsolete your bike each year like a laptop. That said, some choices are moving above average and some below. Maybe there will be a follow up article on this?

    I’d close with this – if you have a chance to ride an electric, take it. The Mission R warps space and time, and the RedShift is basically throwing a saddle and harness on Satan, himself. Both will make you better, faster, safer riders and leave a little bit of peepee in your pants. Range and cost ARE current compromises, but if they fit your wallet and route, you will not find anything more fun.

    • CruisingTroll

      Fun. That’s the best hook for E-Ms (Electric Motorcycles) right now. Fun & Cool Technology.

      I’d certainly consider one for a 3rd bike, definitely not for a primary bike.

      btw, how are EV’s coming on the performance vis a vis temperature front?

      • disqus_odfQdg7ezJ

        If you live in a dense city, like SF proper or Manhattan, it makes perfect sense for an electric to be your primary bike. That’s what I rode, when I lived in SF. And I only had 30 miles of range (I picked up an old Zero for cheap).

    • Generic42

      The thing I think that I like most about the Mission R is that you are
      buying a platform, not just a completed bike that you replace when you
      want more power, etc. In two years time when the energy density of
      batteries has gone up, you take your Mission R back to them, they yank
      your old, heavy worn batteries and replace them with new, lighter more
      powerful batteries. Then to compliment that they crank up the power on
      the motor. You get increased range and increased power, repeat in two
      more years. The motor itself is capable of a 220HP and currently set at
      160 to maintain range. So think about where that bike can go in the next
      2, 4, 6, 8 years.

  • Generic42

    As someone who lives and rides at altitude (5,280 feet in Denver) I can’t wait for my first electric superbike, no more altitude penalty, in fact due to lower air resistance it will be a slight advantage to live up here!

    • CruisingTroll

      EXCELLENT point, one I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody make. Of course, since there are only 2-3 other American cities of 1million+ people at over 4,000 feet, I don’t know that such a consideration will have a lot of practical impact. It IS something that should have great marketing value though.

  • John

    “Batteries”. The End.

  • Moto Race Fan

    BRD did a little marketing here. Mission R does 120 kW (161 HP) so they mislabeled it. Also, they aren’t including continuous power, which is a very important spec for racing motorcycles like the Brammo Empulse R and the Mission R.

    • http://www.faster-faster.com/ Marc Fenigstein

      Yeah, that got lost in handoffs between editors. A placeholder figure got put into a throwaway chart that we didn’t plan to publish. 120kW is the correct figure, and we’re firing over a corrected chart by tomorrow. Apologies to the Mission guys.

      No marketing intended there. We have our opinions, but would never distort facts. Not to mention motocrossers/supermotos and superbikes fill pretty different slots in the garage. We’re cheering for Mission – their market success is only a good thing for every other EV manufacturer.

  • beefstuinit

    Because battery. The end.