Electric motorcycles rev up design and performance (w/photos)

Summary:Manufacturers are raising the performance bar for electric motorcycles, rapidly catching up to their gas-guzzling counterparts. Here are five battery-powered machines guaranteed to turn heads.

As an enthusiast of motorcycles (I own two) and a resident of the Bay Area, I've noticed a surge in buzz surrounding electric two-wheelers and I'm not alone. Reporting today on the recent unveiling of Red Shift, an all-electric "supermoto" from San Francisco start-up BRD Motorcycles, Jeanne Carstensen at the New York Times, writes; "With Mission Motors, also in San Francisco, and Zero Motorcycles in Santa Cruz, as well as others, the region is becoming a hub for electric motorcycle companies."

Speaking of Mission Motors, the company made history a few weeks ago at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. The company's race bike, Mission R, posted a qualifying time of 1:31.3, the fifth fastest for the weekend’s AMA Supersport race, and a track record for an electric vehicle of any kind. Motorcycle traditionalists were left scratching their heads.

As the performance of electric motorcycles closes in on their gas-guzzling counterparts, they're also becoming increasingly practical and cost-effective. The market for electric scooters and motorcycles is taking off worldwide with about a half a billion in use across the globe by 2016, estimates Pike Research.

For whatever shortfalls exist today with electric motorcycles, such as a max ranges that peak out between 60 - 100 miles and the lack of a gas engine growl, manufacturers are wasting no time compensating with designs and technology that could permanently impact both, motorcycling industry and culture.

Below is a sample of the latest electric motorcycles at various stages of development plus a $35K hybrid bicycle that must be seen to be believed: (Make | Model | Energy Storage | Horsepower | Top Speed | MSRP)

Mission Motors | Mission R | 14kWh | 141 HP | 160+ mph | N/A

[ Site | Specs | Photos]

BRD Motorcycles | Red Shift SM | 5.2kWh | 40 HP | N/A | N/A

[ Site | Specs | Photos]

Brammo | Empulse 10.0 | 10kWh | 54 HP | 100+ mph | $13,995

[ Site | Specs | Photos]

Orphiro | Orphiro | N/A | 75 mph | N/A | N/A

[ Site | Specs N/A | Photos]

Zero Motorcycles| DS | 4.4kWh | 25 HP | 67 mph | $10,495

[ Site | Specs | Photos]

M55 | Terminus | N/A |  N/A |  25 - 42 mph | $35,000

[ Site | Specs | Photos]

Topics: Banking, Hardware


Christopher Jablonski is a freelance technology writer. Previously, he held research analyst positions in the IT industry and was the manager of marketing editorial at CBS Interactive. He's been contributing to ZDNet since 2003. Christopher received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at U... Full Bio

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