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

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.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Banking, Hardware
10

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

10 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Seriously, a $35,000.00 electric mountain bike?

    And they say audiophiles are fiscally irresponsible. (Although the Terminus does look cool!)
    kenosha77a
    • Yeah that last bike looked lame and was so high priced! Yikes!

      @kenosha7777 ... I'd much rather get a good looking road bike for half or less the cost of a powered mtn bike. After all isn't the thrill of today's mountain bike the very fact that they are human powered? Are any of these all terain? Change the tire change tha road/cconditions?<br><br>Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • 3-way electic bicycle.

        @James Quinn---The electric bicycle that attracts me has no assist, partial assist, full assist modes.
        Good for an old bird like me, in hilly Calgary, Alberta, and especially when hauling a load uphill. Best of all worlds. Manually into the bush, a little assist on the way out.
        They come on sale at the local Cdn. Tire for approx. $700. Fellow can get a kit and build his own too. Less bucks.
        PreachJohn
  • RE: Electric motorcycles rev up design and performance (w/photos)

    You know, My Royal Star has 115 lbs of Torque, 75 Horse and gets $40 miles to the gallon... Used it was about $5k with 8 thousand miles on it. I am pretty sure I likely will not use $30k in gas over the life of this bike.

    These things need longer life and lower initial cosy or they are a waste of money.
    slickjim
  • The only advantage to an electric motorcycle is

    that you don't have to figure out the foot-pedal shifting thing. I'm not nearly coordinated enough to pull it off and would almost certainly wrap myself around a tree.
    baggins_z
    • There are plenty of options...

      @baggins_z

      ...for that on conventional bikes. I believe Honda's Fury is a CVT equipped bike from the factory (standard), and then there are plenty of aftermarket options like the auto-shifter and the thumb shifter gizmos that racers use. Matter of fact, somewhere in the back of my skull a dim memory cell just flicked on.... I think BMW has something like that....or was it Yamaha? .... Check the FJR or the K1300. Also...... .... mmmh.... I think Honda's new VFR. I think that one has double-clutch and semi-auto transmission.

      Neat technology.
      rock06r
  • RE: Electric motorcycles rev up design and performance (w/photos)

    Where is the Cruiser version of the electric bikes? That I want to see.
    czorrilla
  • RE: Electric motorcycles rev up design and performance (w/photos)

    All very interesting from a concept point of view, but I can't see bikers taking to these machines anytime soon, even if the prices dropped, most enthusiasts would find them too predictable and plain boring to ride.

    If electric bikes have a future anywhere it's in the short range commuter market, but prices need to fall dramatically and 'tank range' needs to increase a fair bit even for short commutes. I recently estimated that if I swapped my 125 scooter for an electric bike it would take me nearly eight years to break even given the his price of the electric bike, and that's assuming I can recharge for free! and I do about nine thousand miles per year.

    Ain't gonna happen.
    AndyPagin
  • Pay more....

    ....for less performance. Everybody wants to be green etc, but at the end of the day, in this economy and with the "specs war" going on every year between conventional (established) manufacturers (i.e. Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Ducati, Aprilia, etc), there really is very little room for these toys in the market. There is great potential, there is great "feeling green", but one of the draws of biking - if you stay away from the superbikes - is the fact that they are way more efficient than cars to begin with. You get 40-60 MPG depending on model/size/throttle hand, way better than 99% of cars. It's like squeezing water from a rock.

    I, for one, can't believe that Fischer went this route as well - they had a viable, great (on paper) concept, started production, and then decided to ditch their own engineering in favor of electric bikes. Yawn.

    What's next, neon headlights?
    rock06r
  • What's next?

    No, LED headlights!
    BigJRM