5 Reasons To Buy An Electric Motorcycle


There are positives with electric.

A staggering number of companies—most of which are start ups—are coming up with their vision of the electric motorcycle. While the technology continues to evolve, it has already come a long way from its first inception on the market.

It’s not perfect yet, however, a people tend to focus on the “negative” aspects of an electric vehicle: the limited range and long charging times are usually the biggest deterrents when the higher price points aren’t the first obstacle. Let’s highlight the positives of owning an electric bike. Here are five reasons why you should.

The perks

There’s a number of perks to owning an electric motorcycle. Of course, right off the bat, there are government incentives that allow you to reduce the purchase price of the bike. You can get a rebate at the federal level, but also from your state.

Beyond the numbers, some areas also offer added bonuses for electric vehicles, including HOV lanes access, exemption from emission inspections, charging station installation rebate, tax exemptions, and more.

The maintenance

If you aren’t the hands-on type of rider or if you’d rather have as little maintenance to do on your bike as possible, consider an electric model! Without any fluids and fewer mechanical parts to worry about, electric motorcycles are a good way to ride about worry free.

Obviously, there are certain components that will require some occasional love, but there won’t be any oil to change or leaking gaskets to fix.

The accessibility

We can all agree that part of what makes a motorcycle fun to ride on is the control the sequential transmission offers us. For some people, however, it’s an added stress, as demonstrated by the plumetting manual car sales.

If having to synchronize clutch and gear levers actions has been a factor of stress for you, the switch to electric motorcycles is all the more easier—e-bike don’t have manual transmissions. The bike does its own thing electronically. All you have to do is twist the throttle and hit the road.

The savings

This has been one of the biggest selling points for electric motorcycles for years now: “fuelling” up on electricity is cheaper than filling up on gas.

On Zero Motorcycles’ site, the company calculated that the most you would have to pay for a full charge is roughly $2.02 for the SR F14.4 with a power tank. How much does filling up your car cost?

The fun

Oh, the fun! This is probably the most convincing argument for owning an electric motorcycle. Even if you don’t cough up the money to own a performance-oriented Energica or Lightning, any electric motorcycle can be a lot of fun to drive.

Remember what we said earlier about the absence of a clutch and gear transmission? Because everything is processed electronically, it makes accelerations almost instant and takeoffs, that much more fun. Try it, you’ll understand what we mean.


Categories: Bikes, Buying Advice


Leave a Reply

33 Comments on "5 Reasons To Buy An Electric Motorcycle"

newest oldest most voted

I own the Zero DSR (the one with the gold wheels in the photo). If you never plan a motorcycle road trip, these Zeros will fill all your motorcycling needs. Although, there is no federal credit for any Zero model for 2018.

The real reason to buy one of the 14.5 kWh versions is to out accelerated the Suzuki Hyabusa and Kawasaki ZX-14 in 0-60, 0-80 mph runs. Hilarious to see the faces of the guys I spank on the little DSR. The bike can sit for months and never have to worry about gumming up carbs or fuel injectors.

I can go over 170 miles on a full charge…riding sane, more than 80 mile…on a death wish. It plugs into a 110v in the garage and is fully charge in a couple of hours ( I rarely need to drain the battery under ~15%).

170mi on a full charge on the (nominal) 14.4 battery without Power Tank? At what speed? If you’re claiming >40mph, as “on a death wish” implies, I call bullshit.
I’ve seen any number of ride reports & tallies on the relevant forums. Noone is claiming they get that from a Zero at non-city speeds, unless they mounted a full-coverage streamlined fairing like Terry Hershner does.

And that’s the real issue with Zeros:
They’re not usable for typical touring/sport-touring full-day rides beyond commuting, where you need to ride 100-150mi at motorway speeds (70-75mph) just to get to the backroads, 200mi of backroads, and then 100-150mi of motorway back home. Range isn’t enough without hours of charging, even with several $K of third-party DIY-installed chargers ot get 10kW.

If I was still commuting then I’d probably be riding one already. However they are still stupidly expensive and can’t meet my riding needs. I do a lot of long distance riding. I’m doing a trip to Poland, Hungary and Romania this summer. 2000+ miles as well as a few long distance rides in the UK (3000+ miles). I rode 12,468 miles last year. My bike gets well over 300 miles to a tankful when touring.
I’m probably the exception but at the moment there are no electric bikes that come even remotely close to meeting my needs. Nowhere to put my luggage and all the other things such as tyre repair kit, pump, bulbs that are essential when riding even short distances. Some items are mandatory in some countries yet there is nowhere to put those mandatory items on the bikes. That is a big fail IMHO.

I have a question that’s never brought up by people who cover electric motorcycles. Why do electric motorcycles look like ice motorcycles ? Motorcycles must have the drag of a 1950s car or a F150 truck or a world war 1 biplane,that is they make a brick look streamlined . Cleaning up the drag would extend the range without extra batteries, especially at highway speeds. The new Zero seems to go out of its way to add bits that will cause turbulence, aircraft engineers used to call that sort of thing built in head winds.

There’s not much you can do with small package. Better drag will make it as big as Aptera, something that isn’t good when you want a small, maneuverable package. Original BMW K series tried to make wind tunnel design for optimal aero, but I think they gave up since advantage was minor.

There’s plenty to do, especially to a naked bike.

Purpose of naked bikes are just that: naked bike look and feel regardless of aero. For “not much”, I was talking about already faired bikes (K as example). Without going Aptera, not much can be done.

Yup, I’m sure even that little bit doubles range. The question is, do people want bubble bikes? It’s not needed if you commute is only 15 miles each way, not needed at all. They’d need to sell a touring fairing, like the streamliner you posted. Make it bolt on in 4 places in 2 minutes and I’ll buy one.

Not quite doubles, but 50% at highway speeds (there’s discussion of this in the electric motorcycle forum I see you on (-: )
Problem is, most riders would never consider such a fairing. It could also never be bolt-on in 2 minutes, because it would be quite heavy and hard to wrangle with. Taking it on/off would be a drag, dangerous if done incorrectly, and it would make the bike too long & wide for parking the bike on a crowded urban sidewalk (dealbreaker for me).

I doubt people who are out to buy naked bikes will be swayed to buy such front heavy looking ugly thing. I don’t think even the people who are out to buy faired bike would want that ugly.

True for me, but the lack of even a simple factory option giving a 25% motorway-speed range improvement (75mph+) is one of the things preventing me from buying a Zero. The only option today is buying a semicustom fairing from one of Zero’s California dealers that requires an extremely complex DIY install, is very expensive ($3K last I heard), and only improves range 10%-15%.

Indeed. Why are full fairings so yesterday on most ICE’s?

I went from a Triumph Tiger 1050 (50 mpg UK) to a Triumph Trophy SE which is bigger, much heavier but has a full fairing with an electrically adjustable screen. Yet I get up to 70mpg from the bike when riding long distances on the Motorway otherwise it is 62+mpg around town.
That is quite an increase and most of that has to be down to the reduction in drag that the fairing provides.

The current fad for ‘naked’ bikes is just making them more inefficient. That applies to E-Bikes as well as ICE ones.

Because most riders are “lifestyle” wannabees, not people who actually use the bikes as any kind of transportation. It’s not really different from the Harley type wannabees. It the same reason most of today’s ICEs have ridiculously low tank range, even though engines are much more fuel-efficient than they used to be.
Almost new bikes can do 250mi (or just 200mi) on a tank at motorway speeds? Only the really expensive adventure bikes that you’d never take on any real adventure without a full escort of mechanics, like McGregor & Boorman did “Long Way Round”.
IMO An completely bike is totally useless for sport, sport-touring, touring or longish-distance commuting — basically anything expect (sub)urban commuting at sub-50mph speeds or offroad.

The dirty secret is that motorcycles in general are very energy-inefficient at anything above low highway speeds (50mph), because of the minimalistic design which is not aerodynamic in the least. The best standard fairings on street motorcycles (the kind you see on sportbikes) only improve this by 20-25% @ 75-80mph vs. a naked bike. There are simply too many things sticking out in the airflow, the rider being the worst offender. The only way to improve on that is with a fully enclosed streamlined fairing (nothing sticking out), and that would make bikes about 2x the length of most current bikes and fairly expensive (just google the pics of land-speed-record motorcycles).
At highway speeds, once a subcompact or compact car is carrying 2+ people, it’s actually more efficient than a motorcycle fuel- or kWh-wise on a per-person basis (for both ICE and BEV), and from a TCO basis, motorcycle tires cost 4x per mile more than car tires.

I always wondered why I could get 30 mpg from a full size car at 70 mph, yet a highway cruiser motorcycle that weighs 1/8 of my car only gets 40 mpg. (Using a family member’s specs.) Did a search of drag for a motorcycle and found most in the .75 to 1.00 range while a car is .3 – .4 or so.

Just as Tesla Model 3 is more efficient than Bolt on the highway from less drag, electric motorcycle makers need to work on this to extend the range.

After owning several 1 litre bikes including some Fireblades, I bought an Zero DS 12.5 in 2015 with some 1000 kilometers on it. No incentives or tax break. It felt awesome. Every second the exactly right amount of power. Hearing birds or conversations at stoppinglights, sometimes sneaky going without being noticed. I had the ‘weakest’ version but still 5 sec. 0 – 100 kph and awesome torque while riding 30 – 100 kph and then wacking the throttle. Sold it thinking I wanted something new. For an ICE bike the NC 750 DTC is fine, but that constant shifting is getting on my nerves. Expensive fuel (over here) and some maintenance..
Regret my decision every day. Next bike will be EV again.

I would love an electric bike, but imho current battery tech is not there to allow the range needed. Motorcycles put a premium on weight and there is no real way to increase aero efficiency. Because of those two issues it’s hard to make the physics work. A 14 kWh pack is equal to 1.5 to 2 gallons of gas range. Most street bikes hold 4-5 gallons and thus have double the range. For me it’s 60 miles to the closeset twisty road, so I have 120 miles of highway driving just getting to and from where I want to ride. Without a quick way to charge it won’t work. I know people who used an Alta extensively and it too had range issues. We usually ride 40-50 miles on a day trail ride, with a long day in the 70 mile range. Easy to do with. 2.5 gallon tank. Problem is the Alta 5 kw battery was equal to 1/2 gallon of gas for range. The Alta needed 14-15 kWh pack, but it is simply too big and heavy when the competition is a 220lb ice bike.

++ I have one small set of twisties/sweepers 40mi away, but with too much traffic on it. Anything else requires a 150-200mi round trip. Without 120-150mi range at 80-90mph, and then being able to charge at 20kW, e-motorcycles are non-starters. I could accommodate a 45-60min charging stop at lunch plus two additional 30min top-up ones on a full riding day, but not more, and of course, most backroads/twisties are unlikely to have DCFC chargers in the near future.
My estimate is that even ignoring cost, bikes that can do what we want are 10-15 years away, maybe 20.

I’m picking up a -94 Fireblade for an ev conversion tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes, but I’m pretty excited about the project. Keeping my -06 ZX10R for longer trips.

Cool! what kind of battery and motor?

There’s one other good reason: they are much more economical, efficient, and better for than environment than any other vehicle, even electric cars.

The Model 3 has an MPGE of 126. The Zero X has an MPGE of 475 city, 245 highway.

You can go over twice the distance on the same amount of power, which means the power plant puts out half the pollution powering your electric motorcycle than powering the Model 3, even though that is one of the most efficient electric cars.

True if you’re using the car for single-person commute, which is a horrible use of a car. Most people who use it for that could switch to an e-bicycle or e-scooter, that do far better than the Zero and cost far less.

A small portion of my short commute is on a freeway, unless I want to go on a route twice as long. Also, I have a friend who used to commute by e-bicycle until he was clobbered by someone opening a parked car door. He’s still recovering and will never go on one again. Some routes are either impossible or just too dangerous by e-bike or e-scooter.

Would you agree that if it is a choice between a car and an e-motorcycle, the e-motorcycle is the greener choice?

Notice how Zero’s all look alike? No cruisers, no choppers, no touring bikes, no street adventure bikes, etc, etc. Just cafe racers and a few dirt bikes. It’s like walking into a 1910 dealership when all they sold were Ford model T’s !!

No tourers/sport-tourers/adventure bikes because they require serious range, and a larger, beefier frame that has room for a pillion and/or can handle full luggage.
The new SR/F specs says its GVWR is now 1000lbs, so maybe it’s capable of supporting such models. So far, Zero hasn’t said anything explicit.

I have many BEVs – multiple Leafs, Tesla, ebike, scooter. On the side, I work with our local communities to push for EV/Solar adoption. All super fun. I also ride motorcycles. Electric motorcycles however, I am not convinced – at least not with today’s offerings. Let’s go over these 5 reasons. 1) The Perks Even with incentives, still costlier to buy one. Electric cars can be had that can beat ICE on style, looks, tech, practicality, hauling kids + cargo, etc. Not so with motorbikes. HOV lanes – all motorbikes can use them here in CA. So this reason is not valid. 2) The maintenance Yes, a valid reason, but I rather do a yearly oil change over a yearly battery capacity drop. Not much money here. When my bike is out of warranty, I can easily buy parts and fix. Anyone dare ask for the price of a battery replacement or motor swap or controller swap? So not quite valid either. 3) The accessibility Huh? Playing with clutch and gear causes stress? Wow, then the Corvette or Mazda Speed3 shouldn’t have come in manual transmission. Super fun playing with clutch and gear on fun machines. Not talking about a… Read more »

about #4 – they don’t pay California rates and thus don’t understand, gasoline is cheaper than electricity in some parts of the world.

They really need to qualify the “cheaper to fuel” argument.

++ on everything you said… And I’m not even in the US.
3) Auto-transmission motorcycles have failed in the market many times; only Honda’s DCT models have a limited success. Most riders strongly prefer a manual. And in Europe ~95% of cars are manual… The US is the odd-country out here.

Also, there are still no e-motorcycles that are sold by a large, dependable company. Zeros the largest outfit, and they’re basically barely larger than a startup, making ~2K bikes/year. They have serious support issues even in California, let alone in regions/countries that are far away from the factory. About 10% of the bikes have serious issues than have them non-running, sitting months at dealers waiting for parts or a diagnosis. No one can buy one and rely on it for daily transportation if they don’t have another vehicle as backup.

I need an electric truck with a 200 kWh battery, and a 240 volt 30 amp inverter built in, so I can charge my electric motorcycle.

Mini Countryman híbrido

..and a rarely mentioned positive is that 5-10-15 years down the road today’s e-motorbikes (ditto electric cars) will be able to have their battery packs replaced by something even better. So you or your e-mbike’s next owner will be riding round on something even better – and with (far) longer range than the ‘old’ original.
Paul G

Too expensive. The range is short. Charging time is longer. Replacing the dead batteries will make a big hole in your pocket. If it can go 300-400 km I’m in . If not, don’t bother !