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Electric motorcycles: A look at the near future

Electric motorcycles: A look at the near future

Last summer and fall, there was considerable ballyhoo about Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman completing an Argentina-to-LA trip on Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycles. To get more news about evehicle, you can visit official website.

More recently, in early February, Zero Motorcycles got tired of waiting for the AMA to sanction an all-electric motorcycle race, and ran its own event at The One Moto Show, calling it a national-level event. Is this proof, like Charley and Ewan’s great adventure, that electric motorcycles are on the verge of replacing gasoline-powered bikes?
The answer is, sort of. These two events show the broad divergence in the electric motorcycle industry, but they also show why there’s no immediate replacement for the gasoline-powered motorcycle for many buyers.First up, let’s look at the Long Way Up trip aboard the Harley-Davidson LiveWire. This is perhaps the best-known electric motorcycle. It’s heavy and expensive, and it doesn’t go far before you need to recharge. It’s got decent in-city range, roughly 250 km, but on the highway, the battery is rated to last 113 km.

Put it this way: You can’t ride the $37,250 LiveWire between Ottawa and Montreal on the highway without stopping to juice up the battery.

That worked out fine for Charley and Ewan, as they charged their batteries from people’s houses along the way, but since you and I aren’t movie stars, nor do we have an electric Rivian truck following us to recharge our batteries in a pinch, the LiveWire experience might not work out so well for us.

Also, it weighs 250 kg, and the battery takes overnight to charge, unless you’ve got an expensive Level 3 EV charger. That can bring it to an 80 per cent charge in 40 minutes, and fully charge it in an hour.The LiveWire is a poor example, because it’s got a big price tag and performance that lags behind other battery bike manufacturers. Here in Canada, the biggest competition would be Zero. According to its website, the fully-accessorized Zero SR has 180 km of highway range at 113 km/h, depending somewhat on variables. That’s with the $3,695 accessory battery (Zero calls it the Power Tank) installed.

Once you’ve run the battery down, you can recharge it in 3.3 hours (2.8 hours to 95 per cent charge). Of course, that’s if you’ve got four accessory chargers plugged in (a quick charger from Zero costs $900). Otherwise, if you’ve only got the bike’s main charger plugged in, you’re looking at a 12.1 hour recharge time, or 11.6 hours to 95 per cent charge.

Adding it up, you’ve got a $25,190 package for a 208-kg motorcycle that still doesn’t have the range of a Honda CBR250R, and which requires three hours to recharge if you’ve got all your accessory chargers with you, and if you can find a place to plug them all in at the same time. This is not a motorcycle for travelling any distance, as was proven last year, and this is the best the electric motorcycle industry has to offer Canadians right now.For starters, bikes like the Harley-Davidson LiveWire and the Zero SR make consumers feel good about their choices. Hang around electric motorcycle forums and Facebook groups long enough, and you’ll see all sorts of barbs thrown at gasoline-powered motorcycles for their supposedly older designs, and their emissions pollution. Some people worry that gasoline-powered vehicles are going to end the world, and an electric motorcycle enables them to continue riding with a clear conscience.

It’s certainly silly to pretend electric vehicles are without their own pollution: the materials to build them come at a cost to the environment, as does the electricity required to power them. However, there’s no denying they’re easier on the atmosphere than a gasoline-powered motorcycle, which is especially attractive to urban buyers. No smog is a good thing.

They also have low running costs, at least for now. Sooner or later, government will start taxing EVs as heavily as it taxes gasoline-powered vehicles. The groundwork is already starting, with a program in Nevada that records odometer readings at the time of vehicle registration renewal. No doubt this is the way of the future: you’ll pay an annual road tax for your EV that’s dependent on how many kilometres you travel.

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