It’s time to take electric motorbikes seriously. In 2016, Germany voted to ban the internal combustion engine by 2030, and the UK Government is under pressure to bring its ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans forward from 2040 to 2032. We're expecting this to have a direct impact on the bike market too, but what do you need to know about electric motorcycles?
Tesla have made huge steps towards bringing electric cars into the mainstream, even working to improve the infrastructure by installing fast-charge points at service stations. It doesn’t look like they have any interest in launching a motorbike anytime soon, but others are making serious progress and they’re getting pretty good.
The best electric motorcycles in the UK to buy now
Harley-Davidson Livewire review
After years of talking and concepts and temptation, Harley-Davidson have launched their Livewire electric motorcycle. The bike features Showa shocks, a TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity, and the option to fast charge the battery through the tank.
The Livewire costs £28,995 and that price puts it in direct competition with the Energica Eva, although the Livewire certainly has more gadgets.
Delivery is expected to be in the autumn of 2019, but to find out what it's like head to our full Harley-Davidson Livewire review on MCN.
When launched in Amsterdam in February 2019, Zero claimed their SR/F streetfighter featured "industry-leading power, control and connection". We've now had a chance to ride it, so check out our prototype ride here.
This latest development comes as Zero Motorcycles have successfully raised another $25 million (£19.3 million)to invest. This brings the total injected into the company in 13 years in business to over $250 million (£193 million).
Zero have been fighting a considerable headwind with electric motorcycles, with uptake slower than expected, however they do claim to sell more electric bikes per year than any of their competitors combined.
It’s expected the new SR/F, which closes the style and performance gap between their previous electric offerings and modern internal combustion bikes, will bring the company a boost. Even so the entry level model with the £1500 grant still comes in at a salty £16,490.
A glance at the past, but with modern electric underpinnings, the Čezeta 506/02 offers the brave a claimed 75-mile range and 75mph top speed. Read our review to find out how realistic that is.
Think of Vespa and you probably think of classic scooters propelled by two-stroke engines. Back at the 2016 Milan Show Vespa announced their own electric scooter, bringing the historic Italian brand firmly into the 21st century. The Elettrica has a guaranteed range of 62 miles, which is more than enough in the city, and orders have started being taken on the Vespa website. Read more here.
For 2017 we created an entire new category for the MCN Awards: Electric bike of the year. The Energica Ego took the first ever award after impressing us both on road and track, as well as around the TT course.
The Ego is also the basis for the racers that will be used in the MotoE series, still making its debut in 2019 in spite of a huge fire that wiped out all of the teams' bikes. The electric class will see riders like Britain’s Bradley Smith battle with well-known names such as Randy Depuniet, Maria Herrera and Sete Gibernau. Read more here.
Worlds away from the likes of the Energica Ego and Harley-Davidson Livewire is the Super Soco TC-Max, which was one of two new Super Soco machines revealed to the UK at Motorcycle Live 2018.
With a top speed of over 60mph and around 133ft-lb of torque (similar to the Energica above) the bike aims to rival the performance of a petrol four-stroke 125, whilst remaining more economical.
With a planned price of just £3999, the removable, 72v and 45Ah lithium-ion battery fully charges in just four and half hours and offers a maximum range of around 80 miles.
What’s more, there are also Brembo hydraulic brakes and a combined braking system to help it pass Euro4 legislation. The battery was developed in conjunction with Amperex Technology Limited (the company that supply Apple with batteries) and uses pouch cells to pack more energy into a smaller space.
The Super-Soco TC-Max is available for special order from April 2019.
Read our Super Soco TC Max review here
Super Soco will be selling a Ducati branded version of their existing CUx scooter. Ducati have been using CUxs as paddock scooters at the MotoGP, so now you’ll be able to say you ride the same bike as Dovi and Petrucci, except it will have cost just £2299.
The co-brand comes at an interesting time for Ducati, with parent company Audi saying that all of their brands will have to have an electric offering. With Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali already admitting that the firm is looking at making an electric motorcycle, this is their first toe in the water.
Speaking about the idea of developing an electric motorcycle earlier this year, Ducati’s Head of Innovation, Pierluigi Zampieri, said: "Being a company that is usually state of the art, we could arrive (with a product) that’s state of the art or even better than all of our competitors.
"The problem is: is now the right moment? It’s a small market and we’re still trying to understand when it’ll be ready for such innovation."
This was added to by Super Soco spokesman, Andy Fenwick, who said: "We’re very excited to launch this special Ducati version of our CUx moped, a stunning representation of the Italian brand and helps to add even more credibility to the Soco range.
"The standard version has already been incredibly popular since its launch only two months ago so we’re looking forward to giving riders the chance to purchase this limited edition version."
Zero have announced an upgrade to the DSR model for 2019, but MCN ran the previous version as a long-term test bike in 2018 and it impressed from the word go – proving to be a capable machine on shorter spirited rides. For 2019, the DSR gets a host of upgrades, including a new ZF14.4 battery.
Zero have also attempted to create an adventure bike for the electric class in the form of the DSR Black Forest. It comes with luggage and a 163-mile range (at city speeds) as standard, but optional upgrades like a range extending battery (£3000) can improve this.
Alternatively, a Charge Tank (£2300) will increase the charge-rate to 93 miles of range per hour of charge. Serious adventure touring on the DSR would be an expensive and impractical affair at the moment, but things are moving in the right direction.
Read more here.
The best electric motorcycles coming soon
Electric bikes are only becoming better and more common, so it's no surprise that there's more to come in 2019, and beyond.
Arc opens crowdfunding campaign ahead of Vector launch
British start-up electric motorbike company Arc have started their crowd-funding campaign to secure the funds necessary to build their £90k Vector.
Read more here.
Triumph announce TE-1 electric motorcycle project collaboration
In May 2019 Triumph announced a tie-in with several British organisations to accelerate the development of an electric motorcycle project. While no bike has been revealed, this news is a firm indication that you may be able to order an electric Triumph soon... read more here.
Honda reveal CR-E electric motocross concept bike
The twist-and-go concept takes learnings from tuners Mugen and is based on a CRF250R crosser. There's no word on a launch date or price, but this is very much a statement of intent from Honda. More details here.
Ducati working on the “perfect electric bike”
The Italian company states electric bikes are for the future rather than right now, but also that they’re working on a project to create the best one on sale. We’ve got no firm word on how this will manifest itself, but that’s pretty punchy talk… read more here.
In the meantime, Ducati have launched an e-mtb, or electric mountain bike, called MIG-RR. It'll be available in the UK from dealerships in Manchester and Crawley.
Lightning Strike - a £10k electric bike?
American electric superbike manufacturers, Lightning, have announced a new bike that could be the first truly affordable, useable electric motorcycle. Its list price in the US is $12,998 (roughly £9895) so if launched in Europe, it'll be the first £10k electric bike. Range is quoted as "70-100 miles" for the standard 10kWh version, while Strike Mid and Carbon Editions get 105-150 and 150-200 miles respectively thanks to their 15 and 20kWh batteries.
Read our full dossier on the Lightning Strike here.
Jaguar Land Rover-backed firm, Arc unveiled their Vector project at Eicma, 2018, with a range of high-tech features including a helmet with heads-up display (that is also the key) and a jacket that warns you of impending danger using vibrations to “tap you on the shoulder”.
All that tech is accompanied by a 133bhp motor with 292ftlb of torque, a claimed range of 362 miles, but the most astounding stat is the £90,000 price tag. Read more here.
Despite only currently offering a 2163cc V-twin petrol bike for sale, Curtiss are an electric bike manufacturer. They have only released prototypes and concepts so far, including a café racer and bobber variant of their Zeus concept. There's also a fantastic-looking "V8 battery" concept shown above. Read more here.
BMW Concept Link
This isn't real, yet, but BMW already have an electric scooter in the C Evolution and something like the Concept Link (above) could be the next step. The interesting thing about the Concept Link is that it also acts as a communication device, connecting to your online accounts and calendar. Read more here.
eRockit pedal-powered electric motorbike
It might look more like a pushbike, but the eRockit needs a motorbike licence to operate. It takes the power of your legs and multiplies it by 50 times, meaning serious acceleration and 50mph top speed. The problem? It'll cost £10,500... Read more here.
BMW Vision DC Roadster electric concept
BMW have unveiled the Vision DC Roadster – a naked electric concept bike that moves the electric boxer story on once again after the radical Vision Next 100 bike shown three years ago. This shock move comes as BMW press the accelerator on their program of electrification, promising 25 models across the business by 2023.
For the DC Roadster a huge block of longitudinal batteries replace the typical boxer engine block, with the electric motor slung underneath. The two 'cylinders' are actually radiators with cooling fans (that retract when the bike is parked), not only giving the bike the appearance of a classic boxer but also retaining that 'air-cooled cylinders in the wind' vibe of the original 1932 onward machines.
But what about electric motorcycles for kids?
Alongside the growing advances in road-going electric machinery, firms are also keen to inject a passion for EVs into budding bikers of a much younger age group.
This includes the new-to-market Revvi Twelve" electric balance bike, which will be available in five colour options from late February to early March 2019. Starting at a base price of £299, the Revvi is designed for children from two to six years old and is powered by a 24V 100W electric brush motor.
It is recommended that the bike is used without power input until the age of three, before progressing to the 5mph slow speed setting until four-years-old. Children aged between five and six are then advised to move on to the faster mode - taking the bike to 10mph with its twist and go transmission.
More from MCN