The end is nigh for vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine. In 2016, Germany voted to ban the internal combustion engine by 2030, and last year the UK government announced plans to ban the sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
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Tesla has made huge steps towards bringing electric cars into the mainstream, even working to improve the infrastructure by installing charge points at service stations. It doesn’t look like they have any interest in launching a motorbike anytime soon, but others are making great strides and they’re actually getting pretty good.
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 has a confirmed production date of September 2018.
After years of talking and concepts and temptation, Harley-Davidson have unveiled their LiveWire electric motorcycle to the public in August 2018 ahead of a planned release the following year. The bike will feature Showa shocks, a TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity, and the option to fast charge the battery through the tank.
There's been no word yet on range or price, but the very fact that Harley-Davidson have entered the electric bike marketplace suggests that it's not going anywhere soon.
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.
This year MCN Senior Road Tester, Adam Child, took fifth-place at the Isle of Man TT Zero on an Energica Moto Corsa with an average speed of 81.3mph around the TT course.
While Energica concentrate their efforts on building uber-cool sportsbikes capable of three figure speeds, the Super Soco is designed with urban mobility in mind. It can be ridden by 16 year olds on a provisional licence, so it can't top 30mph. It's incredibly light and easy-to-use, and the batteries can be removed so you can charge them inside. It doesn't have the glamour as some of the other machines on this list, but it's cheap and practical.
Zero DSR Black Forest
The Zero DSR Black Forest builds on the success of its S model, but this time around they’ve built an adventurer. It comes with luggage and a 163-mile range (at city speeds) as standard, but optional upgrades like a range extending battery (£3,000) can improve this. Alternatively, a Charge Tank (£2,300) 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.
Gogoro Smartscooter 2
Ok, so you can't actually buy these bikes in the UK, or even ride them at the moment, but they're perhaps the future of urban transport. The Gogoro Smartscooter 2 has a top speed of 55mph and a range of 68 miles. The interesting part is that the Gogoros are part of a ride sharing scheme in Taiwan, Paris and Berlin. Using an app, you can find your nearest one and then use it to get where you need to go. If it needs charging you just swap the battery with a charged one at a charging station.
The future of electric two-wheelers?
Electric bikes are only becoming better and more common, so it's no surprise that there's more to come in 2018, and maybe beyond.
One for the future: 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.