THE SILENT RISE OF THE ELECTRIC BIKE
While electric motorcycles are still few and far between, there’s consensus in the industry that they will become ever more important. For years we’ve been told that they’re coming, but it’s been a faltering start so far. Aside from a couple of notable success stories, it’s often easier to pick out the failures than those that are proving the potential of the electric bike market.To get more news about ebike, you can visit davincimotor.com official website.
American firm Zero, founded in 2006, is probably the biggest success story. Its range of all-electric roadbikes is ever-growing and ever-improving, with performance and range coming on in leaps and bounds. Some of its latest bikes will manage more than 190km at highway speed and over 300km in city conditions. With up to 52kW and 146Nm depending on the model, their performance is far better than you might imagine, too.
But they’re still expensive. We’re talking high-end superbike money for the faster, longer-range Zeros. And that means it’s hard to make a logical decision, based on fuel costs, to justify an electric Zero over a conventional bike. No, you have to really want one, to be an early adopter and to get the different experience of electric power.
In itself, that’s not an insurmountable issue, and Zero’s persistence proves it. Motorcycles are rarely a heartless, logical purchase, and want will usually trump need when it comes to buying decisions.
A couple of years ago, many expected 2016 to be something of a breakthrough time for electric bikes. Zero’s most enduring rival, Brammo, had been bought by powersports giant Polaris in 2015 and was being rolled into the Victory brand, putting electric motorcycles under the umbrella of a relatively mainstream manufacturer for the first time. Back in 2014 and 2015 Harley had been touting its impressive Livewire prototypes – more than a handful were made and tested – and other firms were also showing plenty of interest. Yamaha’s mid-term plan at the time claimed it would have an electric bike derived from the PES and PED concepts in production in 2017. Similarly, Honda’s 2015 annual sustainability report included plans to have electric bikes in the Chinese and Japanese markets in 2017.
Now, much of that positivity appears to have dissipated. Harley has retreated to its familiar cruiser roots, and while it had suggested it would have an electric bike on sale by around 2020, it’s not clear whether the firm still plans to stick to that schedule. Polaris has closed its Victory brand altogether, leaving its electric bikes in limbo.
Of the other manufacturers, BMW has shown plenty of interest in electric bikes and currently offers its C Evolution electric scooter. However, given its very high price (it’s on a par with the S1000RR in most markets) it’s not surprising that sales have been fairly slow. KTM, another pioneer with its Freeride E models, has also suffered slow sales due to high prices; some dealers in the UK still have 2015-spec Freeride E-SX models in stock with prices slashed to little more than half their original tag.
Meanwhile, other electric start-ups that looked promising initially have also struggled. Mission Motors, which made an impressive electric superbike prototype, closed its doors in 2015. Lightning, which set speed records at 350km/h with its prototype and won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb outright in 2013, officially offers the LS-218 superbike for sale. But the website says the company is still ‘accepting reservations’ for it’s A$50,000 machine – just as it has been since 2014, with little sign that there’s really much production going on.
Of the mainstream Japanese firms, there’s still no sign of a production version of the Yamaha PES or PED electric concepts, even though in 2015 the firm’s plan was to have something available in two years. Honda has also shown plenty of concepts and prototypes but we’ve yet to see a serious step into the electric market. Kawasaki, while quiet on the concept front, has probably filed more electric bike patents than its rivals, suggesting it might actually be at the forefront of the field as and when it finally makes the decision to put them into production.