Maturity. For me, I look back at the point I became a mature human as the time in my life when my voice deepened, I was hungry all the time, and I was incredibly awkward talking to girls (some things never change). I’m guessing it was an awkward time for many of us, but the term “maturity” is also one I hear a lot when it comes to electric vehicles. As I noted in my long(ish)-term review of the Zero SR, my wife and I had contemplated an electric car for our daily transportation.

Then I had a conversation with my dad, a mechanical engineer by trade who has worked in many industries including solar, oil and nuclear, to name a few. A generally dismissive guy when it comes to new technologies, it’s more than fair to say he’s not an early adopter… of anything. Hell, the guy refuses to use the GPS function of his smartphone, fer cryin’ out loud. So, you can probably guess how the conversation went.

I was skeptical about the range of electrics also, but that was until I discovered the Zero could go far enough to negate my anxieties.

I was skeptical about the range of electrics also, but that was until I discovered the Zero could go far enough to negate my anxieties.

“Don’t do it,” he said, once I revealed my inklings towards an electric car. “I wouldn’t touch an electric car until that technology is more mature.” There was more to the conversation, but I’ll refrain from typing out the insults he made towards the folks who already own electrics. No matter, the point is he, like many MO readers who feel the same, simply dismisses these vehicles because of a perceived lack of range, or unproven technology.

Which got me thinking: When is that point of maturity? Is there a magic mileage number that must be met before you’ll buy, or much less consider an electric?

For my commuting needs, the range of a Zero SR with a Power Tank would be plenty. And let’s not forget that Zero markets the S and SR as commuters. However, in perusing the comments of our various electric motorcycle reviews or tests (yes, we do read them), inevitably one or more readers simply aren’t happy with the thought of constantly searching for charge stations (whether this concern is real or perceived is besides the point). In this case, I’m left with a simple question: why? It’s unlikely your daily commute is greater than the range of an electric, says the Department of Transportation, so how far do you want an electric to go?

No, Tommy Lee Jones is not my father, but that look of disapproval is awfully similar to the one my dad gave me when I told him I was considering buying electric.

No, Tommy Lee Jones is not my father, but that look of disapproval is awfully similar to the one my dad gave me when I told him I was considering buying electric.

The issue of charge times is a hot one, too. Obviously, plugging into your household outlet and waiting up to 10 hours sometimes is a terrible prospect, but fast-charging systems cut that down dramatically. The issue there, of course, is cost, and that’s the underlying factor. Electrics, like any new technology, are simply expensive.

Even with rebates and incentives, for the money electric motorcycle companies ask, one can purchase an internal combustion motorcycle with much higher performance. Conversely, for a motorcycle with similar performance as an electric, the blow to the wallet is considerably less with internal combustion. But let’s take cost out of the equation for a moment. When put on a level playing field in terms of price, I’m wondering if you, the reader, think an electric is at a suitable maturation point.

You want a quick charge? Terry Hershner’s got you covered.

You want a quick charge? Terry Hershner’s got you covered.

In my encounters with early adopters of electrics, all of them rave about the performance of their vehicles. Many of them also report no issues with range for their daily needs. Of course, there are those like Terry Hershner, who go to extreme lengths to make sure range and/or charge times aren’t a concern. Of course, those folks are outliers. If you don’t know who he is, check out his Electric Terry Facebook page to see the wild lengths he’ll go to with his Zeros.

Sure, longer range and shorter charge times certainly would be welcome, but interestingly, it seems to me that nobody is really concerned about the actual performance of electrics anymore. Maybe some of that credit can be given to Tesla and the numerous YouTube videos of a Model S in “Insane” or “Ludicrous” mode leaving muscle cars in its (silent) wake, but the point has been made several times that acceleration and thrust produced by an electric motor is jaw dropping, to say the least.

It seems to me like the day we can ride out to the fun roads on a bike like the Energica Ego (above), play all day, then ride back home on a single charge, will be a turning point for electrics. That combined with a significantly bolstered EV infrastructure could really change the game.

It seems to me like the day we can ride out to the fun roads on a bike like the Energica Ego (above), play all day, then ride back home on a single charge, will be a turning point for electrics. That combined with a significantly bolstered EV infrastructure could really change the game.

2015 Energica Ego Second-Ride Review + Video

So then, my question to you still stands. If you haven’t already accepted electric propulsion, at what point will an electric motorcycle be right for you, and why? Considering the vast number of riders out there potentially reading this column, and the different type of riding you do, I look forward to reading your responses.

  • john phyyt

    Everyone seems to regard EV’s instant torque as one of their most endearing features. Why not a Max Amp Drag bike? Range isn’t an issue after all

  • Mad4TheCrest

    My commute is 120 miles round trip, mostly by freeway and mostly at 70 (plus) mph. From what I gather, there’s no e-bike and no car short of a Tesla that can do that trip with confidence. I’m holding out for 150-mile range at typical LA freeway speeds – or the availability of sufficient quick-charging stations along my route (preferably both).

    • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

      Less than 1% of Americans have a commute that long! Wouldn’t you rather live closer to where you work and get an extra 5-10 hours a week to spend with your family, friends, hobbies, etc?

      • El Apestoso

        Lots of reasons to not live that close to work. Could be economics, or perhaps a person really likes the neighborhood they live in, or they’re really attached to their home.

        • Jason

          There are a lot of downsides too. I did a 2-3 hour roundtrip commute for 4 years. Never again.

      • Mad4TheCrest

        Maybe fewer than 1% of Americans, but for the Southern California subset of that demographic it’s more like 20%. Or even higher considering the company I have on those freeways every day. Luckily I have a diesel car and a Triumph Tiger that both get around 45 mpg. So I’m not suffering while I wait for the voltmobile to mature.

        • Campisi

          What schedule do you work that your Southern California commute flows along at seventy? All of the poor bastards out in the Inland Empire seem to sit on the 91 at about half a mile per hour.

  • JMDGT

    You cannot take cost out of the equation. Cost benefit analysis should be a fundamental exercise in any purchase. The better metric should be cost per mile over time. Include all expenditures. Insurance, fuel, maintenance, licensing and initial purchase cost. My father upon hearing that I wanted a car asked me if I understood the cost of owning one. Of course I did. He sat with me and went through the exercise of figuring it all out. Including buying one outright or financing. I doubt any of us actually do any of this these days. If we did we wouldn’t buy anything. For me to buy electric it would have to be better than the available fossil fuel alternative in total. As long the powers that be allow us to own and operate our own vehicles and there are many options available to us we will buy what we want. What makes us want a certain bike. Who knows. Everyone is different. Buying electric is not saving the planet. At present they are a poor substitute for fossil fuel powered machines.

    • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

      “Cost benefit analysis should be a fundamental exercise in any purchase. ”

      That’s bad news for Harley-Davidson, Indian, Ducati and MV Agusta!

      • Don Silvernail

        People spend big bucks for HD, etc. because of the emotional attachment they form with the machine. I’m not hearing the people who ride electrics telling me about that aspect. Yes, they mention how fast the bikes are, but I think they feel like they have to be doing something for the Planet or, maybe they feel superior because they “Get it” and the other (poor slobs) don’t. In fact, if an ICE rider espouses a real passion for the sound of his engine, he/she is relegated to the trash bin. Said bin being full of cruiser riders with painfully loud aftermarket pipes. Cost/benefit analysis – really? Man, I’m out of touch!

        • http://www.motou.info Gabe Ets-Hokin

          Have you ridden an electric motorcycle, Don?

        • Campisi

          Since you’re asking for anecdotes:

          I started riding motorcycles because of Star Wars. My younger self damn near wore a hole in the portion of our VHS tape showing the speeder bike chase on Yavin, and every time I find a way to throw a leg over a Zero (the only electric bike I’ve managed to snag saddle time on) I feel the Force flow through me. Student loans and low wages are the only things keeping me out of electric bike ownership, but those aren’t exactly rare limitations for my age group.

      • JMDGT

        It’s worth it. I always make the decision to buy a bike even though I know what the costs are. I’m lucky that way.

    • Kevin Duke

      At present, I don’t see e-bikes as a substitute, more of an augmentation of choices and an alternative second bike in the garage.

      • JMDGT

        I agree. Maybe someday battery technology will progress enough to make them competitive.

        • Kevin Duke

          It will. “Someday” is nicely vague…

      • John B.

        Thank you!!!

  • TC

    In a post apocalyptic world, with no petroleum available, an electric car or motorcycle, with a bank of solar panels at your doomsday bunker to charge them, would make a lot of sense. Then again, so would a couple of horses. I watched a documentary about the Isle of Mann electric tt, and it said that it took a 15,000 dollar battery pack to supply as much energy as 5 dollars worth of gasoline. At this point in time, hybrid power is the most cost effective. We just bought a Ford Cmax, 41 mpg and about the same price as a gasoline auto.

  • Glen

    With the exception of the batteries, I think the technology
    is already at a maturation point. Now the time for incremental improvements,
    and the occasional Giant Leap Forward, begins.

    Once electrics have a range of around 200 miles or so, more
    people will be interested in them. At that point it would be feasible for many
    people to own one as their only bike. And once more people start buying them
    the prices will begin to drop due to the efficiencies of larger production
    runs.

    But it all goes back to those “Early Adopters” and to every
    person who purchased an electric car or motorcycle while they were still a new,
    unproven thing. Without them the electric motorcycle and car industries would
    never even have had the chance to evolve towards that maturation point.

  • Vincent Swendsen

    You can buy motorcycles with a variety of engine configurations. Each one has people who loves it and people who hate it. Now we can add electric to this mix. For me it was the smooth power delivery of the electric motor that appealed to me. A Zero SR handles my 60-70 mile commute with no problem. I work on a military base and not having to mess with a clutch when trying to show ID makes getting through the security check point easier. I also have a DL650 V-Strom and a Kawasaki ZX-6R. If range and or charging times are an issue I take the V-Strom. No big deal. Sometimes I go to a mall about 66 miles away on the SR. Takes about 1:40 to fully charge when I get there. By the time I am done shopping and having lunch the bike is fully charged and I ride home. There is no question electrics are not going to appeal to everyone the same way not everyone likes big cruisers. Range will always be an issue for some. Charging times will always be an issue as well. I have heard people say they won’t consider an electric until they can ride 500 miles at 70 MPH on a single charge. But electrics are sold as commuters and not many people commute on motorcycles. So while they are great for that purpose they are going after a very small niche market. But the cost of an electric motorcycle is high. You will see a lot of arguments about what a poor value they are. And maybe they are right. But I think it is hard to justify any motorcyle from an investment point of view. And very few motorcycles are bought with an investment mind set. We buy them more with our hearts than with our brains. But from my perspective I enjoy the SR. Is it worth it? Yes. If for no other reason than I enjoy the ride. There are all kinds of bikes that can do a lot of things better and cheaper but the same can be said for my DL650 and my ZX-6R. In the end life is short. Find something with two wheels that you enjoy and make the most of it.

  • roma258

    I’ve owned a Brammo Empulse R for almost a full season so here’s my 2 cents.

    In terms of viability, I think the tech is almost there. The realistic range is about 40 miles of highway or 65ish miles on backroads. And the re-charge is 2-3 hours depending on how much juice you have left (or overnight in your garage). Now that doesn’t sound like much, but assuming your commute is not 50 miles of highway, it’ll do the job. The upside is that you don’t have to worry about the clutch or radiating heat while cruising through the city. The handling and power delivery of electric bikes has to be felt to be believed, the lack of of gyroscopic effect makes riding through the twisties almost too easy.

    Downsides- well, it’s not a touring machine. Heck it’s barely a fun Sunday ride machine. I’ve been experimenting with my Sunday rides, and the longest I’ve done so far is about 110 miles. Actually, living around LA, with it’s amazing selection of nearby twisties and robust charging infrastructure is just about the ideal electric bike environment. As is, you have to plan around re-charges. Skip breakfast before the ride and charge while you eat. Honestly, if the re-charge was half-hour instead of 2 hours and the range was 150 miles instead of 70, I’d be pretty much set. The tech is already here, it’s just a matter of cost and economies of scale.

    Quick note on cost. The timing for electric bikes sucks right now with the super cheap gas. It’s almost impossible to make the calculus work. But if gas was back to its $4.00-$4.50 highs, or you know, we acted like the rest of the world and taxed it higher to support infrastructure and public transit, it suddenly becomes a lot more attractive.

    • Frugal

      Uk price is more like $3.00 per litre and has a growing infrastructure plus short commutes, but ultimately motorcycles over here are largely just for leasure…. Not much fun when you can’t keep up with your mates because of charging

      • roma258

        So that’s what, close to $12.00 per gallon? And lane splitting is legal, right? It definitely starts to make a lot more sense, but I guess people still don’t use bikes as practical tools.

        • Frugal

          Yes somewhere around $15 per US gallon….and lane splitting (filtering) is expected. My suspicions tell me that electric cars will do far far better in the UK then motorcycles. We already see a lot of them, but it’s worth remembering that in the UK you cant use have a bike above 40ish bhp untill your 25 yet you can drive any car at 18. Electric motorcycles have too much power for younger riders plus a prohibitive price tag. Maybe a small 50-125cc equivalent scooter would sell better here?

          As for maturity, I would suspect that 200 mile ranger and/or 10 min charging plus a very strong second hand market would ve what is required for the many.

    • Jason

      I hadn’t thought about the benefit of less hit when sitting in traffic. That could be a big plus for someone that has a very congested commute.

  • Torsten Rohde

    If I can get a commuter bike with a 50-75 mile range around $6k, I will be in the market. Maybe in a few years I start looking for used e-bikes

  • Paul Russell Laverack

    As an apartment dweller, I have no place to plug in at home. (To install my own 120v outlet wired to my apartment’s meter would cost up to $2,500 according to the estimate I got from the power company.) I work in several places, and among them only one has any 120v outlets in the parking area, and none have any Level 2 chargers. If I had a place to plug in that was easily accessible on a regular basis, I’d have an electric moto right now. As it is, the cost to install my own charge port is prohibitive, especially when it’d be essentially a gift to my landlord.

  • Uncommon Sense

    I don’t think the technology has to mature as much as the motorcyclist…

    As long as motorcyclist believe rattling the block with loud mufflers, shifting gears, and wearing gay leather outfits and power ranger uniforms is cool, I think it will probably be a while before electric fully catches on.

    I can see electric taking off faster in Europe where commuting is more practical. They seem to have enough self confidence to ride scooters and more practical bikes vs the recreational nature here in the US where riding is more about compensating and image.

    With that said, I don’t think the current crop of electric manufacturers have done a good job designing the bikes. Most look extremely boring and like cheap Chinese motorcycles. Combine the general immaturity of the American motorcyclist and bland electric designs, I think i will be awhile before these bikes really go mainstream.

    • Frugal

      I am yet to see an electric motorcycle on the roads in Europe. Even the big shows fail to draw a crowd….. The most common bikes in the UK at the moment appear to be something like the BMW GS or Triumph Street / speed triple although I’m sure in reality that’s not the cold hard facts.

      Lots of people commute because of traffic issues and cost of fuel but I can’t imagine someone paying £15,000 to £20,000 on a bike that they use for riding to work on…. Especially when it will be covered in super agressive Road salt and water almost every day for 5 months a year… You will more likely see an SV650 or a CB500 as a winter hack.

      • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

        In fairness, though, the UK isn’t really Europe, though, is it? A lot of British riders are, by and large, a decade or so behind the rest of Europe when it comes to adopting new ideas. Especially the British press, which still swoons for sport bikes from the 80s. British groups like MAG and the BMF are trapped in another century.

        But you make very good points about price and road salt. Plus it’s the nature of British homes (especially those in or close to urban areas, where commuting by electric would make sense) that few people have a place where they could charge a bike. Imagine running a lead out to a bike parked in front of a house. You might as well post a sign saying: “TEENAGERS: PLEASE TAMPER WITH MY MOTORCYCLE.”

        • Frugal

          Agreed with the teenagers point. Not so sure I agree with behind Europe? MAG and BMF have dwindling members but are used to fight for stuff like keeping motorcycle parking free… Visordown.com is a bit more of an honest middle ground in journalism for the UK but 80s sports bikes are few and far between. The average age of a biker in the UK now must be over 40 with lots of disposable income, spent on dual sport bikes that won’t see even a gravel drive way let alone dirt…. Multistradas with 5k miles on them are becoming far more common in the second hand market.

          High performance is not high on the agenda here anymore, few sports bikes are sold in favour of dual sport/super naked/ tourers. All have good tank range and are leasure bikes…

          I’ve had a few Street triples and now am on a bonneville, classics seem to be coming back because of the lust for customisation without having a Harley.

          People are buying brands in the UK over models…. It’s the BMW gang or the Triumph corner rather then the power rangers now… (well at least at our local 2000+ people bike nights)

          • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

            Might be my perspective living in Wales, then. Wales must be where old Fireblades and GSX-Rs go to die.

      • Uncommon Sense

        Fair point. My point was just that European riders seem more practical in their approach to motorcycling. This is why smaller displacement bikes, scooters, maxi-scooters, etc are not looked down upon like they are here in the States. As such, I could see electric bikes gaining under these circumstances.

        IMHO, motorcyclist here in the states are too concerned with image. Riding is viewed as being cool or a rebel for many. Part of that cool factor is a loud exhaust, chrome, ignorantly fast sport bikes, etc. The current crop of electric bikes project none of that image even though for many riders, the current electric bike will probably do everything they need it to 99% of the time.

    • Batscat

      Yea those crazy mericans who wear safety equipment and like the sound of engine’s.
      The only one who thinks someone who is passionate about motorcycles and Is compensation for something because he is wearing gear and has an exhaust is not a performance lover.
      Just a poser trying to fit in

    • Phil W

      I’ll stay with my loud (not) GoldWing and not have any worry over how far I can go in a day.

  • Bruce Steever

    After spending a month on a 2014 Zero SR, i’m convinced that electrics are now “mature” enough to buy, with a decent range and enough power.

    My concern is simply price, as i can’t justify the $20,000 entry fee for the SR plus Power Tank. Will i buy an electric bike? Yes, definitely – but not until the price is more inline with ICE options.

  • TalonMech

    I’ll join the electric bike world when I can charge my bike as quickly as filling up with gas, and the range is comparable to my ICE bikes. Once the range is there, the infastructure would have to be in place to have charging stations everywhere, the same as gas stations are now. This could be accomplished by using a universal battery, and having a large supply precharged and ready for exchange at charging stations. I don’t see any of this yet, so I’ll keep burning fossil fuel for the forseeable future.

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    I’d love a silent, sci-fi, torque monster electric bike. Except:

    Total lack of dealer support within 1000 miles of where I live is a problem. With Victory taking over Brammo that may change!

    Current electrics simply aren’t as cool as ICE bikes. All the money goes into the battery and comparatively little into the aesthetics and comfort features. Polaris has money!

    I’m not sure how those batteries will do sitting in my garage when it’s 30 below. I think I should definitely move.

    Even with free gas they are still ultra expensive per mile. One the other hand the same could be said for bikes compared to cars.

    Otherwise, sign me up!

  • John B.

    First, there must be an electric bike dealer within 15 miles of my home. Second, electrics must have a 100 mile range even when flogged. Third, prices must drop to the point where electrics have a price (without government subsidies) equivalent to IC bikes with similar performance characteristics. Third, the depreciation curve for an electric bike must approximate that of an IC bike. The market will sort itself out.

    • Ser Samsquamsh

      Why 100 miles specifically? An Aprillia Tuono won’t go 100 miles if you flog it hard enough.

      • John B.

        I want to have the option to ride aggressively, and a 100 mile range is the minimum round trip distance from my house to nonlinear roads and back.

        A Tuono has an unlimited range where I live because we have a gas station every few hundred yards. For electric motorcycle owners the party ends when the batteries run low. I need at least 100 mile flogging range to have fun. Also, I don’t like my options limited unnecessarily. If I’m out for a ride and having fun I don’t want to come back ever; certainly not because I run out of electricity!!! For me, batteries present intolerable limitations, and motorcycling is about freedom.

        Please tell me what it is about the electric motorcycles shown above that reminds you of a Tuono? Does Ruth Bader Ginsburg make you think of Jennifer Lawrence? When I see an electric motorcycle I avert my eyes. It’s just too painful.

        • Ser Samsquamsh

          I just chose that example because the Tuono is extremely thirsty. Some reviewers were saying under 25 MPG! I wouldn’t want to go out on a long back road drive on a Tuono any more than an electric because you’d end up standing by the side of the road. Driving a high performance machine in an urban area is limiting your options too.
          But, ya the Tuono is about 10 times cooler than a Zero at the moment. I like the promise of the electric drivetrain but all that huge price tag is for the battery and almost nothing towards making it look awesome.

  • Rick

    Electrics are only for those who can, and want to, afford a special purpose vehicle in addition to a conventional ICE vehicle. The power delivery of electrics are adequate if not comparable to ICE vehicles that have been designated to be in the same class as the electric vehicle. However, it now breaks down to the convenience of the electric and cost of ownership for an additional vehicle. In my opinion, an electric would become “mature” when it comes within 20% of the convenience of an ICE. To put this in perspective, if it took me 5 minutes to fill my tank with gas, I would not feel that there was a substantial inconvenience if it took me 6 minutes to charge my battery up. This is just an arbitrary threshold and I could be convinced to relax that percentage.

    Now, in terms of the additional cost of having an additional vehicle for a specialized purpose, it does not make economical sense. Most people would never get their return on investment in terms of fuel savings from switching to electric. Considering the price of electrics, you would have to ride so many miles on the electric vehicle that most people would have moved on to another vehicle before they met that savings point. You would only buy an electric because you want one. The same argument can be made when someone considers buying a motorcycle to save money in fuel cost, in addition to owning a car. The economics almost never comes to fruition. I have seen this scenario numerous times and it has always ended the same way. You should only buy a motorcycle because you want one.

  • halfkidding

    Electric motorcycles can only make sense as a second bike for the vast majority. Even if many of them don’t need the longer range the idea that one can just ‘take off for the coast’ is integral to the whole motorcycle thing. That’s my opinion anyway and to repeat it, it’s the freedom to just bug out to places unknown. If most don’t go they are wedded to the potential and that potential is totally entwined with the motorcycle life.

    Electrics can make super second bikes but how may can afford two bikes, much less one costing $15K plus? I’d love to have one, and never will.

  • El Apestoso

    Maturation point comes when they’re a superior option to an ICE bike. Currently they’re nowhere close to superiority. Most of that is due to cost, some of it is due to the utter lack of aesthetic appeal of the commercially available bikes, and finally because I don’t trust Brammo/Victory or Zero as far as I can throw them.

    • Simon Evans

      Well, it’s good in this discussion about leccy trolleys we’ve left the utterly specious notion of `good for the planet` well alone. They are not green, and never will be no matter how much wind or solar power is added, as the mining and processing costs of the batteries are an order of magnitude worse than ICE, with no economies of scale to be accrued unless you count the ever-larger holes in the ground to mine the precious and finite minerals.

      Separating coal-powered v. gas powered then it’s a performance/price/practicality ratio that defines first acceptability, and then desire. I actually have no desire to own ANY leccy trolley at this time.

      They’re boringly conventional, inanely impractical (The Zero with the god-awful screen and crap panniers is a joke, yes ?) and frankly, not different enough. Give me a semi reclined ergonomic riding position, internal storage, improved aerodynamics, weather protection of a maxi scooter. Give me the handling and performance of a litre-class sportbike. Give me the range of a super-giant trailie or a CB125 (at least 200 miles+). Then provide a rapid recharge option that means after I want to give my arse a rest for a coffee and pee stop, I can get back on after 15 minutes and go the next 200 miles in total comfort, and piss on the Gixers and Blades through and out of the corners, or sit back and have the soft ride of a superslab intercity sled, and at that point maturation has occurred.
      All of these things are already available in the eclectic not electric ICE ranges. Leccy needs to buck-up to compete, not sit around making excuses (and you do a lot of sitting around with a ten hour recharge…)

      Until then, the electric bike does nothing that other bikes don’t do better, cheaper or more effectively. The fuel cost savings are not only negligible, they are not credible – you can’t accrue the high mileages necessary to compensate the high purchase price with the lower running and fuelling costs. Look at the poor bastard trying to do a round the world trip on one. He’ll die of old age (or just as likely his batteries will from over-cycling) before he actually gets back to where he started.
      Excuses are cheap. Electric motorcycle promoters are full of them.

  • Jeffrey Olsson

    I would go electric tomorrow, if my insurance company wpuld allow me to register both bikes on one plate or offer an incentive to insuring more than one bile. Its a long story but we do not have private insurance here and registering two bikes is prohibitively expensive.($1200 per bike) So I have to settle for the bike with range since i drive it to the coast, about 6,000 KMs round trip each year.

  • http://www.themotorcycleobsession.com/ Chris Cope

    The two stumbling blocks for me are price and styling. With the possible exception of the not-yet-available Harley-Davidson LiveWire, every practical electric motorcycle I see is spit-in-your-eye ugly. I like the look of the Energica Ego (and has Mission gone under? Their RS was nice to look at), but I can’t stand sport bike ergonomics.

    There already exist cultures within motorcycling where people don’t ride their bikes more than 100 miles in a day (think custom culture, for example), so as far as range is concerned electric motorcycles have arrived, but they’re nowhere close to being attractive enough to be loved despite their shortcomings.

    If there were an attractive, stylish electric that was within $1,000 of, say, a Triumph Thruxton or Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two or even BMW RnineT, I’d go for it. Happily. I’m sure others would, too. And very rapidly thereafter you’d see the culture shifting to better support electrics, with charging stations outside restaurants and coffee shops and other places where a rider is likely to stop anyway.

    But paying Harley-Davidson CVO prices for a bike that looks (and handles) like it was made by Zongshen? No.

    • Campisi

      Mission is kaput. Energica has the Eva (a sport-standard naked version of the Ego) coming out in a model year or two, though! I’m quite excited.

      • Mad4TheCrest

        I test rode a Mission RS and loved it and the range sounded like it might nearly meet my needs; but alas the company failed to deliver anything.

  • Campisi

    Electrics are like cruisers: not everybody gets them, but not everybody has to. They work for those whom buy them.

  • Cecil-T

    Living with an electric bike and understanding the tech is a mental shift. Learning the new nuances of range – e.g. how fast you ride vs how far you can go, and your actual usage patterns of a bike, takes some time. Electricity is available everywhere, in many more places than gasoline. My Zero S has a “full tank of gas” every morning when I leave for work. I can plug in at work, and I have another “full tank” going home – even though I don’t need it – I can easily do my 65 mile round trip to work with power to spare running errands around town if needed. I never use a quick charge, I just plug in to a regular 15 amp / 120 volt outlet.

    Now, having to go out of my way to go to a gas station is a hassle. Worrying about ethanol fuel degrading is stressful. Dealing with air filters, spark plugs, exhaust leaks, coolant flushes, are all nuisances. But for some reason we’re accustomed to these issues so they’re “OK”, it’s acceptable. You don’t realize the extra value and convenience of having an electric until you live with one for some time.

    Performance is at least equivalent. Electrics are starting to set open class racing records. Single tank/charge range is equivalent or very nearly. I’ve done 150 miles on my bike on a single charge (Sunday back-road ride). I regularly get 100 miles in varied riding conditions.

    If you’re focused on “I can fill my gas tank in 5 minutes”, then you’re mentally not ready for electrics.

    • Paul Buell Rider

      Commuting is a different beast than having a bike as a play toy.

      I don’t want to trade off how fast I ride for how far I ride. I don’t have to now, I just stop and refill the tank

  • http://www.ryanaylsworth.com RyanAylsworth

    It’s worth mentioning that all Zero motorcycles charge off of any standard 3 prong wall outlet b/c the charger is already onboard. there is no looking for charging stations whenever I stay somewhere with my bike that isn’t my own home, and more times than not, I’ll leave it parked on the street at night with more than enough charge to get home the next day. If I was paying power where I charge it would cost 1penny per mile ridden to recharge, and if you compare that to todays gas prices that’s a 400MPG vehicle. I know I’m 100% satisfied with my early adoption. I think the tipping point has already happened in 2012 and we are going to see more of these bikes in a very short amount of time. I hope it’ just 3 years until it’s as common as it is to see an E-bike as it is a Prius.

  • Paul Buell Rider

    When I lived in Charlotte it was 75 miles to meet my riding group, 50 miles to the mountains, playing hard all day, then returning home. These are typically 500 to 600 mile days, and a lot of hard throttle usage.

    There’s my need

  • Sam Kim

    Maturity, in my opinion when considering an electric vehicle (in this case, a moto), is heavily dependent on the 1) charging times 2) cost 3) range.

    Charging time : Most important.
    I’d say this is the single most important factor here due to the fact that people don’t want to have to sit and wait for something to be usable. We live in a world of immediate gratification. The lower the charging time, the better. If this could be dropped down to 30 minutes for a full charge, I’d say it’s mature (regardeless of cost and range). (The secondary option would be a replaceable battery, but due to the fact that there is no standardization when it comes to these types of things, this’ll never happen) Anything over 30 minutes, and you’re risking a steep drop off in terms of usability, and weekend rideability. It’s bad enough when you go out for a weekend day ride, and you have to fill up your combustion moto 2-3 times. Let alone wait hours around at a charging station for a partial charge. No thanks.

    Cost : Second most important
    In order to be considered as a mature and viable product for the masses, It must be easily accessible. And cost is a huge factor here. It’ll be a long time before the cost of an e-motorcycle drops down below the cost of current day combustion motorcycles, but even if it’s close, I think most people would be willing to drop a few extra bucks for something that doesn’t take gas, and requires far less overall maintenance. Even when considering the drop in gas prices these days.

    Range : Least important
    I put range in the least important spot as far as maturity is concerned due to the fact that the range on current e-motos are already quite close to what gas motorcycles are doing. A minor increase, or any increase in range for that matter would be a nice-to-have. As battery tech improves over time, this’ll increase naturally as well. As charging times decrease, this’ll become less and less important.

    And it’s with these three factors combined, that I think what would determine if electric motorcycles are mature or not. Unfortunately though, because this is a subjective matter…everyone’s take on whether or not this technology is mature will vary slightly from person to person.

    Some people may mention Styling as a factor to consider when talking about maturity. I disagree. Styling is not a factor because as more and more products become available, naturally, there will come a broader range in styles and ergo’s that’ll fit everyones’ tastes.

    Also, I think others are considering performance as a factor to take in when talking about maturity. And I disagree with this too, since performance can always be changed with different price points, engine output configurations, riding style, etc. Besides, performance with an electric moto is already close to a combustion motorcycle. So I’d say this is off the plate now.

  • aweds1

    The problem to me with current electrics is two-fold: charge time and limited range. Even if a Zero has plenty of range for my daily commute, that’s presuming that’s all I’m going to use it for, and that I will immediately head home and plug it in to get ready for tomorrow. What if I want to take the long way home? What if I want to stop by a friend’s house after work who lives in a different direction? What if I have some appointments around town when I leave work? At their current level of development, someone is forced to always think of range and charge times when using an electric. With an internal combustion engine, I don’t. I just go and gas up from empty to full in minutes as needed. Until electrics can do that, they’re just toys. I’d bet that almost everyone who owns an electric vehicle like a Zero or a Tesla also has another vehicle sitting in their garage that burns normal fuel like gasoline or diesel.

  • Stephen Sykes

    All about the track day Bro. When I have some combination of range and quick charge that allows me to run at least four, twenty minute full blast track sessions in a day then electric bikes will be an option. Per my wife I am supposed to only have one bike, so it needs to be a “do it all” machine, including: track days, commuting, Saturday bopping around town, and 300 miles before lunch Sunday rides. The commuting and Saturday bopping are well covered by the electric current bikes. Track days and Sundays? I don’t think we are there yet.

    So “maturity” as I define it here is about capability relative to requirements and expectations set by the current ICE bikes. Currently the electric bikes only fulfill half of my two wheeled needs.

  • Timu noke
  • di0genes

    The sign of a truly mature technology is availability and affordability. In other words, everyone that wants one has one. A good motorcycle analogy is the post world war II across the frame four cylinder motorcycle. In the early sixties there were but two four cylinder exotics that no one ever saw, and few could afford (MV and Munch). Honda brought out the mass produced and affordable 750 four in 68 and by 78 every major Japanese MC manufacturer could sell you one in any flavor you chose. So no, the performance, sporting electric MC is not mature yet, but in China electric scooters are everywhere, so it won’t be long now.

  • Wynn Morris

    If everyone buys an electric vehicle the country’s mains electrical system will go pop!

  • Christopher Nugent

    People are adverse to electric because they are convinced the will be stranded or abandoned and will look stupid for buying it. The fact of the matter is if you use either Charge Points or any number of other charge locator apps you’d be amazed at how many level 2 and quick charge stations there are around you. And just like your car you don’t run it out of gas before you fill it. You can pull in to a quick charge station give it a ten minute blast and be on your way with another 30 or 40% on board.

    And change is scary thing and motorcyclist are by and large fairly provencial in these mattaers. I’ve been hand to hand with the blow back from the streets and nay sayers have a pretty long list of excuses to match my “excuses” But hell, Harley riders still haven’t forgiven Milwaukee for the V-rod.