Are we in the future, or what? We can buy groceries from Beijing while we video chat with family in Baltimore, carry supercomputers around in our pockets, and doctors can make new human body parts in a Petri dish. We don’t have jet packs or hoverbikes, but we may have the next best thing: practical electric motorcycles, motorcycles that ranges of 100 miles or more.
The problem is those bikes can cost close to $20,000. The cheapest brand-new, street-legal electric motorcycle is Zero’s FXS – and it’s almost $9,000 new. What if you only have five grand to spend?
The used electric-motorcycle market is small, but the bikes are out there. They’ve held their value well, but if you’re willing to accept the smaller range of the pre-2013 Zero, or a 2009-2013 Brammo Enertia, they’re out there from both private sellers and dealers for under $5,000. If you want to spend just a smidge more – maybe $6,000 – you can find a decent 2013-2016 Brammo Empulse or Empulse R (note: Polaris purchased Brammo and rebranded the Empulse as a Victory for 2016). Though limited on range – about 50 miles at 70 mph, or 120 around town – the Brammo has appeal for experienced motorcyclists with its 6-speed gearbox and clutch, high-spec brakes and suspension, and sporty styling.
So an electric motorcycle is out of your price range, but how about an electric bicycle, moped or scooter? Exact definitions vary state to state, but they’re all basically limited to 30 mph. Still, that’s about as fast as a 50cc gasoline-powered scooter, and for bicycles, you may not need a helmet, registration, insurance, or even a license. Electric scooters like the GenZee are under $3,000 and are very fun and practical in-town transportation. There are also numerous importers of Chinese-built, low-quality electric scooters, motorcycles and bicycles. Caveat emptor is all we’ll say about those.
Roll Your Own!
Electric motorcycles have been around a long time, you know. It’s just that you had to make them yourself. Finding a rolling chassis of your favorite motorcycle is cheap and easy – after all, who wants a GSX-R with no engine? You do, and you can name your price! Finding the batteries, controllers, motors and other components online for under $5,000 is not a problem, and there are numerous books, articles and videos, as well as a robust community of like-minded crazies.
Got five gees and an itch to ride electric? There are no excuses! Get out there and ride.