Electric Motorcycles: 5 Myths You Shouldn't Believe

Ryan Adams
by Ryan Adams

Dispelling misconceptions surrounding e-motos

As electric vehicles (EVs) become more mainstream thanks to the automotive industry, we see more and more information swirling around the internet. Unfortunately, not all of that information is up to date or correct at all. With battery tech improving drastically over the past decade, it can be hard to keep up with the current facts. Additionally, with so much information available, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff to discern what’s true and what isn’t.

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To help spread awareness in that regard, Motorcycle.com has decided to focus on dispelling fivemyths you shouldn’t believe about electric motorcycles.

Electric motorcycles are only good for commuters

It’s true. Electric motorcycles (EMs) are great for commuters. Riding a motorcycle to work not only makes the commute more enjoyable, but in places that allow lanesplitting, it can be much faster. That’s not to say electric motorcycles aren’t any good for every other type of riding as well. The instantaneous torque is exhilarating in a way that’s unique to EMs, which makes for a lot of fun on twisty canyon roads. It’s easy enough to ride out to your favorite mountain lunch spot, plug in for an hour or so while having lunch and chatting with friends, and head back out as Evans illustrated in his Energica Esse Esse 9 review. Even touring has become a more viable option as charging stations become more prevalent. Harley-Davidson just shared a story with us in which a rider celebrated his 50th birthday riding his Livewire over 1,400 miles from the United States’ southern border to the northern border in Washington state. Sure, it still takes planning to enjoy electric motorcycles in a way that takes you out of the urban sprawl, but the versatility of EMs is ever-increasing.

Electric motorcycles take too long to recoup cost

With all things comparable, it’s easy to see how a motorcycle with an internal combustion motor versus an electric motor stacks up regarding cost. As the miles pack on, traditional gas motorcycles require more routine maintenance. While oil changes are relatively easy and don’t come around too often (depending on your riding habits), bigger maintenance jobs come further down the line such as valve checks. Zero Motorcycles portrays this fact in a graph on the “advantages” page of its website. As the miles rack up, the costs of an ICE motorcycle start to ramp up at a more significant rate than electric motorcycles. While EMs also show increased cost with increased mileage, the curve is much less pronounced. At the end of the day, how much you ride and which motorcycle you choose to purchase will play a large role in this comparison.

Are the batteries built to last?

Battery technology is always changing. Even within the last 10 years we’ve seen both battery capacity and reliability improve drastically. Most electric motorcycle manufacturers offer warranties that cover the motorcycle’s battery from three to five years. Additionally, manufacturers are continuously improving ways to ensure batteries remain operating at the optimal performance level as long as possible. Energica claims its current batteries will last between 149,000 to 249,000 miles before exhibiting a loss in performance. Some manufacturers such as Zero Motorcycles also have “hot-swappable” batteries allowing users to pull a few bolts and toss in a brand new battery. We should mention that while this is currently an option, extra batteries are not cheap.

There aren’t enough chargers available

As acceptance of electric vehicles becomes more prevalent, companies and manufacturers alike are investing in creating significant networks of charging stations at all levels. The image above shows the current map of chargers from Electrify America, one of the largest open DC Fast Charging networks in the United States. The company plans to install or have under development, approximately 800 total charging stations with about 3,500 chargers by December 2021. “Our 50kW to 350kW chargers will be available at charging stations near highways, and 50kW to 150kW chargers will be available in metropolitan areas,” says Electrify America. While companies like Electrify America focus on building DC/Level 3 charging stations along highways, there are still a growing number of level 1 and level 2 charging stations in urban settings. This is an important point to consider when purchasing an electric motorcycle. Currently, Energica is the only brand that supports all three levels of charging.

But what about the range?

Range has been the number one point of contention for electric vehicles from the beginning. As mentioned previously, battery tech has, and continues, to improve rapidly. Electric motorcycle manufacturers are now claiming city ranges up to 250 miles with highway claims over 100 miles. While that may not sound like much to some, on average, that gives the majority of Americans ample range for commuting. For longer trips, yes, there still needs to be a plan in place to ensure you don’t run out of juice, but EM manufacturers are also attempting to make it as painless as possible to schedule trips via apps that locate charging stations in your area or along your route.

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Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at Motorcycle.com. An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.

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9 of 85 comments
  • Diego F Cardenas Diego F Cardenas on Jul 26, 2020

    In a dreamers world we will have EV bikes that will be assisted by supercapacitors who will receive the initial charge in about 30-40 secs. then they will discharge to batteries as the riders takes off on his journey of a few hundred miles. This means that a 3-5 mins gas stop will be slow! lol!

  • Imtoomuch Imtoomuch on Jul 27, 2020

    Two more myths:

    1. They recharge as fast as gas fill ups. Not true at all. Even the fastest chargers, that are bad for the lifespan of batteries, can’t charge from dead to full in anything close to 5 minutes.

    2. They’re fun. No, they’re really not unless you are into electric bicycles. That’s all they are, but with more speed and range. Some people are okay with this. Guys that like ICE won’t be satisfied.

    • See 3 previous
    • Sayyed Bashir Sayyed Bashir on Jul 29, 2020

      You don't know too much do you? Harley recommends a fast charging to home charging ratio of 1:4. That works out fine if you charge at home and at work once a week, charge at home on the weekend once, and fast charge during a weekend ride like I do. So there is no damage to the battery. It comes with a 5 year warranty. It is not a electric bicycle. The LiveWire is the best motorcycle Harley has ever produced and is one of the best motorcycles in the world. It is not overpriced for what it is. If you don't know anything about something, you shouldn't be commenting on it because it only shows your ignorance.