Where to Charge Electric Motorcycles?
Combat range anxiety and know where to plug in your electric motorcycle
We’ve all heard of range anxiety for electric vehicles, the fear of running out of power before you reach your destination. Apart from the cost, range is the one of the biggest limiters for electric vehicle adoption.
Now, if you have a garage with easy access to a regular household outlet, you can just plug it in overnight and wake up to a fully charged battery every morning. If your workplace is likewise set up with outlets in the parking area, then you should be fine using your electric motorcycle as a daily commuter, unless you work really far from home.
But if you have to make a long detour or run some errands during the day, it’s important to know where you can find a place to charge your electric motorcycle. There are currently thousands of charge stations across the country, mainly clustered around large cities. If you live in the country, they’ll be harder to come by, which is why electric motorcycles are usually marketed more as a form of urban transportation.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are currently 1,185 public Level 1 charging stations and 14,193 Level 2 charging stations across the country. Meanwhile, there are just 2,302 DC Fast Charging stations in the U.S. Those numbers are as of this writing, and the numbers are increasing over time. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a handy online electric vehicle charging station locator, which we’ve embedded below.
Before we continue, let’s get familiar with the nomenclature. Not all electric motorcycles are compatible with all types of charging stations. Some stations, like Tesla’s Supercharger stations, are proprietary. It’s important to know what kind of charging location is compatible with your electric motorcycle.
Currently, there are three levels of charging available. Level 1 is the 120 volt outlet, your typical standard household outlet (you may need one with a NEMA 5-20R receptacle). Level 1 charging locations are relatively common, but they offer the slowest charging speed. They’re enough if you want to plug in your bike overnight, but if you’re looking for a place to top up in the middle of a longer journey, Level 1 charging won’t do the trick.
Level 2 chargers use 240 volts, just like the outlets for your electric oven or dryer. Most electric motorcycles are set up to use Level 2 charging stations, and while they aren’t as ubiquitous as gas stations, they are becoming increasingly common. Depending on your motorcycle, it should take about a couple of hours to charge a battery to full using a Level 2 charger.
Both Level 1 and Level 2 charging work on AC power. A step up is DC Fast Charging which boasts even faster charging speeds, enabling an 80% charge in about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, DC Fast Charging stations are expensive, and therefore still uncommon. They also require a different kind of charging port. At the moment, the Energica and Lightning offer DC Fast Charging ports. If you own a Zero or other electric motorcycle, you’re likely restricted to a Level 2 charger.
And of course, pricing will vary by location and charging level, so be sure to do your research. The U.S. Department of Energy’s online locator is a good resource for getting started.
Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.
More by Dennis Chung