Where to Charge Electric Motorcycles?

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

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.

Zero offers a Charge Tank upgrade option which enables Level 2 charging. Zero claims it offers six times the charging speed of a regular Level 1 outlet.

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.

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Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

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.

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5 of 17 comments
  • Meaty Midrange Meaty Midrange on May 30, 2018

    The map shows a charging station at the Walgreen's near my house. What an odd place to have one.

    • See 1 previous
    • Meaty Midrange Meaty Midrange on May 30, 2018

      If you knew the area you might agree. There are no major thoroughfares nearby, no significant employers, nothing but some stores and a school surrounded by homes. The homeowners have their own outlets, and I doubt any shoppers are in Walgreens long enough to add any serious range to their car. It would make better sense to me if it were at a theater or in a restaurant area.

  • BillW BillW on May 30, 2018

    Get the PlugShare app. You can set filters for the type of charging outlets that are compatible with your vehicle, and for most commercial stations, you can even find out whether the chargers are already in use, or whether they're working or broken.

    • Kkunitsugu Kkunitsugu on May 31, 2018

      It's a good app, but the problem is that in most urban areas, you're competing with the increasing number of other EVs for the commercial stations (especially the NC ones). More often than not, I pulled up to one that was listed as having open stations, only to discover the bays all full with four-wheeled EVs. And the number of stations that were out of order was frustrating.