The last 10 years have taken us through the childhood of electric motorcycles, and now we find ourselves firmly in the technology’s adolescence. Through it all, only one manufacturer has been producing electric bikes that entire time, Zero. This year, the company finally advanced to the Zero SR/F, a no-excuses motorcycle, competent in its ability to take a blast down a winding mountain road as it is in the daily grind of commuter duty. Yes, battery technology still has a ways to go to achieve the convenience that we’ve enjoyed with internal combustion engines (ICE), but the SR/F is the first bike from Zero to truly incorporate industrial design to feel like a full-grown motorcycle; one that bears only a passing resemblance to its older, less capable siblings. Electric bikes have finally come of age.
The official line whenever I’ve spoken to Zero reps is that the company is in the business of making street bikes, not racers. But the hot rodding spirit is alive and burning when you look into the eyes of some of the people who work there, and so it only comes naturally that a core group of enthusiasts would take an SR/F and push its limits.
To evaluate the 2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire, you need to let go of everything you know – and everything you think you know – about Harley-Davidson. The haters will cry this is an answer to a question nobody asked, instinctually sh*tting all over Harley for seemingly alienating its core, internal combustion, customer (just look at our Facebook post for proof).
We’ve been waiting for some time now for electric motorcycles to take the next big leap towards the mainstream. Thanks to the longstanding efforts of manufacturers like Zero, and Harley-Davidson‘s new push toward electrification led by the LiveWire, we’re getting closer to seeing that happen. Kawasaki, meanwhile, may be looking in a different direction, having filed a patent application for a hybrid motorcycle.
At an event showcasing its electric vehicle initiatives, BMW revealed a new electric motorcycle concept called the BMW Motorrad Vision DC Roadster. The new concept, much like the Vision Next 100 concept from 2016, is an interpretation of what an electric motorcycle would look like while keeping BMW’s traditional Boxer configuration.
BMW introduced a new generation of scooters when it debuted the C650GT and C600 Sport (since renamed the C650 Sport) back in 2012. Today, BMW’s “urban mobility” line has grown to include the C400X, C400GT and the electric C Evolution. What gets forgotten, sometimes, is that BMW used to have another scooter introduced in 2000 called the C1.
It’s been a stellar year for new motorcycles; our frequent flier miles are piling up like crazy as we span the globe to bring you the thrill of victory (Indian now) and the agony of defeat, from the 2019 bumper crop of everything from Nikens to Svartpilens. There’s more to it than new bikes, though. So, let’s take a look at what’s got us excited as we approach the mid-point of 2019.
The Electric Wasp. We were turned loose, a silent swarm of nocuous moto-journos descending upon the city, sneaking up on the unsuspecting fashion-forward folk of Milan, only to be seen as a flash of silver and blue as we sped by. An exaggeration? Possibly, but nevertheless, we were there to test Vespa’s 2019 Elettrica, and we wouldn’t stop until we had fully exhausted the scooter’s battery and our fellow commuter’s patience.
Honda revealed two electric prototypes today at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the Benly Electric scooter and this CR Electric dirt bike. Honda provided very little detail about either prototype, leaving us to speculate from what we can see. The Benly Electric is based on a commuter scooter currently offered in other markets, so we’ll focus our attention first on the CR Electric prototype.
Here at MO, we’re pretty excited about the 2019 Zero SR/F. With it, Zero has given us the third generation of its electric platform. In reality, however, this is the first time that Zero has delivered a full-sized-feeling electric motorcycle. After 13 years, Zero’s engineers say they finally have the tools to create the type of electric motorcycle they wanted to build all along. While electric motorcycles are still an extremely young technology, the fit and finish of the SR/F show that it is leaving infancy behind and moving beyond the bleeding edge of early-adopter status into the realm of everyday usability.
It’s mind boggling to think that mass-produced street-legal electric motorcycles have only existed for 10 years. In 2009, Zero Motorcycles launched the Zero S and ushered in the electric age of two-wheeled street-legal transportation. During that model year, the S wasn’t just the only electric motorcycle in production, it was the only electric vehicle of any kind being mass-produced. To say that Zero was ahead of the curve is an understatement, but that early start has given the company the time – 13 years from its inception – to develop into its PR claim of being “the global leader in electric motorcycles and powertrains.” If your products created an entire category of vehicles, this is more than PR fluff. It is a demonstrable fact.