Electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma changed the auto world’s mind about green cars in a flash. In the motorcycle department, a two-wheeler packing 200 horsepower to move 495 pounds of hardware has done a similar job of shifting the way racers now think about power on a bike. An electric two-wheeler currently holds the title of fastest bike on the road among production models.
Despite a recent block of an extension on electric motorcycle tax credits, most people expect incentives up to $2,500 to return before the end of 2014. They couldn’t come soon enough. From deluxe electric bikes to basic models that provide thrills on a smaller scale, here are six motorcycles that give riders all they could want in a battle with gas-powered bikes.
6. 2014 Brammo Empulse R ($18,995)
The Empulse R from Oregon-based Brammo has the industrial chic look you’ll find in European bikes along with the first drivetrain designed specifically for use in a production electric motorcycle. Maximum 54 horsepower and 66 lb-ft of torque power the e-bike that weighs in at 460 pounds and comes with dual floating-disc front Brembo brakes and single-disc rear Brembo brakes. City range maxes out at 128 miles, while riders wanting to open up the Empulse R can shoot for the top speed of 110 mph. This model had $2,500 of tax credits available before Congress let them expire at the end of 2013.
5. Zero SR ($16,995)
The company name tells the story about tailpipe emissions coming from Zero bikes. With the Zero SR, riders get the more aggressive version of its electric S model. Offering a max 67 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque, riders can flash from 0-60 in 3.3 seconds. Electric range stands at 85 miles at highway speeds of 55 mph or 137 miles in city riding, which comes with fuel economy of 462 MPGe in urban environs. To keep the performance and standard S separate, Zero provides the red color option in the SR model only.
4. Brutus V9 ($32,490)
In the Brutus V9, riders get a look at what a menacing electric bike can do in a touring or law-enforcement setting. Indeed, Brutus makes a variant of this bike for police departments looking for high acceleration without tailpipe emissions. Specs start at 125 hp and jump off the screen with 277 lb-ft of torque — the equal to a performance car. Offering a city range of 280 miles (165 highway), the Brutus V9 can hit a top speed of 115 mph on the open road.
3. Energica EGO (n/a)
The Italian entry on this list boasts superbike credentials courtesy of Formula One and 24 Hours of Le Mans engineers. In the Energica EGO, there is 134 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque on to quell any doubts about the power quotient of electric bikes. Riders can fly from 0-60 in under 3 seconds and crack top speeds north of 150 mph. Double floating-disc Brembo brakes up front (single-disc in back) provide the stopping power you’ll need at advanced speeds. Maximum range is 120 miles.
2. Mission R ($32,499)
Another electric bike that delivers high performance at an appropriate price tag comes from San Francisco-based Mission. Named one of Time Magazine’s top 25 inventions of 2013, this superbike can blast from 0-60 in under 3 seconds and reach a top speed of 140 mph. Described by Wired as “a two-wheeled Tesla,” the Mission R has a slightly lower real-world range (105 miles highway, 170 miles city) than the famous Model S when operating on the base (12 kWh) battery pack. Base model packages include GPS, HD camera, wireless helmet, and integrated charger standard. Larger battery packs are available to extend the bike’s range.
1. Lightning SuperBike ($38,888)
Before putting in an order on a Model X, electric vehicle fans who crave high performance might want to consider the Lightning SuperBike available in custom race, track, or street trims. Sporting an electric motor that offers the equivalent of 200 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque, there is a stunning amount of power in a bike that weighs in at 495 pounds. It holds the official SCTA world record for a production electric bike at 216 mph and broke 218 mph at Bonneville in August 2013.
Lightning’s SuperBike is also the fastest production bike powered by gas or electricity. There is no question this powerhouse bike holds its own among motorcycles, but its ability to grapple with performance cars points to the bright future for electric vehicles on two (or four) wheels.