Motorcycles are a blast to ride, and with their excellent fuel economy and low insurance rates, they’re extremely budget-friendly as well. Their low weight also makes them ideal for electric powertrains. Even better, the huge amount of torque that electric motors provide make them fun to ride. With more simplistic components, electric bikes also offer the potential for better packaging and sharper handling.
Unfortunately, much like the electric car market, the electric motorcycle market isn’t exactly taking the world by storm. There are a number of companies building and selling bikes, but even the most successful ones are only minor players in the overall market. That doesn’t mean electric motorcycles won’t eventually become incredibly important, though. More so than cars, motorcycles are bought for fun and are ridden relatively short distances on a regular basis. Touring bikes will probably stay gasoline-powered for a long time, but with plenty of riders who would be happy with a 200 mile range, don’t be surprised if one of these companies builds an electric motorcycle that becomes incredibly popular.
7. Bell Custom Cycles
Bell Custom Cycles, or BCC, makes Brutus electric motorcycles. The Brutus 2 is BCC’s bread and butter, a retro-styled electric bike that can be had for $19,900. For an added dose of style, a cafe racer version is offered for the same price. If you need range out of your electric bike, the Brutus V9 will set you back a minimum of $32,490, but with an optional 33.7 kWh battery pack, it offers a claimed 280 mile range. With a range like that, BCC has the potential to make conventional motorcycle riders rethink their commitment to gasoline. BCC is also pursuing sales to law enforcement agencies. Before long, the motorcycle cop hiding behind the road sign could be riding an electric motorcycle.
Energica’s strategy for disrupting the conventional motorcycle market is to use advanced technology and materials to build the highest performing bikes it can and then style them with all the grace and beauty riders have come to expect from Italian motorcycles. After getting its start in racing, Energica launched the Ego electric sports bike, followed by the more luxurious Ego45. A streetfighter called the Eva is expected to go on sale soon as well. Prices for the Ego start at $34,000, making it a seriously expensive option, but as development continues and prices come down, Energica could soon have an eco-conscious competitor for the Ducati 1199 Panigale R on its hands.
5. Lightning Motorcycles
If performance is what motorcyclists need to convince them to go electric, it will be hard for them to turn their noses up at Lightning’s SuperBike. Sure, a reservation will cost them at least $38,888, but Lightning promises 200 horsepower and a top speed of 218 miles per hour. A production Lighting isn’t a complete pipe dream either, as the company delivered its first bike late last year. As it sells and delivers more bikes, there’s the potential for an expanded product line that included more affordable electric motorcycles that come with less power and lower top speeds.
4. Mission Motorcycles
Mission Motorcycles is another electric superbike manufacturer, offering its R and a 40-unit run of the even higher performance RS. The Mission R’s top speed is only 150 miles per hour, but Mission has also developed software to go with the bike that brings modern car infotainment technology to the electric motorcycle. An R will run you $32,499, and the RS will be significantly more. Interestingly, back in February, the CEO of Mission posted on Facebook posted that a “Huge AWESOME update” would be coming, but there’s still no word on what that update is going to be. Whatever it is, it better be awesome enough to be deserving of all capital letters.
3. Zero Motorcycles
In 2012, Zero Motorcycles introduced battery packs that allowed it to become the first electric motorcycle manufacturer with a bike that could pass the 100 mile mark in a single charge. As the years have gone by, Zero has incrementally improved its models, offering more features, more safety equipment, and a longer range. For 2015, that range is up to 185 miles on a single charge. Starting at $13,345, the Zero S streetfighter is surprisingly affordable for an electric bike. At this point, for another company to unseat Zero from its electric motorcycle throne, it’s going to take a serious effort from a major company.
Harley-Davidson isn’t known for embracing modern technology, much less innovating future technology, but the electric LiveWire makes it look like the staunchly traditional brand might be changing that. The LiveWire has yet to be confirmed for production, but the concept looked and felt very close to being production ready. Customer reactions were strong, and interest was high. If Harley-Davidson moved forward with producing it, the entire electric motorcycle industry could be turned on its head.
1. Polaris Industries
If there’s one company that can beat Harley-Davidson at its own game, it would be Polaris. The company’s Victory and Indian brands are selling well, and unlike Harley-Davidson, Polaris is meeting its sales projections. Most importantly, though, Polaris bought the electric motorcycle company Brammo earlier this year. Brammo’s electric motorcycle technology will be used to develop a bike that will be sold as a Victory or if Polaris will create a new electric motorcycle brand is unknown. What is known, however, is that Polaris is on a roll, and whatever electric motorcycle it sells will probably be very competitive.