I think electric motorcycles are going to be fantastic. Yep. Haters you are welcome to leave now.
Why? Well a few reasons, lets talk power for a start. Always a favourite subject in bike reviews. I have ridden some high powered motorcycles, the R1, GSXR and a ZX12R that had 200hp. But the most impressive feel of power in a motorcycle I have ridden came from ones with a focus on high torque output. Suzuki’s M109R with it’s massive pistons and Yamaha’s MT-01 with its Boeing 747 towing 150NM of torque. Twist the throttle on the MT-01 and the feeling can only be described as like some huge hand of god propelling you forward at warp speed. No needing to wind up the engine waiting until it becomes all mechanically busy to produce power. No tap dance on the gear lever just the resonating beat of the huge pistons as you effortlessly surge ahead.
Now can you imagine a motorcycle that has 6 times that torque. Up to a staggering 900NM of torque. With the horsepower of a motogp bike and it comes to you via maintenance free electric engine. You’re looking at it above. The Manx 7 from a Belgium motorcycle company with a long history that has been reborn 100% focusing on electric. Sarolea.
There is no power band with electric engines you are in the sweet spot all the time. With custom regenerative dynamic braking off throttle can feel like engine braking does in your favourite type of combustion engine. What you have then is a bike where soon as you are rolling you are in the engine full power mode, always as if you are in exactly the right gear, right rpm at any speed accelerating or off throttle. That is what I think will be fantastic about electric motorcycles when they arrive. I am not seeking to be green or fuel savings. I think they will just be incredible to ride.
The range is already 300km which I think is great considering the performance possible but this will not yet suit many countries. I could easy make one of these work here with that range right now. Japan in recent years rolled out the infrastructure for electric vehicles across the country and there are recharge points every highway rest area, convenience store and 1000’s of locations. It recharges 90% in 25 minutes so it would be easy for me to top up the power since I ride about that distance per day and then hotels here all have recharge points.
But there are no electric motorcycles being sold by the big four manufacturers here in Japan. Despite PHEV cars becoming popular and having the infrastructure. I wonder if this is a perception issue that they need to overcome or a pricing problem. Many riders feel motorcycling needs to project a macho image, they constantly ridicule things like double clutch gearboxes on bikes yet think paddle shift on a Ferrari is cool … No doubt these bright sparks will wage a hate campaign against electric bikes lest their self imagined manliness be under threat. I admit the electric engine will never sound as cool as the internal combustion engine. But then I wonder how they might price one if released since electric cars are sold at a higher price point despite having fewer components. We riders already pay a huge premium, same or more than car prices. Motorcycles started out being popular as affordable transport after the war, this despite materials being in shorter supply, before technology allowed plastics to be made for a few cents and before robots. Now bikes in Japan roll off a number of production lines every couple of minutes (literally that is the total build time) and yet they end up costing from $10,000 to $25,000.
Marketing has us all brainwashed. Which is another reason I hope electric motorcycles will arrive. It may allow new manufactures to enter the market which might bring prices back down to earth. Or it may allow someone like a Tesla type start up to bypass the importer/dealer system that sees that everything is massively marked up. If nothing else it will be more difficult for (some) dealers to continue charging the huge amounts of money for a service that often is nothing more than an oil change, although I am sure at least one brand you can guess will… This bike below is not going to be affordable any day soon but shows that things are going to change sooner or later.
You Cannot Stop the Future first published to Motorcycle Paradise May 2017
Photos source Saroléa.