NY Times talks electric motorcycles

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Electric bikes aren't selling well in North America,; Zero and Brammo (pictured here) get lots of press, but most motorcyclists don't know anybody who owns one.
Electric bikes aren’t selling well in North America,; Zero and Brammo (pictured here) get lots of press, but most motorcyclists don’t know anybody who owns one.

If you’re interested in electric motorcycles, you should check out this article in the New York Times’ Automotive section.

Despite all the advances in electric motorcycle technology that we’ve seen in the last couple years, battery bikes still seem to be facing an uphill battle. They’ve got an even bigger challenge than their limited range: Nobody is buying them.

The article’s author, Dexter Ford, doesn’t have any hard sales numbers for electric motorcycles, but he says they aren’t selling well because they don’t offer a bad-boy lifestyle, the same way other motorcycle brands do, and they’re expensive. A CMG commenter pointed this out last month, when a Zero recall only applied to 29 motorcycles in Canada.

Of course, recall numbers don’t tell the whole story – sometimes the recall doesn’t apply to all the motorcycles sold in a particular model line, like the recent NC700 recall, which only applied to models with a chain from a certain manufacturer. Still, 29 motorcycles is a pretty small number.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve been riding electric motorcycles for over four years, and nearly 20,000 miles. They are fun, practical and use NO GAS. The thrill of flying by the gas stations (as the prices go up and up) is priceless.
    With the new bikes employing the fast DC charging CHAdeMO standard – there is no longer a long wait for charging. With tax incentives and mass production the prices are comparable to equivalent gas bikes. In the long run electric bikes literally pay for themselves. It’s a win-win-win. I’ll never go back to dirty, smelly, expensive gasoline 🙂

    • Interesting Dave. I would love if CMG would do a story – a long-term test – of one of the more popular electric bikes. Given the “dirty” minds at CMG, I suspect one of the off-road or enduros would be their choice, but I’d prefer to see a sporty street machine tested. How about it ‘arris? Can you sweet-talk one of the e-bike distributors into a 3-6 month loan?

      • Hi Chris, Funny we were actually looking at doing just that this year but when we looked at the range we realized that we would have difficulty just getting it here from Halifax and that made us think that even if we went and picked it up in a truck, just what could we actually do with it?
        As soon as the range gets up we’re on it, until then the only real testing that can be done is commuting, which doesn’t really entice us.

      • ‘Arris speaks the truth. We looked at this idea, and I even had an electric tour planned out, but the numbers just don’t add up to anything but commuting duty at the moment – and even that is going to end in frustration pretty quickly if you don’t have time for a charge.

  2. If I had lots of disposable income available I would have an electric motorcycle. Great for commuting, loads of fun, interesting technology. However, the pocketbook only allows for one to use for commuting, touring, and fun. That equals internal combustion at this time…

  3. At the risk of repeating myself (again), cost, range and recharge time make electrics untenable. I could bring up the environmental question of battery disposal but that would be too easy.
    Having had the use of a mainstream manufacturer’s hybrid 4 wheeler over the weekend I strongly question whether any of this is an answer to a question that nobody asked….

    • The range issue wouldn’t be such a biggie if the recharge times were shorter. I stop every couple hours anyway, but not for a few hours at a time. I love that they’re developing them, but I hate that they’re not practical for me yet

      • Agreed. If you could charge the things from a standard wall plug in 15 minutes or so, the range wouldn’t be an issue for most.
        Of course, I can also ask for a personal jetpack that flies me to the moon, if I want … it’s about as likely to happen, at least in the near future.

        • I’d take that bet. I think in the next 10 years we will have solved the range/charge issue to a point where electric bikes (and cars) are way more practical. Even 30 minutes is an acceptable charge time. 2-3 hours riding, 30 minutes charging. I could work that in to my routine.

          • “I could work that in to my routine.” But what about when you want to be spontaneous on a sunny afternoon and take the long way home?

            • With 2-3 hours of riding time, that would have to be a pretty long way
              home to be a problem. But I see your point – gas stations are everywhere
              and it’s quick and easy (though not cheap anymore) to fill up your
              tank. EV stations won’t be everywhere for a while, though I can see
              adding charging stations (FAR AWAY from the pumps) to existing gas
              stations. it’s still the charge time that could be a problem. Perhaps a
              business opportunity to have lounges, coffee shops, shopping for those
              poor folks waiting around for the EVs to charge.

              • The potential to create a hopping new hipster hangout is tremendous. Think Starbucks, except with the parking lot filled with motorcycles.
                Wait. That isn’t too different from current reality. Except the bikes outside Starbucks now are powered by ICEs. And, that’s as far as a lot of riders are going …

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