Kawasaki has been teasing upcoming electric motorcycle releases for months now, and has finally given us our first official look at one of those new machines. Alas, a look is really all we get, without much important information, but at least it’s a start!
The new bike is a naked machine, and looks very much like the prototype that Kawasaki showed off briefly at the Suzuka 8-Hour race earlier this year. Kawasaki also showed off a fully-faired hybrid sportbike at that event, but didn’t bring it to INTERMOT for display—all we get is this electric motorcycle, with considerable design influence from the Z series, especially the Z400, which is obviously the foundation for this design.
That makes sense, as easier to pull apart the important parts of a naked bike and then bolt in a gasoline motor than it is to build a sportbike with streamlined fairings on top of all the electromechanical complications.
Kawi didn’t give any specs for the motor or battery, so it’s anyone’s guess right now as to range and power output. No doubt more of these details will come at EICMA, and if not then, in the months to follow.
However, it has been a long wait for the Japanese to get into the electric motorcycle business, and Kawasaki bigwigs didn’t really say much at INTERMOT to give us the impression that was changing. But, give them credit—at least Kawi showed up at the show and released quite a wide range of motorcycles, which is more than most of the competition did this year.
The price point at which this arrives will decide whether it’s going to be a Yea or Nay.
Doesn’t matter who makes, currently electric motorcycles are hard up against the limitations of current battery tech and the laws of phyiscs, meaning it is basically impossible to build an electric motorcycle with anything resembling a decent highway range. If someone could build one which could at least do “real” fast charging, i.e. ~15-20 minutes for a 10% to 80% charge, that would help a bit. But that would require active battery temperature management, which adds weight and bulk.
I think that batteries are just going to have to get better before electric bikes are good for much more than city runabouts and scooters.