The Advantages of Electric Motorcycles

Electric Motorcycle in Garage

Image via Flickr by cwwycoff1

Fewer Pollutants

Obviously, the first difference with an electric motorcycle is that it uses a battery, so you don't worry about buying gasoline. That's good news as gas prices rise and dwindling oil resources continue to tighten the market. No gas also means no smelly, polluting emissions. These bikes run clean, and that helps the environment. Plus, many states offer incentives for buying an electric vehicle, be it a car or motorcycle. In addition to rebates, some states offer reduced vehicle registration fees and other states offer tax breaks. Check with your local DMV for what your state offers.

Speed

You won't give up speed with an electric bike. These bikes travel as fast or faster than gas-powered motorcycles. There's no need to shift, either — you simply twist the throttle and go. Several manufacturers offer a sport package for extra power when accelerating. Responsive and quick, these bikes all offer a smooth ride. So, if you like to speed down the highway with the wind in your hair, fear not. The electric motorcycle offers the same fast thrills as a traditional one.

Less Noise

Whether you consider this an advantage or disadvantage, the electric motorcycle is quiet so that rumbling sounds won't disturb your neighbors. It might take time to adjust to that lack of noise, but you can listen to your helmet's Bluetooth speaker and hear your music for a change.

Overall Cost Savings

Although the electric bikes costs a little more (top-of-the-line around $30,000), the savings in maintenance over the first few years helps make up the difference. Aside from the battery, servicing is minimal. The average life of the battery is five years, so you don't have to change them often. Even brake pads last longer because of the regenerative motor braking featured on electric motorcycles. As you brake on a traditional vehicle, the energy propelling you forward goes to the brake pads. With an electric vehicle, that energy goes to the battery, causing less wear and tear on your brake pads.

Another cost-saving factor is not having to go and get gas. The slight uptick on your electric bill is nothing compared to what you spend at the gas station. All you need in order to charge your electric motorcycle is an outlet; the bikes come with a household three-pin plug, so there's no problem if a charging station isn't nearby. Although a typical full charge takes about six hours, today's consumers accept downtime as a way of life. It's second nature for us to charge our phones, tablets, and laptops. Just add your motorcycle to that list.

Improved Appearance

One of the main complaints when electric motorcycles first hit the streets was they looked strange. The case enclosing the battery takes up more room than a gas engine. But manufacturers took note, and many of the new bikes look more traditional. And while the first electric motorcycles came from companies you probably never heard of, today Harley-Davidson, BMW, and other well-known manufacturers offer at least one electric model.

A Few Disadvantages of Electric Motorcycles

No Rumble

Again, electric motorcycles stay quiet, but some riders prefer the sound of the gas-engine as it revs and drives down the road. Your neighbors might dread the sound, especially if you pull in late at night when they're asleep. Plus, more and more cities and towns have noise ordinances in effect, limiting the amount of loud noise in residential areas. So, it takes time to adjust to the quiet. In the long run, though, you won't have to worry about disturbing people.

Atypical Looks

As mentioned above, the style was a problem early on, but today the electric bikes look more like traditional motorcycles. And as technology continues evolving, batteries get smaller and electric motorcycles look more normal. If you want a cool-looking bike that not everyone has, then try an electric model from one of the boutique manufacturers. Some of the designs look very futuristic.

Intial Cost

Electric machines are expensive, but so are most vehicles with two or four wheels. Fortunately, as the technology develops prices start to fall. Basic electric motorcycles begin around $13,000, but add some extras and the price rises fast. Accessories are scarce, but the more electric bikes sell, the more accessories follow. Right now, upgrades center around the ride experience itself.

Range

The main concern is the range. Electric motorcycles average between 180 and 240 miles before needing a recharge. Except for long road trips, that distance is enough for most riders. You get your best range riding in urban traffic where stop and go traffic helps recharge the battery. Plus, factors such as heat, constant throttle, and increased load from going uphill or a heavy pack affect your distance. If you must charge and go, buy a quick-charge pack that lets you recharge your motorcycle in three hours. Some bikes offer extended range packages, too, but they cost several thousand dollars to install. You also should top off the battery when you stop somewhere with an outlet, preventing you from running out of power in an inopportune place.

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The Bottom Line

Most complaints about electric motorcycles stem from resistance to change. Yes, many people love the sound of a motorcycle, but noise pollution concerns grow every day. The early bikes did not appeal to many riders, but the new bikes look more and more like a traditional gas-powered motorcycle. Prices vary on electric motorcycles just as they do on any other vehicle. There is no question that electric motorcycles are the ride of the future. Increasing interest in urban lifestyles, rising gas prices, and limited city parking spaces mean more people need alternative rides. So, look toward the electric motorcycle, and let the future begin now. And don't forget your helmet!

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