Bikes have lagged behind electric cars because the battery packs are so heavy, but we’re getting there now. Smaller batteries, an increasingly urban lifestyle and environmental pressures have combines to turn an electric motorbike into an aspirational and practical thing.They’re still not perfect, this is technology in its infancy and range is still an issue. But they’re getting better.
Here are 5 of the best electric motorcycles U can buy right now and one that is on the way.
It isn’t the fastest bike here, or the most expensive, not by a long way. But the Zero SR might just be the most complete real-world package you can buy right now.
The electric motor puts out the electric equivalent of 67bhp and 106lb/ft of torque. So while it’s down on horsepower, it puts out more torque than most petrol-powered superbikes and you can have it all right off the line. So the Zero SR 0-60mph time of 3.3s is more than respectable and it gives a top speed of 102mph. Crucially, the range of 197 miles with the optional power tank means you can use this bike without any major sacrifices.
With the fastest charger you can fill the battery in just three hours, too, so this is a legitimate daily use motorbike that you can run for a fraction of the cost of a petrol equivalent. There are bigger, better and flashier bikes on this list. But this is all the bike you actually need.
Zero SR key specs
Range (combined): 122 miles (196 km)
Top speed: 102 mph (164 km/h)
Torque: 116 ft-lb (157 Nm)
Power: 70 hp (52 kW)
Weight: 414 lb (188 kg)
Zero SR price
The Lightning LS218 is the world’s fastest production electric motorcycle and it is, frankly, ludicrous. It comes with 150kW, so the electric equivalent of 200bhp and 168lb/ft of torque. That’s more than BMW’s all-conquering, fossil-fuel burning S100RR. It is also a few pounds lighter at 495lb.
The end result is a bike that can storm through the 60mph mark in two seconds and leave almost anything on the road trailing in its non-toxic wake. This has become one of the flag bearers for electric power and it certainly made a powerful impression on Jay Leno.
The 218mph top speed is a conservative estimate based on the speed the bike actually achieved on the Bonneville Speed Flats. Now, with a number of new developments on the final production bike, the manufacturer claims it could be even faster.
This is almost too much bike for the public road. It’s a race motorcycle with number plates and it isn’t for a novice or the faint of heart. It is, though, an awesome machine and we should celebrate its mere existence.
Lightning LS-218 key specs
Range (highway): 100 miles (160 km)
Top speed: 218 mph (350 km/h)
Torque: 168 ft-lb (227 Nm)
Power: 200 hp (149 kW)
Weight: 495 lb (224 kg)
Lightning LS-218 price
Alta Motors Redshift MX
Alta Motors spent eight years and at least one name change coming up with the Redshift MX. Now it thinks it has a supermoto that isn’t just the best electric motorcycle, it’s the best motocross bike on the track bar none.
It comes with the electric equivalent of 40bhp and 36 lb/ft of torque. It could have had more, and the bike could go for more than 2.5 hours, but weight is critical with a motocross bike. That’s why you get a thermosetting resin frame with a hollow structure like an aircraft fuselage, which is so trick we want to see it used everywhere.
A total weight of 251lb is a minor miracle considering the electric tech and the specialist motorcycle press think this could be the bike that wins over the supermoto community once and for all.
Alta Motors Redshift MX key specs
Range: 3 hours of continuous use
Top speed: 65 mph (104 km/h)
Torque: 120 ft-lb (162 Nm)
Power: 40 hp (29 kW)
Weight: 267 lb (121 kg)
Alta Motors Redshift MX price
APWorks Light Rider
Imagine an electric motorbike produced by the high-tech skunkworks at Airbus. Now open your eyes, it’s already here. Light Rider’s ornate frame is made from a new material called Scalmalloy, a corrosion resistant aluminum alloy that is almost as strong as titanium.
That means that APWorks could use less material and trim the weight, so you’re left with a whole bike that weighs an incredulous 35kg. The strength comes from the material itself and the cellular-type organic structure that means there is no excess material and you only get what you need. The company achieved the finished structure with the help of 3D printing. The end result goes beyond a naked bike. This is basically a skeleton.
Less really is more with the Light Rider and you that means less power, too. The motor produces just 6kW, but that’s enough to get this stripped down piece of minimalist art on wheels to 50mph. Now the range of 37 miles really isn’t that hot in this company and it makes this motorcycle an impractical choice. But it is just stunning to look at and if you never go beyond the confines of the city then it’s a designer label that you’ll simply never tire of.
It’s new technology and you’ll be lucky to get one from Airbus in Europe as the numbers are strictly limited.
APWorks Light Rider key specs
Range: 37 miles (60 km)
Top speed: 49 mph (80 km/h)
Weight (prototype): 77 lb (35 kg)
APWorks Light Rider price
Victory Empulse TT
Charge time is the Empulse TT’s USP. A full charge takes less than four hours, if you’ve got the accessory charger and a 240V supply. That provides more than 140 miles of range, so this is another motorcycle you can actually live with.
Victory bought Brammo’s technology, so this 40kW bike has been with us for a while in some form or another. Polaris owns Victory, as well as the iconic Indian Motorcycles and it produces snowmobile, off-road buggies and more. So this is no mom and pop operation.
The motorcycle got a minor facelift, including polished aesthetics and a 10% boost for the battery pack. But essentially this is the same bike. That’s no bad thing. It has intense competition from the Zero line-up, but this is a genuine 100mph electric motorcycle and a real world proposition.
Victory Empulse TT key specs
Range: 140 miles (225 km)
Top speed: 100 mph (160 km/h)
Torque: 61 ft-lb (82 Nm)
Power: 54 hp (40 kW)
Weight: 470 lb (213 kg)
Victory Empulse TT price