Electric Motorcycles – Are we ready?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, you’ve most likely heard about the advancements in electric vehicles. The EV market has been paved by Tesla, and now we can see other car manufacturers following suit, and announcing their own solutions… But what about other forms of electric transportation – such as motorcycles? During the Covid-19 pandemic back in March of 2020, Google searches for “E-Bikes”, and “Electric bicycle” shot up 150% (via Google Trends). These figures show us just how curious the average consumer is about electric vehicles, and modern transportation alternatives.
It’s very clear that there is a gap in the market which needs to be filled, but most manufactures seem to be having a tough time transitioning, and they haven’t quite confirmed their stances just yet. Could it be because the motorcycle industry is enthusiast-driven, which makes it more difficult to break away from tradition?
Last year, at Kawasaki conference was a sneak peek of a sport concept they’ve been working on, but unfortunately, no release date was ever announced. In fact, not many specifics were addressed at all. Fast forward to today – we now see that Kawasaki’s named their electric flagship the “EV Endeavour”… Because that’s exactly what it is… an electric endeavour. They’ve proudly taken the stance of “we have no idea where this is going yet”, and truthfully, nobody does.
Can you really blame today’s manufacturers for being hesitant though? When you innovate, and roll with new concepts, there is always the risk of the market not accepting the result. For some, riding an electric bike would be stripping away all the elements that make riding fun. After all, riding motorcycles should be a fun, exhilarating experience. Motorcycles have been around for 100+ years and convincing a customer base to go electric (after years of continuity) could be a difficult task. On the flip side, it could also bring new riders to the table, and unlock new aspects of riding.
Needless to say – not all bikes are equal. There is an entire spectrum of motorcycles that would need to be acknowledged, and that alone is a challenge within itself. Alta Motors, for example, gave us the first real electric dirt bike option, after a decade of testing electric technologies. This feat not only sparked the public’s interest, but also the interest of other brands within the industry. In 2018, Harley Davidson invested in Alta Motors – in hopes of gaining insight for producing their own electric option. Although the Alta brand fizzled out shortly after, this collaborative effort ultimately led to the production of Harley’s Livewire model. A price point of this model is AUD $49,995. Yes, the price is correct. Harley Davidson is known for having a traditional approach with their brand, and yet, they were one of the first household names to fully commit to an electric model. In our opinion, the design is just great.
We’ve also (surprisingly) seen Yamaha partner up with SPIKE, and Dohms Projects to create an electric motor and battery system that would essentially fit the chassis of a Yamaha favourite – the YZ250F. This is an interesting position because Yamaha typically manufacturers, not only their own motors, but motors for many different companies such as Lexus/Toyota (among many others). We believe that after this partnership with SPIKE, Yamaha will continue their self-proficient path, and begin to build their electric motors in-house. After all, is there anything Yamaha can’t do? They produce everything from digital audio equipment, and grand pianos, to Olympic-sized swimming pools, and motorcycles.
The brands mentioned above have achieved, what many would call, a legacy- but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee they’ll be setting the standards for tomorrow’s motorcycle. The most exciting disruptions in the market will most definitely come from newly founded start-ups all over the world. Australia has provided us with an exquisite café option – made by Savic. Like Tesla, Savic offers different tiers of their flagship model, the C-Series. As you can imagine – Omega, Delta, and Alpha vary in power, torque, range, and required time to charge. What’s most interesting about this Aussie brand is the level of transparency they’ve been able to provide throughout their five-year, in-house journey. They’ve revealed several prototypes- all of which were received well by the public. One of them even features a kangaroo leather seat, which adds a nice touch of culture. They’ve developed their own powertrain, motor, battery modules, and even their own custom, single-sided swing arm.
As of today, you can go to their website and “purchase a build slot”; a process that closely resembles the Tesla Cybertruck pre-orders. They have a solid team of mechanical and software engineers, designers, and story tellers to shape their brand. They’re also fortunate enough to find themselves at the forefront of an entirely new, and exciting industry. We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks”, and that very much could apply to some of the bigger, more well-known manufacturers that paved the way for brands like Savic, Zero, and Tarform. One thing is for certain though… This is only the beginning, and only time will tell. If you haven’t already, we highly recommend checking out what the world of electric motorcycles has to offer.
Written by Dustin Perdue