Electric motorcycles appear to be the new “thing” in the motorcycle industry. And before we go further, let us clarify: We don’t think there’s anything that’s ever going to replace the visceral experience—the smells, feel, and sounds—that come with riding a massive internal combustion engine slapped into a lightweight, two-wheeled freedom machine. We are, however, saying that we love seeing innovative design in an industry that’s remained mostly the same over the last century, especially when those innovations are hot on the heels of the rest of the auto world. As such, we decided to go through the list to see what people are saying about the newest wave of electric motorcycles, and what your best options are for finding that sensitive balance between performance, functionality, and eco-friendliness.
If you’re looking for a more traditional ride with the updated platform of an electric motorcycle, the team from Brutus is here to deliver. They’ve been developing a line of sexy electric bikes for years now, and some argue the V9 is the bike the industry has been waiting for. This classic-styled bagger features a stout 125 hp electric motor that cranks out 277 ft-lbs of torque, and can get you roughly 250 miles per charge. That’s almost LA to Las Vegas. It has the elegant and classic styling of everything we love from brands like Harley-Davidson and Indian, but in a platform that’s all-electric. We’ve seen a couple different MSRP’s on the V9, but it looks like it’s safely in the $30-$35k range. Link
As far as electric motorcycles go, the Brutus 2 is about as close to a modern street bike as you’re going to get. Unfortunately, nobody really knows what the specs are on the 2, other than that it features a 6.7” DC motor, weighs 485 pounds, and has a 10 kWH battery back. What that translates to in horsepower and performance numbers, we’re not really sure.
What we do know is that the bike is absolutely gorgeous, and if you want the look of a classic café racer with the quiet dependability of an electric motorcycle, you can opt for the done up Brutus 2 Café, which is a little lighter than the 2 (at 460 pounds), but is a little lower and more forward-seated, thanks to its down-turned handle bars. Eco-friendly and badass come together to make these bikes exceptionally special. Link
Johammer J1 200
Technically speaking, the Johammer J1 200 is a “scooter.” However, one look at the thing and you’ll either fall in love with its futuristic design (seriously, this thing looks like it’s straight out of a Tron movie), or be nauseated by its utter lack of any semblance of traditional motorcycle styling. Personally, we love it.
The electric motor and controller are both integrated directly into the rear wheel, and the brand claims there’s no other manufacturer on the planet who can currently offer the kind of EV mobility they’re offering with this level of technical features. The bike also features the ideal center of gravity to help ensure a very comfortable, very stable ride that’s lacking in a lot of the new-age electric motorcycles still trying to figure out the Golden Ratio between classic styling and modern components.
What we like most about the Johammer J1 200—aside from its whacky design—is its dash display. Leaving conventionalism in the dust, they’ve opted to integrate all of their dash displays into the two rear-view mirrors, so the gas tank and handlebars are essentially clutter-free. We love it. Link
Alta Motors Redshift SM
We knew we couldn’t put this list together without including at least one MX bike, but we think the Redshift SM from Alta Motors is a solid compromise. The “SM” stands for “supermoto” and this bike is an absolute beaut. The frame and swingarm are forged and welded aluminum, and utilize Alta’s patented Redshift Bulkhead, which functions as both the outer motor casing, but also the cooling circuit for the motor and inverter, and the transmission case. Each of the SM’s come stock with 17-inch Warp 9 wheels and Pirelli Rosso II tires, which turn at the behest of a 42hp and 38 lb-ft motor and battery setup.
It’s also surprisingly inexpensive, with a starting MSRP of just $13,495—certainly not bad compared to other electric motorcycles in the space. Link
If you’re looking for some serious pep in your electric motorcycle step, the Italian-born Energetica Ego45 is an excellent option. This classically styled and beautiful-looking sportbike comes with an 11.7 kWh air- and oil-cooled battery and permanent magnet motor that blows out a whopping 145hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. When compared to a modern combustion engine sportbike, it’ll dust anything with 600cc and under.
This thing can do 0-60 in about 3.5 seconds, is super nimble, and its onboard, completely in-house VCU (Vehicle Control Unit) helps with the bike’s varied drive modes, which include everything from “coast” to “race.” The only drawback we can see is that it’s pretty heavy, weighing in at nearly 600 beastly pounds. Oh, and it’s limited for a max speed of 150 mph, so it’s not face-peelingly fast, but at least your speeding tickets won’t break the bank. Link
Of course, of all the electric sportbikes on the market, the Lightning LS-218 is the crème de la crème. It officially holds the record as the fastest battery-powered bike ever, with a recorded top speed of 215 mph, and puts out an earth-shattering 200 hp and 168 lb-ft. of torque. The LS-218 is the first electric motorcycle to compete against gasoline powered bikes and win, after a stunning 2013 victory at Pikes Peak. And if you thought it was only a fast, deadly silent freedom machine, it also has a proven range of nearly 180 miles per charge with the right battery pack.
It’s as good as you’re going to get for an electric sportbike—even with its $38k starting price tag. Link
Zero has a few bikes that we absolutely love, but we’re including the SR here because we think it’s one of the best electric motorcycles on the planet right now—and we say that in a market that’s absolutely saturated with them.
Aside from its beautiful body styling (this thing looks like any other sleek modern sport bike), we appreciate its max range of 223 miles in the city and 112 miles on the highway.
The updated motor features hi-temp magnets and a 775-amp brushless motor controller that helps it put out at a safe 70hp and 116 lf-ft. of torque. And before you get upset at those low numbers, keep in mind that the lightest Zero model is a lean 313 pounds—almost half the weight of its nearest competitor.
This thing rips, and is fairly priced at $16,500, give or take. Link
Harley-Davidson just revealed their take on an electric motorcycle at CES this past month, and much to our delighted surprise, it actually looks pretty awesome. The bike, called the “LiveWire,” is very reminiscent of their old Sportster-powered Buell, mixed with one of the brand’s newer Street Rods. It’s definitely not ugly.
Unfortunately, they didn’t reveal too much about the bike, other than the fact that it’ll do 0-60 mph in under 3.5 seconds (Which puts it right up there with the rest of the competition), that it’ll be out sometime in August 2019, and that it’ll cost under $30k (Which would make it the most expensive Harley to own to date). However, “expensive” isn’t exactly a term the Harley crowd is unfamiliar with.
Speaking of the Harley crowd, it seems the response to the LiveWire has been about as good as one could expect from a crowd of devout “Loud Pipes Save Lives” bumper sticker carriers, especially when considering many at first were 100% against Harley taking any kind of stab at an electric motorcycle. Link
BMW C Evolution
Harley isn’t the only big brand getting in on the electric motorcycle revolution, of course. BMW’s C Evolution electric scooter—and yes, we know it’s a scooter—has turned plenty of heads this past year, and for good reason.
The C Evolution uses an air-cooled lithium-ion battery to power a liquid-cooled motor that gives this scooter an impressive 48 hp and 52 lb-ft of torque, as well as a real-world range of 70+ miles on one charge.
Now, for the purists among you, a scooter is probably closer to an electronic motorcycle then most motorcycles are. They’re zippy and comfortable, they aren’t obscenely fast, and they’re quiet as a mouse. But they’re also packed with storage, reliable, and at the end of the day, they get the job done. Plus, the C Evolution has a starting price of $13,750, which makes it one of the most affordable electric motorcycles out there. And that’s coming from a BMW. Link
“Affordable” and “SORA” will probably never be used in the same sentence, unless you’re writing a sentence about how the two words will never be used in the same sentence together.
Anyway, the SORA is a very expensive, very lux luxury electric motorcycle. In fact, at with a starting price of $77,000, it’s the single-most expensive bike on this list. However, it’s worth noting that it’s also absolutely gorgeous. It features some incredible details, like an aircraft grade aluminum frame, completely customizable ride height, carbon fiber body panels, several ride modes, etc.
They don’t list the approximate horsepower for the SORA, but they do claim its 12 kWh lithium-polymer battery and liquid-cooled motor put out 66.4 lb-ft of torque to move its large 573-pound frame. We’re not sure it’s worth 77 g’s, but it’s definitely a handsome, very well designed electric motorcycle. Link