Motorcycles call for fast speeds, revved up engines, and freedom from traffic jams and seatbelts alike. Does this mean that they must also include exhaust gases and loud noises? Few of us can link the spirit of a motorcycle with the sensibility of a hybrid car, which is perhaps why it has taken so long for the electric motorcycle market to fully develop to the max of its technological potential.
If you are hoping to dodge red lights around town and still keep your eco-friendly conscience clean, then an electric motorbike may be the mid-way solution you are looking for. Fear not; electric motorcycles are no longer the flimsy toys that they used to be. While much more silent than traditional choppers, electric engines have improved enough to make some high-end models indistinguishable from their gas-fueled counterparts. And while starting price tags may seem a bit higher in the case of electric models, they all come with major long-term savings when it comes to gas bills and is, therefore, an investment very worth considering.
These 8 best electric motorcycles are all powerful, sturdy, and fast – and they are all meant to last for many years if properly cared for. And while we would never advise anyone to test the limits, we have only included here the brands that meet proper safety standards and keep spare parts or repair options available.
The Zero SR is the first among a new generation of electric models whose torque and acceleration capabilities would leave nobody craving for a gas model. Weighing in at 414 pounds, the model feels strong, which is often as important for those who are after an experience rather than just a ride.
This bike can reach speeds of up to 102 miles per hour. The base model has a large enough battery to last for 140 miles, although you can also opt for a larger power tank, which can double your riding time in urban settings. Furthermore, the finishing quality on this one-liner model is clearly meant to compete with traditional racing models; from the aluminum body to the supremely comfy leather seats, the entire motorbike feels simultaneously sophisticated and wild.
Italy’s Energica carries the double responsibility of being born and bred in Vespa town, which should be enough to demand a higher standard from any motorcycle start-up, and of being designed for one of the regions with the most expensive energy costs around the world. Thanks to this, the Energica Ego is the equivalent of that scholarship-winning kid who had to work twice as hard at every stage of his career: over-achieving, fast, efficient, and yet quietly confident in its own capabilities.
The Ego can reach power outputs of up to 136 HP and speeds of up to 149 miles – large enough to appear too good for the electric range. The battery capacity is not quite as impressive, however: if pushed to its speed limit, it will only carry you for 96 miles. However, this is enough to traverse most mid-sized cities and is therefore ideal for urban riders. In addition, this model comes with an LED display that will help you monitor its total capacity and estimate the speed and distance left to go. Add some Bluetooth connectivity, and you will be all set for your daily rides.
Cruising down the highway requires more torque and resilience than raw speed, which remains an elusive goal for most electric motorbike manufacturers. This challenge was taken head-on by Nevada’s Brutus, a new player on the heavy cruiser scene that aims to bring the feel and muscle of a Harley into the green arena.
While the V9’s total speed doesn’t reach the bars of the Ego or the SR – with a maximum speed of 114 miles per hour – the trade-off in rugged stamina is more than worth it. The Brutus V9 electric motorcycle can last for up to 270 miles and, weighing in at 780 pounds, it will carry a whole lot of you from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
The noise levels of most extra-large models may be missing, but everything else is already there: from foot pegs and a two-person supersized leather seat to a sleek black and platinum look.
Sure, even the name sounds road-worthy, but we are not about to include a model based on that alone. Johammer is a small, Austrian manufacturer that has very recently jumped into the scene with their futuristic head-turner of a model, the J1.
This product was designed with the sole purpose of maximizing range, keeping weight low, and yet still maintaining the overall structure resistant and durable. The fact that the end result looks equally minimalistic and elegant is just an extra bonus, and it stands to help Austrian engineering make a name for itself.
This is a very well-balanced model, where every add-on and accessory is meant to serve more than one purpose at once. The maneuverability exceeds that of most well-established brands, and the LED screen is surprisingly efficient; it can instantly convey information on speed, battery life, revs, and even roadside warnings in a very small amount of space.
Although it can only reach up to 75 miles per hour, the battery has an expected life of up to 124 miles per charge.
The Redshift MXR was created to follow all specs and benchmarks expected of a race-worthy 350 but without any of the accidental greenhouse gas emission. However, with a horsepower of just 50 and 42 pounds-feet of torque, the initial impression is of an ambitious model that didn’t quite reach the expected heights.
This should be easily discarded upon closer examination because as it weighs just 259 pounds, the Redshift can quickly break 65 miles per hour while simultaneously crossing rugged and steep terrains, which is where a motocrosser truly shows its worth. Alta Motor’s proprietary Alta Pack provides a small but dense battery that will keep the Redshift going strong over roads, wooded trails, and muddy patches. In addition, the simplified engine, which skips over air filters and oil containers to keep the total weight in check, is notoriously quick and easy to maintain.
A full range of 100 miles and a maximum speed of 110 miles per hour place the Victory Empulse TT solidly above the toy model range, although quite below that of true racing models. Nevertheless, for average users who are willing to delay their arrival for a few minutes, the Empulse offers good reliability and fast charges to compensate for it.
Victory Motorcycles is not a brand used to disappointing its loyal followers, and they steer clear from it with their first attempt at an electric model. This machine weighs a total of 470 pounds and is therefore heavy enough to be taken into the countryside. The Brammo Lithium-ion battery can charge from 0 to 100% in less than four hours, and it complements the permanent AC magnet motor perfectly.
Finally, as Victory already has a well-distributed network of dealerships, repairs and spare parts (although rarely necessary) will never be out of reach.
Flashy, imposing, and resilient, the T-Race Diabolika is definitely not targeted at the “nice guy” market, even if it does meet most green energy standards. Italy’s manufacturer, Tacita, has managed to include a carbon and Kevlar reinforced body, a five-speed gearbox, and a quietly powerful engine on a sporty, gold-trimmed body that can easily bring you to the edge of local speed limits.
The T-Race Diabolika offers comfortable and easy to handle steering, the kind that you want supporting you when you need to make the most of very tight and irregular spaces. The regenerative rear and front braking also offer a high degree of responsiveness, whether you wish to exploit this for a daring escape or to offer you more safety than it seems like you’re getting. Nevertheless, the combination of aluminum, Kevlar, and big, bold lettering will ensure you don’t go unnoticed around the city.
Usually, a Harley Davidson offer is guaranteed a higher spot on any motorbike listing. The Project Livewire motorcycle has not been officially released, though, which forced us to move it a few spots lower than we would’ve preferred. Nevertheless, this is likely to be the model that will redefine everyone’s expectations regarding the capabilities of an electric motorcycle. It offers 460 pounds of steel and speed, which is enough to pack the entire experience of a Harley Davidson in the fuel-free version.
As would be expected from a brand with such renown, Harley-Davidson is taking advertisements into their hands by offering test ride tours of their Project Livewire before actually making it available to all by starting mass production. From what has been seen so far, this bike offers good speeds and decent torque (up to 96 miles per hour). The battery range is meant to fall in the 50s range, although there is a good chance that this is still in development. It will definitely be a launch worth looking out for.