UPDATE: Electric Motorcycles

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UPDATE: Two Wheel Electric Vehicles

Are we there yet?

Electric scooters. We saw them hit the market about a decade ago. And while they had their merits, distance was not one of them. Like solar panels and many other ‘green’ technologies, you have to wonder if a practical electric motorcycle will happen in your lifetime. How about in 2011?

Brammo's Empulse may be one of the first production electric motorcycles that cracks 100 mph and has a decent enough range for a short day ride.

Two Northwest companies are hard at work on that very thing. And with all the money that’s being tossed into the development of such bikes, as well as the entire EV industry, the reality of an electric motorcycle with a few hundred miles of range could be coming fast.

But before we discuss these two Northwest entities, you might be interested to know that here at the SR! office we’ve been putting an A2B Metro electric bicycle through its paces since last spring. While it’s not designed like a motorcycle, more like a downhill racing mountain bike, the A2B is closer to a motorcycle than the slip-on kits that most e-bikes are designed with.

The A2B can get going up to 20 mph on level ground, much faster than a typical e-bike. Start moving a regular bicycle around the pothole laden streets of Seattle like that and you will get – a broken bicycle. Thus the A2B, with its far sturdier frame and assembly does all the things around town you might call upon a small electric scooter to do. For in-town duty, the A2B hits the nail on the head. It also allows you to assist it by pedaling, so there are health benefits to be had. We laughed when the electric bill reflected a $10 increase per month over last year. After 1,000 miles over 9 months, there was a substantial fuel savings of $600 not to mention vehicle wear and tear costs.

But you’re not going to ride one out of town for a 500+ mile overnighter.

For that you’re going to need an EV Motorcycle that has a long range and charges quickly.

Enter Portland's MotoCzysz. The company started developing engine-powered motorcycles several years ago. They have since turned their attention toward electric-powered sportbikes and are in the process of raising $6M in capital for an EV market push. The motorcycle company fared well on the streets of the Isle of Man this last summer with an electric sportbike, but before you can buy one of those, owner Michael Cyzsz would like to sell a large load of electric motors he has co-developed with Remy International, aimed at pushing him into profitability. The sales of these motors are expected to further the development of the sportbike for commercial release, but that won’t happen this year.

Ashland, Oregon, may have an option for you this year though. Brammo Incorporated is bringing their latest effort, the Empulse motorcycle, to market.

The company, founded in 2002, debuted their first bike, the Enertia, several years ago, but that bike only has a 40 mile range. Nonetheless, the bike won 2010 Electric Motorcycle of the Year. The new 2011 Enertia plus models are said to have doubled their range to 80 miles. Now we’re getting somewhere.

The Empulse will come in three size options. The largest, called the 10.0, will have a range of 100 miles per charge. Charge time will be four hours. All Empulse models are said to do 100 mph.

All the bikes mentioned here use Lithium Ion Technology for the battery power (even the A2B). This means that the bikes can be topped off at anytime, regardless of the current battery level.

So is 2011 the year you get on an electric motorcycle, or add one to the garage? The technology is getting there and taking an electric motorcycle out for a healthy day ride is getting closer to becoming a reality each day.

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