Electric motorcycle skepticism demands timing and tact from the big bikemakers.
The idea of electric motorcycles can be a bit of a touchy subject, particularly in Australia, as passionate riders look to protect the authenticity of a lifestyle they hold most dear.
Established bikemakers are hyper aware of this, and will reassure their clientele that the internal combustion engine is here to stay, while also giving the impression they are prepared for an evolving future.
Harley-Davidson was one of the first big players to take the electric leap, launching its pure-electric Livewire today from $49,995 rideaway.
Early impressions tell us that the LiveWire is wholly thrilling, with its zero-to-100km/h claim of just three seconds, however, its high pricepoint and sub-200km real-world riding range seem to be a sticking point.
Many have welcomed the LiveWire with open arms, praising the company for its forward thinking, but the backlash from the V-twin fraternity can not be understated, indicating that the Milwaukee brand may have gone a little too early.
In a recent interview, Ducati Australia boss Sergi Canovas gave INFO MOTO a fairly typical non-answer answer on electrified motorcycles.
“As a key player for us, I don’t see that we should not be there [in the electric bike market],” he said.
“What I can tell you, is that you will see in the next models coming next year is that we have increased the technology on our bikes.”
Newer companies, like Zero Motorcycles, are making huge headway with electric motorcycles, and whether you like it or not, there’s little doubt that the technology will one day make conventional petrol power look silly.
Just observe the car world if you need proof that electrification can work, and with time, can convert die-hard ICE purists to Musk-subscribing electric loyalists.
Interestingly, Tesla’s Elon Musk has stated that he has no desire to produce motorcycles, citing their perceived danger.
While the established motorcycle manufacturers are awaiting the right moment to go all-in on electric motorcycles, we suspect that many are already developing alternative powertrains.
BMW Motorrad dipped its toes in the water last year with the reveal of its Vision DC Roadster, which debuted an all-new design language, but kept a level of familiarity with its pseudo-boxer powertrain.
“The boxer engine is the heart of BMW Motorrad — an absolute stalwart of its character. But BMW Motorrad stands for visionary zero-emissions vehicle concepts, too,” said BMW Motorrad head of design Edgar Heinrich.
“In view of this, one question that arises is: What would happen if we were to replace the boxer engine with an electric motor and the required battery?
“The Vision Bike shows how we’re able to retain the identity and iconic appearance of BMW Motorrad in distinctive form while at the same time presenting an exciting new type of riding pleasure.”
Recently, BMW Motorrad submitted a number of trademark filings related to the nameplate ‘DC’, sparking rumours that the German company is planning a DC line of electric bikes.
Late last year, BMW gave press the opportunity to ride its E-Power Roadster Concept bike, which used electric components from the brand’s car division.
The front-end of the E-Power Roadster Concept is borrowed from the S 1000 R, while the rear section is from an R 1200 RS.
Charge comes from a battery pack used in the 2 Series plug-in hybrid passenger car, while the motor is from the 7 Series limousine.
BMW claims that the prototype has an effective torque figure of 1500Nm, and will sprint from zero to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds – just 0.2s slower than the current S 1000 RR.
Spencer has a keen eye for hard news, and does some of his best living on deadline day. He loves more than anything to travel on his motorcycle, and is adamant that Melbourne Bitter is a world-class lager. He also knows how to operate the big computery thing in the office. By night, Spencer plays guitar with Melbourne punk outfit LOUTS.