If petrol power must die, which it will, let’s make the new electric motorcycle era as diverse and exciting as it can possibly be.
It is no longer up for debate, conventionally powered motorcycles are on their way out, with a number of countries setting deadlines for the ban of non-zero emissions road vehicles.
Even by the most conservative estimates it is projected that new fossil-fueled cars and motorcycles will be outlawed in key major cities by 2050, while Europe, Canada and the UK may call time by as early as 2035.
A recent plan released by the UK’s Department for Transport states that the government will “consult this year on a phase out date of 2035, or earlier, if a faster transition appears feasible, for the sale of new non-zero emission powered two and three wheelers”.
If this target were to be locked in, companies like Triumph Motorcycles would have just 14 years to convert their internal combustion engine (ICE) range to electric.
Although the local government has yet to follow other countries in committing to a net zero emissions target, the banning of petrol-powered products overseas will certainly affect the availability of new ICE bikes in Australia.
According to Victoria-based climate change think tank Grattan Institute, it would be impossible for Australia to reach a target of zero emissions by 2050 unless it bans ICE cars by 2035.
While motorcycles only contribute a fraction of carbon emissions compared to light/heavy passenger cars, it’s hard to imagine a landscape where solo vehicles are given a pass.
It’s little wonder why electric motorcycle take-up has been slow Down Under, with variety, range anxiety and affordability the biggest deterrents. These factors will need to be addressed promptly if Australia is to transition to electric bikes.
Most electric bike offerings are simply too small and underpowered for serious Aussie riders, however, major companies like BMW and Triumph are quietly working on full-sized models.
Honda has confirmed the release of at least three new electric bikes by 2024, as it aims to make most of its vehicle line-up emissions-free by 2040.
Both Honda and BMW are well-positioned to adopt electric bikes thanks to their comprehensive electrified car resources.
The Bavarian brand will enter the electric bike market early next year when it releases its CE 04 scooter, priced from $20,350, and drawing power from a 31kW motor that offers 130km of range.
INFO MOTO understands that sales have been lacklustre for Harley-Davidson’s breakout electric motorcycle due in part to its high pricetag of $49,995 rideaway, though it is expected to see a dramatic price drop under its new ‘LiveWire’ sub-brand.
The new LiveWire One, which is essentially a reskined version of the Harley electric bike, is expected to be around 25 per cent less expensive when it hits international markets next year.
As electric vehicle (EV) technology continues to improve, charging times and riding range will likely become irrelevant, however, it is critical that electrified motorcycles are as fun and exciting as ICE bikes if they are to convince riders to make the switch.
Italian company 2Electron may have the answer to this with its McFly technology which it says makes its Emula superbike prototype feel like anything from an 80s 250cc two-stroke, to a modern 600cc inline four.
To achieve this, the Emula features ‘bass-shakers’ for engine vibration, a subwoofer for low sound frequencies, a clutch lever and gear shifter for realistic feedback, as well as two compact speakers for engine and mechanical part sound emulation.
The outright performance of electric motorcycles is hardly a concern, with companies like Zero Motorcycles offering wickedly fast machines overseas. Even Harley’s LiveWire achieved a brutish zero-to-100km/h sprint time of three seconds.
A survey conducted in the UK earlier this year indicated that people are slowly warming to electric motorcycles, with 50.3 per cent of participants saying they would consider owning an electrified bike.
However, 65.1 per cent of those who took the survey said that travel distance before recharging puts them off going electric, and 44.1 per cent said the sale of petrol-powered bikes should never be banned.
The sentimentality factor can also not be ignored, with one participant saying of his ICE motorcycle, “I love the visceral feeling of my bike’s noise, vibration and the feeling of being connected to it. Don’t believe electric bikes offer that.”
Indeed, we’ll be sad to see petrol-powered bikes leave our showrooms, however, if we want motorcycling to be as rich and vibrant in the future, as it is today, it’s time to get serious about electric.
Would you consider owning an electric bike if it met your requirements? Let us know in the comment section below.
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.