2016 Zero electric motorcycle rangeEnlarge Photo
The electric motorcycle industry continues to mature as Zero Motorcycles leads the way with the highest sales and most models.
Zero added two new bikes to its lineup for 2016, and its prices have come down while performance has gone up.
Several established manufacturers gave us a glimpse of their plans for electric motorcycles, and an array of very expensive high performance bikes is available from startups.
In its latest transportation bill, the Federal Government has reinstated a 10-percent income-tax credit (up to $2,500) for the purchase of an electric motorcycle, so now is a good time to buy.
The electric motorcycle landscape changed during the course of 2015. Brammo was bought out by Victory, representing the first major manufacturer’s entry into the electric-motorcycle market. Energica now has motorcycles in dealer showrooms and is coming out with a naked sport bike.
And Mission Motors closed its doors after it was unable to sell its high-powered electric sports bike.
The president of Harley-Davidson said it intends to sell a production electric motorcycle by the year 2020, but did not indicate when. The Harley Livewire toured Europe over the past year, but it remains unchanged from the version that toured the U.S. in 2014.
Harley Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle prototypeEnlarge Photo
Yamaha appears to be making progress with its two electric motorcycles, the PES2 and the PED2, which stand for Passion, Electric, Street & Passion, Electric, Dirt. It has a working prototype of the PED2 featured in a video, but that's the only hint that it exists.
The motorcycles listed in this guide are categorized as Buy Now, Rare Availability, or Concept, because while many companies that claim to be making “production” bikes, we have yet to see evidence that some of them have put bikes in customer hands.
Finally, even though China has, by far, the largest two-wheeled market in the world, it is mainly comprised of electric scooters, and we focus on highway-legal motorcycles. Chinese bikes, or Chinese bike knockoffs, are not included here.
2016 Zero SR
2016 Zero SREnlarge Photo
2016 Zero SR
The Zero SR is the top dog of electric motorcycles under $20,000. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and comes standard with Bosch ABS brakes, Showa suspension, and Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires. The range increased and the price has come down.
With 106 ft-lbs of torque, this machine accelerates hard throughout its software-limited speed range from 0 to 102 mph. You can also use a smartphone app that allows the rider to check on battery life and state of charge or limit the top speed if you let someone borrow your bike.
The optional power tank extends range to 120 miles (up from 98 miles at 55 mph), and new this year is an optional charge tank for $1,988 that can bring charging times down to 3 hours for a full charge.
But the big news for aggressive riders is the newly redesigned IPM (Interior Permanent Magnet) motor that has greater resistance to overheating. You can ride a 2016 SR through the canyons all day without giving a second thought to motor temperature.
2016 Zero S electric motorcycleEnlarge Photo
2016 Zero S
The Zero S street bike has come a long way since it became the first production electric motorcycle in 2010. The 2016 Zero S has six different configurations!
There is a 9.8kWh base model or 13kWh model that can be upgraded with either a 2.8kWh power tank or a 2.5kW charge tank depending on whether you want more range or faster charging. The SR boasts Bosch ABS brakes, Showa suspension and Pirelli Sport Demon tires.
Adding a Power Tank gives the rider extra range for longer riding without needing to charge. The Charge Tank adds 2.5kW of charging to the 1.2kW onboard charger giving a total of 3.8kW of charging power.
Zero has an App that allows the rider to check the vitals on the bike including charge time, battery state of charge, speed and energy use as well as reduce the top speed from 95mi/hr if necessary.
2016 Zero DSR electric motorcycleEnlarge Photo
2016 Zero DSR
The DSR has the power of a Zero SR with the suspension and tires made for adventure riding. With 106 ft-lbs of torque, the DSR is a bike that dual sport riders have been craving ever since the SR made its debut in 2014.
This bike comes with the standard Bosch ABS brakes, Showa suspension and Pirelli MT-60 tires. It can be fitted with either a Power Tank or Charge Tank and can be customized using the Zero smartphone app.
2016 Zero DS electric motorcycleEnlarge Photo
2016 Zero DS
The Zero DS is the dual-sport option giving solid performance on highways or dirt roads alike. It comes with Showa suspension, Bosch ABS, and Pirelli MT-60 Enduro tires.
The battery packs are the same size as the SR and S, but range is reduced a bit due to tire friction. The ABS can be turned off for off-road riding, giving greater control to the rider.
The extra ride in the fully adjustable suspension makes this a great option for taller riders, as well.
2016 Zero FXSEnlarge Photo
2016 Zero FX and FXS
Supermoto riders rejoice! The lightweight but powerful Zero FX now can be ordered standard with street tires!
The Zero FX is well known in electric motorcycle circles as the most fun bike for riding around town. The wheelie-inducing motor puts grins on the face of anyone who has tried one.
Until now, this bike has only been available with offroad Pirelli Scorpion MT 90 tires, but now can be ordered as the FXS with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires.
The removable batteries have been upgraded with greater power density and are backwards compatible with 2014-15 models.
Victory Empulse electric motorcycleEnlarge Photo
2016 Victory Empulse
The 2016 Victory Empulse marks the first production electric motorycle from an established manufacturer. This came about when Polaris, which owns Vicotry Motorcycles, bought Brammo Motorcycles in January 2015.
That means the 2016 Empulse is fundamentally a re-badged Brammo Empulse. The Empulse has Brembo brakes, adjustable suspension and Continental Sport Attack II tires.
The six speed transmission distinguishes it among electric vehicles from all manufacturers, giving the rider the option to shift normally or ride in 2nd or 3rd gear at all times without the need to shift.
The Victory website offers upgrades including suspension and frame sliders for the Empulse.