2014 Electric Motorcycles: Buyer's Guide

2014 Zero SR electric motorcycle

2014 Zero SR electric motorcycle

Electric motorcycles are now ready for primetime, and this year's selection shows that the pace of development is quick. This buyer's guide focuses on street-legal, highway-ready motorcycles. 

There are many two-wheeled electric vehicles out there that are more properly considered scooters or dirt bikes, but this guide covers only motorcycles (plus a scooter or two) that are safe to use on all highways.

2012 Zero S electric motorcycle [photo: Ben Rich]

2012 Zero S electric motorcycle [photo: Ben Rich]

Bikes are categorized by whether they can be bought now, or have be ordered ahead of time. My experience after covering the industry for several years is that nailing down a delivery date for motorcycles that haven't yet been built is challenging.

If you look online, some of the projections seem a bit inflated for some of the Pre-Order motorcycles; we'll see how they perform when deliveries start.

Zero Motorcycles and Brammo were the first two companies to put their money where their mouths were and put bikes into consumer hands. Vectrix also has bikes on the ground from 2007-8, though they are more of a maxi-scooter--but they're included because they can legally travel on highways. 

I have ridden all the Zero and Brammo offerings as well as the original Vectrix VX-1.  (The original VX-1 had a nickel-metal-hydride battery, but it will soon sport a lighter, more durable, and longer-range lithium-ion battery.)

2012 Zero S electric motorcycle and 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car [photo: Ben Rich]

2012 Zero S electric motorcycle and 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car [photo: Ben Rich]

Electric motorcycles with ranges of 100 miles or more have been available to the average consumer since 2012; each year they get faster and go farther. Reviews from traditional motorcycle-news sources have become more favorable with each passing month, and it truly seems as if electric motorcycles are ready to go mainstream.

While rumors of other electric motorcycles have sprouted periodically, so far there are no production models for sale--they require pre-ordering.

Companies like Lightning Motorcycles, Electric Motorsport, Lito Sora Electric Motorcycle, Evolve motorcycles, MotoCzysz, Mavizen, and Orphiro are among those from whom we're still waiting to see product delivered. 

I had hoped Vectrix would have its new Lithium powered VX-1 available to test for this guide, but only the low-speed VX-2 electric scooter is available today. 

As for the Pre-Order category of bikes: Don't get your hopes up. If history teaches us anything, waiting for an electric motorcycle from a brand-new startup company is a long lesson in patience.  


2014 Zero SR electric motorcycle

2014 Zero SR electric motorcycle

2014 Zero SR

$17k    - 11.4kWh - 137mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 67HP - 106ft-lbs - 407lbs
$19.5k - 14.2kWh - 171mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 67HP - 106ft-lbs - 452lbs

This bike is for people who want to go out for track days and push the limits. It is a race-ready motorcycle that wants to eat up the competition with its massive torque. The only question is whether riders can handle the instant torque and power.

Single-gear belt drive means riders never have to shift gears, leaving them to an focus on passing other riders. Your iPhone can track power consumption, state of charge, and other variables when connected via Bluetooth.

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