2016 Electric Motorcycle Buyers Guide

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2016 Zero electric motorcycle range

2016 Zero electric motorcycle range

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.

DON'T MISS: Electric Motorcycle Tour: Three Countries, 6,800 Miles, 22 Days

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 prototype

Harley Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle prototype

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.

 

BUY NOW

2016 Zero SR

2016 Zero SR

2016 Zero SR

  • $16k  - 13kWh   - 161mi - 1.2kW charger (110V) - 67HP - 106ft-lbs - 414lbs
  • $18.7k - 15.9kWh - 197mi - 1.2kW charger (110V) - 67HP - 106ft-lbs - 458lbs

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.

ALSO SEE: Electric Motorcycle Road Trip: What I Learned, What You Need To Know

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.   

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-s/sr.php

2016 Zero S electric motorcycle

2016 Zero S electric motorcycle

2016 Zero S

  • $11k    - 9.8kWh   - 121mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 54HP - 68ft-lbs - 376lbs
  • $14k    - 13kWh - 161mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 54HP - 68ft-lbs - 408lbs
  • $16.7k    - 15.9kWh - 197mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 54HP - 68ft-lbs - 452lbs

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. 

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-s/

2016 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

2016 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

2016 Zero DSR

  • $16k    - 13kWh - 161mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 67HP - 106ft-lbs - 419lbs
  • $18.7k    - 15.9kWh - 197mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 67HP - 106ft-lbs - 463lbs

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.  

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-ds/dsr.php

2016 Zero DS electric motorcycle

2016 Zero DS electric motorcycle

2016 Zero DS 

  • $11k    - 9.8kWh   - 110mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 54HP - 68ft-lbs - 381lbs
  • $14k    - 13kWh - 147mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 54HP - 68ft-lbs - 413lbs
  • $16.7k    - 15.9kWh - 179mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 54HP - 68ft-lbs - 457lbs

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.  

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-ds/

2016 Zero FXS

2016 Zero FXS

2016 Zero FX and FXS 

  • $8,500     - 3.3kWh - 35mi - 0.65kW charger (110V) - 27HP - 70ft-lbs - 247lbs
  • $11,000 - 6.5kWh - 70mi - 0.65kW charger (110V) - 44HP - 70ft-lbs - 289lbs

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.  

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-fx/

Victory Empulse electric motorcycle

Victory Empulse electric motorcycle

2016 Victory Empulse 

  • $20k - 10.4kWh - 128mi - 3kW charger (220V) - 54HP - 61ft-lbs - 470lbs

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.

http://www.victorymotorcycles.com/en-us/electric/empulse-tt-titanium-silver-havasu-red

Energica Ego Epic electric motorcycle

Energica Ego Epic electric motorcycle

Energica Ego (Available near Los Angeles or in Europe)

  • $34k - 11.7kWh - 118mi - 3kW charger (220V) - 97HP - 144ft-lbs - 568lbs

Energica Ego 45

  • $68k - 11.7kWh - 118mi - 3kW charger & SAE Combo fast charger - 97HP - 144ft-lbs - 568lbs

The Energica Ego turned heads in 2015 when it came through the U.S. on a test-ride tour. 

This powerful bike has premium components and is currently the only bike that has an optional DC (direct current) fast charger. The fast charger and upgraded components are standard on the Ego 45, which is made to celebrate the 45th anniversary of CRP Group (which makes Energica). 

The Ego is the fastest production electric motorcycle with the highest top speed (150 mph) and it has the fastest acceleration (0-to-60-mph in about 3 seconds).  The instrument panel has a full-color display and the regenerative braking is more intuitive than any other bike. 

The primary change for the Ego in 2016 is that it is available to order now and can be delivered in a month or two.

http://www.energicasuperbike.com/energica-ego-electric-superbike/

Energica Eva electric motorcycle

Energica Eva electric motorcycle

Energica Eva

  • $34k - 11.7kWh - 118mi - 3kW charger (220V) - 95HP - 125ft-lbs - 568lbs

The next bike that Energica plans to produce is the Eva, a naked street bike that is (a little) more affordable, and slightly toned down from the Ego. 

The price is expected to be in the $25-28,000 range and it will have a software-limited top speed of 124 mph and optional DC fast charging capability.

The Eva made its debut at the EICMA show in October 2015, and the first production run should be in May, 2016.  Energica is taking orders now

http://www.energicasuperbike.com/energica-eva-electric-streetfighter/

Rare Availability

Lightning LS218 electric motorcycle

Lightning LS218 electric motorcycle

Lightning LS 218

  • $39k - 12kWh - 100mi - 8kW charger - 200HP - 168ft-lbs - 495lbs
  • $42k - 15kWh - 120mi - 8kW charger - 200HP - 168ft-lbs - 495*lbs
  • $47k - 20kWh - 160mi - 8kW charger - 200HP - 168ft-lbs - 495*lbs

Lightning blew away the motorcycle world in 2013 by winning the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb (by 21 seconds!), and since then there have been no changes to this incredible bike. 

The company custom-makes each bike, and will only sell it to customers in the San Francisco Bay Area.  It is advertised as the worlds fastest production electric motorcycle, and at least one has been delivered.

http://www.lightningmotorcycle.com/

Alta Redshift SM electric motorcycle

Alta Redshift SM electric motorcycle

Alta Motors 

  • $15.5k - 5.2kWh - 50 mi - 1.2kW charger - 40HP - ??ft-lbs - 265lbs
  • $15k    - 5.2kWh - 50 mi - 1.2kW charger - 40HP - ???ft-lbs - 260lbs (offroad)

The Alta Redshift SM is designed to be a street legal supermoto and it has shown well in a race against 250cc bikes this past year.  Alta Motors has delivered its first “production” bike and is taking pre-orders. 

However, its website is soft on details and doesn’t list the power of the onboard charger (1.2kW was extrapolated from a stated 4 hr charge time), nor does it list the torque.  Also, the price is listed as an estimated price. 

There is one dealership in San Francisco, so it is likely sales will be limited to that region.

http://www.altamotors.co/machine/redshift-sm/

Johammer electric motorcycle

Johammer electric motorcycle

Johammer J1

  • $25k - 8.3kWh - 93mi - 3.5kW charger (220V) - ??HP - ??ft-lbs - 350lbs 
  • $27k - 12.7kWh - 120mi - 3.5kW charger (220V) - ??HP - ??ft-lbs - 350*lbs

Built in Austria, the Johammer sports a distinct look and some interesting engineering choices. 

The electric motor and controller are found in the rear wheel, leaving more room for batteries in the main body of the bike. The twin-arm box-section front fork has progressive suspension control to equalize nodding when braking. 

Also there is no dashboard; information is found instead displayed in the rear-view mirrors.

Tours of Austria on Johammers are available, so the company has clearly made several models, and they are available to order online.

http://www.johammer.com/en/

Saietta electric motorcycle, courtesy Jim Johnson

Saietta electric motorcycle, courtesy Jim Johnson

Saietta NGS (Next Generation Saietta)

  • $??k - 11kWh - 120mi - 1.5kW charger (110V) - 96.5HP - 93.7ft-lbs - 485lbs

There has been at least one delivery of an Agility Saietta electric motorcycle in England so far.  This strange-looking motorcycle has good performance characteristics despite its alien design. 

Its maker has come out with a new design that builds upon the previous version. 

http://saiettamotorcycles.com/

Lito Sora electric motorcycle

Lito Sora electric motorcycle

Lito Sora

  • $77k - 12kWh - 124mi - 1.3kW charger (110V) - 60HP - 66.4ft-lbs - 573lbs

Lito Sora has increased its price to $77,000, marketing itself as a luxury electric motorcycle.  The design is attractive and landed them a spot on the TV show Hawaii 5-0

But with a 4.7 second 0-to-60-mph time, it will need to improve the performance to compete with other electric motorcycles already on the market. 

Also, even with a low center of gravity, 573lbs makes for a heavy bike. The company has one known dealer in Montreal, Canada.   

http://soraelectricsuperbike.com/

Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle in The Avengers movie

Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle in The Avengers movie

CONCEPT

Harley-Davidson Livewire

  • $N/A - ? kWh - 53mi - Offboard charger (220V) - 74HP - 52ft-lbs - 400lbs (approx)

Harley-Davidson made big news when the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer sent 40 electric motorcycles on a tour of the U.S. in 2014. The bike was featured in the Avengers:Age of Ultron movie, but it isn’t available to buy. 

Harley CEO Matt Lefatich told The Wall Street Journal to expect a production electric motorcycle from them before 2020, but not in the next couple of years. 

The Livewire has good handling characteristics, but lacks the power of other electric bikes already on the market. The company will need to make some improvements before bringing a bike to market.

http://www.harley-davidson.com/content/h-d/en_US/home/motorcycles/project-livewire.html

BMW eRR electric motorcycle

BMW eRR electric motorcycle

BMW eRR

BMW has been making the C Evolution electric scooter (for sale in Europe only) for a couple of years and now it is turning its attention to motorcycles.

In the fall of 2015, BMW announced an electric version of its 1000RR supersport motorcycle.  Their company-wide dedication to electric vehicles is apparent, but no further details have been announced at the time of writing.

Yamaha PES2 electric motorcycle

Yamaha PES2 electric motorcycle

Yamaha PES2/PED2

At the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha showed the latest version of their PES2 (Passion Electric Street) and PED2 (Passion Electric Dirt) motorcycles. 

Accompanying them are YouTube promo videos of riders on the bikes, but pricing and other specs have not been announced.  However, the company is clearly are continuing to develop a small street bike and a small dirt bike.  

http://global.yamaha-motor.com/showroom/event/2015tokyomotorshow/sp/exhibitionmodels/pes2/

KTM Freeride E electric motorcycle

KTM Freeride E electric motorcycle

KTM Freeride-E (off-road)

  • $14.3 - 2.6kWh - 30mi - ? Offboard charger - 21.5HP - 31ft-lbs - 242lbs

KTM makes roadworthy gas powered bikes and they have produced a small number of KTM Freeride-E electric motorcycles. 

It showed some new videos in 2015, which is an encouraging sign that it continues to pursue manufacturing this bike, but it is not available to the general public yet.

http://www.ktm.com/us/e-ride/

EDITOR'S NOTE: Author Ben Rich has owned electric motorcycles since 2007 including a Vectrix VX1, a 2012 Zero S ZF9, and a 2014 Zero SR with a power tank.  He has gone for a test ride on all Zeros, Victory, Harley & Energica electric motorcycles and is active in online discussion forums on this topic.

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