Long-distance rides on electric motorcycles: here's how they do it

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Electric-vehicle charging during cross-country 'Ride The Future' tour, Summer 2013

Electric-vehicle charging during cross-country 'Ride The Future' tour, Summer 2013

Lately there have been more and more stories of people riding electric motorcycles long distances. 

As one of the few people who have gone on a 1,000-plus-mile ride on an electric motorcycle, I wanted to find out who else had joined this select group of adventurers. 

It turns out that more than a handful of people have taken on this challenge and emerged victorious.  

DON'T MISS: 2016 Electric Motorcycle Buyers Guide

People who ride electric motorcycles mostly stick to commuting distances, but these select few push the boundaries of electric motorcycle mobility.

All of them have traveled considerably farther than 1,000 miles on a long-distance trip. 

Currently the time they must take to travel these distances is greater than their gas-powered counterparts, but the time gap is diminishing.

Terry Hershner competing in 2014 Vetter Challenge for motorcycle with lowest energy cost

Terry Hershner competing in 2014 Vetter Challenge for motorcycle with lowest energy cost

Terry Hershner, aka Electric Terry, from California has been the premier trailblazer for long distance electric motorcycle riding so far.

He was the first to ride his 2012 Zero S across the country in December of 2012, then met up with Craig Vetter to put streamlining on it and the rest is history. 

His 2012 Zero S is highly modified and he has added (and sometimes subtracted) chargers and batteries from the setup depending on the journey he intends to take. 

ALSO SEE: First 'Iron Butt' Award For Electric Motorcycle: Terry Hershner (Sep 2014)

He was the first person on an electric motorcycle to win Craig Vetter’s Fuel Economy Challenge and the first to ride an electric motorcycle 1,000 miles in 24 hours earning him entry into the Iron Butt Association. 

He has also traveled 300 miles on a single charge at highway speeds by adding external batteries to his bike, showing what is possible with improved aerodynamics and more energy storage.  

Terry has put 75,000mi on his highly modified 2012 Zero S which he rode across the USA 3 times.

Terry Hershner competing in 2014 Vetter Challenge for motorcycle with lowest energy cost

Terry Hershner competing in 2014 Vetter Challenge for motorcycle with lowest energy cost

As the only person to successfully complete an Iron Butt Saddlesore ride, he traveled from San Francisco to the Mexico border and back in 22 hours and 57 minutes.

To do that he mounted 18kW of Elcon chargers to his motorcycle that also had a full aerodynamic faring on it.

With the help of Hollywood Electrics, he is constantly pushing the boundaries of fast charging and has been instrumental in pushing the industry forward.

Long-distance electric motorcycle rider Thomas Tomczyk

Long-distance electric motorcycle rider Thomas Tomczyk

Thomas Tomczyk mounted his 2012 Zero DS in Philadelphia on March 30, 2015 and rode 17,300mi to the southern tip of South America, reaching it on January 20, 2016.

This is the longest continuous journey as far as I know, and as of this writing he is working on registering with Guinness World Records.

Thomas didn’t modify his 2012 DS and only added luggage racks and carried 1 DeltaQ external charger which allowed him to charge fully in about 4 hours. 

Following his Electric Powered Odyssey Facebook page was enjoyable since he met people everywhere he went since he had plenty of time to spend while charging. With this setup he could average about 180 miles in a day.

Long-distance electric motorcycle riders Meneghina Express

Long-distance electric motorcycle riders Meneghina Express

In 2013 the Meneghina Express, riders Nicola Colombo and Valerio Fumagilli from Italy, traveled 7690mi from Shanghai, China to Milan, Italy setting the Guinness World Record for “Longest Journey by Electric Motorcycle”.

They rode 2013 Zero FX bikes which feature replaceable batteries, and they were charged using a support truck. 

Traveling through Mongolia and western China required them to travel long distances without consistent access to electricity. 

On average they traveled 174 miles per day, which is pretty good when you don’t always have a road to ride on.

Long-distance electric motorcycle rider Ben Rich

Long-distance electric motorcycle rider Ben Rich

Ben Rich (author of this article) was the second person to ride an electric motorcycle across the U.S., and he also crossed the U.S. from South to North by going to Mexico and Canada on the same trip.

While he claims to not be in competition with Terry Hershner, he rode his electric motorcycle in more states (33) than Terry (25).  

SEE DETAILS: 'Kick Gas' Movie: Driving Across U.S. In Electric Car & Motorcycles (Apr 2014)

In 2013 he traveled 4,500 with the Ride the Future Tour from Charleston, South Carolina, to Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California.  This journey is featured in the movie Kick Gas

In 2014 he rode 6,000 miles from NYC making stops in Asheville, North Carolina; St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago; and the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

In 2015 his journey took him from NYC to Florida, over to Mexico, then up to Montreal, Canada, and was featured in the February issue of American Motorcyclist magazine. 

He now rides a 2014 Zero SR with a power tank averaging 310 miles per day by charging with 2 Elcon 2500W chargers supplied by Hollywood Electrics.

Long-distance electric motorcycle rider Trui Hanoulle

Long-distance electric motorcycle rider Trui Hanoulle

Trui Hanoulle, aka “Elektrogirl," rode from Belgium to Istanbul, and back, on a 2015 Zero DS, a trip of 4,500 miles in total.

She called the trip “a unique, slow-fast journey with an ocean of time and its toes into the future.” She charged only using the bike's onboard charger, stopping at campsites along the way and utilizing her dual sport bike to its fullest. 

Trui averaged 155 miles per day on her journey along the backroads of Europe.

Energica Ego and rider Adrian von Büren during Wave Trophy race, July 2015

Energica Ego and rider Adrian von Büren during Wave Trophy race, July 2015

Several electric motorcycle riders competed in the Wave Trophy, which is a 1,500mi electric vehicle showcase traveling through Europe.

Several electric motorcyclists made the journey including: Martin Moritz (Zero S, Germany), Christian Jog (Zero SR, Germany), Adrian von Büren (Energica Ego, Switzerland), Jean-Pierre Kessler (Switzerland, Johammer), Birger Salzer (Germany, Zero SR). 

CHECK OUT: Energica Electric Motorcycle Vies For Wave Trophy, Makes Waves (Jul 2015)

They used a variety of charging systems and had to average 190 miles per day.  The Zero riders used Elcon 2500W chargers from Hollywood Electrics or DeltaQ chargers from Zero.  

It's notable that the Energica Ego can charge using direct current fast charging built right into the bike. This allowed riders to recharge to 80 percent in less than 1 hour. 

DC fast charging is the foreseeable path to long-range travel on electric bikes, and so far, Energica appears to be leading the way.

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