How I rode 4,000 miles on an electric motorcycle for $10

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Each summer I ride my electric motorcycle over 4,000 miles to show how easy it is.

Except it wasn’t actually easy—until this year.

What I mean by that is that it wasn’t easy and practical until this year.

MORE: The 2017 Zero Electric Motorcycles lineup

Of course it was easy in 2013 to ride 4,500 miles in 44 days, only going about 100 miles per day. But it wasn’t very practical for the average rider.

Visiting the Continental Divide in 2016 - photo courtesy Ben Rich

Visiting the Continental Divide in 2016 - photo courtesy Ben Rich

That all changed with faster charging and greater availability of charging stations.

All of these trips were made using equipment that is available for everyone to purchase. There are no secret tricks I have, no special engineering, nothing besides a stock bike with aftermarket chargers that anybody can buy.

Ben Rich's 2013 cross-country tour

Ben Rich's 2013 cross-country tour

2013 - Charleston to San Francisco 

Riding a 2012 Zero S with a 9-kilowatt-hour battery from Charleston, South Carolina, to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, was my first taste of cross-country travel on an electric motorcycle.

After a phone call from a Nashville woman living in Thailand got me on the Ride the Future Tour, we traveled about 100 miles per day and I used 110V outlets almost exclusively.

I had one Elcon 2.5-kilowatt charger with me, but didn’t use it much. Overall, I traveled 4,500 miles on 44 riding days.

Little did I know that riding through Arkansas would help my total state count tremendously in the future.

By the end of the summer I rode through 14 states and I became the second person to cross the US on an electric motorcycle.

Terry Hershner had completed a trip a couple of months earlier going from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida. We met in person on this trip and assumed that others would soon follow.

We were wrong. 

Ben Rich's 2014 East Coast electric motorcycle journey

Ben Rich's 2014 East Coast electric motorcycle journey

2014 - Blue Ridge Parkway, St. Louis, and Chicago 

The next year, I added two 2.5-kilowatt Elcon chargers that allowed me to charge up in 1.5 hours and go 85 miles per charge on side roads.

I kept the speed down, but got to ride such legendary roads as the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Tail of the Dragon, and the Cherohala Skyway.

Visiting New England and some Midwestern friends along the way, I grew my state tally to 28.  

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