2018 electric motorcycle buyers guide

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2018 Zero SR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero SR electric motorcycle

The variety of electric motorcycles on the market has increased dramatically in 2018, and we've seen some significant price drops by two competitive brands.

Both Alta Motors and Energica cut the prices of their bikes significantly, bringing them closer to being cost-competitive with their gas-powered counterparts.

Zero Motorcycles continues to improve its entire lineup, this year with a 10-percent increase in range and a 6-kilowatt faster charging option for its bigger bikes. 

DON'T MISS: Harley invests in Alta Motors, makes progress on electric motorcycle

This guide is focused on electric motorcycles available to buy in the U.S. Many companies outside the States make electric two-wheeled vehicles, but they are not included because they are not sold here.

China has, by far, the largest two-wheeled market in the world, but it mainly focuses on electric scooters, while we cover highway-legal motorcycles. Chinese bikes and knockoffs are not included here.

Because many companies claim to offer "production" bikes though we have yet to see them in the hands of customers, we have categorized offerings into On Sale Now, Rare Availability, or Concept bikes.

We've highlighted a few electric concept bikes because they're made by internationally recognized motorcycle brands.

2018 Zero SR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero SR electric motorcycle

ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLES: ON SALE NOW

2018 Zero SR

$16,500  - 14.4 kwh   - 179 miles - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 70 hp - 116 ft-lbs - 414 lbs

$19,400 - 18 kwh - 223 miles - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 70 hp - 116 ft-lbs - 458 lbs

Strong torque and large battery options give the SR an advantage over every other available electric motorcycle. 

The base battery of the Zero SR gets a 10-percent increase this year, from 13 kwh to 14.4 kwh, and the optional power tank adds another 3.6 kwh for a whopping 18 kwh. This is literally two to three times the battery capacity of the 2012 Zero S bike, which was considered a breakthrough at the time. 

The SR comes standard with Pirelli Rosso II tires, Bosch ABS, and Showa Suspension, which give it a smooth ride and confident braking. With the optional 6-kw "charge tank" it can be fully recharged in just a couple of hours.

2018 Zero S electric motorcycle

2018 Zero S electric motorcycle

2018 Zero S

$11,000    - 7.2 kwh   - 89mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 34 hp - 78 ft-lbs - 313lbs

$14,000    - 13 kwh - 161mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 60 hp - 81 ft-lbs - 408lbs

$16,700    - 16.6 kwh - 206mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 60 hp - 81 ft-lbs - 452lbs

The Zero S is the more affordable standard version of the SR, though it shares that bike's suspension, brakes, and tires, and offers three battery capacities or the faster charge-tank option that allows it to be charged at 6 kw.

CHECK OUT: 2018 Zero electric motorcycles: longer range, 6-kw charging, only a few price hikes

2018 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero DSR electric motorcycle

2018 Zero DSR

$16,000  - 14.4 kwh   - 163 mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 70 hp - 116 ft-lbs - 419lbs

$18,700 - 18 kwh - 204 mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 70 hp - 116 ft-lbs - 463lbs

The Zero DSR also offers the highest-capacity battery options for excellent range or trip flexibility with faster 6-kw charging. It's an excellent option for Dual Sport riders or for taller riders who want a high seat height. 

As in other Zero models, Showa suspension and Bosch ABS keep the ride smooth both off-road and on, and it comes equipped with Pirelli MT-60 tires. 

The ABS can be switched off when leaving paved roads, however, for consistent braking performance in uneven terrain.

2018 Zero DS electric motorcycle

2018 Zero DS electric motorcycle

2018 Zero DS 

$11,000   - 7.2 kwh   - 82 mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 34 HP - 78 ft-lbs - 317lbs

$14,000   - 13 kwh - 147 mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 60 HP - 81 ft-lbs - 413lbs

$16,900  - 16.6 kwh - 188 mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 60 HP - 81 ft-lbs - 457lbs

READ THIS: Electric motorcycle news: Tacita Electric Cruiser, Energica, KTM, Alta, fast charging

The Zero DS is the dual-sport option for solid performance on highways and dirt roads alike.  Its Showa suspension and Bosch ABS system are paired with J-Juan brakes, and Pirelli MT-60 Enduro tires.

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. 

The battery options are the same as the SR and S, but rated range is reduced a bit due to tire friction.

2018 Zero FXS electric motorcycle

2018 Zero FXS electric motorcycle

2018 Zero FX and FXS 

$8,500  - 3.6 kwh - 46-50 mi - 1-kw charger (120V) - 27 hp - 78 ft-lbs - 247lbs

$10,500  - 7.2 kwh - 91-100 mi - 1-kw charger (120V) - 46 hp - 78 ft-lbs - 289lbs

The Zero FX and FXS are now significantly less expensive thanks to simplification of their manufacturing process. These lightweight offroad or supermoto bikes come with either modular or permanently integrated batteries.

Designed for supermoto tracks, the FXS is a favorite for racers on short tracks and for the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. It comes with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires to grip the pavement.

The Zero FX is designed for off-road use and comes with Pirelli Scorpion MT-90 tires. 

Alta Redshift SM electric motorcycle

Alta Redshift SM electric motorcycle

Alta RedShift SM electric motorcycle

Alta RedShift SM electric motorcycle

Alta RedShift SM electric motorcycle

Alta RedShift SM electric motorcycle

Alta Motors Redshift SM, EX, MX, MXR

SM - $13,500 - 5.8 kwh - 50 mi -  charger - 42 hp - 120 ft-lbs - 283lbs

EX - $13,000 - 5.8 kwh - 50 mi - 1.3-kw charger - 40 hp - 120 ft-lbs - 275lbs

MXR - $12,000 - 5.8 kwh - 50 mi - 1.3-kw charger - 50 hp - 147 ft-lbs - 259lbs (offroad)

MX - $10,500  - 5.8 kwh - 50 mi - 1.3-kw charger - 42 hp - 120 ft-lbs - 265lbs (offroad)

Alta Motors has aggressively increased its dealer network and its bikes are available throughout much of the U.S.

They seem to want to be pushed to their limits, and are built for the track to run with 250cc competitors. All Alta bikes have a hard seat.

Alta uses Brembo brakes on all models along with WP fully adjustable front shocks.  Tires vary by model, with the SM sporting Pirelli Rosso II tires, the EX with Metzler 6 Days Extreme, the MXR offering Dunlop Geomax MX3S, and the MX fitted with Bridgestone Battlecross X30. 

Energica Ego electric motorcycle

Energica Ego electric motorcycle

Energica Ego 

$24,900 - 11.7 kwh - 125 mi - 3-kw charger, CCS DC fast charging - 145 hp - 145 ft-lbs - 568lbs

Energica Eva 107

$23,400 - 11.7 kwh - 125 mi - 3-kw charger, CCS DC fast charging - 145 hp - 145 ft-lbs - 568lbs

Energica Eva EsseEsse9

$23,400 - 11.7 kwh - 125 mi - 3-kw charger, CCS DC fast charging - 145 hp - 133 ft-lbs - 568lbs

Energica Eva at Golden Gate Bridge on California 1 tour from LA to San Francisco

Energica Eva at Golden Gate Bridge on California 1 tour from LA to San Francisco

Energica makes the highest-performance electric motorcycles offered with DC fast-charging equipment.

While their prices are higher than those of other models, the performance and parts are at the high end: The Energica Ego and Eva 107 both boast 145 hp and a torque of 148 ft-lbs. The top speed of the Ego is limited to 150 mph and the Eva can go 125 mph. 

Both feature Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires, Marzocchi front shocks, and Bitubo Rear Mono Shocks.  The main difference between these two is the Ego's racing seating posture, while the Eva is styled as a standard bike with an upright seating position. 

The Eva EsseEsse9 has rather a retro style, an upright sitting position, and slightly less power for casual riders—although it still offer plenty of punch.

Energica bikes can be purchased in California, North Carolina, and soon in Texas.

KTM Freeride E electric motorcycle

KTM Freeride E electric motorcycle

ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLES: RARE AVAILABILITY

KTM Freeride-E

$13,000 - 3.9 kwh - 50 mi - 1.3-kw charger - 25 hp - 31 ft-lbs - 238lbs

KTM brought a limited number of Fits Freeride-E supermoto bikes to the U.S. Following a successful pilot program in 2017, the company plans to import another set of 100 or so bikes to be sold at retail (approximately $13,000).

These new bikes will have Explorer 48 forks, higher-capacity batteries, and regenerative-braking capability. They are expected to have a longer range, but that hasn’t been announced as of the publication of this article.

Lightning LS218 electric motorcycle

Lightning LS218 electric motorcycle

Lightning LS 218

$39,900 - 12 kwh - 100 mi - 8-kw charger - 200 hp - 168 ft-lbs - 495lbs

$42,900 - 16 kwh - 120 mi - 8-kw charger - 200 hp - 168 ft-lbs - 495+lbs

$46,900 - 20 kwh - 160 mi - 8-kw charger - 200 hp - 168 ft-lbs - 495+lbs

Lightning continues to make one of the best electric motorcycles available, but they can only be purchased near San Francisco where the company's factory is located.

These powerful bikes are said to be capable of a top speed of 218 mph, and they have the largest battery packs available in any electric motorcycle.

With DC fast charging, the Lightning has it all—but those capabilities come at a hefty price. The limited manufacturing means buyers can order a Lightning LS-218 and have it customized at the factory if they live near the San Francisco Bay Area.  

Lito Sora electric motorcycle

Lito Sora electric motorcycle

Lito Sora

$77,000 - 12 kwh - 124 mi - 1.3-kw charger (120V) - 60 hp - 66.4 ft-lbs - 573 lbs

Lito Sora sells a luxury electric motorcycle with a customizable seat position, key-card ignition, a leather seat, and a safe range system that works with GPS to tell the rider whether the bike will make it to a destination or needs to charge.

They are made to order.

2018 BMW C-Evolution electric scooter

2018 BMW C-Evolution electric scooter

BMW C-Evolution (electric scooter)

$14,600 - 12.5 kwh - 99 mi - 3-kw charger - 48 hp - 53 ft-lbs - 606 lbs

After several years of selling the BMW C Evolution in Europe, the powerful electric scooter finally has come to the U.S.  In 2018, it is available only in California, but BMW has also brought several of them to the East Coast for demonstrations and test rides to gauge the potential market. 

This maxi-scooter is very comfortable and has built in storage under the seat, as well as a second seat giving room for a passenger. 

Johammer electric motorcycle

Johammer electric motorcycle

ELECTRIC MOTORCYLE CONCEPTS and ANNOUNCEMENTS

Harley Davidson made waves when its CEO said earlier this year it will produce an electric motorcycle before 2020, which confirmed previous statements.  

The Johammer J1 is another bike available in Europe only. Several riders have used them for the Wave Trophy race and brought them to electric-motorcycle group rides.  

Last March, Indian Motorcycles claimed it was working on an electric motorcycle, but the company has not made any further statements about that project since.

NOTE: Author Ben Rich has owned electric motorcycles since 2007 including a Vectrix VX1, a 2012 Zero S ZF9, a 2014 Zero SR, and a 2016 Zero SR.  He has gone for a test ride on Zeros, Alta, Harley-Davidson, and Energica electric motorcycles and is active in the electric-motorcycle community.

 
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