The attention some of the electric automobile designs have attracted over the past few years has tended to take the focus away from bikes and motorcycles. But for every Volt or Tesla making a splash in the news, dozens of models of electricity powered two-wheelers have been selling by the thousands for years. In aggregate, millions of electricity powered bikes are already in use around the world.
Should anyone doubt the electric scooter industry is alive and well, if not already gone through several cycles of maturity, go to Alibaba.com and search under “Electric Scooters.” You will get links to an astonishing 6,903 products, ranging from Suzhou Rununion Motivity Co., Ltd., to Wuxi Beiyi Electric Bicycle Co., Ltd., to Taizhou Wangpai Automobile Industry Co., to Jiangsu Taler Science and Technology of Motor Vehicle Co., to Jiangsu Xinling Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. , and on, and on, and on, and on. And small wonder – you can plug them in at night, ride them to work during the day, they’re relatively inexpensive to purchase, and they’re considerably less expensive to operate.
Now that electric bikes, scooters and motorcycles are making sense not only on the streets of Shanghai but also on the streets of Silicon Valley, there are some relatively new entrants in this market based in California instead of China. One such company, ELV Motors, based in Santa Clara, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, manufactures mo-peds as well as scooters. Their UM 44L Electric Bicycle, which sells for $1,699, has a top speed of 15 miles per hour, and a range – not including range extension through pedaling – of 20 miles. And at 75 pounds, the bike is practical to pedal in flat terrain without battery power. ELV Motors manufactures seven models of mo-peds and scooters, including the E-1600 Electric Scooter, which at the price of $2,699 attains a top speed of 30 miles per hour and a range of 40 miles.
Another company, ZERO Motorcycles, is located in Santa Cruz, California, a coastal resort community which is a 30 minute drive south of the Silicon Valley through some of the most beautiful rolling hills of redwood forests anywhere. ZERO Motorcycles draws on Santa Cruz’s reputation as one of the original centers of mountain biking alongside their proximity to the technological saavy of Silicon Valley to develop the first ever off-road, all-electric dirt bike. Their Zero X model (specifications) delivers 23 horsepower of power and can accelerate from zero to 30 miles per hour in under two seconds. There is no transmission and the electric motor delivers constant torque of 50 ft-lbs. With a 18 pound frame and a total weight of only 140 pounds, ZERO claims their Zero X model has the highest power to weight ratio of any electric vehicle. With lithium ion batteries the motorcycle has a range of about 40 miles.
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|The Zero X electric motorcycle goes zero to thirty in 2.0 seconds.
(Photo: ZERO Motorcycles)
An electric car with a mileage of 4.0 miles per kilowatt-hour would compare to a compact car with a mileage of 30 MPG. At $1.50 per gallon, that equates to $.05 per mile for the gasoline powered car, and at $.10 per kilowatt-hour, that equates to $.025 per mile for the electric powered car – half as much. To save money on gas, people are turning to motorcycles; to save even more money, they might consider the emerging electric motorcycle. With well established supply chains for electric scooters and mo-peds, and an electric dirt bike now available from ZERO Motorcycles, it is only a matter of time before street-legal, full sized electric motorcycles arrive. If the example from ZERO is any indication, these bikes will perform against their gasoline powered counterparts just as admirably as the early Teslas perform against their gasoline powered automobile counterparts.