Electric motorcycles aren’t going to make it, and we’re not interested in owning them. At least not right now. While we like the idea, and while we have no problem with our battery brothers sharing the road with us, right now the technology just isn’t there.
Don’t get us wrong, we love technology. We are not against Bluetooth motorcycle helmets, advanced security systems, or computerized, fuel injected engines. All of us at LeatherUp love our smart phones and our GPS, and we all own computers (and many of us own tablets to boot). That being said, none of us can really get on board with the electric motorcycle idea. Not yet.
Now, part of the reason for this is, we admit, an audible problem. It’s not the biggest problem we have with our electric friends, but it is still a problem. If you’ve never heard what an electric motorcycle sounds like, just turn on your favorite electric razor/back massager/toothbrush and move it quickly in front of your face as if it was speeding by on an invisible bathroom highway. That sound is, for the most part, the exact same sound that electric motorcycles make right now. We at LeatherUp don’t just ride our motorcycles for the sounds they make; but the sound of a rumbling cruiser or a screaming street bike is definitely a big part of the experience of riding. It’s an audible connection a man or woman has to their machine, and it makes us hear every single thrust and acceleration we force upon our beloved, two-wheeled Valkyries. And electric motorcycles just doesn’t give riders that kind of connection. There is a buzzing and an almost annoying whining that occurs every time you pull back on the throttle, and…that’s it. It leaves many of us feeling empty and clamoring for a louder, more beastly-sounding machine.
This actual small quip aside, though; the main reason we here can not get behind the electric motorcycle idea is the battery life. Or, lack thereof. You see, just like all of the electric cars that are trying to convince drivers that they shouldn’t be scared of electric engines, the bikes that we’ve ridden and tested in the past are all based on battery cell technology that doesn’t allow motorcycle riders to do the one thing that they (we) love most — go for a long, winding ride.
When you get on an electric motorcycle you know from the get-go how far you have to ride. Especially if you’re in an area of the world (see: 99% of the United States and Canada) where there aren’t an abundant (or, even sparingly) amount of electric re-charge stations. Basically if your electric motorcycle’s battery is good for 100-200 miles, you’re only going to be able to ride for 100-200 miles. After that, if you’re not back home, you’re pushing your bike to the nearest compatible outlet (oh, right, did we forget to mention that with certain bikes not all outlets are compatible without special adapters?).
What this ultimately means is that electric motorcycles are limited to being daily commuters. This fact is pushed upon you at the dealerships and websites of all the electric bikes currently in ‘mass’ production. They talk in practical terms, letting you know you can ride back and forth to work two or even three times without a charge. You can run around all Saturday while running your errands and not need to stop to ‘fill up’ your battery.
That’s great and all, but what about when you want to go to Sturgis? Or just visit your friends in the next state? Well…the answer to this is: “Ride a real motorcycle, or drive a car.”
You simply cannot use an electric cruiser or street bike for anything other than city commuting. And, while they excel at puttering around town and getting you from point A to point B, one of the things we love about motorcycles is that at a moments notice we can go off the beaten path, turn down a highway we’ve never been down before and say, “screw point A and point B, I’m going to points unknown!” Not so on an electric bike, though. Not unless you want to be pushing it after the first 100-200 miles.
We think there is going to come a day, hopefully in the next decade or so, when electric batteries (as well as the charge stations to support them) are going to be extremely common in certain areas of the northern American continent — specifically the two coasts of the United States. But, until then the electric motorcycle is just a dream in the minds of some and a nightmare for all the rest of us who just refuse to be tied down by any kind of lame limitation.