Electric motorcycles are any two- or three-wheeled vehicles equipped with rechargeable batteries that power the machine with electricity, as opposed to the more traditional gas-powered motorcycles.
The origin of the eco-friendly motorcycle can be traced back to September 19, 1895, when Ogden Bolton Jr. of Canton, Ohio, filed a patent application for what he called an “electrical bicycle.” During times when fuel was scarce, the electric motorcycle experienced a boost in popularity.
Top-Rated Electric Motorcycles
Most notably, during World War II when the Limelette brothers from Belgium and Merle Williams of Long Beach, California manufactured electric motorcycles simultaneously. Since then companies like Zero have made real headway.
Nowadays, electric vehicles give their gas-powered counterparts a run for their money, thanks to the invention of extremely light and efficient lithium-ion batteries. The use of these lithium-ion batteries in vehicles leads to a faster and quieter ride with the ability to recharge quickly.
Interested in getting an electric motorcycle? There are plenty of makes and models out there to choose from. This complete buying guide will explain the benefits of riding one, features to consider when purchasing, and reviews to help find the best electric motorcycle.
Benefits of Electric Motorcycles
The increasing popularity of the electric motorcycle is a testament to the benefits it has over its gas-powered rivals. According to the American Motorcycle Industry Council, electric motorcycles sales were up 2.6% in 2012. Furthermore, Navigant Research predicts that worldwide sales will increase from 5.3 million in 2015 to six million in 2024. For more details on all the benefits of owning and riding one, read on.
Intuitively, people have the conception that there is no way that electric vehicles can perform as well as gas-powered vehicles. Well, think again. A prime example is any of the highly-rated Tesla vehicles which perform just as well as gas-powered cars. Jumping back into the two-wheeled world, Road and Track magazine concluded in its August 2013 issue that high-end electric motorcycles are, in fact, faster and better at handling than the traditional gas-powered motorcycle. The eco-conscious machines have a quicker zero to 60 acceleration time, due to the fact that they do not use clutches which develops torque almost immediately.
Electric vehicles require zero to very little maintenance. Occasionally, owners will need to change brake pads and tires or take the machine in for a brake fluid flush. With gas-powered motorcycles, they not only require the aforementioned maintenance, they also need to be taken in for adjustments, lubrication, and tuning.
One of the clearest benefits of an electric motorcycle over a gas-powered one is fuel costs. On average, an electric motorcycle will cost its user one to two cents per mile in electricity. For comparison, a BMW gas-powered bike uses up the same amount of fuel costs during a 400 mile journey as an electric motorcycle for 1,700 miles. A road trip from New York City to Pittsburgh on an electric bike will cost a measly $2.63 in fuel.
Like all electric-powered vehicles, the electric motorcycle causes far less noise pollution than gas-powered vehicles. They are so quiet, in fact, that pedestrians are likely to be unaware that they are in close proximity to a motorcycle. For safety reasons, some eco-friendly motorcycles have the ability to make an artificial noise; thereby, creating awareness of the bike’s whereabouts.
After reading the benefits of electric motorcycles, are you convinced you need one for yourself? Before going online and grabbing the first one you see, read below for everything you need to consider when buying one. When you can get one that’s perfect for you, you can thank us later.
If you’re a speed freak, then top speed matters to you. Simply put, top speed is the maximum speed of a vehicle. Keep in mind though, the faster you go, the more fuel you will consume. Which means you’ll have to recharge your bike sooner. If you are driving at an urban, crawling pace, or if you don’t have the need for speed, then top speed is most likely not a serious consideration for you.
Vehicular power refers to horsepower. More specifically, one unit of horsepower has the power to move 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute. The more powerful the engine, the higher the horsepower.
The most notable advantage that gas-powered motorcycles have is their range. Even with today’s technology, batteries simply cannot store as much energy as a tank of gas. Going a maximum of 130 miles on a single charge is considered “long range” for electric motorcycles. For this reason, these eco-friendly machines are best suited for daily commuting, where the start and end points are fixed. The range of them, like its gas-powered counterparts, shortens when traveling under high speed.
Unfortunately, electric motorcycles are not one-size fits all. Make sure to find a bike that can carry your weight for an optimal riding experience with a lesser likelihood of extensive wear and tear on the motorcycle.
Battery Type: Lithium Ion, Lithium Polymer & Nickel Metal Hydride
Lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries sound similar but aren’t. Lithium polymer batteries might be thinner and lighter, but they lack higher energy density and cost more to make. For these reasons, more manufacturers have lithium-ion batteries in their electric motorcycles.
Nickel metal hydride batteries are the cheapest battery to make. They weigh more than lithium-ion batteries, but both batteries hold about the same amount of power. However, the lithium-ion battery can be charged more rapidly. On a positive note for nickel metal hydride batteries, they tend to last longer than lithium-ion batteries, most apparent in areas with hot climates.
Top 10 Electric Motorcycle Reviews
If you do a quick online search of “electric motorcycle,” you’ll be hit in the face with a ton of them. All yours, simply with a click of a button. With so much to choose from, finding the right one for you seems like a month-long migraine in the making. Fret not, we’ve picked out the top 10, scoured reviews, and put all the pertinent stuff in neat little paragraphs for your reading pleasure. Whether you’re after a Razor electric motorcycle or something else, read on for more info.
Razor Dirt Rocket MX350
The Razor Dirt Rocket MX350 is made for young riders, ages 12 and up, who want to “eat dirt hills for breakfast.” It features a maximum weight capacity of 140 lbs, a two 12V sealed lead acid rechargeable battery system, top speeds at 14 mph, 30 minutes of continuous driving, a sturdy steel construction, a high torque chain driven motor, twist-grip acceleration control, a hand-operated rear brake, large pneumatic knobby tires, adjustable riser handlebars, a double crown fork, a retractable kickstand, and folding foot pegs. It takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to assemble this bike, and then you have to charge the battery for 12 hours before riding it.
Although a great bike for children to learn, there are a few things to note. The most obvious drawback is that the bike is not really made for 12-year-old kids. Due to the small size, the bike is better made for 6 to 9 year olds. Also, the battery’s charge time is a lengthy 5 hours, with the life of the battery lasting only one to two years. Furthermore, installing the new battery requires you to solder wires with a soldering iron. Lastly, because the Dirt Rocket has no rear or front suspension, it is not a true motocross bike. It can go on grass or dry paths, but taking it on jumps or muddy tracks is not recommended.
Razor Dirt Rocket MX650
The Razor Dirt Rocket MX650 is much like its MX350 sibling, but with added bonuses for those who are 16 years of age and older. It features a maximum weight capacity of 220 lbs, a three 12V sealed lead acid rechargeable battery system, a top speed of 17 mph, 40 minutes of continuous use, a solid steel construction, variable speed, high torque, chain driven motor, twist-grip acceleration control, hand-operated dual disc brakes, one large 16” front pneumatic tire, one 14” rear pneumatic tire, dual suspension, an adjustable riser handlebars, a double crown fork, a retractable kickstand, an authentic dirt bike frame geometry, folding metal foot pegs, a Supercross-inspired design, and a charge time of 12 hours.
Although listed for children and adults ages 16 and over, this motocross bike can be ridden by kids as young as 10, depending on their size, strength, and skill. The Dirt Rocket MX650 tops out at 17 mph, which is pretty fast, especially for a child. Disc brakes in the front and rear provide good stopping power, and the dual suspension makes for a comfortable riding experience.
However, the bike weighs in at a whopping 100 pounds, so make sure your child is able to handle that heftiness. Also, the knobby tires are better suited for grass and dry paths than pavement.
Jetson Lithium-Ion Powered
The Jetson is a stylish scooter available in 12 stylish colors. It features a removable, four 12V lithium-ion battery system with a recharge time of up to 5 hours, a 500W motor, a max speed of 20 mph, a range of 40 miles, front and rear shocks and disc brakes, an LCD display, multi-function one-touch controls and 18” tires. This scooter weighs in at 125 lbs.
The Jetson is a very good-looking scooter. There are plenty of safety features including the double-legged kickstand, front and rear lights, turn signals and a horn. The storage under the seat is lockable. The ride is comfortable thanks to the padded seat and dual suspension.
However, Jetson could improve upon the plastic folding petals which do not feel sturdy. There are also no footrests for passengers, although the seat is long enough to accompany one. Because of its heavy weight, cross your fingers you won’t need to charge before you reach your destination.
Razor Dirt Rocket MX500
The Razor Dirt Rocket MX500 is designed for those aged 14 and over, the mid-range bike between the MX350 and MX650 which is also manufactured by Razor. It features a maximum weight capacity of 175 lbs, a three 12V sealed lead acid rechargeable battery system, a top speed of 15 mph, 40 minutes battery, a sturdy steel construction, variable speed, high torque, chain driven motor, twist-grip acceleration control, hand-operated dual disc brakes, a large 16” front pneumatic tire, a 14” rear pneumatic tire, dual suspension, adjustable riser handlebars, a double crown fork, a retractable kickstand and folding metal foot pegs.
As with the MX350 and MX650, younger children can ride the MX500 than what the manual indicates. The bike is better suited for 8 to 12 year old children. The MX500’s dual-disc brakes make stopping quick and easy while the dual suspension provides a smooth ride, even over bumpy terrain.
However, the MX500’s battery requires a lengthy 8 hours to recharge. Although the bike is great to drive on grass or level ground, it is not recommended to go through mud and puddles.
X-Treme Scooters XB-502
The X-Treme XB-502 was made for commuters who want a quick way to travel to and from work without the added expenses that go with operating a vehicle or motorcycle. It features four 12-AMP batteries, a brushless rear 550W hub motor, a range of 25 miles, a top speed of 20 mph, front and rear braking systems, Dual Sport headlights, a tail light, brake lights, blinkers, an electric horn, a speedometer and battery indicator, dual suspension, a spring-loaded seat, 16” wheels, a kickstand, a toolkit, a cargo rack and multiple storage areas. This bike can be partially folded for easy storage and transport.
The X-Treme XB-502 has great safety features with its various lights and horn. It is a pretty comfortable considering it has a spring-loaded seat and dual suspension. Dual brakes also offer the rider the opportunity to make a quick stop. The storage space on this bike is also great for those packing a lot of gear.
However, if you have issues with this electric scooter, other users have noted that it is difficult to deal with customer service.
Razor Pocket Rocket Excite
The Razor Pocket Rocket Excite Bike is made for those 13 years and older who want a slick-looking bike. It features a maximum weight capacity of 170 lbs, a top speed of 15 mph, a street bike design, 30 minutes of battery, a high-torque motor, twist-grip acceleration control, large 10” pneumatic tires, a hand-operated rear brake and a charge time of 12 hours.
Like other Razor products, the Pocket Rocket is durable. The acceleration control can be easily mastered by even the most novice of riders. The large tires also offer a fairly smooth ride.
However, the battery charge time is quite long, and the Pocket Rocket is quite small for someone that is on the upper limit of the weight capacity.
Razor Pocket Mod Miniature Euro
The Razor Pocket Mod Miniature Euro Electric Scooter was made for those aged 13 and over, who has a passion for fashion. It features a maximum weight capacity of 170 lbs, a two 12V sealed lead acid rechargeable battery system, a top speed of 15 mph, up to 40 minutes play, a sturdy, step through steel frame, a high torque chain driven motor, a twist-grip acceleration control, a hand-operated rear brake, 12” pneumatic tires, a retractable center mount kickstand, storage under the seat and a battery charge time of 12 hours.
The Razor Pocket Mod is an attractive scooter that makes little noise, has a decent battery life, and comes with tough, long-lasting tires.
However, the battery takes a long time to charge and the tires are a bit difficult to pump air into.
Monster Moto MM-eRCH
The Monster Moto MM-eRCH was designed for the kid with X Games dreams. It features a 24V, 7 amp hour electric power, rechargeable and replaceable batteries, 2 stage safety speed limiter (5 and 10 mph settings), motorcycle-style throttle control with charge indicator, a rear disc brake, easy access on and off toggle switch, 1-piece cast aluminum wheels with low-profile pneumatic tires and adjustable handlebars. The RCH tops out at 13 mph and can run continuously for up to 45 minutes. The maximum weight capacity is 130 lbs.
The Monster Moto RCH’s speed options are great for parents who want to have more of a control over how fast their kids go.
However, this bike does not go as fast as some of the other electric bikes on the market, even without the speed limits in place.
The Gigabyke Groove is the perfect electric motorcycle for adults. It features top speeds of 20 mph, a range of 35 miles per charge, a 48V, 14Ah battery with a charge time of 6 hours, LED headlight and turn signals, a digital speedometer, and front disc brakes.
Overall, the Gigabyke Groove is a great buy. Its hydraulic disc brakes allow the user to stop the bike immediately. The hardware is of high quality. This bike has an LED display that easily readable, but the speedometer only displays in km/h.
Razor McGrath Dirt Rocket SX500
The Razor McGrath Dirt Rocket SX500 is modeled after the motocross rider’s own big bike. It features a maximum weight capacity of 175 lbs, a three 12V sealed lead acid rechargeable battery system, authentic McGrath graphics and fairing design, top speeds of 15 mph, up to 40 minutes of play time, a sturdy, steel construction, dual suspension, a variable speed, high torque, chain driven motor, twist-grip acceleration control, hand-operated dual disc brakes, motorcycle-spec tires, a double crown fork, a retractable kickstand and folding metal foot pegs.
The Razor McGrath Dirt Rocket SX500 has one of the highest build quality in dirt bikes for kids. Dual suspension offers a fairly comfortable ride. It’s fun, well-made and easy to handle.
The only downside to the SX500 is that the front fender is made of plastic and can break easily. Also good to note is that the bike should not be kept in places below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Over and Out
Electric motorcycles have come a long way since its inception as a hypothetical idea. Technology these days makes them a comparable mode of transport as their gas-powered counterparts. If you’re looking to buy one, make sure you keep in mind top speed, power, range, weight capacity and battery type. After reading our reviews I’m sure you’re now confident in choosing the best electric motorcycle for you and your lifestyle needs.