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The other day I was driving along I-70 when, all of a sudden, a motorcycle came out of nowhere. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, but I had no idea he was coming, and it startled me.
That’s when I realized it was an electric motorcycle. Those things are fast and quiet. And it made me miss the loud BRAPPP of most motorcycles. While that sound can be shocking and annoying at times, I realized that I always know where those motorcycles are.
If, like me, you have ever thought, “I wish motorcycles weren’t so dang loud!” Think again.
One of the reasons motorcycles are loud is for safety reasons. Otherwise, drivers might not know they are nearby, which is when bad things happen.
Luckily in this case, with the sneaky electric motorcycle on my tail, nothing bad happened. I have gotten into a habit of looking twice each and every time I turn or switch lanes, so that motorcycle rider was safe near me.
But it made me think that I should revisit some basic motorcycle awareness topics, and also spread the news that electric motorcycles are among us!
Electric Motorcycles are Among Us!
I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming, but motorcycles – like everything else in transportation – are going electric. Recently, Kawasaki announced that its motorcycles will be all-electric by 2035. They are one of the last companies to announce this move and their timeline is long, but it’s a major move by a major motorcycle company.
As I’ve studied these new bikes, I’ve found some pretty cool innovations! (I do like to geek out on new tech and new gear, as you know!) For example, the German “Tubular Pocket Rocket” electric motorcycle is so futuristic that it looks almost silly. The concept is part motorcycle and part e-bike and all Buck Rogers (in my opinion). Talk about distracting. If that thing whizzed by me on the road, I’d look more than twice!
The off-road motorbike industry is also embracing electric. Check out these muscular fat tire motorcycles by Volcon. The company says that the electric motor “enables quiet operation and the ability to slip through nature without disturbing the environment. For those that care less about the green aspect, the bike also requires almost zero maintenance, doesn’t leak oil all over your garage or barn, is easier to operate, and offers powerful low-end torque that only electric motorcycles can achieve.”
I personally love the Volcon bikes’ names: the Volcon Grunt and the Volcon Runt. I do like a company with a sense of humor.
So, it is clear that the motorcycle industry is embracing electric with gusto.
Achieving the electric dream has been harder for the motorcycle industry because battery technology needed to make some big advancements. Tesla’s battery weighs 1200 pounds! That would hardly work for a motorcycle. But as the battery technology improves and gets lighter, we will see more and more electric motorcycles on the road. So, what are the pros and cons of these advancements?
Of course, that depends on who you are. Some traditionalists don’t want to have anything to do with electric technology, preferring the feel of the grease, the smell of the gas, the BRAPPP of the engine! But here are a few pros and cons from my perspective.
· Good for the planet we love to ride. We need to stop burning fossil fuels if we want to leave our kids a planet worth riding on in the future.
· Cheaper: For about $2, you can fill up and go 100 miles.
· Low maintenance: No oil, no clutch, no throttles, no air filter… the list goes on. These bikes are just easier to maintain, which also adds to the “cheaper” line item.
· Torque for days: While most of today’s electric motorcycles don’t go above 90 mph, they have crazy amounts of torque.
· Quiet: I think this goes in both the Pros and Cons lists. Quiet is nice because you can hear the great outdoors as you ride. We’ve long appreciated the views, the wind in our hair, the great wide-open. But with electric motorcycles, you can also appreciate the sound of the birds, the waterfalls, the wind in the trees.
· Expensive: Electric bikes are expensive out of the gate. But then they are cheaper in just about every other way. (See the Pros list.)
· How far can I go? If you’re looking to do a multi-day ride, you have to know where you can charge up.
· More planning ahead: Charging the battery from empty to full can take a while, up to 10 hours. This is much different than stopping 10 minutes to fill up a tank of gas. Planning is key.
· Weight: These bikes are heavy! It’s because of the batteries, so as technology advances, this challenge will diminish.
· Quiet: As my personal story from the top of this article indicates, quiet bikes can sneak up on auto drivers, which can make bikers vulnerable.
No matter how you feel about electric motorcycles, remember that there is room on the road for everyone! Be kind. To the loud bikers, the silent bikers, and everyone in between. They are just living their lives. And let’s keep it that way.
Look twice, every time. Stay safe out there, folks!