Only a few short years ago, electric motorcycles were seen as a novelty, with only a small number of independent manufacturers dedicating resources to the burgeoning technology. How times change; now, everyone from Triumph and Ducati to Honda and Harley-Davidson is scrambling to get a two-wheeled EV of their own on the market in the next couple of years. Smaller outfits like Cake in Sweden and Energica in Italy are on their second and fourth bikes, respectively, while US-based Zero currently has five on sale — a few of them even in their second and third generations.
The electric motorcycle landscape is evolving and advancing every day; the technology and performance have reached a point where battery-powered bikes are a viable option for day-to-day transportation, putting their gas-powered brethren on notice. And while the EV bike marketplace isn’t as expansive as its internal combustion counterpart, there are still a substantial number of options to choose from.
Harley-Davidson’s first foray into electric motorcycles is the LiveWire. The price tag, starting at nearly $30,000, is substantial; other battery-powered bikes will beat the LiveWire for maximum range and power output; and charging time on a Level 2 charger (12.5 hour for a complete top-up) is glacial. But few will match the Harley EV for precision — and the well-rounded character of the driving experience.
Maximum Range: 146 miles
Minimum Charge Time: 1 hour (DC Fast Charge)
Power: 105 HP / 86 lb-ft
The Cake Kalk raked in awards for its design and functionality as an off-roader with an eye on environmental friendliness. The weirdly-named Kalk& is the road-legal version of the original. The two are nearly identical, apart from the Kalk&’s license plate holder and turn signals. The Kalk& also receives a slight bump in range and top speed to better cope with public roads; outside of that, the new dual-purpose electric machine handles just as sublimely as the dirt-only original.
Maximum Range: 83 Miles
Minimum Charge Time: 2.5 hrs
Power: 16 HP / 31 lb-ft
Zero has been building electric motorcycles since before it was cool, and it shows. The SR/F brings a new architecture, better battery technology and performance, and superior overall fit and finish than previous Zero motorcycles to the table. The SR/F is also the first Zero to have a TFT display and Bluetooth connectivity for a more modern experience. Stat for stat, the Zero SR/F is one of the few electric motorcycles that can go toe-to-toe with its gas-powered equivalents. (If you want something a little sleeker-looking and easier-riding, though, the SR/S might be more your speed.)
Maximum Range: 200 Miles
Minimum Charge Time: 80 min (to 95% charge with 6kW Rapid Charge upgrade)
Power: 110 HP / 140 lb-ft
Considering the naturally lightweight chassis of a motorcycle and the massive, instantaneous torque electric motors can crank out, high-performance electric sport bikes were an inevitability. Energica is one of the first manufacturers to focus solely on track-day-friendly super bikes, and the Ego is the newest model from the Italian brand. The Ego has a mind-melting 159 lb-ft of torque and 145 horsepower available; however, as with all electric motorcycles, the more you tap into that power, the quicker the battery drains. So while the Energic might make a lousy commuter Monday through Friday, it’ll embarrass a few super bikes at the track on the weekend.
Maximum Range: 100-120 Miles
Minimum Charge Time: 20 minutes (85% charge on DC Fast Charger)
Power: 145 HP / 159 lb-ft
Lightning Strike Carbon Edition
As on-the-nose as the name “Lightning Strike” is, the electric super bike does boast some impressive performance figures. It may look like another all-out full-fairing racer, but it’s more efficient than meets the eye. While the Lightning Strike Carbon Edition does claim 186 lb-ft of torque, the more staggering stat is the range from the top-trim 20-kWh battery; it’s good for 150 miles of highway riding and 200 miles of city use. Of course, those numbers come with a price: the Lightning Strike Carbon Edition starts at $19,998.
Maximum Range: 150 Miles
Minimum Charge Time: 35 minutes (DC Fast Charger)
Power: 120 HP / 186 lb-ft
Vespa is one of the few major manufacturers in the two-wheeled industry to have pushed an EV past the prototype stage and into showrooms. The range and power output may be the least impressive of the entire list…but keep in mind, the Vespa Elettrica is also the most affordable vehicle here by a healthy margin.
Maximum Range: 62 Miles
Minimum Charge Time: 4 hrs
Power: 5.4 HP