Next-gen riding heaven
The new generation of electric bikes promises big performance and better practicality Ð but are they ready to stun? Continued over
The future is electric. It’s a statement often trotted out as we search for evergreener solutions to our increasingly finite resources of black gold and rapidly multiplying transport woes – especially in cities. But despite the hype, and government subsidies to encourage sales, us motorcyclists are proving a tough nut to crack. We haven’t been won over by electric-powered bikes – yet. But is all that about to change?
Energica’s Eva, the most advanced electric motorcycle you can currently buy, is a jewel of a bike. It comes with Brembo brakes, fully-adjustable Marzocchi inverted fork, Bitubo shock, OZ Racing wheels, TFT dash… the kind of spec you would expect on a superbike. It also makes 125.5ftlb of torque, which is 20ftlb more than Ducati’s 1299 Panigale S. And the Zero SR, which isn’t quite as advanced in terms of chassis tech as the Energica, also punches out a Ducati-beating 107.7ftlb. The bhp figures may look less impressive, but
electric bikes are all about their instant tide of seamless torque, not peak power. But all this performance comes at the cost of range and recharge time.
Unlike petrol, you can’t simply pour electricity into a battery and thumb the starter again. And when your fuel light comes on you don’t normally panic, safe in the knowledge that fuel will be relatively nearby. But with electric vehicles a low battery range invokes mild hysteria, which is bizarre as – technically – every building is a potential fuel station, and all your fears can be conquered by a standard threepin plug socket! But recharging takes hours, and our road infrastructure isn’t well enough electrified – yet.
Electric bike manufacturers don’t help matters, as they try to disguise
Ôelectric bikes are all about their endless tide of torque, not their peak powerõ
the range problem by using different ‘scenarios’ that show the bike in its best light. Zero, for example, claim a ‘city’ range of 160 miles for the SR. But this plummets to 80 miles on a ‘highway’ and then rises to 108 miles for ‘combined’ use. Energica say their Eva will do 125 miles in ECO mode, but shy away from stating any other ranges. Handily the EU has a standardised test, which measures the SR at a range of 79.5 miles and the Eva 67 miles, but that’s only half the story.
From a domestic socket, the Eva takes a minimum of three and a half hours to fully recharge from 0%, while the Zero takes nearly nine hours. Plug the Eva into a fast-charge socket (like the ones at motorway service stations) for half an hour and you’ll have 85% charge, while the Zero’s accessory charger can deliver 95% in just over two and a half hours. That’s pretty frustrating if you’re trying to make a 300-mile round-trip in a hurry. And whereas cars can use ‘range extender’ motors or hybrid technology, the lack of space on a bike rules this out.
Reality is often very different to claimed figures, though, so we took this pair on a 70-mile road route in search of the facts. The final destination is a Michelin and AA Guide recommended pub, The Martin’s Arms – also Nottinghamshire’s Dining Pub of the Year for the last five years straight. The last one there pays the bill. Gentlemen, start your engines. Oh you have…
‘Cars can use range extender motors, but lack of space on a bike rules this out’