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

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Jon Urry MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

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’

Eva is more nim­ble than you’d ex­pect of a 282kg ma­chine

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