Electric motorcycles are coming on a wave of hype about range of more than 300km, but are the claims a hoax?
Traditional petrol-powered motorcycles are quoted in terms of miles per gallon or litre per 100km. It provides a reliable and realistic guide to the range from a bike’s tank. Riding hard or conservatively doesn’t make a huge difference to range.
However, the range calculations for an electric motorcycle are not as simple.
When someone asks what is the range of an electric motorcycle, the correct answer is “how long is a piece of string?”.
We recently bought an expensive cordless vacuum cleaner which was claimed to have a battery that would last for a couple of hours of cleaning.
However, that was based on using the low-powered mode. If you want to really suck and use the boost mode, you are flat out getting about 20 minutes out of it. And six months down the track, that’s more like 15 minutes.
I also once drove an early Tesla sportster on a hot day around the Ipswich Motorway for only five laps before the fully charged battery overheated and I had to pit.
On another occasion, I rode an electric Zero DS with a claimed 290km of range from the Gold Coast to home and nearly ran out of battery because I was riding on the highway.
So is electric motorcycle range a hoax to rope in riders who want to be seen to be keeping pace with the modern world and showing their “green” credentials (that is, if they have access to clean power for recharging!).
Battery range in electric vehicles is subject to so many variables a range figure is almost a pointless hoax.
Factors that affect battery range include:
Extreme ambient temperatures;
Riding modes such as “eco” and “sport”;
Constant throttle at highway speeds that deplete batteries faster;
Brake regeneration extends range in stop-start traffic; and
Downhill sections conserve battery power.
Riders will have to think totally differently about electric motorcycles and almost disregard the salesperson’s claims about range.
For example, highway and city riding yield totally opposite range yields to a traditional petrol engine.
The latest Zero SR/F comes with this complex table of range calculations that vary from 132km on the highway to almost double in the city! It’s enough to confuse any buyer.
Range (based on EU standard)
But the complex range claims have not stopped the surge of electric motorcycle sales, particularly in Asia and Europe.