Despite some electric motorbikes being very fast, powerful and light, all are suitable for new riders under the Australian Learner-Approved Motorcycle Scheme … for the moment.
It seems the new wave of electric motorbikes might have slipped in under the radar of LAMS which has a 660cc engine cap and a 150kW/tonne power-to-weight ratio ceiling.
The current (sic) cream of the small crop of electric motorcycles available in Australia is the updated Zero Motorcycles range, some of which exceed the power ratio.
Now try to stay with me on this as I get a touch technical. The power-to-weight ratio is calculated under the LAMS rules by dividing the power in kilowatts by the curb weight of the vehicle in kilograms (in this case, the curb and dry weight are the same as electric bikes don’t have any fluids) plus 90kg to compensate for the weight of a rider and fuel.
For example, the Zero S has a curb weight of 166kg and has 40kW output which means the power-to-weight ratio is narrowly above the allowed limit. However, the formula hasn’t compensated for electric motorbikes because you add 90kg for the rider “and fuel”, but clearly there is no fuel on an electric bike.
James Deutscher, the boss of Centopercento which is the Australian importer of Zero Motorcycles, confirms that all electric motorbikes qualify for the “current blanket approvals” obviously because of the fuel “loophole”.
“I am sure there is a chance this will change but we have no indication of this yet,” he says. “We have a compliance engineer working with the relevant bodies at the moment and we will update you if new information comes to light and as progress is made in this new frontier.”
So that means now is a great time for learners and new riders to go out and buy an electric motorbike before the laws are changed. After all, electricity is the future and we need our current crop of new riders becoming acquainted with these new vehicles. Besides, electric motorbikes are lightweight and highly maneuvrable with a consistent, linear power delivery and don’t require a standard geared transmission which means new riders can concentrate on what really matters.
James says they now have four east coast dealers and the first crop of new Zero motorcycles arrived at the start of March. “We are very pleased with the consumer interest and have already delivered retail sales,” he says. “At the close of the financial year we will be in a position to formally report our sales data.” Prices range from $20,490 for the base model Zero S and DS to $19,180 for the Zero SR and DS with Power Tank for extended range.
Meanwhile, Australia is not affected by a safety recall in the US where a fault causes the motor rotor to contact the stator possibly causing the motor to seize and locking the rear wheel. James says they cleared up the fault before the vehicles went on sale here. “We are aware of this recall and all Zero Motorcycles Australian units have been flagged, tested, and passed the rigours factory screening process. Zero Motorcycles acted very quickly and in an exemplary manner to address this issue in the Australian market.”