Electric bikes leave me cold.
I’ve only ridden electric scooters, but the thought of an electric bike does not exactly inspire me.
Not even the new American-made Mission R (pictured) and RS models with a top speed of 240km/h.
The problem is that riding motorcycles isn’t just about terminal speed, but how you get there.
I’ve driven a lot of electric cars and actually hold the track record at Queensland Raceway for electric-powered vehicle after testing the Tesla Roadster there a few years ago.
But it didn’t excite me.
Electric motors have peak torque right from the get-go, so they accelerate quickly and in a linear fashion.
Often motoring writers will wax lyrical about a vehicle that accelerates in a linear manner.
However, an electric motor is truly linear. Like turning up the volume on an amplifier or turning a dimmer switch on an electric light.
Truly linear means truly boring. You simply lose all feeling of the acceleration experience. It’s the little bumps and surges in the torque and power curves of internal combustion engines that give you that feeling of acceleration – that tingle in the seat of your trousers.
Electric bikes may go fast and may accelerate rapidly from the first twist of the throttle, but it is like stepping on to an escalator. BMW will bring in a C Evolution scooter sometime next year. Click here to read my story.
That’s just fine by me. After all, scooters are largely about transport, convenience, and clean motoring with their full bodywork and concealed engines and drive mechanisms.
The idea is that you can ride a scooter without getting grease on your suit and women can ride them in skirts and high heels.
But motorcycles aren’t just about transport. They are about excitement.
There is no excitement in the fact that electric motors are smooth and almost silent.
When the electric revolution finally hits, there’ll be no blipping the throttle at traffic lights to hear the exhaust note and feel the engine rocking beneath you, nor pulling the clutch and revving the engine as you go through a tunnel.
There is no doubting electric bikes are coming. However, range remains a problem. The Mission R did an eight-lap race at Laguna Seca and probably wouldn’t go any further. The Tesla I drove had a claimed range of 160km, but after about eight laps (about 20km), I had to park it as the batteries overheated. It depends on how hard you drive them. Range is getting better and better all the time for electric motors, but there is a long way to go before they equal ICE vehicles.
Most manufacturers have some sort of plans in place for electric bikes and scooters, even if it’s just to satisfy the coming tougher emissions laws.
Meanwhile, enjoy the noise, the vibrations and the non-linear acceleration while you still can.