Posts Tagged ‘Electric’

Electric motorcycles and scooters, as the type name implies, run on electricity. Obviously, the two wheelers don’t have a very long extension lead plugged into a socket, but instead they run on batteries.

But normal 12V motorcycle batteries as we know them will not supply enough power to propel the bike any further than a mile or two. No, to be able to ride a reasonable distance on an electrically powered two wheeler, you need more batteries, and these batteries need to have a higher energy.

Take for example one of the top American electric motorcycle manufacturers, Brammo. This is what a Brammo will look like if you cut it open:


Those blue things are the batteries. They are Lithium-Ion batteries, and they are not 12V but 103 Volt (with a max voltage of 117.6V). They supply a total capacity of 9.31 kWh, with a peak of 10.2 kWh.


It’s the battery pack capacity that counts for electric motorcycles. The higher the number, the more power it has.

But to recharge so many batteries requires special equipment. Depending on where you plug your bike in (known as Level 1, 2 or even 3 charging) you can fully charge your bike in 3.5 hours or 8 hours (in the case of level 1, your household electrical socket).

But all those batteries make the bike heavy. If you look closely at the photos, you’ll see that the engine is the smallest part, in sharp contrast with its ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cousins. The biggest volume is taken up by the batteries. In total, the Brammo Empulse weighs 460 lbs (some 213 kilos).

But despite the heavy weight, the Brammo can still deliver an incredible 90 Nm of peak torque, more than most sportsmotorcycles.

Even electric scooters use similar large amounts of batteries. Take for example the BMW C-Evolution:


Apart from the 12 cells (which by the way come from the electric car from BMW, the i3), there is one “normal” 12V battery located in the front housing which takes care of the normal electrical functions (dashboard, horn, etc).

The engine’s batteries, like the Brammo, are Lithium-Ion and supply 8 kWh. Recharging these batteries using a standard domestic 12A socket takes 4 hours (if it’s a 16A socket, it’ll take 3 hours).

The 12 cells supply 60 Ah and 133V, and the whole scooter weighs 265 kilos. But despite that weight, you get a torque of 72 Nm which is available all the time.

So as you can see, batteries take up the biggest amount of space on an electric bike. By far! Over the next few years, even decade, the batteries will start becoming smaller, lighter and packing more punch, allowing for longer rides. But until then, you will need to content yourself with riding 60 to 100 miles before requiring a charge. Far enough for a daily commute, not far enough for a weekend ride of the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap.

Read Full Post »

“Necessity is the mother of invention” as the proverb goes, and as mankind, we have a lot of needs, and therefore a lot of inventions. Here is the example of a creative man who had the need for a small and portable transportation vehicle to get around town without needing to have a bulky motorcycle or scooter. Something small and compact.

The man in question is a farmer in Hunan, China and during 10 years he tinkered on his majestical idea of putting a motorcycle inside a suitcase so that he could take it anywhere and not have to worry about parking it, and worse, that it might be stolen.


So the farmer created the first ever motorcycle suitcase. With three small wheels, and collapsable steering wheel and even equipped with a fully functional GPS, the suitcase motorcycle is functional. And the design objectives were met; small and compact. The vehicle runs on a rechargeable lithium battery, so it’s even ecological.

The “suitbike” speeds through town at 20 kph (12 mph), though it has run 50-60 kph, but speed is not the issue. The whole thing weighs only 7 kilos (15lbs), so once he has arrived at his destination, he just lugs the suitcase inside, just like any other suitcase. The suitbike can ride up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) on a full charge. And if you’re traveling with someone, it can accommodate 2 people, so you can bring your pillion.


I just wonder if the airlines would accept this as checked or cabin luggage. Imagine arriving at your destination airport, sitting on your suitcase, and riding away. Priceless.

What a great idea. Click here to see a video of the motorcycle suitcase.

Read Full Post »

Electric motorcycles have got their share of nay-sayers. Although truth be told, more and more bikers are seriously looking towards the electric motorcycle. With Harley-Davidson’s recent introduction of their LiveWire electric motorcycle, the e-motorcycle suddenly got thrust into the limelight.

Harley-Davidson LifeWire

Harley-Davidson LifeWire

Before, it was the likes of Brammo and Zero to carry the electric motorcycle evolution torch, but these startups do not have the market power that the Milwaukee brand has, and it was obvious if you followed the news; any news, since all TV stations around the world talked about it in their evening news. Even TV stations in Outer-Mongolia showed the Harley-Davidson.

But one place where electric bikes are starting to make their mark is in the motorcycle racing sport. And one race where they are doing so is at one of the most craziest, dangerous and spectator-drawing races: the Isle of Man TT race.

The Isle of Man TT race is a very long track using public roads on the Isle of Man (an island located next to England). And when I write public roads, it means that they take the normal road used by thousands of cars, trucks and buses and close it for a few hours to let motorcycles race on them. Roads that had previously seen mud, dirt, oil and even cattle droppings. All that while the motorcycles race at speeds of up to 150 mph! If you want to read more about the race and the atmosphere of the TT race, I highly recommend the book TT Full Throttle from author Nicole Winters (it’s a novel not a biography book, so the story never happened but the surroundings and facts are all true).

At this year’s IoM TT race, the current champion and TT legend John McGuinness on his electric Mugen Shinden motorcycle raced around the island, setting a new lap record for electric motorcycles at 117.366 mph. That’s an average speed, not the top speed! Below you can see the onboard video of the amazing run. The electric motorcycle is almost as fast as the ICE equivalent motorcycles (Internal Combustion Engine), which stands at 132 mph. The only difference is that the ICE motorcycles do 3 laps, while the electric motorcycle can only do one lap.

But watching the video, you know two things for sure: 1. electric motorcycles will in the next few years become mainstream, and 2) IoM TT racers are crazy and suicidal.

So maybe you are deadset against electric motorcycles, but 100 years ago people were against internal combustion engines, preferring horses. But that changed, didn’t it? So why wouldn’t electric motorcycles become mainstream?

Read Full Post »

Traditional thinking see a motorcycle have two wheels, three if it is a sidecar. By why limit yourself to traditional thinking? One company did just that and came up with a single wheel motorcycle (other have as well, but for this article we are concentrating on this one).


Using more or less the innovation that the Segway brought to the masses, Ryno Motors uses a motion sensing computer to judge whether you are not riding straight up, in other words, about to topple over, and then automatically readjusts the vehicle. So it is the computer that enables you to ride on one wheel without continuously needed to do a balancing act.

You use your body to turn; shift your body mass a bit to the left, and the bike turns left, body to the right, and you bike turns right. It’s very much like riding a normal two wheel motorcycle, shifting your weight causes the bike to turn. Want to accelerate? Shift your weight forward. Slow down? Lean backwards. People who have ridden a Segway should be comfortable with this machine. The “bike” does have handlebars, so you can ride it like a motorcycle.


Needless to say, the Ryno is an electric motorcycle. Its top speed is pretty low, about 10 mph, and you will not ride an endurance race with it; 10 miles before the battery goes flat (it takes 6 hours to recharge, but it does charge from your car’s 12V outlet). But if all you need is something that would replace a Segway, so short distances without the need for speed, this could be interesting. It requires very little space, and for the motorcycle-die-hard fans, it still feels like a motorcycle.

It costs $5,295.


So would this be the future technology? Will it replace motorcycles? Have a look at the video below to give you an idea.

No, no way. Not at the price, nor at those speeds, nor at those ranges. But it can and will replace Segways. If I were to require a Segway, I would go for one of these.

Would this vehicle tickle your fancy?

Source: Ryno Motors

Read Full Post »

Recently the Oregon based manufacturer of electric motorcycles, Brammo, launched their flagship motorcycle, the Brammo Empulse and the Empulse R.

The Empulse had already been teased to the media 2 years beforehand, when they unveiled their prototype. For the first time, an electric motorcycle looked like a traditional motorcycle. In fact, it looks a bit like a Ducati Monster.

Beginning May, at a big media bash in Hollywood, an excellent choice for announcing an electric motorcycle, the Empulse and Empulse R were released to the eager media.

But what makes the Empulse interesting compared to other models, including Brammo’s own Enertia, is that the bike has a 6-speed gearbox.

Electric motorcycles have no gearbox, since the engine revs turn the chain to the exact speed you require, often with an incredible torque. But bikers are already missing the sounds that motorcycles make; having them miss out on shifting through the gears may be one of the several reasons electric motorcycles aren’t catching on (plus range, performance and mostly cost).

Now you can buy an electric motorcycle that will give you a top speed of 100 mph, and range of 100 miles, AND shift through 6 gears, just like what you would now on your own traditional bike.

$16,995 will get you the Empulse, $18,995 gets you the Empulse R (the difference being the materials used: more carbon fiber instead of plastic). But for that money, you get a “real feel” bike and respectable performance and range. Will the gallon price of gasoline nowadays, the investment could start paying off real soon.

Source: Brammo

Read Full Post »

Electric motorcycles are on the rise. Every month a new one springs up, either from an existing manufacturer, or from a brand new one. With exorbitant fuel prices and with rising CO2 levels, more and more people feel strongly that electric motorcycles will eventually overtake the gas-powered ones. It’s almost written in concrete. It’s just a matter of time and technology advances.

Currently, most electric motorcycles are very limited in their range. It’s changing, but it’s not sufficient. Add to the equation the fact that when you run “dry” you can not refuel at a gas station; you’ll need to recharge the batteries, and that takes a lot of time. Talks are underway in many countries around the globe to make batteries standardized, and therefore easier to swap when you arrive at a refueling station, most probably a gas station. You’d ride in, and in a few minutes the attendants will swap your battery for a fresh one, and off you go. But so far, it’s not happening. Getting different companies with different agendas to agree on a common format is not easy.

But let’s look at the manufacturers. There are two kinds of manufacturers; the existing motorcycle manufacturer, and the new one.

Existing manufacturers, like Honda, Yamaha or Suzuki, make small displacement-style motorcycles and scooters that are electrical. They don’t really have anything revolutionary, they are just small 50cc equivalent bikes, with a very limited range, but great for getting around town. Or look at KTM, who have recently announced an electric motocross, the Freeride. Off-road electric motorcycles are a perfect match, quite and maneuverable.



But new manufacturers may have the edge. The likes of US-based BrammoZero and Vectrix, or Quantya  and the modern Agility Saietta in Europe have an advantage over existing manufacturers; they have no legacy! Their designs are truly greenfield exercises, from the bottom up. Just look at the Brammo Enertia, it’s an electric motorcycle that doesn’t look like any motorcycle you can buy from any existing manufacturer. But it works very well, it’s reasonably fast and has a reasonable range.



This is an advantage. The new electric motorcycles have a design made for transporting batteries, not an existing motorcycle frame changed from a small fuel tank and bigger engine to carry big batteries and a smaller engine.

But on the downside, new manufacturers do not have the infrastructure needed to attack a global market. Virtually no money, no dealers and very small manufacturing facilities. Therefore, new manufacturers will not be selling many electric motorcycles, therefore the price will remain high, despite many government subsidies. Many face financial difficulties, and some have to close down. Just looking at their counter part in the automobile industry, you can see Teslar is facing problems selling an electric car. They do not sell many, and those that are sold are expensive.

So what will happen to the electric motorcycle? Will the new manufacturers disappear despite have better products, or will the existing manufacturers come out with proper designs?

The answer is probably in between. Existing manufacturers will acquire the new ones, injecting much-needed capital, and put in place a complete global infrastructure with dealers and sales & marketing. A Brammo with its novel designs could be purchased by a Ducati, Zero by KTM and Vectrix by Kawasaki.

That would bring stability to the market, proper designs at a more reasonable price and global availability.

Read Full Post »