The A-Z of Electric Motorcycles and Bikes

Introduction

The advent of technology has made it possible to manufacture many equipment and machinery that serve to make life easier. Among these innovations are electric motorbikes and e-bikes. Unlike the traditional motorcycles that use gasoline, electric ones use a rechargeable battery. The typical battery types are nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. However, other alternatives are also available, such as the sodium silicate/lead battery.

 

A Broad Overview of Electric Bikes and Motorcycles

Before you invest in an e-bike or an e-motorcycle, there are a few basic things you need to understand.

The Power Source: Electric motorcycles use rechargeable batteries. Modern day batteries are designed using the Expresso technology. Consequently, they take less time to recharge and their shelf life is equally high. They can last up to 70 years, even if you charge them on a daily basis.

Charging is done by plugging into ordinary wall power outlets, and they take up to eight hours to recharge fully. Some manufacturers include in their package a high power level 2 charger that fills up the batteries up to 95% in an hour. We’ll discuss more of this shortly.

 

Performance: Electric powered motorcycles have better acceleration rates at 0 to 60 in seconds, since their engines can develop full torque as soon as they get started. Even without the clutch, the torque is available in an instance. High-end electric motorcycles are faster and easier to handle than most other conventionally powered bikes.

 

Range: Electric motorcycles excel in commuting daily fixed distance round trips. The stored energy can only cover approximately 210 kilometers on a single charge (depending on the model). Because of that, some open road riders will experience range anxiety when covering long distances. The speed with which you ride also determines the range that the battery can last. However, most recently, solar charging systems have come to our rescue.

 

Maintenance: Electric motorcycles require very minimal maintenance compared to conventional ones. The much one should worry about with an electric bike is the consumables like tires, brake pads, and brake pad fluid flush. The brake pads have a longer lifespan because braking is done using the electric motor instead of the mechanical brakes.

 

Noise levels: Electric motorcycles produce less noise than gasoline-powered ones. But you will still find some models equipped with an exhaust that makes them emit artificial noise, to make them sound like the conventional motorbikes, for those riders who prefer to have their motorcycles sounding like a “spaceship.”

 

A Brief History of Electric Motorcycles

 

The first application of an electric bicycle was in 1895 in Ohio by Ogden Bolton. Another patent application of an electric bicycle was also made in Boston by Hosea W. Libbey in the same year. In 1896, Humbler, a bicycle manufacturer, exhibited an electric bicycle, which was powered by a series of batteries. Speed was controlled by a resistance motor placed across the handlebars. The bike was designed for use on the racetrack.

In 1911, the first electric motorcycle was then introduced. It was claimed to have a range of 160 kilometers per charge. The motorbike had a maximum speed of 56km per hour. In 1919, a prototype electric motorcycle was invented, with the batteries fitted under the seat of the sidecar. However, it never survived past the trial stage.

In 1963, another version of the electric motorcycle was produced by the lamellate brothers, and they had a degree of success because their motorcycle survived the fuel rationing period. However, they gave up on their invention and switched back to conventional models after the war.

Other inventions came up during this period, most of which did not survive for long because their inventors gave up along the way. However, the period between 1990 and 2000 was the breakthrough period. Most of the inventions that were made during that time have been modified to give rise to the many models there are on the market today. Current manufacturers of electric motorcycles include Mahindra, Zero Motorcycles, Lightning Motorcycle, Evoke Motorcycles, Monday Motorbikes, Cezeta, and Johammer among others. Yamaha also plans to enter the market soon.

 

How Electric Motorbikes Work

An electric motorcycle works similar to the ones with an Internal Combustion engine (gasoline powered models). The significant difference comes in the mode of propulsion. In an engine driven motorbike, the engine turns the rear wheel via a chain, belt, or shaft drive. For the electric motorcycle, a system of batteries powers a motor that rotates the wheel via a drive mechanism which can be a chain, belt, or shaft.

 

The batteries used by electric motorcycles vary. The most common are;        

  • Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • Nickel Metal Hydride
  • Lithium Phosphate
  • Lithium Ion Phosphate

 

Based on the design and the battery technology applied, electric motorcycles have a range of between 50 – 130 miles. Charging takes between 1.5 – 8 hours for the newer models. The duration is also heavily dependent on the charging technology in use as well as the battery type.

 

The Charging System

Usually charging units are characterized by two levels. There is Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1 has an output current of 15/20 amps and a voltage of 120 volts.

Level 2 has an output current of 40 amps and a voltage of 240 volts.

Ideally, the Level 2 charger provides a more substantial amount of power than the level 1 charger. Most houses built in the last 25 years will have the level 2 charger capability, and no modifications are needed. However, for older homes with the earlier 120 volts configuration, you might need to get an electrician to sort out your power.

 

The Advantages

One of the most outstanding benefits is that in comparison with the gasoline-powered motorcycles, electric bikes enjoy an enormous fuel cost advantage. An electric motorbike consumes about one cent worth of electricity per mile, depending on your electricity rates. For example, at three months and having covered 2,800 kilometers, one electric motorcycle consumes about $30 worth of electricity, while a gasoline bike would only cover a few kilometers for the gasoline worth the same amount.

 

Here is the graphical cost breakdown;

E-bikes (for a 12 miles ride)

Gasoline powered bikes (for a 12 miles ride)

Total electricity consumed = 0.14 kWh (kilowatt hours)

Total gas consumed = 0.37 liters

Cost per kWh = $0.21 (the highest rate including extra fees)

Cost of gas per Liter= $0.87  

Total Electricity cost = $0.0294 (2.94 cents)

Total gas cost = $0.32 (32 cents)

Similarly

 

For 100 miles ride = $0.245 (24.5 cents)

For 100 miles ride = $2.67

For 1000 miles ride = $2.45

For 1000 miles ride = $26.70

 

The other advantages include lower maintenance costs, longer shelf-life, higher torque, and lower noise levels as discussed above.

Finally, it is imperative that we shift promptly to clean sources of energy. An electric motorcycle offers you exactly that; green technology.

 

The Downfalls

The electric motorcycle can only cover a specific distance for a given charge level. This means that is the battery gets depleted far from where it can be recharged, and a rider has to get alternative means of moving the motorcycle. In addition, the charging battery takes much longer to charge than it takes to fill a gas tank, making them less flexible than gasoline-powered motorbikes.  But like I mentioned before, modern solar charging systems have countered this problem.

 

A Few Maintenance Tips

Servicing an electric motorbike

One significant difference between the engine powered motorcycles, and the electrically driven bikes is in the maintenance. With a gasoline engine, there are plugs, air cleaners, and oil filters to replace. The electric motorbike has only one driving component which is the motor. Contrary to popular belief, the maintenance on the electric motorbikes is minimal. The electric components require little to no maintenance.

Daily routine

  • Keep your motorcycle clean, preferably, wash it after every ride. When washing, avoid using a jet wash. The reason is that it easily drives out grease from the bearings leading to wear and tear. It also pushes water into the internal parts of the motorbike which can cause corrosion.
  • Keep the tires inflated at all times to prevent uneven wear.
  • When not in use, keep the bike in a dry place and preferably in a shaded area.
  • For the batteries, little maintenance is required. However, there are a few practices that would help increase the life of the cells. For example, always keep the battery topped-up and don't leave the battery to recharge for too long. Also, don't abandon the bike in the sun or in the cold for too long. Even after a short ride, ensure you top-up the batteries rather than waiting for them to run out entirely.

 

Note

Most motors come sealed meaning they don’t require regular maintenance. In case of failure, the motor is replaced rather than being repaired.

 

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Electric Motorbike

Just like with any other items, there are considerations to make when purchasing an electric motorcycle. Here are a few things for you:

The range: The range is the amount of distance you can cover with a fully charged battery; the higher, the better. However, it is often a compromise between cost and range: The higher the range, the higher the price of the motorbike. So, weigh the options and get considerable range for the right price.

The warranty Period: Electric motorcycles just like other electronic gadgets are prone to electrical faults. Some repairs can be expensive. Consider a longer warranty.

The output: Depending on your riding level, you might want a powerful motorbike. As such, compare the torque and the horsepower figures given. You want a motorcycle that will move comfortably without straining the motor which inherently limits the range.

 

In Conclusion

Electric motorcycles have revolutionized the transport sector in a big way. Be it for adventure or for business purposes, an electric bike is a better option compared to the gasoline powered one. They have come a long way, and the market should expect to see even more variations of the e-motorcycles with time. Launch your exciting motorcycle adventure with Next Up Trends today