Let’s find out what the real differences are between an electric motorbike and a classic one with an internal combustion engine
The world of electric mobility is evolving very rapidly and in various forms: starting with electric cars – which are slowly invading our cities – and moving on to lighter vehicles such as pedal-assist bicycles or electric scooters (which have already become very popular), and finally to electric motorbikes and scooters, with models that are slowly gaining a market and presence on the roads. While electric scooters are helped in their spread by a more competitive price and lower demands on the part of the buyer, motorbikes continue to struggle due to various factors. Let’s find out what the real differences are between an electric motorbike and a classic one with an internal combustion engine, to better understand what needs can be met by these new technologies.
A motorbike powered by an electric engine has a very powerful and linear delivery as it rises through the rev range, with constant torque at all rpm, giving the rider a sensation of speed that is impossible to reproduce with an internal combustion engine (the latter is only capable of delivering maximum torque at certain rpm): the technical torque figure is almost always in favor of the electric, especially when it comes to high-performance models capable of sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 3 seconds.
Comfort of use
High-performance electric motorbikes are more rider-friendly than their thermal counterparts might be: they are designed to be easy to use and never put the rider off, thanks to the use of high-end technologies such as cornering ABS and several levels of traction control. This, combined with the absence of clutch and gearbox, makes the use of these vehicles very simple and intuitive.
In addition, electric motorbikes do not get hot, unlike heat-engined motorbikes, which allow the rider to use them even in summer in city traffic without the hassle of sitting on top of a burning stove.
Home mechanics will be horrified at the idea of a bike that doesn’t need two oil changes a year, but that’s the beauty of electric bikes: maintenance is low and involves almost entirely consumables such as brake pads, tires, or transmission components. All this inevitably translates into a significantly lower cost of ownership of the bike in the long run.
Although motorbike emissions are only a small part of what is released into the atmosphere, removing these harmful gases from the air we breathe in our cities can only be an advantage, until the electricity used to recharge the batteries also comes from clean sources, with no carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. It’s a small first step, but we have to start somewhere.
In addition to the aforementioned traction control and cornering ABS, electric motorbikes often offer other useful features such as cruise control – which is very useful on the motorway, as it allows a more relaxed riding position and less fatigue – or dedicated gears for maneuvering in tight places, such as reverse or lower first gear. The manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for new technological solutions to integrate into their motorbikes, and they are also working hard on the technical side, to reduce the weight and dimensions of their bikes as much as possible.
In addition to the savings generated by reduced maintenance, an electric motorbike will also save you money when it comes to filling up the tank: recharging the batteries takes only a night’s time and a domestic power socket, and costs considerably less than filling up at the petrol pump. Depending on the type of motorbike in question, it is also possible that an electric motorbike will have a longer range than a thermal motorbike, even though charging times – even with fast charging stations – are currently very much in favor of the internal combustion engine. Planning a trip based on charging stations is not for everyone, but thanks to various support apps, such as Be Charge, it is perfectly plausible to be able to recharge during meal breaks.
Some of the negatives may have already been mentioned as positives during the article, because we realize that riders are not all the same and needs or tastes may vary. We’ve talked about the ease of riding, bikes that don’t put the rider in difficulty thanks to the support of integrated technologies: these aspects translate directly into the riding style and the sensations the bike gives us, and many riders say they can’t do without the noise coming from the exhaust, which on electric bikes is replaced by the typical whistle emitted by the electric motor and the sound of the friction of the tire on the asphalt.
The absence of a gearbox can become boring in some situations where playing with the gears and engine pull would make the ride even more fun. In traffic the absence of a gearbox isn’t a bad thing, on the contrary, electric bikes are effortless to ride, and getting used to single gear driving is easy, but going up mountain passes – yes, with some motorbikes with a particularly high autonomy you can do mountain tours without difficulty – the absence of a mechanical gearbox makes itself felt negative, making riding too flat.
The autonomy may not be sufficient, and the planning of the trip may not be enough to cover this lack. Recharging the batteries can also be done with the Type 2 connector, and the cable will not always be available at the column, forcing the rider to take his cable with him in case there is a need to recharge.
Finally, the price: there is no point in hiding behind a finger, today electric motorbikes remain a luxury that few can afford due to particularly high list prices. This is no surprise, as the development of this type of motorbike began just over ten years ago and we are already seeing the first examples of low-cost electric bikes. It is only a matter of time before the prices drop and become more interesting for many more riders: maybe they will not be the same riders who ride thermic motorbikes today, but new ones will surely come.
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