Thursday, November 11, 2010

Electric Motorcycles and Freedom

Riding motorcycles has seemingly cultivated a love for freedom within me. It's either that, or I've always had a love for freedom, and naturally gravitated towards riding motorcycles.

In any case, it's no wonder why I love motorcycles that get lots of range on a tank of gas. I like to keep riding and riding and riding.

But where is the freedom in an electric motorcycle if only gets 40 miles range on a charge?

Not all electric motorcycles are so limited, the Mission One, produced by Mission Motors, can go up to 150 miles range on a charge. However, it takes about 2 hours to recharge. Not quite practical when doing a month-long trip to Alaska and back.

Mission One Electric Motorcycle, Mission Motor Company

Today the California Energy Commission reported that it awarded $9.6 million to eight different companies, which includes $505,000 to the said Mission Motors to help bring its electric motorcycle to market.

The California Energy Commission, is of course, a California State agency funded by taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps there's a market for electric motorcycles as a commuter vehicle, but until technology can improve to a point where electric motorcycles can get 200+ miles range, and recharge in the same amount of time it takes to fill a tank of gas, there just isn't going to be a market for such vehicles for touring, or even weekend joy riding.

And if I pull into an electric charging station, will it cost me more recharge than to buy a tank of gas?

And are electric motorcycles truly "green" if it requires electric utilities to burn more diesel and coal to generate more electricity?

I don't know.

At this stage of my riding interest, I don't care about exhaust sound anymore. I can accept an electric motorcycle, as long as it contributes to my enjoyment of freedom. But a 2 hour recharge? Not likely.

8 comments:

  1. I agree with almost everything you say, except the part about sound. I think it would just be wierd without at least sounding a little like a normal bike. Doesn't have to be load or obnoxious, but at least something. Oh, and the picture, the only good looking thing in it is the girl ;-P

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  2. I dig your commitment to the freedom found in motorcycling. If we look at freedom not just as being about what we as individuals can do or feel, but what we as a community of bikers can take advantage of, then electric bikes expand our freedom greatly. They make bikes more relevant to the general population. They make it possible for commuters to save wads of money on fuel and still cut through traffic. And even if their charging source isn’t totally green, the bikes themselves don’t contribute to any smog problems. So even if we won’t be making that trip to Labrador on a Brammo or a Zero anytime soon, we are still all the better off that we finally have the option to ride 60 to 100 miles gas-free.

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  3. Those electric bikes will get better with time. Thing is though, the consumer pays a hefty price for the bike while research/developers gather the data from owners for solutions. I've long wondered why there can not be some way to generate enough power from the rolling wheels to recharge batteries as the bike is ridden. Some type of reduction gear to overcome the power usage like an alternator. Just think, on a car the alternator is turned by a belt off the engine pulley to recharge a battery, why not two wheels doing the same on a bike without using any direct power from the motor. More juice going in then is being used up. Sounds simple enough, right.

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  4. That's right. I agree with your comment that says as long as we can enjoy our trip by reading electrical motorcycle, why do not we accept electrical motor cycle? There's no reason not to accept this type of motorcycle. Right?

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  5. Call me old school ... I prefer my gasoline-powered Harley big twin ... and for me, the sound of a motorcycle (Harleys in particular) is a vital part of the riding experience.

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  6. "And are electric motorcycles truly "green" if it requires electric utilities to burn more diesel and coal to generate more electricity?"

    YES. Even though it is not ideal to get electricity from coal burning power plants, electric bikes and cars are way more efficient than gas/diesel burning cars. So even though you are just pushing your pollution up the distribution chain you would still be polluting WAAAAY less per mile in an electric bike vs a gas powered bike.

    Best case - 500mile range bike w/ 3 min charge up from a renewable source like solar, wind, geo-thermal, tidal, etc.

    I hope we're there within 10 yrs.

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  7. Maybe they are green and all, but they're at the first step of their evolution and it will take years before they got practical enough for daily use or touring.
    I don't like the lack of sound, at all. Many bikers prefer buying aftermarket exhaust systems in order to get more sound, but even with the factory settings these bike are louder than these electric ones. Not that I support too noisy vehicles, but it is good when people can hear you coming, it's good for safety.
    The worst thing about electric bikes is the range and the recharge time. If they solve this, then maybe.

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  8. ever think about something?... you can go down to the 7-11 and swap out a 20 lb propane bottle in a couple of minutes... to get a fresh, full bottle... you're not buying a new bottle... just the propane in it...

    Why Not Batteries?

    Seems like a pretty doable thing to design the cars... and the bikes... to have fast and easy and standardized battery packs that are a "Plug and Play" design... so, instead of hours to recharge you just swap batteries and keep rolling! Just like your BBQ!

    Somebody with some money and ambition needs to get to working on it!

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)