"English Electric is Britain’s go-to retail and service centre for the emerging culture of electric motorcycles. With a background in the custom bike scene having founded Old Empire motorcycles in 2011, founder Alec Sharp made a bold move in 2017 when "
Electric Options: Join The Resistance
The world of electric biking can be bewildering. We had a look around at what’s available – so you don’t have to! Here is a fistful of interesting electric bikes for every purpose.
Entry Level Scooter
Staggering statistic alert. In 2018, 22.7 million electric scooters were sold in China. That’s a lot of emissions avoided. And leading the pack in the fight to bring clean riding to entry level motorcycling is Super Soco. The entry level CUX has a top speed of 28mph, weighs 70kg, and the battery can carry the rider about 40 miles. The battery charges in around seven hours, so workers can ride to their cubicles, charge up and head back home easily. ‘Lecky’ currently sets you back about £0.15 per kWh. This means that running costs are around 1p-per-mile. With the government grant, the SUX will cost a little of £2k – so it’s around the same cost as a decent e-pushbike. But by all accounts it is a nimble, nippy and almost-attractive little scoot – and a recent collab with Ducati looks the part too (though we’re not sure that these are available to buy at the moment). Simple, affordable twist and go motorcycling this. A great way to be electric.
Utility: Ubco Adventure/Work
New Zealand company Ubco make amazingly rugged little bikes. And they make one of the few motorcycles upon which you can do a front-wheel spin. This is because each wheel comes with its own 1kw motor set in the hub. Think Tesla’s ‘Skateboard’ motor and frame set-up as applied to a bike. This means that you dispense with the need for pesky things that break – like chains and cogs and of course keeps centre of gravity low – which is accentuated by the extremely low-slung battery deep down there in the cradle like, step-through frame. It also encourages great traction and acceleration in slippery conditions – and is great as a dragger or load carrier. As you’d expect from a machine bred in the land of the long white cloud, this set-up seems perfect for the rural/farm-focussed market – and the firm claims a range of up to ’120KM plus’ depending on model and capacity (though charge time claimed is five hours). The ‘work’ version is a really stripped back version that comes with an even stronger and stiffer frame and knobblies, too. There’s a pleasing utilitarian look and feel to Ubco’s machines – and for us makes perfect sense for noodling around the estate and popping to the local shops to pick up necessities — having fun along the way and with a clear environmental conscience.
If you’re a determined and wool-died off roader, then you probably care about heritage and chops. And KTM certainly come to the electric table with a lot of that. They were quite early to punch too, and their E Ride or ‘electric freeride’ offering has seen a number of evolutions since they launched the bike back in 2016. The biggest standout in these evolutions is battery life. When we tested the first gen model at a purpose built E-MX course, the battery back had to be changed every 20 minutes – an easy operation that even a complete mechanical kook like myself was able to make happen. The fact that this coincides with the traditional length of your average MX Moto session was handy. We haven’t tried the latest edition, but KTM are claiming more like a 90-minute max operating time, and 110 minutes for a full charge. Three performance settings let you calibrate power output and battery life accordingly too. The bike certainly looks great, calibrated somewhere between an enduro set-up and a trials bike (like their 250 Freeride bike). As long as you are an aficionado of the way of the orange, it is of course infused with the brand’s knowledge of what makes dirt bikes tick and would be a logical choice for silent off road running.
Street: Zero SRF
Zero is probably the most successful brand within electric bikes at the moment, with a global reach and a level of infrastructure that means they can produce world-class machines. It also means that they have been able to develop and nurture a unique kind of brand loyalty within the scene. And their bikes certainly look the part – and by all accounts, walk the walk too. Zero’s SR/F looks, feels and is marketed like the hi-end street machine that it is. It’s been called ‘ the best road-going electric bike yet’ by the mainstream press – encompassing what appears to be quantum leaps forward in terms of speed, battery charge time and sophistication across the board. All reports point to the fact that in terms of performance it easily matches anything in the internally combusted motorcycle market up to and including 600cc machines. With Showa suspension, Pirelli tires, and a motor that produces the equivalent of 120BHP and a huge 140lb/ft of twist – this machine is no joke. But neither is the price tag at an eye-watering £18K. Offset this, of course, with a government grant, and low service and running costs and there’s a pleasing offset. As well as fuel etc, there’s no need for the incremental costs of fluids and other day-to-day items. We take the counsel of our mainstream motorcycle colleagues when they say that the rolling acceleration – that crucial overtaking zone of pickup between 40-80mph is stunning and useful. Makes sense to be wafted by an invisible hand when it matters most.
Sport: Energica EGO
The world’s first Italian-made street-legal electric motorcycle, Energetica’s EGO is designed and built without compromise. Its focus is purely on performance – and it claims a 0-60 pull away time of three seconds and a top speed of 150mph. It comes with an oil-cooled, three-phase AC permanent magnet motor (terminology that we really don’t understand). What we are closer to comprehending is that the motor has twice the torque of your average superbike in the low range, and apparently makes the same total power output as a GSX 750 right through the power range. Specially designed teeth on the drive belt means that the motor makes a whirring, whining jet-pack kind of noise that will satisfy the most mentalist of knee draggers out there. The huge power output comes from the huge battery – and this makes the bike really quite heavy – tipping the scales at 258KG. The battery takes just three hours to wind up to full charge at home – and fast charging stations do the job in around 30 minutes, so that’s pretty quick. The thought of twisting and going up to 150 on this thing fills us with fear. With an internally combusted bike that kind of performance comes with all sorts of seething, crackling, roaring warning signals that actually prevent you from doing it that often. The only thing preventing you doing it on this thing is the animal in-built sense of self-preservation. But Mr Darwin, for all his genius and vision, did not imagine the reality of warp speed on a two-wheeled vehicle.
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