Evoke Electric Motorcycles Aiming to Bring Affordability to Market

The words affordable and electric motorcycle don’t usually go hand in hand, but if a new Chinese based startup gets their way then we could soon see electric motorcycles that are priced in line with ICE bikes. While currently only available for sale in Beijing and Shanghai, the company has plans to expand further afield into South East Asia.

The main man behind the company known as Evoke is Nathan Siy who grew up in Canada and began his exploration of electric motorcycles while offering tours of Beijing using electric scooters. Thus was born the Evoke Urban S and Urban – both naked styled motorcycles that aren’t half bad looking compared to what often comes out of China.

While they certainly sit below American based Zero Motorcycles insofar as specifications go, they’re also course considerably cheaper too. And if there specifications are to be believed (yes, grain of salt time) then they’re remarkably good value. Costing the equivalent of about $6,500 USD, the Evoke Urban S manages a range of up to 160 kilometers and a top speed of 130 kph – more than adequate for China’s clogged roadways and still acceptable for most western commutes, too.

The Evoke Urban S uses a 7.2 kWh lithium cobalt battery which produces maximum power of 19 kw (25 horsepower). That puts it roughly in line with 150cc to 250cc machines. Curb weight is 183 kg and it sports twin discs up front with 4 pot calipers and 42mm inverted forks.

Would it pass muster in comparison to the Zero and Victory range? Maybe not, but it’s exciting to see that China is already entering the electric motorcycle game and that can only be good for prices and the technology going forward.

evoke urban 001 evoke urban 002 evoke urban 003 evoke urban 004

Zero Introduces the FXR – an Electric Supermoto

The planets have aligned and given us the 2016 Zero FXR – a supermoto with truckloads of instant torque thanks to its electric engine. It’s a new model for 2016 just announced by Zero and could well end up being one of the most entertaining motorcycles on the market today.

When coupled with a 6.5 kWh battery, the Zero FXR is propelled to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. While that’s not earth shattering, the fact that this bike which weighs only 133 kg produces 95 Nm of torque from rest is. Just to put that in perspective, the current model Triumph Street Triple only produces 68 Nm and that’s only once it reaches nearly 10,000 rpm. Most literbikes produce just over 100 Nm of torque towards redline.

Top speed is still a license revoking 132 km/h and range in the city is 145km – certainly not enough for long trips but adequate for local journeys. Front and rear wheels are supermoto sized 17 inchers and are shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso rubber. Bosch ABS brakes and fully adjustable Showa suspension is also included.

As part of their 2016 model refresh, Zero have announced a new accessory called the ‘charge tank’. According to Zero, the charge tank effectively triples the on-board charging speed by working with level 2 charging stations on the popular J1772 standard. The dealer-installed accessory complements the standard on-board charger of many 2015 and later Zero motorcycles, reducing typical charge times to 2-3 hours. It includes a new tank section that eliminates the tank bag from the motorcycle. Availabitilty will be in about six months and will cost a rather serious $1,988.

Pricing for the Zero FXR starts at $8,495.00 with the cost increasing for the larger capacity batteries and quick charger.

Kawasaki Moves Further Towards Electric Motorcycling with new Patent

It’s well known that Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha and even Harley-Davidson all see a future with an electric bike in their lineup. Kawasaki has probably been the busiest of the major manufacturers with their patents and they’ve just lodged another one – this time for a regenerative braking system specifically for motorcycles.

The issue with regenerative braking on motorcycles is that bikes have much less intertia than larger vehicles such as cars which use the technology to good effect. That means that when rolling off the throttle, the regenerative system can sometimes cause too much loss of speed – akin to actual braking. Earlier reviews of bikes from Zero Motorcycles in fact noted the unsettling feeling this produces although it has been improved over the years.

Essentially, Kawasaki’s system incorporates a variety of sensors that control the regenerative braking process. Just coming off the throttle slightly and the system doesn’t engage. Come completely off the throttle and apply the brakes and the system kicks in. The system also takes into account the lean angle of the bike for those naughty people who chop the throttle in the corners.

It’s not like this hasn’t all been thought of before of course with KTM, BMW and Zero – as well as others – taking these things into account. What is more interesting is that Kawasaki continues to investigate technology related to electric motorcycles. Previously they’ve filed patents for an electric motorcycle with batteries that could be quickly swapped in and out. Kawasaki has also filed trademarks for names such as Ninja E2 and Ninja E2R which may hint to an upcoming electric sportsbike.

 

Is Bultaco The Next Player In The Electric Motorcycle Game?

Is it getting crowded in here? Resurrected Spanish brand Bultaco looks set to enter the electric motorcycle game as early as next year. Last week the company launched a motorcycle/mountainbike hybrid – but that’s just a tiny taste of what could come out as early as next year.

For those following the company, Bultaco actually unveiled two concept machines in 2014 – the Rapitan and Rapitan Sport. Those concepts/prototypes both produced 53 hp, 92 lb.ft of torque and had a range of over 125 miles (200 km). That compares pretty well to the Zero S which is the benchmark for current mainstream electric motorcycles.

The heart of the bikes is a collaboration between Bultaco and MotoCzysz – an American firm which has a good history of electric motorcycle manufacturing and won the Isle of Man TT (electric class) four years in a row starting in 2010.

According to Bultaco, what sets their electric machines out from the crowd is the front suspension and their innovative regenerative braking system. The front end works similarly to BMW Motoradd’s Telelever system which assists in reducing front end dive under braking. It has the added benefit of separating braking and turning forces which is ideal when coming into corners.

Their regenerative braking system which is used to put energy back into the batteries when stopping is also (at least according to Bultaco) more efficient than competing systems. Part of this is done by stabilizing the rear wheel under braking, ensuring that as much regenerative energy is captured as possible.

It’s expected that both the Rapitan and Rapitan Sport will be available for sale in late 2016 with prices around the $13,000 mark.

 

Why The Next Motorcycle You Buy Could Be Electric

It might not seem like it now but electric motorcycles are about to get a whole lot more common. Within the next few years, every major Japanese manufacturer will have an electric motorcycle available to buy in their showrooms and the Americans and Europeans are already leading the way. Let’s take a look at what the next generation of motorcycle is going to look like.

Zero Motorcycles

Zero is currently numero uno when it comes to accessible electric motorcycles. Sure, they’re still expensive when you compare them to traditional internal combustion engine powered bikes but they’re also not ridiculously priced out of the average person’s reach either. And Zero looks like it will continue to go from strength to strength.

They recently announced the receipt of a grant from the Californian State Government and a subsequent price reduction across the range. But for alll that, Zero remains a very niche player. For that reason we wouldn’t be surprised if they were bought out in the near future. Perhaps by another American firm…

Zero Motorcycles Rolls into 2015 with Strong Momentum

Harley-Davidson

The legendary cruiser company surprised everyone with their Project Livewire concept but since the hype has died down it hasn’t looked as hot as we’d first hoped. In fact, it’s likely that Project LIvewire is years away from release with Matt Levatich, President and CEO of HD saying the following late last year:

“Its range is 50 miles, but customers are looking for 100… If the electric bike were mass-produced today it would sell for about $50,000, about 50% more than customers would want to pay”

Project Livewire also isn’t a completely in-house product. Harley-Davidson sought assistance from Mission Motorcycles on the drive train. If H-D is truly serious about entering the electric motorcycle game, they’re far better off buying an established manufacturer such as Zero instead of trying to develop the technology on their own.

Project Livewire Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council

Victory Motorcycles

Which is exactly what the parent company of Victory Motorcycles, Polaris did earlier this year. Victory purchased Brammo, Zero’s only real competitor in the ‘mass produced’ electric motorcycle game.

Victory will be entering an electric motorcycle in this weeks Isle of Man TT, indicating that they will be releasing a sportsbike based on the Brammo Empulse as early as this year. Polaris is cashed up so expect them to make a real push into the electric game. And unlike Zero, they have the resources and large dealer network for it to really happen.

BMW Motorrad

Out of all the big players, BMW was the first with an electric two-wheeler. Sure, it’s a scooter but nevertheless, BMW has the technology in place to translate that into a commercially available electric motorcycle. The BMW C Evolution scooter was released in 2013 and produces 35 kW (48 bhp) and 72 Nm of torque which provides more pace than entry level sportsbikes and quite a bit more than the average scooter.

Range is a moderate 100km which makes it adequate for city riding – something plenty of motorcycle riders could be interested in as well. While BMW Motorrad don’t have any immediate plans to release an electric motorcycle, they’ve already got more runs on the board than their competitors.

BMW Motorrad C Evolution Scooter

KTM

But BMW aren’t alone with the release of an electric two-wheeler. In fact, KTM has gone a step better with an electric powered dirt bike, the KTM Freeride E. The Freeride E has gotten nowhere near the amount of publicity it deserves – this is the first electric motorcycle from a traditional motorcycle manufacturer.

Electric dirtbikes should be more appealing than sportsbikes – one of the biggest issues with dirtbikes is the noise they produce. Countless local tracks have been closed due to urban sprawl as well as complaints from rural residents when riders (legally or illegally) take to the trails. With near silent electric powertrains, such issues vanish.

The advantages of electric dirtbikes don’t stop with (lack of) noise. The KTM Freeride E weighs only 110kg which is actually less than the fully fueled petrol powered KTM Freeride 250 R, which the Freeride E’s chassis is based on. Add to that the instantaneous 31.0 ft-lb. of torque from the get go and you have a serious off road machine. KTM is following up the initial Freeride E with an electric supermoto later this year – sure to be a huge hit.

KTM Freeride E

Yamaha

It’s a real guessing game as to which of the Japanese manufacturers will jump first, but if we were asked to put money on it we’d say it would be Yamaha. In 2013 they unveiled two concepts, the PES1 sportsbike and PED1 dirtbike. Since then, Yamaha has registered a number of patents relating to the two bikes and our sources indicate they could be released as early as next year.

The patents indicate that the batteries for the bikes will be swappable and will actually be the same design for both machines which means reduced costs of manufacture. Interestingly, buyers may be able to ‘upgrade’ their bike after purchase by installing a third battery with little to no modifications to the bike.

At the concept launch, Yamaha stated that the PES1 weighed less than 221 pounds, and the PED1 weighed less than 187 pounds. Another interesting fact is that Yamaha will employ DC motors instead of AC which all other electric manufacturers use.

Suzuki

If Yamaha does end up being the first of the Japanese producers to release an electric motorcycle then we think Suzuki might come in a close second. We reported only a few weeks ago that Suzuki had updated a number of its patents in relation to its Extrigger concept from 2013.

This Honda Grom sized bike was first shown off in concept form and now Suzuki, like it’s doing with its Suzuki Recursion concept, is filing numerous patents in relation to the machine. While not guaranteed, it usually means that the company has plans on bringing the concepts to production.

And if any manufacturer needs to do something interesting, it’s Suzuki.

Kawasaki

The green machine have shown that they’re not shy when it comes to using different technologies as the supercharged Ninja H2 and H2R clearly displayed. Kawasaki have filed numerous patents over the years relating to electric powered Ninjas, including ones where batteries can be easily swapped out.

But perhaps even more telling was that earlier this year, Kawasaki registered a number of trademarks in Europe, the US and Japan for machines called the Ninja E2 and E2-R with conjecture being the E stands for ‘Electric’.

That said, we believe that Kawasaki will remain focused on its forced induction technology for now which provides both reductions in fuel consumption and emissions- a big part of the reason for going down the alternative energy route to begin with.

Tesla

This one is out of left field, but we’re not the first to venture the idea that Tesla may get into the electric motorcycle game. They most certainly are at the forefront of the electric car industry and it wouldn’t be a difficult step to cross the bridge into battery powered motorcycles.

That said, most industry observers think it unlikely that Tesla will enter into the motorcycle game. Tesla is still a low volume, high margin business with their cheapest car costing $57,500. There’s enough demand in the car industry for such priced vehicles, but expensive motorcycles are niche items at best.

Regardless of what Tesla ends up doing, the electric motorcycle landscape is going to drastically change over the next few years and for the better. And the more competition in the sector, the quicker prices will drop and the faster the improvement in range will occur.

Zero Motorcycles Drops Prices by $1,350 on Entire Range

Zero Motorcycles, A global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, announced today that it is lowering prices by $1,350 across its 2015 model line. Seeing its battery costs fall and energy density increase faster than anticipated as it develops successive model years of high performance electric motorcycles, Zero Motorcycles has decided to deliver this increased value immediately to consumers in North America.

“As leaders in this space we believe it is important to pass on the benefits of improved battery technology and our increased scale to consumers as soon as possible to allow more motorcyclists to experience the thrill of electric,” said Richard Walker, Zero Motorcycles CEO. “We’re not here to do things as they’ve been traditionally done in the motorcycle industry. Making this change mid-season to deliver great value to consumers at industry-leading price points, rather than waiting for 2016, is just the right thing to do.”

Since most distribution partners across the world buy Zero motorcycles based on the US MSRP, Zero will be able to pass on the benefit of these newly announced prices to consumers in their local markets. In Europe, these cost reductions will allow Zero to absorb the currency impact of the weakened Euro without raising prices from their current levels.

“This announcement will benefit the consumer and, of course, further accelerate our growth. We are the acknowledged technology and commercial leaders in the burgeoning electric motorcycle market, and this move positions us well to remain on top,” said Pieter de Waal, Zero Motorcycles VP of Global Sales and Marketing.

2015 Zero FX
ZF2.8: $8,495
ZF5.7: $10,990

2015 Zero DS
ZF9.4: $11,995
ZF12.5: $13,995

2015 Zero S
ZF9.4: $11,995
ZF12.5: $13,995

2015 Zero SR
ZF12:5: $15,995

*Prices do not include sales tax, destination, freight, set-up, licensing or registration charges. Other charges may apply.

Zero Motorcycles Rolls into 2015 with Strong Momentum

Zero Motorcycles Receives Major Grant

Zero Motorcycles hasn’t been in the limelight much of late, taking a back seat to the goings on with Brammo and its apparent absorption by Victory Motorcycles. But in many ways, no news is good news except for when the news is you’re the recipient of over a million dollars in funding from the Californian government.

To be precise, Zero Motorcycles has been awarded a grant of $1,009,220 from the California Energy Commission (CEC). With matching commitment from Zero, over $2M in funding will be made available to drive the company’s continued research, development and assembly of 100% electric motorcycles at their California headquarters.

“We thrive at the intersection of transportation, technology and energy efficiency,” said Zero Motorcycles CEO Richard Walker. “This generous grant, combined with the confidence of our investors, accelerates our global growth, expands Zero’s local workforce and manufacturing capacity, and will fuel continued innovation across all of our products.”

Zero was founded in Santa Cruz in 2006 and has been pioneering electric motorcycles ever since. Each year, the model line has seen great advancements in performance, range, features and value. Zero motorcycles are proudly “Crafted in California” at the company’s Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz County) headquarters.

“It’s exciting to see Zero Motorcycles grow from a pilot production line we funded to an expanded manufacturing line through this latest grant,” said Janea A. Scott, lead commissioner on transportation for the California Energy Commission. “Transitioning from older, higher polluting vehicles to zero emission vehicles-ones with no tailpipe pollution-helps the state meet its clean air, climate, and petroleum reduction goals.”

The California Energy Commission is focused on promoting efficiency and conservation, supporting cutting-edge research, and developing California’s renewable energy resources. Zero is committed to using the CEC grant to expand its production capacity through improvements in its manufacturing line, production efficiency and engineering processes.

“We believe CEC funding is ideally suited for this kind of project as we leverage 21st century California clean-tech manufacturing,” said Kai Hypko, VP of Operations at Zero. “As electric vehicles continue to gain popularity, Zero Motorcycles helps reduce petroleum use, improve air quality and energy efficiency, all while creating more skilled jobs here in California.”

We’ll be testing Zero’s updated range of 2015 bikes in the near future.

Zero Motorcycles Receives Major Grant

California Energy Commissioner Janea Scott with a 2015 Zero SR (PRNewsFoto/Zero Motorcycles)

ZecOO Electric Bike, An Anime Inspired Motorcycle

While electric motorcycles are certainly becoming more common and are in many areas already rivaling, if not exceeding their combustion engine powered counterparts, for the price they’re still something most riders won’t consider. The ZecOO from Japan probably pushes that envelope even further given its price of around ¥8,880,000 (around $74,000) – but for that you’ll get one of if not the most unique looking motorcycle available to buy.

At its heart lies the same engine as used in the Zero SR motorcycle. Otherwise however, the ZecOO is all Japanese, most notably its appearance. Looking like something from a Japanese anime in the not too distant future crossed with a Xenomorph, the ZecOO might look like a sportsbike in appearance but has a seating position more akin to a cruiser.

That cruiser style seating also appears to carry over to handling. With a wheelbase of 1,860 mm, this machine isn’t designed with corners primarily in mind. It also weighs a massive 280 kg, nearly 100 kg more than the standard Zero SR. Interestingly however, the ZecOO uses a hub-center steering unit which Znug Design, who are the makers of the bike say is designed to accommodate the battery’s weight, maintaining steer ability without changes in riding posture.

Given its weight, one wouldn’t expect eye peeling acceleration, but with the Zero SR engine, it will still have great power on tap with 144 Nm of torque available from the get go. Range is claimed to be 160 km and if you were to ride in the streets of Tokyo would be plenty of juice.

The ZecOO will have a worldwide limited production run of only 49 and each motorcycle will be handmade and assembled by highly-skilled craftsmen for each customer. Many of the parts are machined from solid aluminum alloy block, and it is made with meticulous attention to detail, even to the individual screws.