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Electric motorbikes are here to stay, whether you like it or not. But are they a complete waste of space, or is there a time and place that electric motorbikes do actually make sense?
In the past month or so there’s been a lot of talk about electric motorcycles, hybrid bikes or bikes with ‘alternative’ fuels. And although they will, without doubt, one day be the bikes to have, there are still a lot of people that say they’ll never EVER ride a bike unless it’s got a ‘proper’ internal combustion engine. If you ride a motorbike simply because you enjoy burning petrol that’s up to you. But it’s not why I ride motorbikes.
There are a number of reasons I ride motorbikes, and whilst an electric bike wouldn’t tick all the boxes for me just yet, I’m pretty sure one would, for some people.
The number one reason I ride motorbikes is because of the sheer thrill you get when you open the throttle and feel the power of the engine underneath you. Power that, on plenty of modern bikes is quite mind-altering. I’ve been lucky enough to ride loads of really fast bikes over the last 20 or so years, but the novelty of riding a superbike still hasn’t worn off. I’m not sure if it ever will.
Whilst there aren’t any electric bikes that can genuinely replicate the performance, and therefore the thrill, of a superbike, it doesn’t make them boring. Some of the better electric bikes out there are still capable of packing a fairly hefty punch; it might not be a punch that gives a seasoned superbike rider a stiffy, but to normal people, a half decent electric bike is still pretty fast. And therefore thrilling. And they’ll only get faster as time goes on.
Whilst a car or a van might be seen as more convenient than a motorcycle, for running certain errands, if your journey is beset with slow running traffic, and you can fit all the kit you need in a rucksack, the convenience of a motorcycle cannot be understated.
Traffic isn’t anywhere near as much of an issue on a bike, nine times out of ten you can use bus lanes to speed your journey up, and they’re ten times easier to park. In that regard, an electric bike is just as convenient as an old-fashioned, petrol-engined one.
I know there’s an argument to say that, at the moment, the a shortage of charging points negates any convenience factor that might be attributed to electric motorbikes. But if you’ve got one or two where you need them, that might be all you need.
This comes back to both thrill and convenience. Sometimes I like going fast because it’s thrilling, and sometimes I like going fast because it means I’ll get to wherever I’m going faster. Whether that’s doing 150mph on an autobahn, or 30mph filtering through stationary traffic in town.
If you wanted to do 150mph on an electric bike, you wouldn’t be able to do it for very long. That’s if you could even do it in the first place. Here in the UK though, we can only do 70mph, should we wish to stay on the correct side of the law. Lots of electric motorbikes can do 70mph. That means lots of electric motorbikes are indeed fast enough for most UK riders, most of the time.
And if you’re a towny, you might find an electric bike is fast enough for you, all the time.
Compared to internal combustion engine bikes, electric motorbikes are still quite a bit more expensive; that’s if you’re comparing bikes of similar performance. But on the whole, a motorbike, be it electric or petrol, is still a fairly cheap way to get around.
And whilst I don’t suppose electric bikes ,or any bikes for that matter, will ever be cheap, I’m sure the tech involved in developing, manufacturing, and ultimately, owning electric motorbikes will become more affordable over time.
So yes, in conclusion, I think there is a time and a place for electric motorbikes. I think that time is now, IF the place is in the city. But I think if your ‘place’ is anywhere and everywhere, I think the time is tomorrow (figuratively speaking).
Because as long as you’ve got somewhere to charge and store an electric bike, there isn’t really much a conventional bike can offer you over an electric bike, if all you do is ride to and from the office in the city. They’re cleaner, greener, quieter and cheaper to run. I would definitely consider one if I lived in town.
But I don’t live in town, and they’re still not exciting enough to thrill me on the open road. That’s not to mention the fact that none of them have got the battery range to satisfy any serious motorcyclists. So for now, I’ll be sticking with petrol, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did too. But you must never say never.
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