My Top Electric Bike Picks From 2018 EICMA
We’re Talking Some Space-Age Stuff Hereby TJ Hinton, on
The EICMA bike show is in full swing, and so far, fans of the burgeoning EV sector have a lot to be excited about. Besides its limited range, one of the biggest challenges for the EV bike builders is the lack of diversity, but this year at the Milan show, it’s clear that issue has been addressed. I’ve picked out six interesting models that cover three genres, so let’s get to it.
Continue reading for my picks among the electric bikes at 2018 EICMA.
It’s no secret that I’m a big proponent for clean transportation. Yeah, I know, it’s a displaced-carbon footprint and not a zero-carbon one, but the power you’re using to charge up with is cleaner and cheaper than a gas-powered ICE unit. Every. Single. Time. We’re talking about a few pennies per mile here.
Since Husqvarna is already a front-burner name in the dirt-racing world it makes sense for it to release a trainer-size machine.
First, let’s take a look at the off-road stuff, shall we? Husqvarna leads the way off the beaten path with its MY 2020 EE5 electric dirtbike available in summer 2019. Yeah, it’s kind of a rinkey-dinkey little thing, but you gotta’ start somewhere, and since Husqvarna is already a front-burner name in the dirt-racing world it makes sense for it to release a trainer-size machine, at least to start with.
Outwardly, it carries itself much like the rest of the small-dirtbike field, but a glance at the engine compartment quickly reveals that this is something else entirely. Designed to perform similar to bikes within the 50 cc bracket, the electric motor quietly churns out 6.7-horsepower with twist-and-go operation that eliminates the clutch in its entirety. A dead-man’s switch deactivates the machine if the rider winds up un-assing it while under way, plus there’s an adjustable-height seat that allows you to dial it down for your little McGrath larvae, and later bring it up higher as the rider grows into the bike.
As for capacity, the 907 Watt-hour lithium-ion battery will accept a full charge in 70-minutes, but you can slam an 80-percent charge into it in just 45-minutes. Pretty cool stuff, and it’s duplicated by KTM all the way down to, but not including, the colors and graphics. Makes sense since they fall under the same umbrella, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that two vehicles were identical in every important parameter but hit showrooms with different badging/etc.
Telescopic front forks and a Softail-like triangular swingarm float the MIG-RR, so in spite of the optional pedal power, the overall design is very motorcycle-like.
Ducati likewise had a dirt-tastic ride to show off, but this one is actually a mountain bike that sports pedals like a proper bicycle (or Moped) with a traditional, 11-speed sprocket-gear set, and that is backed up by a 250-Watt Shimano Steps E8000 ’lectric motor. Telescopic front forks and a Softail-like triangular swingarm float the MIG-RR, so in spite of the optional pedal power, the overall design is very motorcycle-like.
Performance numbers show a machine that punches way above its weight with a staggering 51.6 pound-feet of torque on tap on an assembly that weighs in at only 49.6-pounds. Yeah, let that sink in just a minute. Just to put it in perspective for you, that’s more torque than H-D’s Street 750, and that thing weighs in at just over a quarter-ton. The MIG-RR has a 504-Watt power cell, but thus far, we have no info on charge times, top speed or pricing.
Given that the majority of scooter pilots have a relatively short commute, I'd say the Elettrica is a very viable alternative to a 50 cc or even a 150 cc smokerbike.
Next, I’d like to take a gander at a more streetwise machine that also hails from Europe’s boot; the Vespa Elettrica. This one is an e-Scooter that carries itself with that absolutely classic Italian “wasp” design that endeavors to channel the ’60s, but any resemblance to the smoker-scoots, new or old, ends there. The swingmount drive system trades the ICE for a brushless electric motor that cranks out an astounding 147 pound-feet of torque. Do you not see why I love electrics?!
This scooter-sized scooter has a punch like a truck that’s been set on fire and driven off an overpass. I shouldn’t have to tell you that’s more power than 95-percent of the dino-juice bikes out there, by a vast margin. Charge it from any 220-Volt source for four hours from flat-to-full, and you’re good-to-go for up to 60-miles.
Rider modes tailor power delivery and top speed, and you can navigate the menu through the TFT instrumentation plus communicate wirelessly through Bluetooth-connected earbuds. Given that the majority of scooter pilots have a relatively short commute, I’d say the Elettrica is a very viable alternative to a 50 cc or even a 150 cc smokerbike.
H-D actually surpasses Zero with a charging system that'll slam a charge into the batteries at a rate of 80-percent in as little as 15 minutes.
Next up is the much-anticipated LiveWire from Harley-Davidson. The MoCo has been teasing us for years now, but it seems the sport-standard EV bike is almost ready for release with a projected 2020 debut date on U.S. showrooms. This thing looks nothing like you’d expect from Milwaukee, but this is a bold new machine for a brave new low-emission world, so it makes sense to depart from the norm.
It rocks a permanent-magnet AC motor with an as-yet unannounced power-pack capacity, so it’s tough to get a bead on range and overall power, but the general consensus holds that range will be competitive with Zero’s top-shelf power-storage and delivery. It also will feature cornering ABS and, wait for it, traction control, so maybe H-D is finally ready to join the 21st century after all.
H-D actually surpasses Zero with a charging system that’ll slam a charge into the batteries at a rate of 80-percent in as little as 15 minutes. If the range is likewise comparable to the Zeros, then it’s safe to say that H-D has really hit the nail on the head, and since Victory folded and its Brammo-based Empulse has been delayed, that leaves the MoCo as the only domestic-built game in town. An enviable position, but one that is tenuous at best since Indian Motorcycles, or even the parent-company Polaris, is bound to get the Empulse project moving forward, and that right soon.
If you have the testicular fortitude for it, we're talking 0-to-60 mph in 2.9-seconds with 120 mph at the 7.5-second mark and the 155 mph top speed in 10.9-seconds.
I gotta’ say, the KYMCO entry was something of a surprise; I had no idea the Taiwan-based company was going to throw its hat into this particular ring, but here we are. The Kwang Yang Motor Company made a splash when it unveiled its SuperNEX electric superbike at the Milan show. Yeah, I know, “superbike” and “KYMCO” are two words rarely, if ever, seen together before, unless it’s to say that the scooter-builder does not have a superbike. As of now, that’s changed. I think the factory picked its time well. The EV bike sector is still relatively wide open with only a handful of builders so far, and it seems that the technology has finally progressed to the point of viability rather than just curiosity.
A nose-down/tail-up stance greets the eye with vented bodywork that hides the innards and makes it so the SuperNEX could blend right in with a group of Euro/Japanese-style superbikes. Folks familiar with the brand will not recognize this ride at a glance, to say the least, and I’d put it up against the Energica as far as the aesthetics go.
Unlike most EV bikes, the SuperNEX is equipped a proper six-speed transmission rather than a direct drive, and that’s pretty cool since it delivers more of a “normal” riding experience than the twist-and-go variety. Scattered about the machine are components from august names such as Öhlins and Brembo, so this is a serious machine that marks a huge step forward for the factory especially in light of the rider modes, traction control, anti rear-wheel lift and launch-control features. Thoroughly modern, and the same kind of fandanglery you’d expect to find across the board on top-of-the-line street/superbikes.
Details on price and most of the other critical elements are still at large, this is a prototype after all, but we do have some performance nuggets for you to digest. We’re talking 0-to-60 mph in 2.9-seconds with 120 mph at the 7.5-second mark and the 155 mph top speed in 10.9-seconds if you have the testicular fortitude for it. That’s nothing short of stupidfast, sports fans, and it bodes well for this new initiative.
As impressive as the power and torque specs are, the technological fandanglery still manages to upstage the performance.
Last but definitely not least is an entry from British bikebuilder Arc. The Arc Vector is a futuristic-looking ride with clear sportbike DNA markers that are bound to appeal to younger riders, and more experienced ones with a taste for the unusual. It carries a 399-Volt electric motor and weighs in at 485-pounds, but most of the important metrics are still under wraps. The factory had the sense to release the power numbers though, and you’ll understand why when you see them. We’re talking 133 horsepower backed up with an absolutely soul-crushing 292 pound-feet of torque. I mean, holy crap guys, who needs that much power on something that isn’t airborne or on rails?
As impressive as that is, the technological fandanglery still manages to upstage the performance. This bike comes with an integral helmet and jacket that take things to another level entirely. The helmet? Yeah, it acts as a key fob that activates the machine by proximity, and with a heads-up display built in. As for the jacket, it’s a tactile device that’ll give you a tap on the shoulder when you get crowded from behind, and speakers that turn your body into some sort of biological amphitheater to make you one with your music like never before.
So far, it’s only slated for release in the U.K., and it comes with a £90,000 price tag, but we can always hope it’ll make its way across the pond sooner rather than later. I can’t wait to delve deeper into this bike that wouldn’t be out of place on a Star Trek set, and I’m talking the new stuff, not the classics.
See our look at the Vespa Elettrica.
See our look at the Harley-Davidson LiveWire.
See our look at the KYMCO SuperNEX.
Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street 500/Street 750.
See our look at the Arc Vector.
Victory Empulse TT
See our review of the Victory Empulse TT.
Read more Harley-Davidson news.
Read more KYMCO news.