The Long Beach Motorcycle Show 2017 is officially over but the buzz is still felt. And this time, after a few years absence, electric motorcycles were sneaking into the 2017 Long Beach Motorcycle show.
The last time we saw electric motorcycles at the Long Beach Motorcycle Show was when Zero Motorcycles unveiled its 2013 lineup. And that was in 2012. Ever since, electric motorcycles have been strangely absent. The big six show more or less upgraded versions of the same motorcycles, with a trend toward “old is new.” Don’t get me wrong — I like motorcycles a lot. I wouldn’t mind an FZ-09 … but it uses gas. Like many, I can’t shake off the impression of facelifts and incremental performance bumps to the internal combustion engine (ICE). Like cars in the ’90s, I completely lost interest. We might make enemies here, but motorcycle makers are strangely mute when it comes to pollution. Sadly, motorcycles are not held to the same stringent standards as cars are when it comes to noise and pollution.
Electric Motorcycles Sneak into the Long Beach Motorcycle Show
So, it was with pleasure that we spotted two nice electric scooter (e-scooter) surprises, GenZe’s great GenZe 2.0 and BMW’s e-scooter, which is finally coming to the US after what seems like an interminable wait.
The BMW e-scooter has been sold successfully in Europe for a few years. Sadly, BMW motorcycle never brought it to North America, despite scooters popping up more and more in cities the past few years and buyers asking for it.
Let’s point out the obvious elephant in the room. Motorcycle sales are dwindling in North America. Shock, horror, gasp, we heard Harley-Davidson wondering why and how come millennials aren’t interested. It’s a wonder, indeed.
BMW finally introduces its e-scooter in the US. And the sticker shock is… $13,750. Pretty much anything BMW motorcycles makes is good quality and offers an excellent ride. But we wonder about the price compared to the competition.
Electric Scooter Competition in the US
GenZe offers electric bicycles, which we are test riding now, as well as an e-scooter. We first hopped on the GenZe back in 2013 and were impressed by its design and ride feel. The new GenZe 2.0 hasn’t changed the philosophy. It still has a bigger front wheel than typical, giving it great handling. The seat swoops up to open an impressive cargo area, and letting the rider stand and lean on it. We’ve tried it — it was fun. What also makes the GenZe 2.0 unique in this category is its onboard cargo capacity, good enough for two to three normal-sized grocery bags.
Technically speaking, the GenZe has an aluminum frame that protects it rider pretty well. It weighs 215 lb. with a 16″ front wheel and 12″ rear one. It sports a removable 1.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the seat and an in-hub electric motor. It takes roughly 3.5 hours to recharge on a 110V outlet. Fully loaded and top of the configuration costs $4,199, while the e-scooter starts at $2,999.
The Electric Energica Gathers a Lot of Interest
The star of the electric motorcycle show was by far the Energica Ego and Eva pictured here with Jim Sherwood grinning with pleasure, rightfully so.
It was impressive to see the public’s reaction to the electric motorcycles. Motorcycle riders are much more technically savvy than car drivers. After all, you have to be when cars are out to get you all day long. (No kidding._ But their incredulity was like that of the early 2007–2008 years when showgoers would ask if a bike was electric.
The Ego and Eva impressed my two ICE motorcycle riders, one of whom stands 6 foot 2 inches tall. He has become a perfect test rider partner for me thanks to his superb feedback, on cars or motorcycles. He found the Ego and Eva to both be comfortable and was happy that, at last, he could sit on an electric motorcycle that “feels like a motorcycle.” In fact, two motorcycle friends signed up for a test ride, which we’ll cover later.
The Ego is the furious one and the Eva is the more tuned down version of the latter. But unlike carmakers’ insistence to dumb down the feel of electric vehicles (EV) to that of an automatic gas car, both Energicas kept the feel like a regular performance bike. Well, except that they have a lot more torque.
As mentioned above, the Ego is the flat-out streetracer version. It will annoy the best of the crop at a green light. The Eva is the more comfortable version. Both share the same specs and platform. Both can be tweaked to your heart’s content. One thing I like about Energica is that $24,900 buys you everything, battery included. Unlike other electric motorcycle makers, there is nothing to add, DC fast charger is included. And that is something we certainly enjoy seeing — the price is the final price.
We also met the incredible Keerati, who not only represented Energica well but is also an accomplished motorcycle rider, racer, model, and downright great person. More to follow soon.
Introducing the Vanderhall Three-Wheel EV
Hopefully, one EV people will have noticed if they missed the others is the Morgan-like three-wheel Vanderhall. We’ll write a more in-depth story on Vanderhall soon. The company brought out a neat three-wheel prototype a few years ago. The difference between a SlingShot and a CanAm three-wheel motorcycle is that the Vanderhall is front wheel driven. More to come soon on that.
The EV we’re interested in is the Edison. Soon to retail for $34,950, this EV sports two electric motors. They put out 180 HP and 240 lb. ft. of torque. The vehicle sprints a 0–60 in 4.0 seconds and stops at 100 feet. It has a 30 kWh lithium battery pack in the front and weighs 1,400 lb. (635 kg) for a range of roughly 200 miles.
Vanderhall also has the Laguna coming …
The Motorcycle Show Warms Up to Electric Again
We were disappointed the last few Motorcycle Shows had no electric motorcycles since Zero’s 2012 display. This could mark the beginning of electric motorcycles becoming mainstream in this market segment. Battery energy density is especially crucial for that market, as riders like to go on tours that can last 200 to 600 miles. The best of electric motorcycles at the moment claim 120 to 135 miles in city traffic. That range drops to about 80 miles on highways.
We feel a few motorcycle aficionados are ready for the electric motorcycle. I know we are.
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