Regular readers would know that I’m mildly obsessed with electric vehicles and electric motorcycles in particular.
I’ve ridden and raced bikes for more than 30 years and switched on to electric almost four years ago on an early Zero motorcycle made in California. I upgraded to a 2014 model by the same manufacturer in late 2014 and can unequivocally say that I do not expect to ever buy another petrol motorcycle.
Not really. Once you ride the current crop of street bikes (let alone the new higher performance models that are being released) it’s a pretty fast conversion. Electric bikes have huge torque and great speed which makes them, above all else, hugely exhilarating to ride. Ultimately, that’s exactly what the vast majority of riders are looking for.
But the other revelation you soon have is owning an electric motorcycle means you spend vastly less time tuning, maintaining and servicing them leaving more time for riding.
Now I am a relentless tinkerer so I don’t mind servicing and modifying, well, anything. But I don’t enjoy that as much as riding and ultimately servicing is purely a means to an end – maintaining performance, handling and riding.
What all this means is they are astoundingly cheap to own – the premium I paid is pretty much already paid off in reduced fuel, registration and service costs.
When I got my first Zero I found about 6 other owners Australia wide. Availability had been patchy and the bikes’ range and speed was pretty limited. Fast forward just four short years and by latest estimates their are now around 80 Zero’s on the road in Australia; a thirteen fold increase. Of course, that still makes us a very small niche market but every owner I talk with has the same story about utter amazement and adulation for their bikes.
Incredibly, our bikes collectively have almost 1MWH of energy storage capacity.
It was with great excitement that i joined four other riders for a day of fun recently making it arguably, the largest ever collection of owners out for a days riding. Each of us had distinct usage profiles although the majority of us use our bikes as daily commuters – because this is where they absolutely excel. One rider regularly tours on his using caravan parks and pubs to recharge as he travels. Another owner has converted his to a full blown race bike and competes in the small but growing all electric race series in Australia. I use mine mostly for commuting but have also done some longer trips around NSW and a little bit of off road exploring.
Our recent day out was prompted by the producers of CustomTourque, which is a mini TV series dedicated to custom motorcycles. The producer and host have met several Zero owners and previously put together a feature on electric motorcycle racing in Australia. I get the sense the disease is setting in with them…
Sunday’s ride consisted of interviews with each of us, a gaggle of GoPro’s, Drones, booms and other hi tech gadgetry to start the process of putting together a new mini series telling the stories of electric riders and more importantly perhaps, how it’s becoming apparent that once die-hard combustion engined bike owners truly experience the new breed of electrics they are coming around pretty quickly.
Five owners might not seem like a historic event but to my knowledge a bunch of guys who happen to live in reasonably close proximity and ride electric almost every single day simply hasn’t happened before in Australia. What really struck me was how we all now consider riding electric bikes a normal day to day experience. This becomes particularly apparent when you put five bikes together in public because everybody stops in their tracks and takes a second somewhat quizzical look. Biker owners drill you for information and have huge grins on their faces. Hell, even a family with toddlers stopped for a yarn with mum saying“Look sweetheart – electric motorbikes! When you are grown up you can get one too – that’s the future right there”
Like all the other owners out there we are the beginning of a new reality that is going to grow profoundly as the technology continues to improve.
I’ve attached short video of the bikes below.
Nigel Morris is CEO of RoofJuice.