However, the states and territories do offer various other incentives such as rego discounts, stamp duty exemptions, T2/T3 lane access that, in some cases, apply to bikes.
Rhys says it is important for states to “get consistency of regulations around electric-powered two-wheelers”.
“At the moment there is a discrepancy regarding power to weight ratios applied to E motorcycles, in regard to LAMS eligibility,” he says.
Dominic Kavo of Australia’s first electric bike and scooter company, Fonzarelli, says stamp duty exemptions and registration concessions available for EV bikes in various states are “not as widespread as it really should be and states like Victoria have no concessions to speak of regarding EV motos”.
“We would love to see a lot more incentives for EV riders,” he says.
“To see them be at least commensurate with EV cars would be a great start but I feel there is also the opportunity to encourage more two-wheelers in many different landscapes as they can reduce congestion as well as emissions in these areas greatly.
“Overall encouraging and creating greater access to EV’s, whether it be monetary benefits, specific EV parking allocations, rebates and any other benefit is a rather necessary measure to help Australia get up to speed with the changing technology and maybe one day become a leader in sustainability.”
The current exorbitant fuel prices could force Australian motorcycle importers to rethink their strategy of not importing electric motorcycles and scooters.
It may also spark the manufacturers and their representative groups, such as the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, to start pedalling motorcycles as cheaper alternative transport than cars.
Fuel pumps around the country are currently topping $A2.20 for a litre of standard fuel, so filing even a little hatchback can cost more than $100, thanks to the current war in Ukraine.
This could mean more and more motorists could begin to look toward electric cars and bikes.
While there is only a modest selection of electric cars available in Australia, the pickings are even slimmer for riders.
Most electric two-wheeled vehicles available in Australia are low-powered scooters.
Even Australia’s first electric motorcycle and scooter company, Fonzarelli, only produce low-to-moderate-powered bikes with very limited range.
At the other end of the scale, Harley-Davidson has had limited success with its $A50k LiveWire, high-performance naked bike.
There are a lot more electric options available overseas, but Australian importers have largely been conservative in their approach to importing them.
That could change if the pain of high fuel prices continues.
There is already pressure from within the Liberal Party for the Federal Government to relax the 44c/litre excise on fuel.
Just don’t expect the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to do anything about fuel prices.
In an official reply to us, they said they have no role in setting fuel prices, but “work hard to promote and deliver price transparency in the petrol market to ensure people across the country can find the best possible deals for their fuel”.
They say fuel retailers in Australia are allowed to set their own retail prices for fuel, but they must set their prices independently of other retailers.
So how come all servo fuel prices seem to go up on the same day? Isn’t that collusion?
Meanwhile, importers and representative bodies should be extolling the economical virtues of motorcycles.
A modern 250cc motorcycle or scooter will get around 2.8L/100km (85mpg), and there’s not a car on the planet that can match that kind of economy.
Surely that’s something that is worth promoting in this current climate.
What is needed is an industry-wide pool of advertising money to promote the general benefits of powered two-wheelers, rather than specific makes or models.
The problem is motorcycle importers are loathe to promote anything generic, fearing it may lead to sales of competing bikes.
Happy Days fans are in for a rude shock … Arthur Fonzarelli couldn’t actually ride!
Yes, that’s right, Henry Winkler, the actor who played Fonzie or “The Fonze” in the Happy Days TV series from 1974-84 couldn’t ride a motorcycle.
He crashed several times in shooting, found Harleys too heavy to handle and blamed his inability to co-ordinate clutch, brake and throttle on his dyslexia.
Fast forward from the ‘50s era show to the 2020s and swap Fonzie’s Harleys and Triumphs for the first Australian electric motorcycle named in his honour and he might have been just fine.
The Fonzie NKD is a midi-sized hybrid scooter/motorcycle with twist-and-go automatic transmission and a light weight of just 101kg.
Even the dyslexic Fonzie surely couldn’t fail to ride this bike.
The Fonzie NKD is assembled in Redfern, Sydney, and comes in several models ranging in price from $8990 to $16,990.
The entry level NKDa is a city commuter bike with a top speed of 80km/h and 50km of range.
My test bike is the NKDs with 100km/h top speed and 100km of city range. In matte black with Pirelli dual-sport tyres it costs $11,365.
The NKD+ and NKDx also have a 100km/h stop speed but increased city range of 150km and 200km.
Selecting options such as tyres, saddle and handgrips will increase the price.
You can’t actually buy one off the floor. Instead, you have to order and wait about three months for it to be built to your spec.
Included in the price is contactless ignition, a phone charger, LED lights, adjustable footpegs and even reverse gear although I have no idea why you would ever need it on a bike this light.
For $11,365 I found the instruments crude and simple, the adjustable suspension rather basic and the finish fairly “industrial”.
While the Fonzie NKD may be named after TV’s coolest hero, its styling is as far from the slick-haired, leather-jacketed rocker as you can get.
It’s got a modern “urban construction site” look with exposed wiring, painted sheet metal panels and fenders, and exposed tubular chromoly frame.
While the NKD is diminutive by comparison with most motorcycles, it is neither a mini-bike nor a monkey bike.
The NKD is probably best referred to as a midi-bike.
It sits on smallish 12-inch wheels, has a motorcycle-type body and features scooter-style front and rear brake levers on the handlebars with no clutch or foot brake.
Even though it looks on the small side, it should suit all but the tallest rider. I stand 183cm, yet I felt quite comfortable and relaxed on the bike, although the seat is a little on the firm side.
Not that a hard seat is a drawback as the limited range means you won’t be seated for long.
Like the price, the range is flexible and depends on many factors.
While a petrol bike has greater range on the highway than the city, the reverse is true with all electric vehicles.
I found I could only get about 60km of range when cruising down the highway, but close to the 100km in urban riding.
That’s because of the brake regeneration capturing kinetic energy to recharge the Panasonic Lithium-Ion 3.5kWh battery.
Cleverly the Fonzie crew have added a little red lever on the brakes which allows you to select the amount of regenerative braking you want from coasting through to heavy retardation.
It takes some time to get your head around the range issue and a lot of trial and error.
Twice I was caught out limping the bike home as the battery light flashed red at me.
That can be quite unnerving as there is little you can do when you run out of battery. It is not as if you can walk to a servo and get a can of fuel to get you home again.
Range is also affected by your riding behaviour, hilly terrain, temperatures (you go further when it’s warm), rider and pillion load, and the amount of constant throttle such as on a highway.
There are selectable three riding modes (Eco, Street and Beast) which will also affect range as well as throttle response.
Charging takes several hours to go from flat to full. It comes with a bulky external charger which will plug into any AC outlet. You can also buy an onboard charger compatible with EV charging infrastructure so you can charge while away from home.
The claimed top speed of 100km/h for the NKDs is also flexible.
I accidentally nudged 115km/h on a downhill section of highway before I realised and rolled off the throttle.
Acceleration off the line is brisk like most electric vehicles as you have instant maximum torque as soon as you twist the throttle.
Beating Porsches at the traffic lights is a no-brainer — at least for the first 50m.
After that, throttle response becomes fairly limp and roll-on acceleration for passing is a slow affair.
However, you will have no trouble running with the traffic in most situations.
Of more concern was the slight hesitation and hiccuping in the throttle on my test bike.
When throttling on from the traffic lights, there is a moment’s hesitation before sudden torque that almost pulls your hands off the grips, so hold on tight.
You get used to this.
But on several occasions I experienced throttle hesitation and even hiccuping or “bunny hopping” when accelerating at slow speed. That could just be an issue with this bike that could be adjusted by on the controller.
Despite the scooter-sized 12-inch wheels, the NKDs handles potholes way better than many scooters.
There is no nervousness or kickback in the steering thanks to the wide handlebars, conventional forks and single rear shock.
However, handling and ride comfort are compromised by the basic rear shock, adjustable for compression only.
It’s fine for most urban duties and surprisingly stable on the highways even when being buffeted by trucks.
The single disc front brakes are ample for this size bike, but I was surprised there is no ABS.
There is minimal underseat storage unlike most scooters and nowhere to hang your helmet, but there is a pillion perch where you can tie down some luggage.
You can also buy a lockable tank tag to store gloves, phone, etc.
On my test bike the mirrors were placed underneath the bars which looks cool but is impractical as you have to lift your hands to see what’s behind you.
Similarly the bar-end indicators look cool, but your hands can slightly obscure them.
The instruments are cheap and nasty looking and have so much reflective glare from the sky that it is difficult to see what speed you are going.
I quite enjoy the quiet operation of an electric motorcycle and this is especially quiet with its belt drive.
I’m sure the neighbours had no problems with me tearing around a slippery grass paddock on the Pirelli dual sport tyres. I had a blast without blasting the neighbours!
Riding a quiet electric bike also allows you to enjoy your surrounds a little more and relax, as well as being more observant to traffic noise that could be a safety hazard.
Or you can use your helmet intercom to enjoy some classic rock and roll while riding without the angry noise of an engine and exhaust pipe to drown out the music.
Plans for the inaugural Charging Across America Challenge (CAAC) have been announced by event founder Robert Swartz. Designed to promote the nation’s transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and the growing EV infrastructure network, the event kicks off April 18, 2022, with finish-line crossings scheduled in Redondo Beach, California, and New York City on April 22, 2022 (Earth Day).
The challenge features two Energica riders, Swartz and Steven Day, attempting to break the Cannonball cross-country electric motorcycle record of 178 hours and 17 minutes. Both riders will simultaneously journey coast-to-coast in opposite directions following the original 2,906-mile route of the Cannonball Run, creating a unique “race within a race.”
“I built a Model T Speedster before I got my drivers license, so Henry Ford was my hero. Ford co-sponsored America’s first real coast-to-coast competition in 1909, the ‘Ocean-to-Ocean Automobile Endurance Contest,’ a race from Manhattan to Seattle. Growing up in the ‘70s, the Cannonball Run was extremely popular. I combined these events to create the ‘Charging Across America Challenge’ to promote high-performance electric motorcycles and clean energy,” said Swartz, owner of three motorcycle businesses – Rob’s Dyno Service, Motus of New England and Energica of New England (EONE).
Voltrek recently supervised installation of a fast-charging system at Swartz’ EONE facility. “Voltrek is proud to sponsor the Charging Across America Challenge,” commented CEO Kathleen Connors. “This unique competition showcases the power and range of today’s zero emission motorcycles while dispelling ‘range anxiety’ by highlighting the nation’s expansion of reliable charging infrastructure. Riders will visit dozens of EV charging stations, including ChargePoint hubs, one of the world’s largest EV charging networks.”
Stefano Benatti, CEO of Energica Motor Company Inc., also added, “Real-world endurance contests are a true test of individual rider and machine, but even more so with electric powered vehicles. Strategy is more important than top speed, since air temperature, wind and elevation changes affect electric vehicle range far more than conventional internal combustion vehicles. This requires precise advanced planning based on charging station availability and anticipated riding conditions. It’s a far more subtle and difficult challenge than a typical record attempt.”
Vanson Leathers is providing custom-fitted safety leathers for both riders. “We’ve worked with Rob for many years. We can’t wait for Earth Day to see who wins and what the new record will be,” said Vanson founder, Michael van der Sleesen.
“I’m delighted to have Voltrek and Vanson Leathers as our initial sponsors for this first-time event to promote Earth Day and electric powered vehicles. I’ve worked with each of these companies and look forward to promoting businesses I know and trust,” said Swartz, who is seeking additional sponsors to help offset event expenses. Details available at caac2022.com.
Company founder Tobin Page says a 2021 Energica Eva Ribelle RS arrived recently in Brisbane and is awaiting import approvals.
“Our other two demonstrator bikes are leaving Italy this week. We should have all three RS models on the shop floor in February.”
Energica Ego and Eva motorcycles have up to 400km (250 miles) of range which is the best on the market, beating Zero motorcycles with 360km if you use their optional Charge Tank which costs an extra $US2295.
Energica also supplied 18 bikes for the past two MotoE World Cup series run at select MotoGP rounds but will be replaced in 2023 by Ducati.
“We are thrilled to represent Energica Motorcycles in Australia and New Zealand,” Toby says.
“This region has been patiently waiting to experience the best electric motorcycles in the world – this partnership between Energica and Australian Electric Motor Co means we can now bring Australians and New Zealanders the range of premium electric motorcycles they have been asking for.
“We have a huge backlog of demand here – with hundreds of sales leads waiting to be serviced.
“We have a great climate for motorcycles, amazing roads and scenery. Our fast-charging infrastructure is improving rapidly.
“Now with Energica Motorcycles in the region – we can finally unleash the potential of electric motorcycles here.“
Australia and New Zealand has one of the longest linked fast-charging EV networks in the world at almost 5000km from Cairns to Adelaide.
In the next few years this network is forecast to become the longest in the world with 80 ultra-fast charging stations strategically located for long distance trips around Australia.
Energica Sales & Field Marketing Director Giacomo Leone says the agreement with Australian Electric Motor Co is a “further stage in the development of the Energica distribution network in the World” with a presence in five continents.
Australia’s first electric motorcycle company, Fonzarelli, has reached the modest milestone of selling 100 of its electric multi-purpose NKD electric motorbikes.
It’s nothing compared with the big motorcycle companies, but this boutique electric motorcycle company is certainly starting to make its name known after launching in late 2019.
FONZ Moto, as it is now called, is now available in all of Australia’s States and Territories.
Their NKD X and NKD S models are locally designed and produced after a move from their original Adelaide production plans back to Redfern in Sydney due to the pandemic.
Founder Michelle Nazzari says the decision to bring our production plans closer to home and ramp up their ‘urban micro factory’ meant they could make up to 20 motorbikes a month.
She says they are now “playing catch-up so we’re now looking to expand to a larger facility in 2022”.
There are two NKD models:
NKDs (100km/h top speed, 100km range) from $10,990;
NKDx (100km/h top speed, 200km range) from $16,990.
The NKD is powered by a mid-drive brushless motor producing 9.6kW of power and 56Nm of torque.
You can also buy optional fat knobby tyres so it can do some off-road work.
The Panasonic Lithium-Ion 3.5kWh inbuilt battery can be charged via the onboard AC mains charger from flat to 100% in about five hours.
Michelle points out that NSW and the ACT have abolished stamp duty for electric motorcycles and electric scooters this year.
“While we know all states and territories operate slightly differently, it’s encouraging to see growing support for two-wheeled EVs,” she says.
FONZ sources as much as possible from local suppliers within a 200km of their premises to minimise the environmental footprint in the NKD manufacturing process.
“There’s a lot of greenwashing these days. It was important to us to source locally and get the certifications to show that it is possible to manufacture this type of product in Australia,” she says.
Locally-made also means that each bike is custom built to spec and the multi-award winning NKD series has been certified by the Australian Made campaign.
Michelle admits that NKD is not for everyone.
“There are many differing tastes out there but this plucky little beast is certainly turning heads wherever it goes,” she says.
“What’s particularly great is the endorsement we’re getting from people who truly know their stuff when it comes to performance.”
Former Australian racing car driver, Adam Kaplan, says his NKD is the perfect urban assault vehicle for his lifestyle in Noosa.
“The power delivery makes my pillion and I laugh every time we give it a squirt, and it’s sure footed and stable to ride and I love overtaking unsuspecting vehicles uphill with 2 up,” Adam says.
Kaplan rides the NKD X with a carbon fibre body kit. He wanted the ability to be able to carry his surfboard to the beach so FONZ designed an integrated surf rack system, which later became a popular option for other NKD owners.
Three years after lampooning the Labor Party’s policy on electric vehicles, Scomo’s about-face Future Fuels strategy has been hailed as a fizzer that is too little too late.
The Australian Government’s strategy ignores the most important and effective measures to improve electric vehicle uptake, according to the Electric Vehicle Council.
The strategy is to “support and accelerate” the rollout of some charging infrastructure.
However it does not include subsidies, tax incentives, or sales targets.
The rest of the world has for years been offering tax incentives, free parking and tolls and other incentives to get people to buy EVs.
Meanwhile, electric vehicles such as Harley-Davidson almost $A40,000 LiveWire are simply way too expensive for most people.
We know that there are several other manufacturers such as BMW and Energica that have electric motorcycles and want to export to Australia but are holding off because of the lack of charging infrastructure and incentives.
Electric Vehicle Council spokesman Behyad Jafari says the strategy also fails to deliver minimum fuel efficiency standards, which have been used in the US and Europe for decades.
Fuel efficiency standards require manufacturers to sell vehicles with a combined level of emissions below a defined benchmark, encouraging the sale of zero-emission vehicles.
“There’s no sugar coating it, Future Fuels is a fizzer,” he says.
“If it contained fuel efficiency standards and rebates it would give Australians more choice. The best and most affordable EVs manufacturers are producing would make their way swiftly on to our market.
“Fuel efficiency standards are the absolute bare minimum of what you would expect in any 21st century plan.
“If Australia continues to be one of the only developed nations without fuel efficiency standards then we will continue to be a dumping ground for the world’s dirtiest vehicles. It’s sadly that simple.
“Future Fuels is certainly an advance on the government’s rhetoric of the last election. The strategy has identified some of the correct benefits and pathways, but it does little to realise them.
“I welcome the progress we’ve seen, but it’s far too little too late. For a strategy that has apparently taken years to write, it leaves much to be desired. Electric vehicles present a monumental opportunity for Australia not only in reducing pollution, but creating an innovative industry in manufacturing, technology, and services.
“The sector will continue to urge the government to take appropriate actions that get more vehicles to Australia and on our roads. It’s a shame this government doesn’t have the same ambition for Australians that the electric vehicle industry does.”
At the last election the Labor Party called for half of all electric vehicles to be electric by 2030. Manufacturers are already setting those goals, but they may still dump old-tech cars and motorcycles here because of our lack of visionary policy, says Gail Broadbent is a PhD candidate who researches social attitudes to electric cars in the UNSW Faculty of Science, and is a former transport policy advisor in the NSW Government and for not-for-profit agencies.
She calls for subsidising EVs and rolling out more chargers.
One of the biggest threats to the future of motorcycles is the loss of motocross tracks around Australia due to the noise issue in areas of urban sprawl.
Young MX riders are the next generation of motorcyclists.
Getting kids on motorcycles helps develop their hand-eye coordination, balance and alertness.
But rapidly expanding urban areas are threatening the existence of motocross parks and in some states, it is now even illegal to operate a motorcycle on private property within 100m of your fence line.
However, the growth of quiet electric motorcycles and balance bikes for children could be the answer to this growing problem.
A powerful electric motor and innovative aerodynamics are expected to help a British engineering company achieve a world speed record of more than 400km/h (250mph) for a motorcycle.
The bike will have emissions and economy implications for current and future electric and conventionally-powered motorcycles.
White Motorcycle Concepts has unveiled its prototype motorcycle which company founder and Chief Executive Officer Rob White will ride in attempts to break the British and world electric land speed records over the next 12 months.
It features three innovative technologies.
The company’s ultra-low drag system called V-Air has a large duct at the centre of the bike which forces air through the vehicle, rather than around it.
V-Air reduces the WMC250EV’s aerodynamic resistance by as much as 70% compared to that of the market-leading high performance road bike according to the results of wind-tunnel testing at MIRA.
Aerodynamics of the bike and the rider are the biggest drain on motorcycle power and efficiency.
Australian Triple8 racing engineer Jeromy Moore says it is difficult for motorcycles to match a car’s aerodynamics, because they are too short.
“With aero, it will be hard to get a bike’s cD down as it is quite short so the air has to deflect at larger angles to go around and rejoin,” he says.
It seems the V-Air duct may have overcome this issue, especially with the rider tucked behind the fairing as in the above photo.
The duct also increases the axial load on the front of the motorcycle allowing the WMC250EV utilise a D-Drive motor unit that powers the front wheel, which in-turn makes it possible to harness regenerative braking energy – something unachievable with a conventional motorcycle. The third innovation, F-Drive final drive system, could filter down to your own motorcycle.
It is designed to give the bike a boost in power and enhance efficiency.
The WMC250EV high-speed demonstrator has been more than two years in the making and has already been granted a UK patent and expects Europe, the USA and Japan to follow suit by the end of August.
If adopted by major manufacturers, these British devised technologies have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions across the industry and accelerate the mass-market de-carbonisation of motorcycles globally.
White, who has more than 25 years’ experience of world championship level motorsport, including Formula 1 and Le Mans, initially conceived his idea for V-Air six years ago, but it was exposure to Formula 1 packaging and sports car aerodynamics that gave him the confidence to pursue it seriously.
Having formed WMC in 2019, White reached into his network of contacts gained through his career.
Rob Lewis MBE, the owner of Total Sim and a global leader in sports aerodynamics, recognised V-Air’s potential and supported the project through the initial proof of concept.
The Northamptonshire company began developing the all-carbon fibre WMC250EV High Speed Demonstrator to F1 standards of design specification, component-packaging and technology with the ambition to test its potential to the highest standard.
“If you want to demonstrate to the rest of the world that you’ve just invented a new aerodynamic concept that means you can go faster for a given power, the best thing to do is go as fast you can,” Rob says.
“That’s why we created WMC250EV high-speed demonstrator, the most radical version of this concept, to challenge for the world land speed record. It is electric, as that is the pre-eminent zero emissions power source at the moment, but as the aerodynamic concept provides efficiency benefit, it could just as easily be hydrogen or any other future power source.”
The concept’s more wide-reaching implication is the impact it could have on vehicular energy efficiency, leading to better fuel economy and lower emissions.
“The records are all champagne, but are actually the insignificant part of the story,” Rob says.
“While this technology allows you to go faster, it also allows you to go much further for the same amount of energy. This has a direct and tangible benefit on CO2 reduction. Market-disruptive ideas like this are uncommon, and if successful, have the potential to revolutionise industry.”
WMC is already working on a real-world application for the innovation and is producing a 300cc three-wheel hybrid scooter – the WMC300FR – that includes V-Air technology and reduces drag by 25%.
That equates to 18% improvement in fuel efficiency, from aerodynamic improvements alone and when coupled with a small hybrid system enhances the performance to somewhere near 500cc levels, but with 50% less CO2 emissions.
“What we’ve managed to do is create something for the world market sector where people can use these vehicles in a city where the population is most effected by CO2 output and pollution – and we’ve managed to cut CO2 by 50% through aerodynamics and hybridisation,” Rob says.
The land speed record programme meanwhile is fully underway, with shakedowns continuing through the summer and an attempt on the Motorcycle Electric Semi Streamliner British Record planned for later on this year.
Then the focus for WMC switches to the world’s largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, where Rob will attempt to set a new mark for the Electric Semi Streamliner World Record in July 2022.
“What started off as some sketches of an idea I was pondering, has become an initiative that can potentially change the motorcycle industry,” he says.
“I’ve always loved speed, and motorcycles. The challenge of breaking the world record satisfies a tenacity to achieve great things. But more importantly, it’s the perfect way to practically demonstrate that the theory behind this technology works.
“There are other record attempts running concurrently that have superstar riders and talismanic leaders fronting the projects, but for me and WMC the star is the technology. It’s a product of British engineering ingenuity and it has a real potential to disrupt the industry in a very positive way, becoming an important step towards the mass manufacture of non-fossil fuelled motorcycles, another milestone on the road to a zero-emission future.
“The company’s ambitions are great, and we aim to constantly produce high level engineering with environmental responsibility at its core, reducing carbon emissions throughout the entire motorcycle market from design and manufacture to end use.”