Tag Archives: electric motorcycle

Harley-Davidson goes small in 2020

The world’s most iconic big-bike manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, is thinking small for 2020 with the launch of a small-capacity motorbike in China, electric bicycles and an electric scooter.

Baby Hog

Harley-Davidson HD350Harley-Davidson HD350

Last June Harley-Davidson announced plans for a joint venture with China’s Qianjiang to produce a motorcycle under their HD350 project, indicating a 350cc engine.

However, it could be even smaller as they now call it the HD338, presumably powered by the Benelli 338cc twin-cylinder engine from the Benelli 302S as Qianjiang also owns and makes the former Italian brand of motorcycle.

The baby Hog will hit the showrooms in China in June and India by the end of the year.

There is no word on whether it will be exported to any other markets, but we suspect it will be sold throughout Asia.

Harley-Davidson Australia says they won’t be coming here.

They aren’t the only mainstream motorcycle manufacturer with small designs on China.

A month after Harley announced its HD350 plan, Italian manufacturer MV Agusta confirmed they would make 350-500cc bikes and Ducati signed away its naming rights to Chinese scooters.

Electric bicycles

Harley electric bicycles sharing subHarley electric bicycle

Electric balance bikes for kids are already available in US stores.

They will soon be joined by pedal-assisted electric bicycles for bigger kids.

rude boy bicyclesHarley e-bikes

There is no word on these products coming to Australia yet.

Electric scooter

Harley electric LiveWire ID specsHarley electric scooter concept

We saw their electric scooter concept in Portland, Oregon, last year when we attended the world launch of their LiveWire electric motorcycle.

It was the same as the concept images from last January.

However, a new image (top of page) and patent plans have emerged showing a much more developed scooter with upside down forks and a removable battery.Harley-Davidson Scooter small

A removable battery is a smart move as many electric motorcycles and scooters are now considering them for either battery-swap vending machines or so riders can take them into thier home or office to charge inside.

Comment

We applaud Harley for branching out.

However, we wonder about the economic sustainability of low-margin smaller bikes.

They would need to sell these in very high volume.

If not, then it is just draining research and development funding from their core product.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Carry electric bike battery inside to charge

One of the problems with electric motorcycles is finding somewhere to charge the battery, but a Chinese company believes the answer is in removable batteries you can carry inside to a power point for charging.

Removable batteries could be a way forward for electric motorcycles and scooters with several Japanese and Chinese companies now using or considering them.

Their idea is that they can be swapped at vending machines when they run flat.

Yamaha Gogoro battery swap electric scooterYamaha electric scooter with removable Gogoro battery

However, Shanghai scooter company Niu has unveiled their RQi scooter prototype which has removable two-piece Panasonic lithium battery packs which can be charged up on household mains outlets.

Niu RQi Carry battery inside to chargeNiu RQi portable battery

It makes a lot of sense if the battery packs are light and small enough to carry inside.

We are used to charging our phones and portable devices when we get to work or return home, so one more battery wouldn’t make much difference.

Harley-Davidson’s electric scooter concept also has a removable battery with a handle so you can carry it inside for charging.

Harley electric LiveWire ID specsHarley electric scooter

Niu don’t specific charging time, but they say the two packs would provide range of about 130km in combined city/highway riding.

The RQi scooter, unveiled at the recent Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, is powered by a 30kW mid-drive motor with a top speed of 160km/h.

Other features are TFT dash, traction control, belt drive, 5G connectivity for GPS and anti-theft tracking, and an adaptive headlight that lights up the inside of corners as used by companies such as BMW and KTM.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Are electric motorcycles taking the Mickey?

Ok, so electric motorcycles are not as constrained on design as traditional bikes, but are some of the latest models simply taking the Mickey!

We recently showed one that looked like an X and another that had pineapples in the seat and now there is another made mostly of wood while the latest concept looks like a USB stick.

Wooden bike

Newron Motors founder Sébastien Mahut has spent years on his prototypes and has now unveiled a concept with a body almost entirely made of wood.Newron Motors electric wooden motorcycle

It’s actually quite beautiful with swirling, flowing lines and glowing blue lights. Does it give you wood?

But it’s also a bit impractical. What happens if you have a crash? Do you get out your whittling knife and make a new part?

We also wonder about the flexible nature of wood, the ageing when exposed to the weather, splinters in the nether regions, etc. So many issues!Newron Motors electric wooden motorcycle

And isn’t using wood running counter to the whole greenie thing of electric vehicles?

Ok, it’s just a concept and we don’t expect the production model — if it ever sprouts — will be made of wood.

Flash bike

Polestar SLR USB Polestar SLR concept

Car designer Arthur Martins has now turned his attention to motorcycles with this Polestar Salt Lake Runner (SLR) concept that looks like a USB flash drive. 

We love a slim bike like the Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Ducati Scrambler, but this just looks totally uncomfortable and unrideable in anything more than a straight line! Maybe that’s why they call it a Salt lake Runner.Polestar SLR USB

Arthur says it’s a work in progress, but that he wants to make a street-legal version. We’ll see.

Taking the Mickey

Are these guys taking the Mickey or just trying to get some media exposure?

If it’s the latter then it’s worked. At least with us!

But expect that there will be more zany electric motorcycles to come and take the Mickey out of us, given the current crop of eccentric designs.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Cleveland CycleWerks goes electric

American fun bike manufacturer Cleveland CycleWerks is the latest to join in the electric motorcycle trend that will define Whirring Twenties decade.

For years now, the Ohio-based company has been designing small-capacity fun machines that have been built in China and retail for less than $50000.

Cleveland CycleWerks Heist and Ace
Cleveland CycleWerks Heist and Ace

However, in March 2020 they plan to unveil their first American-built bike and it will be powered by an electric motor.

It will join other American motorcycle manufacturers Harley-Davidson, Lightning Motorcycles and Zero Motorcycles in the race to win market share of this nascent market.

There is not much detail yet except the blurred image at the top of this page and this video on their Facebook page where they talk about electric bikes with another bike under a blanket in the background.

The photo and video show a light and basic street model with a sit-up-and-beg riding position, MX-style bars, upside down forks, bench seat, sprocket for chain drive, electric motor and battery forward of the footpegs and same-size road tyres front and back on spoked wheels. 

So it’s not an off-roader to replace the now-defunct Alta Motors electric company which folded in 2018.

Alta Redshift MXR Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles EV doomed
Alta Redshift MXR

We can’t see a clutch lever, so it could be twist-and-go, although they do talk about the use of a clutch on another electric bike in the Facebook video.

If it’s like their other product, it will be aimed at the bargain end of the market, not the top end like Harley, Lightning and Zero.

This is the official Cleveland CycleWerks announcement:

A New Concept in E-Mobility, to be released live to the world 03-20-2020 @ the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland Ohio.

This will be our first made in the USA product, which is exciting in itself.

This will be the first bike we have ever run pre-orders on, which will come soon. The project’s code name Falcon Rising represents our brand’s rise in the E vehicle space. It also brings a new chapter to our company, looking inward and local to grow globally. We have wanted to product bikes ourselves, here in Cleveland for 10 years. The time is now, and we are seizing the opportunity.

This vehicle represents 10 years of consumer insight, feedback from loyal customers, and a unique take on the market, that Cleveland has always had.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

10 unexpected benefits of Whirring Twenties

Rather than a return to the Roaring Twenties, this decade could see an abundance of electric vehicles creating a Whirring Twenties.

Let’s do the disadvantages first:

  1. Expensive;
  2. Limited range;
  3. Dubious whole-of-life environmental impact;
  4. Slow charging;
  5. Scant charging infrastructure;
  6. No common batteries across the industry; and
  7. They lack soul.

There is also the unanswered vexing question of how the government will respond to diminishing fuel excise revenue as electric vehicles take over. Perhaps a new tax!

I certainly don’t see myself buying one this decade, even though the first six disadvantages will soon be diminished by advances in technology and production.

However, I do see 10 unexpected benefits from the Whirring Twenties.

Whirring Twenties

1 Quiet

Now most of us think this is a negative, but there are many instances where a quiet, whirring motor could be a benefit:

  • For a start, police and security guards will be able to sneak up on thieves;
  • Meanwhile, police would not be able to fine you for having a noisy exhaust;
  • It would also nullify the latest draconian laws to limit use of off-road motorcycles on your own property as is occurring in some states;
  • There would be fewer complaints from residents near racetracks which might save some from extinction;
  • You could easily sneak away early on a Sunday for a ride without disturbing your cranky neighbours or come home late without waking the family; and
  • Young people may like the fact that they can still hear their phone calls and music clearly while riding!

2 Cool runnings

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire parade silicon standardise
Harley’s LiveWire electric motor is cool to the touch

Even though batteries and electric motors heat up, it is nothing compared with the heat radiating from an internal combustion engine.

I rode the Harley-Davidson LiveWire at the world launch last year in Portland, Oregon, through the forest and through town, yet I was still able to place my naked hand on the battery and motor without it being burnt.

It was only warm, not even hot.

That is a real boon for those commuters who usually fry in slow traffic on a summer’s day.

It would also spell the end of pipe burn for young kids and novice riders.

3 Youth appeal

2019 Savic electric motorcycle prototype orders
Denis Savic with his Aussie electric motorcycle

We crusty old riders love our internal combustion engines, but many young people see them as old technology.

However, funky, whirring electric motorcycles could just be the tonic to kickstart sales to millennials.

4 Design options

Speaking of funky, there have been some weird designs among the electric motorcycles we have seen so far.

LA custom motorcycle guru Roland Sands says electric motorcycles offer a wider range of designs than ICE bikes.

Roland Sands design
Roland contemplates an electric custom motorcycle

Motors and batteries can be just about any shape and designers don’t have to factor in ugly exhausts and chain/belt/shaft drives; they can simply make them direct drive.

5 Easy to ride

Most electric motorcycles will be twist-and-go with no clutch lever, shifter pedal or gears to change.

Once again, we crusty old riders think this sucks the charm and skill out of riding a motorbike, but it may also make them more palatable to younger riders who relish convenience.

Since they will be easier to learn to ride, getting your licence should be cheaper as you would need fewer lessons.

Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire
No clutch on the LiveWire

6 Lightning fast

If it’s speed you want, it’s speed you get with an electric motorcycle.

Electric motors have peak torque as soon as you roll the throttle.

Consequently, most electric motorcycles will accelerate to 100km/h in about three seconds, which is faster than most supercars.

I tested this at the LiveWire and Victory Empulse TT launches and it’s easy to achieve. No need for a drag strip or any special launch controls. Just wind the throttle and hang on!

As for top speed, the Lightning LS-218 holds the land speed record for fastest production electric motorcycle in the world at 346km/h (218mph – hence the name) at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Lightning electric motorcycle fast electric LiveWire electric bike race expensive
Lightning record-holding electric race bike

7 Low maintenance

Maintenance expenses should be low as there is no chain/belt, no internal engine workings, no oil, etc.

Long-life brushless electric motors and batteries need no maintenance.

Even brake pads will need changing less frequently because regenerative braking from the motor means you use the conventional brakes less often.

Brembo brakes on the LiveWire

8 No mess

Scooters shielded their oily engines with panels so women wouldn’t get their skirts dirty while riding.

The same can be said for electric motorcycles, although they don’t need panels. There are simply no oily working bits to smear your clothes!

9 Slap for industry

So far, the electric motorcycle industry has been dominated by start-ups, not traditional motorcycle companies.

That’s great for entrepreneurial engineers such as Dennis Savic who has created Australia’s first electric motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson is the first traditional manufacturer to make a full-sized road-legal electric motorcycle, while the Japanese, Ducati and BMW have only been hinting at it.

BMW E-Power Roadster electric
BMW E-Roadster concept

If the start-ups steal some market share from these companies it could just be the slap in the face they need to pick up their game.

10 Traditional bikes

Isaac Newton’s third law is: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

That’s not just true for physics, but also culture. Look at the growth of hippies during the space age and hipsters in the internet age!

Perhaps a dramatic swing to whirring electric vehicles could inspire people’s love of motorcycling and a desire to preserve it!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

2020 vision: Bikes you most want to ride

There is a host of exciting motorcycles being released in 2020 that have caught the attention of our more than 300,000 readers a month.

We have gone over the reader statistics for our motorcycle stories, assessing multiple entries about particular bikes and also considered your comments.

The statistical analysis arrives at what we think are the bikes you would most like to ride in 2020.

We apologise if this list does not reflect your particular interest. It certainly doesn’t reflect my choice!

After all, it’s just a statistical analysis and a bit of fun for your New Year reading.

2020 vision

So here are the top five bikes possibly coming in 2020 … according to you!

1 BMW R 18 cruiser

BMW Concept R8 cruiser r 18 heritage
First R 18 concept

BMW said it would never build another cruiser after the R 1200 C. A few years ago they altered their tune, saying “never say never”.

Now they are building one!

BMW R 18/2 cruiser
BMW R 18 second concept model

We are still unsure what the R 18 will look like, although there have been some concepts and spy photos.

2020 BMW R 18 \
BMW R 18 spy photo

Even so, it hasn’t stopped BMW from launching a dedicated order site and even taking deposits from excited fans. 

2 Indian Challenger

Indian Challenger
Challenger Limited

Our spy photos of the Indian Challenger rated very highly, but the actual images of the production version not as much.

2020 liquid Indian Challenger spy bagger
Spy photo of a 2020 Indian Challenger

We’re not sure if that means you are not happy with how they look, but you certainly are interested in this challenger to Harley’s bagger dominance.  

3 Harley Bronx Streetfighter

Harley-Davidson Revolution Max platform Bronx Streetfighter
Harley-Davidson Revolution Max platform Bronx Streetfighter

Speaking of which, Harley-Davidson will release an abundance of unusual products in 2020, including the Bronx Streetfighter range, electric bicycles and motorcycles, and their first big-bore adventure bike, the Pan America.

While our articles on all these bikes scored highly with our readers, the macho Streetfighter won this title bout. 

4 Savic electric motorcycle

2019 Savic electric motorcycle prototype orders
Denis Savic with his Aussie electric motorcycle

While opinions about the coming wave of electric motorcycles continue to divide the Motorbike Writer community, there was a lot of interest in the first Aussie full-sized electric road motorcycle from Savic.

We wish founder Denis Savic the best of luck with his motorcycle and are looking forward to the promised test ride. Stay tuned!

5 Suzuki Hayabusa

Suzuki Hayabusa 1440cc
Hayabusa engine patent filing

The Suzuki Hayabusa no longer meets stringent Euro5 conditions that kick in from 1 January 2020.

And we don’t exactly know what Suzuki will do to replace it or even if they will!

However, our articles about patent filings for an updated Hayabusa have sparked a lot of interest, especially the possibility it could be powered by a 1440cc engine. 

Other 2020 contenders

Ducati EICMA Streetfighter V4 vote
Ducati Streetfighter V4 wins most beautiful bike at EICMA

It’s difficult to set out the other contenders, but there has been a lot of interest shown in the Ducati Streetfighter V4 and the MV Agusta Superveloce 800.

MV Agusta Superveloce Serie Oro model design
MV Agusta Superveloce Serie Oro

They also rated highly in your votes for the most beautiful bikes of the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.

As for current bikes, our tests of two very different motorcycles were highly rated: The CFMoto 650NK learner and the Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special tourer. 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

BMW Motorrad plans sidestand charger

BMW Motorrad has filed a patent for a sidestand charger that looks like it belongs to an electric motorcycle, lending more weight to an electric future.

It follows a patent application last month for a frameless electric motorbike with the motor and battery making up the bulk of the frame.

bmw serious about electric motorcycle
Patent drawing

These patent applications seem to give a clear indication of BMW’s electrification plans.

However, BMW Motorrad boss Markus Schramm recently told US website Cycle World they would not have an electric motorcycle for at least another five years.

“In the urban environment, it is possible that there will be an electric BMW motorcycle in five years. In the touring, off-road, and sport segments, I am not sure that we will see them,” he is quoted as saying.

The Bavarian company already has an electric scooter, the C-Evolution.

Oliver van Bilsen living with an electric BMW C evolution scooter electric motorbike historic
BMW C evolution electric scooter

But these latest patent filings seem to show plans for an electric motorcycle, at least for the urban environment.

Previous BMW electric concepts include the boxer-style Vision DC Roadster unveiled in June 2019, the Concept Link electric scooter and the electric S 1000 RR concept called the eRR.

Sidestand charger

The sidestand charger system involves the stand slotting into a “puck” which is plugged into the AC mains.

It’s simply another way of connecting to a charger.

It would probably only be of use in your home as we cannot see this sort of infrastructure being rolled out in public places.

In 2017, BMW Group Australia boss Marc Werner said Australia needed tax incentives, import subsidies and/or charging infrastructure, but we don’t think he had a sidestand charger in mind at the time.

The only advantage we can see of a sidestand charger is that it might save you a couple of seconds where you would normally plug in the bike’s onboard charger.

However, the filing is important as it is another example of BMW getting serious about electric motorcycles.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Electric drag race goes ho-hummmm

There is no doubt that electric vehicles are fast with 100% of torque available from go, but this drag race between a Tesla Model 3 Performance and Zero SR/F is all a bit ho-hummm.

Pointless drag race

Apart from the lack of earth-shattering noise usually associated with a drag race, it’s a pretty pointless exercise.

We’re note sure why InsideEVs Italia chose the Tesla Model 3 and Zero SR/F.

They’re not even the world’s fastest electric car and bike.

That honour goes to Tesla’s Roadster and the Lightning LS-218. That might have been a better match-uo for drag race.

Lightning LS-218
Lightning LS-218

Check out the tech specs comparison below for the Model 3 and SR/F.

Zero pulled out of Australia a couple of years ago, before the SR/F was released. So we have quoted prices of both in Europe.

If you really are enthused about straight-line drag speeds, you can see you get a lot more bang (or whirring whistle) for your buck from an electric motorcycle. 

Mind you, the same goes for a traditional motorcycle over a conventional car!

Tesla Model 3 Zero SR / F
Power 383kW 82kW
Torque 640Nm 190Nm
Weight 1,860 kg 220kg
Range about 500 km about 320 km
Battery capacity 75kWh 14.4kWh
Top speed 261km/h 200km/h
Price about $A103,000 about $A34,000

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

What is our 2019 Bike of the Year?

You will be stunned by our choice for the 2019 Bike of the Year! Read on.

Unlike previous years, I have not ridden a lot of the new bikes this year. Manufacturers don’t seem to like what I have to say, so they don’t readily supply them.

Reviewing new bikes is getting fairly pointless, anyway. Each year bikes get that little bit better, lighter, more economical, faster, etc.

Even on paper, there are no huge advances in performance.

As for style, that’s down to personal preference.

Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight online Bike of the Year
MBW on the Suzuki Katana launch … a great bike that divided riders over its styling

So the exercise of naming a bike of the year seems fairly pointless.

For example, how could an adventure bike win over a sport bike, cruiser, tourer, naked, neo-classic, etc?

And each year there seem to be new niches being added to the market to target new riders.

So for me, the bike of the year is not the fastest, most powerful, prettiest, most technological, best value, the biggest seller, etc.

In fact, the bike we have chosen seems to have been a bit of a sales flop and is quite expensive. It isn’t even available in Australia yet!

So here goes … drumroll please.

2019 Motorbike Writer Bike of the YearHarley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric!

This is a landmark bike in our beloved industry.

It’s the first full-size electric road motorcycle from a traditional motorcycle company.

While the others have talked about electric motorcycles and shown us some future designs and working concepts, Harley got in and produced it.

Ok, it’s been a bit of a sales flop.

The bike was supposed to be released in September, but deliveries were delayed.

Then they had to temporarily halt production to fix a fault with overheating chargers.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle electric highways
LiveWire on a DC fast charger

When they did arrive in US showrooms, customers did not exactly flock to buy them at $US30k (about $A44k).

They won’t even arrive in Australia until “late” in 2020.

And when they do, they may cost more than a full-dresser Ultra Limited tourer!

But not only is the LiveWire an historic landmark in our industry, it’s also a damn good ride.

I tested one around the streets of Portland, Oregon, and into the mountains and forests around the town.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle
Portland bike launch

It looks great, it’s lightning fast, super-smooth, handles very well, has loads of electronic gadgetry, it’s comfortable and brakes are exceptional given the added assistance of enormous electric motor back-torque.

Read our full review here.

DrawbacksHarley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle soundtrack

Apart from the price, the drawbacks are limited range (235km city, 152km highway), about 11 hours to charge off the mains and limited fast-charging infrastructure.

These issues will slowly be overcome with rapid advances in battery technology. Cleverly, Harley will be able to update easily its battery and even its supplier.

The LiveWire won’t change the minds of those who don’t like the idea of electric motorcycles. That includes those who simply want a bike to make noise, even though the LiveWire has a pleasant “whooshing” turbine sound.

Despite finding the LiveWire exciting to ride and admiring the tech, I certainly wouldn’t own one. I still love the pulse and feel of a conventional bike.

In fact, the bike I am most looking forward to riding in 2020 is the insane 208hp Ducati Streetfighter V4!

But I’m glad an established motorcycle company finally made the leap of faith with a proper electric motorcycle.

Let’s face it; electric motorcycles are inevitable, especially with countries such as Sweden planning to ban all fossil-fuel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Our decision will not be popular, but it will cause controversy and it will get people talking about the future of motorcycling. 

Let’s hope the LiveWire paves the way for a future of interesting and exciting motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle

What was your choice for 2019 Bike of the Year? Do you agree/disagree with our choice? Leave your comments below.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Nepal electric bike shows savings

A giant tablet-sized touchscreen on the first electric motorcycle from Nepal shows environmentally conscious riders how much fuel they are saving and their carbon offset.

The Project Zero from Yatri Motorcycles is expected to be released in March 2020, but there are no details on where it will be available.

There are also no details on how it calculates fuel savings and carbon offset without knowing the price of fuel and electricity as well as how power is generated in your region!

Made in Nepal

Surely this Nepal electric bike project won’t be called Zero as that name is already taken by the world’s leading electric motorcycle company!

Apart from fuel savings and carbon offset, the 17cm tablet instrument screen also shows Satnav and info such as top speed and average speed which could be self-incriminating if the police pull you over!

The other interesting aspect of the bike is that it can fully recharge in two hours from a normal mains outlet.

That’s still slow compared with fuelling a conventional bike, but it’s substantially faster than any other electric motorcycle.

Most other electric bikes require special DC fast-charger connections to charge only to 80% in about that time.Nepal Yatri electric motorcycle

Yatri Motorcycles don’t say how it is done, but they do say it will have 230km of range and 30kW of power.

They also haven’t specified if that range is city or highway or whether they have regenerative braking.

As we know, electric motorcycles have greater range in the city where braking helps recharge the battery.

There are also no tech specs such as weight, but it looks light and has lightweight carbon-fibre panels.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com