As we move to a new era of electric, the UK Government has planned to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel two and three-wheelers by 2035. The global shift towards protecting the planet and reducing emissions means that electric motorcycles and mopeds are set to be the bike of the future.
So, what does the bike of the future actually look like? Futuristic concepts usually included outlandish concepts and eccentric designs, but in reality, the bike of the future looks the same as our fuel-filled past, with electric motorbikes sharing the same design principles as their petrol-powered siblings.
In this blog, we are going to be exploring the advantages and disadvantages of electric motorcycles - so without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?
The benefits of electric motorcycles:
As electric motorbikes are starting to make vast improvements and technological advances, now more than ever there are benefits to purchasing an electric motorcycle, such as:
Better for the environment
When it comes to fuel I think it goes without saying that electric counterparts are by far more environmentally friendly especially when charged up on electricity generated from renewable sources.
Reduced maintenance requirements
Standard petrol-fuelled motorbikes require far more moving parts to get them going in comparison to electric bikes. Electric motorcycles do not have oil, spark plugs, air filters, or timing belts and many won’t have a gearbox or clutch either - your biggest maintenance costs will be your tyres and brakes.
Long-term money saving
Admittedly the initial cost of an electric motorbike is higher than a petrol-fuelled bike however in the long run, your electric bike might actually save you a bit of money. You will not only save money with cheaper refuelling but also potentially with lower maintenance costs.
A quieter ride
For those who don’t mind not having a loud roaring engine, then switching to electric might be the choice for you. There are many electric motorbikes that are practically silent on the roads, however, on the rarer side at the moment you can pick up some which omit a noise to help other road users know of your presence.
Easier to ride for beginners
As we mentioned previously, electric motorcycles do not have gearboxes meaning there will be no need for you to change gears.
If you’re used to shifting gear and riding, then it might take you a little while to get used to the ride, however, if you're a beginner, this might be one of the easiest ways to learn how to ride!
Easy Winter Storage
If you’re an occasional rider, then you’ll understand the pain of settling your bike in for the winter and ensuring your bike is ready to ride when the weather improves. With an electric bike you won’t have to worry about these things - just make sure to charge your battery and keep the bike in a secure, dry place, and you’re good to go when summer rolls around.
Government grants to help with purchase
If you choose to switch to the electric side you’ll be pleased to know you can have a little bit of help from government grants. Plug-in grant funds up to a maximum of £150 towards mopeds and £500 towards buying an electric motorcycle providing they cost £10,000 or less.
*It is worth noting that the plug-in grant is due to end in 2023, so before purchasing an electric bike or scoot, it is worth checking if the grant is still available.
Avoids ULEZ or air pollution charges
Depending on where you ride air pollution charges are on the cards for a number of cities, and London has led the way with its Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ). Petrol or diesel motorbikes driving through the ULEZ zones that do not meet the Euro 3 standards or are produced before July 2007. Whereas an electric motorcycle, with zero emissions, won’t pay a penny.
While most electric motorbikes won’t go over 90mph, they come packed with silly amounts of torque and pretty impressive acceleration.
The range of electric models is growing
By no means is range perfect on electric motorcycles thus far, however it is steadily improving. Some manufacturers such as Maeving and Super Soco have created motorbikes with dual batteries that can not only increase the range but (depending on your strategy) means you can switch the batteries when the other has run flat if you prefer, a method adopted by some delivery riders for instance.
No petrol costs to consider
Over the past few months, another thing that has been affected by inflation was the cost of fuel. At the time of writing in the UK, charging an electric motorbike or scooter currently costs 3p per mile (based upon 5.4kWh battery capacity charging at UK average 34p per kWh charging at home), in comparison to the 6p (based upon 110mpg, at £1.49 per litre / £6.76 a gallon) it costs to fill up a petrol fuelled motorbike.
So yes, whilst the upfront cost of an electric motorcycle is likely more expensive, charging and running costs on a day to day tend to be far cheaper!
More infrastructure in place
Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in electric charging points in the UK. At the end of June 2023, there were a total number of 44,408 electric vehicle charging points across the UK - a 36% increase in the total number of charging devices since June 2022.
The disadvantages of electric motorcycles
As we mentioned previously, electric motorcycles are by no means at their peak just yet and have still got a long way to come before more people are convinced to jump on the electric bandwagon:
Fully charging your electric motorbike or scooter can take anywhere between half an hour or a few hours, spending on which model and charger you have - removing the opportunities for a spontaneous ride if you’ve got a flat battery. This is also a slight inconvenience on the road as you may be waiting at the service station for a fairly long while as your bike charges up.
Initial upfront cost is high
Electric motorcycles initially cost more than their petrol-fuelled counterparts - even with the help of a government grant. This can be quite intimidating for quite a lot of people, however, it is worth noting that as more electric models are becoming available, slowly but surely there will be a bike out there for everyone and their budgets.
One of the disadvantages of electric motorbikes that are leaving people hesitant to make the switch is the ever-rising electricity costs in the UK - statistics show that since the start of 2023, gas and electricity prices have risen 36.2% and 17.3%.
Limited battery life
Maintenance-free electric motorcycle batteries unfortunately do not last very long at all with an average lifespan of between 3-8 years. Obviously, the more you ride your motorbike the more times you will need to charge it and then replace it, you also have to be extremely careful not to overcharge the battery in fear of permanently damaging the battery - which is slightly inconvenient for those who opt to charge their battery overnight to fit their busy schedules.
Replacing the battery costs more
On average a motorcycle battery replacement can cost anything between £600-£1000 but this really does vary greatly between models, and bearing in mind as of currently you will need to replace the battery every few years, the costs can really start to add up.
More time needed to plan journeys
Due to their reduced ranges, if you’re planning to go on a long-distance journey you will need to plan ahead and check where the electric charging points are located. The last thing you want when you’re out enjoying the road is worrying about where the next charging point is and if you’ll make it.
Reduced range vs petrol
Even though ranges on electric motorcycles are improving, they still are not yet up to the standard of petrol-fuelled motorcycles just yet. Electric motorcycles and mopeds typically come with a range of anything between 20-100 miles so whilst they may be okay for your typical short commute, if you are thinking of travelling longer distances then I don’t think an electric motorcycle may be for you.
Even shorter range in cold weather
As temperatures begin to drop further and for longer with each winter, cold temperatures can affect your electric motorbikes battery capacity, so while the range is shorter in comparison to petrol-fuelled motorcycles, in winter this gets far worse.
Emerging smart technologies
The increase in electric motorcycles has given rise to an increase in smart tech for your ride. From switching up the ride of your bike to tracking your journey, bike rides have never been so technical... until now:
Whilst there is already a great range of apps for motorcyclists already on the market, electric motorbikes have given us the capability to work on a whole new range of technology to offer further insight into how you ride.
The Zero app, for example, allows you to customise your motorcycle's performance using your mobile device. From this app, you are able to set your top speed, maximum torque, and deceleration and braking regenerative levels.
Not only are you able to set up your ride, but you can also see statistics about your ride, including real-time estimates for recharge times of your battery as well as view battery voltage and total kilowatt-hours used. This is also translated into your trip statistics, including average watt-hours per mile, cost per mile, money saved vs. gasoline, and CO2 reduced vs petrol.
While many petrol-powered models offer a range of ride modes, such as off-road and rain modes, some electric vehicles allow for much more control. Whether it’s within the bikes app or configurable on the vehicle itself you can have much more control over the power, torque, max speed, and brake regeneration, so you can create the perfect ride tailored to your specific needs.
A few motorcycle manufacturers now such as Zero, Maeving, Yamaha, and Supersoco have incorporated ‘hot-swappable’ modules into their electric bikes. This system allows the bikes to be ridden using one or two power modules that can be added or removed in less than a minute - this is a handy extra that allows you to travel long distances without the need to charge your battery.
With new technology comes constant software updates. Thankfully, technology has moved on from the days of switching on your laptop to an hour of updates before you can start using it, and the same can be said for electric bike updates.
Over-the-air updates are becoming more and more popular, and with electric bikes, this means your software will be able to auto-update without the need to plug it in or wait for hours before you can ride.
Is it time to upgrade?
If you’re thinking about switching to electric, you’ll be pleased to know we have written a few handy guides about upgrading to an electric motorcycle and the things you need to own to have an electric motorcycle.
What electric rides are available?
The range of electric motorcycles and scooters is evolving every day, and each bike is as unique as we are.
If you need a hand with deciding which electric bike or moped is best for you, check out our top 10s below:
- 10 of the Best Electric Scooters and Mopeds
- Top 10 Best Electric Motorcycles
- 10 Great Electric Motorcycles for Beginners
- 8 of the Best Electric Scooters for Delivery Work!
The last stop!
So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed our run down on just some of the pros and cons to purchasing an electric motorcycle.
Last but not least, you’ll be pleased to know we here at Lexham have been covering electric motorcycles for 15 years, so if you’re in the market for electric motorcycle insurance - make sure to get a quote directly with Lexham!