40 degrees and sunny today in Pittsburgh. It's the perfect weather for biking into work but let's face it, sometimes you need more than a bicycle. If you're commute is over 10 miles, it takes alot of dedication to ride a bike. Or if the roads you travel have no shoulder and has alot of traffic that moves at higher speed, biking is probably not safe because every car that passes you is a car that could hit you. In those cases, you need a vehicle that can keep up with the flow of traffic. This means a car or a motorcycle. I think we've gotten to the point now that an electric motorcycle is an economically viable proposition. The technology in electric vehicles is rapidly evolving these days, most importantly in the area of battery technology. Batteries are still the largest cost in any electric vehicle now. In a heavy car, a large amount of batteries are needed to give the car any appreciable range but in a small light vehicle like a motorcycle, the battery investment is low and electric motorcycles are now almost cost competitve with gas bikes. The Brammo Enertia pictured above is about $6000 after state and federal incentives. A somewhat comparable Ninja 250 is about $4000. Now the gas bike is faster and goes farther per fillup but for most commuting purposes, a range of 50 miles and top speed of 60 is good enough. And there are numerous benefits to an electric motorcycle:
- They have no transmission so they are much easier to operate.
- They are much simpler mechanically therefore there is less to break down.
- No oil changes, no coolant changes, no tuneups, no changing the plugs, etc. Maintainence is just keeping the chain lubed. That's it!
- Much quieter - some people think of this as a safety concern but plenty of loud motorcycles get hit. Being loud is no substitute for riding smart.
- Never have to visit the gas station. Even if you get your electricity from a coal plant which is currently the dirtiest way to generate electricity, you still are twice as efficient in terms of CO2 as a gas motorcycle. Of course if you get your electricity from solar or wind, you are infinitely more efficient.
- Weighs much less (about 300 lbs) so it is much more nimble and easier to handle which makes it safer.
- They are much cleaner for the air - smog, particulates, noxious fumes, etc. No emissions locally and less emissions even if the electricity is from coal or gas or oil.