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Electric motorcycles gain traction

Get ready for a motorcycle revolution. That deep Harley rumble and the siren call of the Suzuki whine will soon be sharing the road with silent bikes. A slew of sleek, lightweight machines, either fully electric or hybrid, is making its debut and signaling a paradigm shift in both motorcycle culture and green transportation.

The $9,950 Zero S will go on sale this spring, one of the first plug-in motorcycles widely available in the U.S. Weighing in at just 225 pounds, this bike is made by former NASA engineer Neal Saiki and his three-year-old Santa Cruz, Calif., start-up.

Electric bikes’ biggest draw is the fact they cost less than 1 cent per mile to drive; Saiki's Zero S goes 60 miles (96 km) on one charge and can hit 60 miles per hour (96 km/hr) at top speed.

Its dirt-ready predecessor has already proven itself on the U.S. market. Last year, Zero sold out of the electric Zero X dirt bike and had a six-month waiting list for that model. Saiki expects the same this year, despite the downturn. More than 100 buyers have already made $1,000 deposits to reserve Zero S's, sight unseen.

Other electric options, with top speeds of 70 and 150 miles per hour, respectively: the $8,500 Electric Motorsport GPR-S (currently available for order) and $68,995 Mission Motors Mission One (slated for delivery in early 2010).
There are even more electric models coming down the pike, including an electric motorcycle from Honda, promised for 2011, and the forthcoming $11,995 Brammo Enertia. Hybrid offerings like the EVII and Piaggio are also joining the pack.

BY THE NUMBERS:
Until the first quarter of 2009, when the economic crisis sent U.S. motorcycle sales tumbling 21 per cent, bike sales had grown steadily, increasing 58 per cent to 6.6 million since 1998, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).

Motorcycles tend to do well in tough economic times, as drivers look for ways to save on fuel and vehicle purchase costs. Americans bought 1.1 million motorcycles last year, the sixth year in a row that domestic bike sales topped 1 million units, according to the MIC. Prior to this six-year period, the last time U.S. motorcycle sales topped 1 million was in the early 1970s, when oil prices jumped.

Honda President and CEO Takeo Fukui says he expects motorcycle sales to support the company through difficult times. He even predicts consistent and extended market growth in Asia and South America, where motorcycles are used for daily transport rather than recreation. Honda sold 15.1 million motorcycles worldwide last year, up 12 per cent from 2007.

AMERICAN REVOLUTION:
Historically, Americans have used motorcycles for play, not work, while Europeans and Asians rely on small motorbikes for inexpensive transport through narrow streets. But that divide is slowly narrowing, says Paolo Timoni, president of Italy-based motorcycle maker Piaggio USA. Piaggio sells seven brands of motorcycles and scooters worldwide.

Motorcycles are gaining traction in the States mainly because commuters are realizing how much gasoline they can save, how much easier it is to find parking, and how effective bikes are for avoiding congestion, Timoni says. Not to mention the fact that electric bikes require almost no maintenance (since they have only one moving part) and will never leak gasoline or brake fluid.

A recently passed 10 per cent U.S. federal tax credit for electric motorcycles has no doubt helped spur interest as well.

Of course, it will take some doing to convince Harley loyalists to convert to electric machines. But electric-bike makers say they aren't necessarily trying to win converts. Instead, they want to sell motorcycles to people who already love them and are looking to augment their garage portfolios with something green.

Those electric makers will know they've hit it big when they get a Hell's Angels chapter of their own.


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Added: Jun-12-2009 
By: LaRondelle
In:
Arts and Entertainment
Tags: Electric Motorcycles, Zero S, Save Money At The Pump
Views: 13995 | Comments: 24 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 1 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • You would have to pull my cold dead fingers off my GSXR before i would mount that toy nomotorcycle.

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • great . thing is tho even with my race pipe people DONT fucking notice me so what chance would you stand on a silent bike ??. looks nice tho not knocking it but i wouldnt ride it ..

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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    • I agree, I have a Harley and it's loud. I ride it loudly because I want all of those idiots to be aware of me so I don't get sideswiped, turned in front of or any numerous things people in cars do.

      Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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    • I agree the harley is safer because it is loud.
      I was a scooter rider and got nailed because the person didnt see me or hear me.

      Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • Comment of user 'Recon_Marin' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • 60mph? rofl. Well I guess at least it's better than driving a prius.

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • Boo hooo it's not loud. *cry* I usually don't hear motor cycles till they're next to me. Why? Cause I have the music on. There are many variables to an accident. Sound shouldn't be one of them because there are rules to driving. And if you have a license you should know how to properly change lanes.

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • What the..? Awww HELL NO! someone would have to remove my dead rotting corpse from my R1 and Tricolore if they want me to trade my "babies" for one of those...er, what is it called again?

    Somehow, I hate you LaRondelle! (j/k) :)

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • Dangerous... half the reason you want a loud bike is so people know you're there... and actually take a moment to peel their face off the cell phone and NOT do a blind lane-change...

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • That bike is for a Prius driver that wants to run to the store real quick for a granola bar and some soy milk,why would you want to spend 9grand on something that goes 60mph and has no sound?Maybe you could rivet a pipe to it so you can blend in with your mates so you can have a conversation at the bar parking lot.

    Posted Jun-13-2009 By 

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  • They've gotta get that top-speed up a bit and increase the range.

    The whole point of an afternoon ride is to ride for the afternoon. Not run out of juice after 40 minutes.

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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    • Horses for courses , you want a thrash you take the Duke or whatever . When you're goin for chips , take the hoover . Nae engine service or problems , replacement exhausts , bound to be easier on tyres too . They shoulda been here years ago , they'd be well up to scratch by now .

      Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • 60 mph? Uhhh No. I'll stick with my CBR954 thank you very much..Also...people in cars barely notice me now let alone on a silent bike.Bikes already get great gas mileage.. stick to the silent cars fucktards

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • In California that thing's a deathtrap. 60 mph and cant get out of its own way, and SILENT? Not viable - you'd get squished by another dumb car driver on your first ride

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • i never buy this sewing machine on wheels.

    Posted Jun-12-2009 By 

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  • 60 miles at 60 mph, so it needs recharging after 1 hour use if you decode the bullshit
    what good is that ?

    Posted Jul-31-2010 By 

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  • For everyone's information, there are electric bikes coming out now that can sound however you want; you can make them rev like a Harley or a Ninja or one of those things from Star Wars, whatever.
    Sound is a very, very minor factor in motorbike accidents. If other drivers have their windows closed, are playing music or are converging with you rapidly, sound makes no difference.
    In a few years time, it will actually make economic sense to buy an electric bike, because gas prices will be too high More..

    Posted Oct-26-2012 By 

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  • 60 miles on one charge.... are you fucking kidding me....

    i cant wait for us to get off oil... and onto only electricity.

    so when the world keeps warming naturally and cooling naturally, we can finally say "Fuck it you were right." and go back to oil - so these stupid ideas go away.

    Posted Jul-6-2012 By 

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    • @Ohyawellfuku I'd be interested to see how we can "go back" to oil when there will be none left in 37 years.
      These bikes are for people who don't live a stupidly long distance from work. If you have to travel 60 miles every day, you're doing something wrong.

      Posted Oct-26-2012 By 

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    • @BikeCam Shenanigans Oil is abiotic.

      meaning it is not necessary to have organic matter (plants and animals - which is bullshit all in itself) to be crude oil.

      thus being said, we have absolutely NO idea what so ever how oil is made.

      so based on those two now known facts. it is safe to say we will not run out of oil in 37 years. in fact we find new pockets of oil all the time.

      and if you honestly think about it - and oil is probiotic and it takes say 100 thousand years to make. then every s More..

      Posted Oct-28-2012 By 

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