For bikes that don’t produce many vibrations, electric motorcycles have created quite a sensation among riders and the industry as a whole in 2014. When the industry leader began showcasing emissions-free bikes, news traveled fast. But when an electric bike became the world’s fastest production motorcycle, it was even more noteworthy.
The functionality of electric bikes in different circumstances has also attracted attention. What is considered a negative by some riders — the lack of roar in electric bikes — is a highly valued feature for police forces who want to use the element of surprise with criminals.
As with electric vehicles, 2014 appears to be a transitional moment for bikes that depend on outlets for power. Here are seven electric motorcycles grabbing the industry’s attention this year.
1. Brutus V2 Rocket
Brutus is famous for making electric bikes that have the classic bagger look without fumes spewing from a tailpipe. The company’s V9 is a low-rider used by police forces and anyone who wants that old-school bike look. With the Brutus V2 Rocket, the company built an electric bike that will be one of the fastest on the market when it is finished.
Capable of 130 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque with a weight of 545 pounds, the V2 Rocket won the Electric Modified Bike race at Pike’s Peak in 2014 with a time of 12:20.448, which made an impression on the racing and motorcycle world. A street-legal version of the V2 Rocket has a preliminary price of $26,490.
2. Harley Davidson LiveWire bike
A Harley without the trademark sound is…no one is quite sure. For that reason, the introduction of electric Harley-Davidson bikes on the company’s Project LiveWire tour was especially noteworthy. Auto journalists, business news outlets, and Harley riders everywhere circled the electric bikes as they rolled into town through the summer of 2014.
These bikes are not production models, but the prototypes have attracted so much attention that it’s feasible the company has designs on electric bikes in the near future. Chevy produces the Camaro as well as the Volt (and Ford the Mustang as well as the Focus Electric), so why couldn’t H-D live in both worlds at the same time?
3. Zero SR
Word that Zero designed an electric motorcycle for police departments caught the attention of everyone because of its range (150 miles) and its speed capabilities (near 100 mph). Using the element of surprise is the perfect function for electric bikes that do not growl.
In fact, Zero had already caught the attention of the industry with the debut of the Zero SR. Capable of sprinting 0-60 in 3.3 seconds with 67 hp and 106 lb-ft of torque, the SR’s chief innovation may be its affordability ($16,995). Gizmag called the arrival of the Zero SR “a liminal moment in motorcycling” in suggesting it was the first bike that allowed riders to think beyond gas-powered bikes for good.
4. Lito Sora
Combining carbon-fiber elegance with the first continuously variable transmission (CVT) for an electric bike, the Lito Sora has been cleared by the NHTSA for U.S. use. Capable of charging from 0-60 in 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 118 mph, the Lito Sora also became an innovator for its electrical seat that can switch between “custom” and “sport” positions while you ride.
5. Energica EGO
Like Harley-Davidson and its Project LiveWire, Energica decided its super bike deserved a cross-country tour as a way of introduction to U.S. riders. The industry couldn’t help but rave about the Energica EGO as it hit San Francisco, L.A., and New York in July. This Italian electric bike is capable of 134 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque with a 0-60 time of just 3.0 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph.
“The hearts of pretty much all the moto-journalists who rode the [Energica EGO] were conquered in the process,” was the way AutoBlog described the reaction.
6. Mission R
San Francisco-based Mission produces electric bikes that have been called “two-wheeled Teslas” by Wired and named one of the most amazing inventions in recent years by Time magazine. Capable of sprinting 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds, a top speed of 140 mph, and 170 miles of city range, the Mission R certainly covers performance and range like a Tesla. Its base price of $32,499 proved this formula is possible to deliver in an affordable package.
7. Lightning LS-218
Zero emissions and top-shelf styling are fine, but electric motorcycles needed a performance king to truly shake the industry. Lightning delivered that when it released the fastest production in the world with its LS-218 super bike. The “218? in the name refers to the 218-mph mark the bike hit at Pike’s Peak in 2013.
Capable of 200 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque at a wet weight of just 495 pounds, it’s easy to see how the Lightning could reach its stunning top speed. Making the fastest electric was one thing; making the fastest motorcycle available for purchase ($38,888) was a game-changing move for bike makers everywhere.