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Do Honda’s RC-E and KTM’s Freeride E Declare the Inevitability of E-Motos?

One by one, the objections to electric motorcycles are crumbling, even if they aren’t completely gone yet.

First, it was performance: internal-combustion motorcycles offered so much more speed, acceleration and range that e-bikes, with their weak-as-kitten pulling power, seemed silly. And then e-bikes started racing in serious competition, like drag-racing, top-speed trials and club and professional road racing. Then advances in battery technology lead to increased speed and range, until actual and affordable, soon-to-be production e-motos like the Brammo Empulse and Zero S promised speeds of over 100 mph and ranges into the triple digits.

Next, it was price. Batteries are expensive, and while e-motos still don’t offer the price/performance bargain of even the lowest-performing streetbikes, given the right customer and generous government incentives, pricing is becoming competitive enough to support a small but viable market. A Zero S can be had in Colorado, for instance, for about 1/2 price thanks to state and federal rebates and credits. And with millions–billions–of dollars (or more accurately, Japanese Yen and Chinese Renminbi) pumping into battery R and D, it’s looking like we could be getting into a situation reminiscent of Moore’s Law, the corollary that states computer-memory density doubles every two years. But even if the energy density of automotive batteries only doubles every four years, by 2019 we’ll have 150-mph motorcycles that can go 400 miles on a single charge and are rechargable in 30 minutes or less.

Finally, we have the problem that the mainstream OEMs had yet to introduce electric motorcycles. Until that point, e-motos may have looked like an empty fad exploited by get-rich-quick vaporware salesmen to critics. But already, numerous OEMs have shown electric concept bikes, and at least one has an electric motorcycle for sale in more than one market.

One important concept e-moto is the RC-E from Honda. It will be on display at the upcoming Tokyo Motorcycle Show, and while it is a non-running concept, it hints at the way Honda is poised to take advantage of the big-bore (I guess that’s not so descriptive–maybe ‘big volt?’) e-bike market. Honda gives no details about the machine’s range, performance or price, but it does have street-legal equipment and Honda hints that it is sized like a 250cc racer. Öhlins suspension and monobloc Brembo calipers may be just for show, or it may indicate this is a very serious sportbike indeed. Is this next year’s TTXGP contender? Or will it be for production once battery range and price gets to a certain level?

But if you don’t want to daydream, just move to Europe and walk into an orange-painted KTM dealership. For 2012, the Freeride E–a 211-pound electric dirtbike with a 300-watt battery and 90-minute recharge time will be available in most European countries. A video of the Freeride E below shows two stunt riders having a great time riding through vacant lots and abandoned buildings in Barcelona, hinting at the advantages a clean and quiet e-moto may have over its noisy, smoky two-stroke trailbike or motocross cousin.

Those advantages are reminders of why e-motos may be the majority of the global powered two-wheel market in 10 years. Not only are they pretty much free to operate (my utility bill would go up less than $10 if I charged a Zero S in my garage 20 nights a month–contrast that with the $120 my thirsty little Triumph Street Triple drinks in gas), but they are whisper quiet, basically maintenance free, and thanks to their light weight and lack of clutch or gearbox, appealing to entry-level riders–or even non-riders. Don’t believe it? Consider Time magazine reported in 2009 that China already had over 100 million electric bicycles, motorcycles and scooters in operation, with 12 million more added every year.

But not to worry — the ubiquity of e-motos will make your experience as an ICE bike enthusiast even better. It will revitalize a shrinking industry with new customers and perhaps keep the price of gas low as more ICE cars and trucks switch to electric and hybrid drive. It may also have the same effect on the public that Honda’s “Nicest People” campaign did for small-displacement motorcycles in the ’60s and ’70s. Maybe ICE motorcycles won’t get the level of development they get now, but if you’re like me, maybe you think that’s okay — the motorcycles we have now are way beyond my abilities as a rider, and I think I have more fun on older, cruder models anyway.

The future is electric, sooner or later — and I think it’s going to be okay.

75 Comments

  1. NeutronStar73 says:

    I love the concept of electric bikes. I think it is quite silly to think we need ICE technology to have a proper motorcycle. sure we may need to update our basic infrastructure to support more electric vehicles, but it isn’t like we don’t have the technology to do so (wind, hydro, nuclear, solar, biomass) and to do it cleanly and cheaply.

    I did say nuclear…and I know some people will freak out over that, but nuclear power is clean and out biggest issue is storage of the waste, which I’m sure we can figure out a solution.

  2. EZ Mark says:

    But how will the Harley riders make them loud?

  3. Secret executive says:

    I got a better idea…give us that Honda CBR 250R Exactly as shown…..and make it a parallel twin(V would be preferred but more expensive to make)…with low friction DLC coated finger followers as well as other low friction tricks….with huge rev limit for smiles….and 50 mpg

    I know its just enviro/styling excessive and I really admire the electric vehicle development these days BUT the battery storage and life is still iffy and an environmental nightmare should something go wrong……IE the other day at my shop I sent a electric vehicle to the dealer for a battery replacement….they placed 4 pylons around the car in the far end of designated area of their parking lot…. the battery was removed by specialists wearing hazmat suits……is that realistic??….watch a guy launch that KTM off a rock and land it in a clean clear stream of drinking water.. way out in the bush

    Maybe we need to focus on why a large aircraft uses 60,000 lbs of fuel for one flight….instead of applying the “think tank” to(already) inherently efficient vehicles

  4. Dave says:

    When real men stop acting like women and trying to fit into what other men say they should be riding, then we’ll see these things fly out of the shops. Thankfully, it doesn’t look god-awful like the other electric bikes on the market. For those who say it’s not noisy enough, you may be right, but if you watch a racing cyclist ride past, their wheels are actually quite loud because of the bearing spinning on the axles. Not loud enough obviously, but a racing cyclist might be doing 40-50kph, while we ride these heavier things twice as fast. Speaking of road cyclists, I seen these guys with lights brighter than my kawa 600 motorbike lights – and he told me it ran on AA batteries! If every part of this bike was optimized and developed differently, I cant imagine a reason it wouldn’t sell.

  5. RC says:

    I would probably buy one when the time comes, but will never give up the experience of opening up the throttle on my 999 blasting through turns and blipping it as I down shift to take every corner. Only the new people to motorcycles going directly to e-bikes will not notice the difference…

    • Secret executive says:

      Perhaps they need to offer a “soundtrack selection” with these electric vehicles…..it could be a Twin or single..or a boxer ..or a high winding Inline 4…all at the push of a button……

      Although I’m sure some Urbanite activist(as he steps of a curb in front of you.. with his IPOD on) will find a way to complain about noise

  6. steveinsandiego says:

    i’d own an electric bike in a heart beat. i want about a 200-mile range, though, to suit my riding style. 90 minute charging time? very cool beans.

  7. Tom says:

    All my Radio Control helicopters are electric powered and they are not small toys but scary beasts. The shift from nitro/gas power to electric has taken over that hobby. Almost for the same reason as it will shift the MX hobby. NOISE! They are clean which means no storage issues and they are simpler to maintain. I hope to someday have a KTM electric woods bike to ride on the trails around my house. They are not motorcycle friendly BUT do allow MTB riding due to noise concerns from neighbors.

    When I was a kid EVERYONE had dirt bikes. We rode them on power-line right of ways and old sand pit locations. Now those areas are all closed down due to noise and idiots hurting themselves on someone’s private land and then suing the landowner forcing no trespassing signs to go up everywhere. This killed the off road market in my area.

    I see about a 10 year window of electrics getting free access to areas that are not motorized friendly before the lawyers end the fun.

  8. agent55 says:

    Well they’re both lookers… especially that modern/retro RC-E, sheesh!

  9. Tom Shields says:

    For my type of riding, e-bikes are looking more and more suitable all the time. I either ride to work (less than 10 miles each way), or on the weekends I’ll go out for short blasts of anywhere from 20 to 100 miles. But I do want performance even though my rides are short.

    It’s the long-range market that e-bikes – like e-cars – are going to struggle with until range and charge time improve dramatically.

  10. Nick says:

    I’m really looking forward to the possibilities that an e-bike like the KTM Freeride brings. I live on a small block of land and I love the idea of coming home from work and going for a spin in the backyard on a nice quiet trials style bike. It doesn’t all have to be about speed and distance.
    I believe noise is one of biggest objections for people against motorcycles. Electric bikes may just entice some new people into motorcycling too.

    On a technical point can anyone explain why transmissions haven’t been utilised on most e-bikes yet? Would a transmission help with top speed and possibly range?
    I haven’t ridden an e-bike yet but I’m thinking a clutch would be a handy thing too on an electric powered trials or off-road style bike to help meter the power feed?

    • YellowDuck says:

      I haven’t ridden an e-bike either but, technically speaking, a transmission is not as important with an eletric motor, because the motor makes the same (or almost the same) torque at any rpm, right down to zero rpm. So, shifting gears doesn’t gain you anything, so long as the rpm range of the motor and the final drive gearing is sufficient to cover the entire desired speed range. Hp just climbs exactly linearly with rpm with an electric motor, and since force (at the rear wheel) = Power / speed, it will accelerate the same at any motor speed (minus the increasing aero resistance of course).

      As far as I know, efficiency is not a strong function of rpm either. But I could be wrong about that.

  11. Michael W LexPk MD says:

    The problem with e-bikes as I have seen is that the bikes can never live up to thier hype. They constantly claim abilities that did not live up to the claim at the track. The speed is overstated and the range has been VERY overstated.
    The cost for the bang is way higher then what is required for mainstream. Do I thimk all of these problems will change on day? YES. Do I think they are there yet? Not so I have witnessed.
    The other problem is that at present the main problem all my bikes have had has been electrical in nature. This does not give me warm fussies about electrical bikes.
    Good luck and ride safe.
    Mike

  12. Brendan says:

    Just off topic a little. That Honda Is GORGEOUS! Why can’t we have a CBR250 that looks like that.

  13. Roadrash1 says:

    KTM may be the player to make this work. I really like the IC version of this too, the 350 FREERIDE. Too bad they aren’t coming to the USA.
    Although the other e-bikes look promising, how many times have you heard the words, “Coming Soon” when talking about Brammo’s new bikes?

  14. Jeremy in TX says:

    It is difficult to compete against the highly evolved and refined technology of today’s internal combustion engine, but I don’t think ebikes really need to go head-to-head with the ICE bikes in order to be successful and evolve to a point where perhaps they can. Yes, battery technology will have to undergo a quantum leap in order for electric bikes to meet the needs of many of us, myself included. But there are many people whose riding habits could be well served by an e-bike and probably many people who currently don’t ride that could use the capabilities of current ebikes. Price:performance is still a hurdle, and it takes massive volume to get that inline.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next ten years. My guess is that, in the US at least barring any type of massive tax penalty on gasoline, 95% of new motorcycles sold will still be buring gas, but who knows.

  15. Marshall says:

    mudnducs -

    We subsidize oil hugely in a non-free market way. That we pay ~$4/gallon is silly and actually stifles
    domestic innovation of petroleum efficient technologies (diesel, hybrid, …). Why not subsidize something
    cleaner using a domestic source of energy?

    Gabe -

    This bike has a ~300V battery and motor, not a `300W’ battery. Great article otherwise!

    • Stinky says:

      I’m really looking forward to this electric bike tech. I’d love to be able to QUIETLY ride around town. Our current administration has taken a butt kickin’ about subsidizing anything other than oil. I love the gas burners, but less maintenance is the thing I look forward to. Kevin Cameron talked about how well traction control would work on an electric bike. I hope some people buy enough to keep the manufacturers working. I’m too broke keeping my gas bikes going. I’m a crappy trials rider and will be looking for a new bike in a couple years. Noiseless practice, and with range and power increases or low cost spare batteries, a trials meet without firing up a generator to charge it.

  16. ES says:

    Re Moore’s law, was/is based on the actual trend that had been measured when Moore first stated it. Batteries have been around for a long time, the performance of the lead acid batteries in your IC car or motorcycle is pretty much unchanged over 100 years. In 100 years rechargeable battery technology has improved by about a factor of 10, going by energy density, which will determine how much, how far, and how heavy. We can probably expect better in the future, given that battery technology remained stagnant until fairly recently, but not likely that we will see doubling even every four years.

    My money would be on fuel cell powered electric vehicles, offering all the advantages of electric power with the addition of rapid fueling. Fuel cells can work with any fuel from hydrogen to hydrocarbon gases or liquids. You can lease a fuel cell car in California http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCX_Clarity.

    • Fred M. says:

      For those not aware, Moore’s law applies to semiconductors, stating that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. That growth rate is slowing to doubling every three years.

      I just don’t see any magic happening when it comes to electrochemical batteries. I work in the aerospace industry where we put batteries that cost more than some homes into satellites. Cost is not the overriding factor and we can’t get batteries that are significantly more efficient than what the average RC modeling enthusiast buys. We certainly get batteries constructed better and designed to withstand conditions that typical batteries cannot, but they don’t have a higher energy density. In fact, it’s probably lower due to the weight of the casings.

      Fuel cells are a reasonable bet. I could also see mechanical energy storage (flywheels) that could give a short-term boost on a motorcycle. But I’m with you — battery technology is not going to result in vehicles which satisfy a large percentage of consumers.

      • ES says:

        Something I’ve wondered about flywheel energy storage, wouldn’t the gyro effect make a flywheel MC unrideable?

  17. Superduckz says:

    Inevitable that it succeeds broadly across the board? Unless there is a quantum leap in technology and / or physics then resoundingly no.

  18. anon says:

    “… given the right customer and generous government incentives, pricing is becoming competitive… ”

    I REALLY wish more people understood the inherent contradiction in statements like this.
    Even if you can’t wrap your brain around the fact that such incentives are PROOF that electrics don’t make economic sense, at least keep in mind that every dollar of incentive is a dollar taken from someone’s pocket – and that someone might be you.

    • Superchicken says:

      So, by that logic would you agree that we should stop basing our energy strategy on oil? Oil companies receive a lot of subsidies in the form of write offs for exploration and so forth. Practically all (if not all) immature technologies have been subsidized in some for or another. Whether it’s through a company’s R&D budget or government grants or tax breaks, there are monetary incentives for developing new technologies. Typically the end goal is to make or save money, and it seems to be paying off given that technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

    • Stratkat says:

      exactly!

  19. Pokey says:

    As for sound we can always add playing/baseball cards to the spokes like we did when we were kids.
    Or this… http://www.turbospoke.com/gallery.aspx
    Or yeah!

  20. Bud says:

    Zero – take a good look at the Honda e-racer. E-biokes do not have to look like slapped together misshapen oddities. They can look like motorcycles.

    • Morris Bethoven says:

      You said it! Why do some of the ebike companies think that ugly/techno/nerdy designs are what the riding public wants? It’s just as easy to design a good looking machine as one that was hit with an ugly stick.

  21. Rion says:

    three problems
    1- Range although improving and enough for my short jaunts will not be enough for longer trips, although the tech might improve by 2020 I doubt 400 miles, and that might still not be enough. Also 30 min recharge? I can gas up in less than 3 min. even if it dropped to 15 min I would have to tactically time my long rides in order to arrive at my destination on time. That means less time to prepare or less sleep, both could be bad.
    2- Sound, I cant stand ice motors above 10k and can barely stand them above 7.5k rpm. Electric motors would give me crippling migraines. And adding stuff to quite the wine would only add weight and hurt the range problem. (although wind might fix this)
    3- Price. Ok so give me a motorcycle that can go at least 150 miles per charge and can recharge in roughly 5 min, that doesn’t emit blood ear syndrome; all for about 10k USD and I will buy it without question.

    Gas would have to be above 15$ per gallon for me to buy into electric bikes.
    But when this machine exists I will more than gladly buy into it and tell the middle east to shove it where the sun don’t shine.

  22. Stratkat says:

    ooooh, electric bikes! blah, blah, blah…
    do you peoploe stop to wonder where the electricity is gonna come from to operate these things? “…oh ill just plug it in and recharge it! super!!! and im saving the environment at the same time”. if the technonogy was there so that tomorrow we could all switch to electric vehicles can you imagine the drain on the grid? energy doesnt spring out of the air there are going to have to be more power plants to create the demand and do you thing they are going to give that away?? no, your electric bill will reflect the demand and it will take the place of gas prices. wake up, there is no utopia. there is always a going to be a tradeoff. its good that new technogy is being offered but lets be realistic about it.
    untill then ill stick to my nice powerful KTM! ahhh, feel much better now!!

    • Austin Hunt says:

      We have enough coal to convert all of our transportation to electricity. Remember we have more coal than anyone and it will last hundreds of years. The net pollution effect is lower than millions of gasoline internal combustion engines. So in fact coal is cleaner. Oil based power is going to face stiff competition from natural gas, coal, etc. Not because of a government mandate but rather by the free market.

    • Justin says:

      I want my electric bike to have it’s own little nuclear reactor in it. But it better be powerful and light!

    • YellowDuck says:

      No, no utopia, but even in the worst case scenario if we replaced petroleum with new, modern coal-fired plants, you are still i) replacing a scarce energy source from abroad with one that is plentiful domestically, and ii) reducing net carbon emissions (since the 35% plant efficiency x 95% transmission efficiency x 95% recharge efficiency x 90% motor efficiency is still better than the well-to-wheels effiency of gasoline manufacture and use in an ICE).

      And that is the worst case senario. Generate the electricity on one of the ten or so better ways already available, and/or engage in carbon capture and sequestration, and things look a lot better than they do today.

      Seriously, not everyone who likes the idea of e-vehicles is an idiot who never thought about the source of the electricity.

    • Gabe says:

      Spend 30 seconds googling “effect of electric vehicles on power grid” and you will see that this issue is a red herring frequently tosse dout by disengenuous opponents of anything remotely ecologically friendly, similar to the story about how the Prius has a bigger environmenta impact than a Hummer (which is patently false).

      Basically, the power grid we have now is sufficient to power enough vehicles so 75% of americans could convert to e-vehicles–IF folks were predominantly charging their vehicles at night. But if the power grid is inefficient and pollutes, that’s not the fault of electric vehicles: it’s the fault of this country not investing in infrastructure, which will have to be replaced sooner than later no matter how many electric cars are sold.

      • Austin Hunt says:

        Great point Gabe. I know folks don’t like coal because of the pollution thing but it’s our ace in the hole and probably be or worse case scenario fuel. i.e. if we can’t get alternatives to be cost effective and the price of oil due to politically instability goes up substantially coal will be the choice of the free market. We will probably get our oil from the tar sands of Canada unless they start selling to others like India and China at premium prices. If that happens look for coal to make a big come back.

  23. Neil says:

    Just read another report that oil supplies by 2015 will fall behind demand. So this could be a really nice trend. Yeah the motor sound is lost but that can always we piped in HA HA over a stereo system that runs off the battery and increases character with the throttle. You could map in any bike you wanted! Duc, Gixxer, no worries! …Ahem…but I do like the looks and it would make for a really fun commute. Heck you could even blast AC/DC over that stereo to keep the cagers at bay. I am not one to fight “progress”. It’s going to happen. Some people thought the automobile was a joke back in the day. And RIP all the brave men and women fighting over the oil we consume for the sake of a nice lawn, fast bike, bling looking SUV and so on.

  24. uncle quinn says:

    I have a feeling all the comments about “it will never work, I don’t like it, the range sucks, no power, bla bla bla” will look funny when people look back 20 years from now and read them. They will offer features and benefits you can’t even dream up today. Think about the cell phone and what it does for you today. The least of which is to allow you to make a call. Just imagine if these bikes can double as other useful tools for us in addition to simply being motorcycles. It will happen, it IS happening now. Stop resisting and open your mind…Just don’t sell your GSXR in the meantime and all will be well with the world!

    • Austin Hunt says:

      Agreed Resistance is futile! :)

    • Justin says:

      Double as other useful tools? So what, is it going to transform into a lawn mower when I get home? Maybe a blender? Now if it can brew beer, then we’ll talk….

      • Gabe says:

        Ha! Not a lawnmower, but how about you store cheap nightime electricty with your car, then use it to run your A/C when rates go up? Or run your tire warmers off your truck at your next track day? Or maybe use it when you go camping to run your cooler/toaster oven/rotissere BBQ?

        But like Quinn says–if I told you how much I’d be using an iPhone 10 years ago, you’d have laughed till you peed your pants. E-vehicles may have uses/benefits we can’t begin to imagine.

  25. YellowDuck says:

    I am actually the target customer for a true e-sportbike, if anyone ever actually builds one. When I rode on the street, it was never for more than 100 miles (short jaunts on a Sunday kinda thing), and now that I am a track only rider, we are talking 15-minute sessions with 30-minute breaks. Plus, I am enough of a tree hugger to actually feel just a tiny bit guilty about burning hydrocarbons for a hobby.

    But wouldn’t be ironic to have a bunch of these in the pits at my local track, where there are no outlets, and everyone is running the gas-powered generators twice as hard, to operate both the battery chargers and the tire warmers!

    • Dave says:

      Have a look at the Brammo Enertia. That bike is probably ready for you now.

      The guys asking for 400 mile range are never going to see it (I don’t think there are more than a dozen gas bikes on the market that can go that far on a tank). Electric will be shorter range for some time to come.

      The answer today is less hp. Battery energy density is not going to increase quickly, it’s already pretty good. Efficiency in the motors and acceptance of modest power output are what’s necessary to get range.

      Another not on range. With electrics, it’s impossible to hang a realistic number on it. There are far too many variables with a large effect on range. Rider weight, riding style, terrain are all big influences on power draw.

  26. endoman says:

    That’s a nice looking Honda, until you consider what’s under the plastic. I’d rather see Honda spend their resources on a nice low-emissions, street-legal two-stroke. But that’s just me.

  27. Steve NJ says:

    The video reminds me of my days as a kid ripping down the powerline trails in Levittown PA on a 1974 Kawasaki 250 Enduro w/Hooker Expansion Chamber… yes…. the cops & all the neighbors knew who, & where I was…. not on this though!

    But nostalgia aside… I like my bikes with old-fangled technology like a clutch, shifter, pipes that emit sound, etc….

    I agree with most here…. yes, electric bikes are probably inevitable although gas fueled bikes will no doubt be around for a long time. Having one of these little KTM’s or the Honda sportbike would be cool… but I’m really a 1-bike kinda guy & I don’t see how they could make an electric Harley Street Glide look anywhere near as cool as it does with the old tech, air cooled V Twin…

    No thanks!

  28. DaShui says:

    In China, half the scooters are already electric. And they suck because you never hear them from behind, people ride them into the elevators….

  29. Ruefus says:

    The elephant in the room is……will anyone actually buy these? Never mind if I’m a retro-grouch who wants his noise or a tech-geek dying for the latest and greatest. The auto industry points to a potentially major roadblock.

    Sales.

    The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf languish. Subsidies, wow-factor, mainstream press etc. and they rot on showroom floors. Not like an unsuccessful model. More like a hole in the floor the dealer pours money into.

    Successful products are born from making what people want or need. Even when they don’t know they want it (Apple is a prime example). In this case, I don’t see it. People aren’t clamoring for electric vehicles. Their announcement and launch are big news one day, back page the next. Motorcycles, at least in America, are a want. Not a need. The reality is not Earth-shattering simple nor effective against existing tech.

    I ‘get’ the idea of alternative power. I just don’t this as it. They can push this idea all they want, but ultimately the market has to latch on and pull. If anything, the market is (still) pushing back. Unless someone comes up with an iPhone-like moment. One that truly redefines the market, this will end up nowhere.

    • Dave says:

      The i-phone moment will be $10/gal. gas for street going bikes. I really thought the moment happened a long time ago for off-road with all the land access issues. We’ll be glad these companies were working on it for so long when the time comes.

      • Paul says:

        $10/gal gas is going to happen. E-bike’s or something else will take over. Thank goodness for our generation(40+), we can still enjoy our gas bikes. Not to mention, did anyone see the new Ford Mustang GT500. It’s got 650hp, SWEET JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      Maybe so but we are just a couple of years away from mass-adoption. Advantages in battery tech (as the article states) is accelerating and the cost savings will trickle down to everything that is gas or electic-powered. I would buy the KTM (street-legal version) in a heartbeat.

  30. M says:

    Moore’s is # of transistors per area

  31. DingerJunkie says:

    A short ride for me is 100 miles each way. I need quick-replenish energy sources (just minutes to fill a gas tank). I want something I can safely modify and alter/enhance/customize the performance of on my own, with my own tools. I prefer something I can completely rebuild myself without factory/dealership mechanic intervention.

    Most important, I want “character and personality” in the performance of the bike. One of the reason I haven’t owned a Honda for years is that they all seem appliance-like in their personal character…as reliable…and as boring…as a washing machine. I want power delivery that requires skill to use, like my old two strokes. Remember the really high monkey bars at the playground as a kid? They were fun and exciting because you really could get hurt if you weren’t up to the challenge, and it was exhilarating to master them.

    Once someone creates an E-bike that has all that at an incentive-free competitive price, I’ll consider buying. Until then, I’d rather have the Yamaha 125 I saw here yesterday.

  32. phil says:

    Where can I get a set of non-marking knobbie tyres?

  33. paulysr says:

    No air filter to clean and oil? I think I could get used to that.

  34. bikerrandy says:

    Maybe these things are viable in a metropolis, but for anything else……….get REAL !! Luckily I don’t live in a city. I need REAL transportation, which I already have.

  35. Gutterslob says:

    The most beautiful bike I’ve seen this year, even if it is just a concept.

    Possibly not as powerful as people would like (if the claims of it using the Insight unit are true) and probably not as green as people would have you think (the manufacturing processes for the batteries, among other factors), but it’s a step in the right direction, in my opinion.

    @Gabe
    Your article sounds a bit like a write-up on one of those tech sites, with your use of “Moore’s Law” and “OEM” … heh.
    If this whole digital-electric thing does become mainstream, I’m hoping I can buy a bike 10 years down the line, wipe it’s ECU OS and install Linux. =P …. We might even see s modding community like we do with Android and iPhone jailbreaking/rooting…. heh!!

  36. mudnducs says:

    Next, it was price. Batteries are expensive, and while e-motos still don’t offer the price/performance bargain of even the lowest-performing streetbikes, given the right customer and generous government incentives, pricing is becoming competitive enough to support a small but viable market.

    Really? You print this bologna and then have the gall to say that pricing is competitive?
    I get to pay for them whether I want to or not…but pricing is still competitive?
    “E-bikes” are a limp idea being forced down our throats.
    When they can STAND ON THEIR OWN PERFORMANCE AND MERIT…we’ll talk then.

  37. Morris Bethoven says:

    The concept HONDA looks great, better than most e-bikes. If they can deliver it in a 250 size with a 120 mile range/120 mph top speed and keep the price at a sane level, they will be very successful. I just hope that they keep the crew that was responsible for the VFR1200 away from the design team. Otherwise we’ll end up with a 600# e-bike with a 22 mile range.

    • MGNorge says:

      Why the top speed requirement of 120 mph? Our posted limits here are only 110 mph.

      • Morris Bethoven says:

        120 mph because it means the bike has excess power that will enable it to achieve freeway speeds a lot quicker than a bike with a top speed of 75 mph. Extra power is nice when merging onto the freeway.

  38. Dannytheman says:

    I just want to know what pipes I can put on it?

    • Tom Shields says:

      When I was a kid (eons ago) slot car racing was pretty popular in my area. There were all sorts of people pulling the stock electric motors and rewinding them for more power (and faster failure!), an extensive aftermarket for all sorts of exotic bits and pieces to reduce weight and friction of moving parts – the aftermarket will love e-bikes.

  39. william says:

    I thought KTM was not going to be producing the bike in 2012. It was in testing for 2012 or something. I think KTM entering the e-bike world will only help it. It might take some sales from the existing e-bike makers or it might expand interest and help everyone. I like choices, plus competition and more manufacturers might help to foster better technology.

    That was an interesting point that if electric expands a lot, gas prices could go down and that will help the gas bikes. I do like new things, but I must agree with the article that many current bikes can do way more than my skill will ever be able to. In that case the KTM350 gas freeride is a great idea as a bike with good technology for the non top level racer. I don’t use a mx bike to its full capability. In the past, most bikes made for the non racer had compromises in technology and added a lot of weight. Like a lower skilled rider needs a heavier bike, ha, bad idea there. So I hope the KTM e-bike will not be a top level mx racer. Good parts, low weight, thats great stuff that will help me. Being able to jump 30 feet in the air, I won’t use it. Too bad we can’t fast forward in time, I want to buy one now. Lets hope battery technology improves as fast as computer memory density; I don’t think it will.

  40. Jerry says:

    One day, I am going to wake up and miss the music of an internal combustion engine, particularly the racy I4s and the rumbling Vs.

  41. wfowade says:

    The marketing of these products is getting more sophisticated and the products are improving. But right now I don’t see one of these taking the place of my EXC 530 nor my ZX10.

    Yet I do see the potential for creating an entirely new market place with a different set of customers. But then 100 Million e bikes already in service? In one (admittedly large) market? THe potential for this is huge for sure.

    The other market opportunity is yet another bike in the garage for those afflicted by MBS. With apologies to Seige: “Nine projects, No time. no money. Please Help, God Bless”

    Give the credit where it is due: The advacement pace is genuinely impressive. But when these bikes are selling without subsidies and doing so in a competitive market place with performance to match then I’ll take them seriously. The ebikes have a ways to go still but now I am watching this corner of bikedom with more interest. Is an optional eco friendly Castor Oil scent dispenser in the works?

  42. Alex says:

    According to the KTM UK website: http://www.ktm.com/gb/freeride/freeride-e/technical-details.html it is 22kW (30HP)maximum.

  43. Rich says:

    Gabe – the knuckleheads at Motorcycle News are reporting that the RC-E is using the electric motor from the Insight hybrid. I cannot find any corroborating report for this tidbit. Can you guys corroborate this claim? If true, that means a paltry 10kW motor.

    It is great to look at.

    • Gabe says:

      If they are saying that, they have a source I don’t know about–all we had to go off was the press release from Honda Motors Global.But the release claims 600cc-class performance, which would imply more power than that.

      But since this is probably a non-running display bike, it’s all academic, isn’t it?

      • Rich says:

        I think it might run? The frame looks to be like it might be an actual welded aluminum structure. But – I know – it isn’t going to be built for retail sale with those pricey Ohlins and Brembo bits.

    • Dave says:

      Just because it outputs 10kw in the insight does not mean that it will be set up for the same power output in the bike. It is most likely electronically governed and overbuilt for car reliability. In a lightweight bike it could be used differently.

      • Rich says:

        Dave – thanks. I wondered as much. I took the torque figure and raised the RPM to get a different horsepower figure – if you keep torque near the rated 58 lb/ft but raise RPM to something like 5,000 you get a much higher figure – more like 45+.