MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Europe Drives Development of Electric Two-Wheelers . . . With Pedals

Electric bicycles are limited to a maximum speed of 20 mph in the United States. In Europe, it is different. According to bicycle manufacture Specialized, which markets the 28mph Turbo E-bike only in Europe: “Under a 2004 European Directive, electric bikes are allowed a maximum assisted speed of 25km/h (15.6mph). However, some European nations have got around this by introducing a ‘superbike’ class of e-bike that slots in between bicycles and mopeds. For example, Germany’s ‘leichtmofa’ class includes electric bikes capable of assistance up to 45km/h (28mph) and with up to 500 watt motors. A licence and insurance is required but not a helmet and the bikes are not allowed on bike paths.” The popularity of electric bicycles is exploding in some European countries . . . leading to significant investment in both motor and battery technology.

While the exotic M55 Terminus (pictured above) is at the far end of the spectrum (roughly $35,000), e-bikes are available for less than $1,000.  Top speeds can approach 50 mph, but most e-bikes are much slower.

What does this have to do with motorcycles?  When some e-bikes approach 50 mph top speed and 30 mile range per charge, while weighing less than 60 pounds, one can easily see the development of faster, longer range models that maintain the minimalist ethic.  Aside from the pedal assistance, the technology is essentially the same.

The sheer number of manufacturers developing e-bikes for the European market, and the resulting fierce competition, can only hasten the development of faster, lighter electric motorcycles.  Expect them sooner, rather than later.

21 Comments

  1. George Krpan says:

    Folks who don’t ride bicycles don’t know that you don’t sit on the seat with all of your weight.

    It would be cool if someone made a motorcycle the same way bicycles are made. Several different frame sies, pick your favorite seat and handlebars, make it fit perfectly.

  2. Jorge says:

    What I like about this besides not needing gas and oil changes, is I don’t need to get a license add-on for motorcycle use (yearly fee), get it insured (well maybe the one in the photo), get it inspected every year, yearly registration, etc. Lets hope the greedy government doesn’t start requiring the reg of electric bikes.

    I live in NC and the yearly property tax alone on licensed vehicles is enough to think twice about buying anything that needs a plate put on it. Yearly tax dues on my truck equal one monthly payment.

  3. william says:

    Pedals require both feet to balance them. I sometimes lift or unweight a leg when I see an obstacle on the side of the trail. Also logs, rocks, deep ruts don’t like pedals all that much. Also, I shift my weight when using pedals, and shifting weight on a 2-wheeler changes how it handles and steers. So I do not like pedals for a lot of offroad situations.

    The bicycle seat is not comfortable either. People complain enough about their motorcycle seats. Offer those people a bicycle seat and see if they don’t just hit you with it instead. That one company mentioned here has a more motorcycle style seat, that would be more what I would be interested in.

    Pedals being a backup power supply is good when batteries are done. However, can a loose uphill be possible on a heavy bicycle? I have never liked the low traction of mtn bikes on loose ground. I have come across many uphills that I cannot do on a mtn bike, but I can on a motorcycle.

    Another electric vehicle class might increase battery volumes and increase some technology and help to promote lower cost and better electric motorcycles. So I think that is the largest benefit about electric bicycles.

    • George Krpan says:

      It’s pretty astonishing what a downhill mountain biker rides over with pedals. I’ve never seen a bicycle with a motorcycle style seat. Too heavy, I guess, and might not be the best for pedaling. I have seen people ride incredibly steep stuff on a mountain bike but it takes more know how than I’ve got.

    • Dave says:

      re. “The bicycle seat is not comfortable either. People complain enough about their motorcycle seats. Offer those people a bicycle seat and see if they don’t just hit you with it instead. ”

      I am more comfortable on a road racing bicycle for 3-4 hours than I am on my sport bike (VTR1000) for 1 hour. On a bicycle you’re moving, you can stand out of the saddle when you want and change hand positions and if it fits right not all your weight is on your butt. The riding position isn’t for speed or aerodynamics, it’s for ergonomics. It’s very comfortable for those who are used to it.

      • Tom says:

        “On a bicycle you’re moving, you can stand out of the saddle when you want and change hand positions…”

        I must be doing it wrong on my motorcycle. I am never still in my motorcycle seat unless I am cruising down the interstate.

  4. Fangit says:

    The Aussies are at it too. 80km/h mountainbike with 4500 watts, $10,000 See http://www.stealthelectricbikes.com.au/bomber.html

  5. v says:

    “Electric bicycles are limited to a maximum speed of 20 mph in the United States. In Europe, it is different”

    In Europe they are limited to 25 km/h (about 15 mph), the electric motor must disengage after that. Obviously you are free to pedal faster, but if you use the motor above that limit you are riding a moped or a motorcycle with all that that entails (helmet, insurance, registration, riding in motor traffic, limitations on offroad riding etc).

    • George Krpan says:

      Ecospeed has a kit that will go well over 20mph. The philosophy is that it’s up to the rider to obey the law.
      Electric bikes will go nowhere until the rediculous laws are changed.

      The above bike would make an awesome form of transportation. It could be ridden wherever bikes are ridden and not out in traffic like a motorcycle or scooter.

      The pedals might actually be an advantage over pegs. In the six o’clock position the center of gravity is lower and there’s almost no chance of the foot slipping off because it’s clipped into the pedal.

      Watch the video, the biker looks way more in control that the motorcycle.

  6. George Krpan says:

    World Champion downhill mountain biker verses World Champion enduro rider.
    Bicycle wins.
    http://www.bikerumor.com/2010/11/29/downhill-mountain-bike-vs-motocross-bike-at-ft-william/

    • Provalogna says:

      Anyone surprised by the outcome is not familiar with physics relative to mass of rider + vehicle. The motorcycle’s greater acceleration is only an advantage on the flat, uphill, and some (few) sections of downhill. Breaking, turning, and almost all downhill the motorcycle’s greater weight is only and always a disadvantage vs. the lighter bicycle. At 25mph average, 3 second differential = 112.5′.

      The physics is similar to track lap times of karts vs. Gran Prix cars. Karts accelerate similar to or greater than GP cars. Because the kart has superior ratio of tire contact patch area per total mass of rider and vehicle, the kart handily beats the GP car lap time.

  7. ziggy says:

    Pretty awesome

  8. Nick says:

    Where does that leave motorcycles? I’d suspect they’d hold a place right where they are. More comfortable, more room, greater power, greater range. Start adding creature comforts to a lightweight bicycle and it no longer is lightweight. Then more battery and more motor will be needed. Just look at the evolution of motorcycles.

  9. John says:

    @#$%$^& reCAPTCHA

    That would be a killer machine without peddles and for well under $10K

    • WTF says:

      It’s when the correctly spelled word is used in the context of the main article that subsequent misspellings in the comments really get to me. PEDALS not peddles PEDALS.

  10. GP says:

    Optibike, from Colorado also goes over 20 MPH, I believe. The company was started by a former Canadian MX Champion.

  11. Provalogna says:

    Good news! Like the bike, but not necessarily the price.

    Where’s the 9er version? (29″ mountain bike wheels…wheels pictured are standard 26″)

  12. xootrx says:

    Officially perhaps, electric bikes might be limited to 20mph in the States, but you can go, right now, to electricrider.com and buy kits, and fully assembled bikes, that’ll do 50 mph. And that’s right here in the good ol’ USA. Those things have been around for years, in various configurations. I’ve have a quite a few over the past 12 years, and it’s easy to get a bike here in the U.S. that’ll go well over 20mph, no problem.