Electric motorbikes – are they the next big thing for urban transport?

9 Aug 2012

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Brammo Enertia, which retails at US$7,995. Image via Brammo

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While the global auto giants are vying to edge ahead in the marketplace with their electric and hybrid vehicle innovations, what has been happening in the motorbike space in terms of manufacturers going down the clean-tech route?

Well, to give you an example of some companies that are pioneering electric motorbikes, in the US you have Brammo. Based in Ashland, Oregon, the EV technology company designs and creates electric motorcycles, such as the Enertia Plus, the Empulse and the Brammo Engage.

The Empulse has a six-speed transmission with a specially developed electric motor, clutch and gear shift, according to the company. It retails at US$16,995.

Brammo itself recently raised US$13m, as part of a US$45m Series C funding round, and chief executive Craig Bramscher also appears to have his sights set on a future IPO if a recent segment in The Wall Street Journal is anything to go by.

The first tranche of the financing in Brammo was led by the powersports industry giant Polaris Industries and included contributions from other undisclosed investors.

The road and track

Next up in the US is Zero Motorcycles. The company’s idea to go down the EV route with motorcycles was apparently first conceived in a Santa Cruz, California, garage. It started producing its first prototypes in 2006 and now designs electric motorcycles for both the street and for dirt-bike racing.

View of the dual-sport Zero DS, which the company says it has designed to be "agile in the dirt and quick on the street". Apparently this electric motorcycle has a battery cell power pack that allows the bike to achieve a range of 112 miles. The bike starts at US$11,495 to buy

The dual-sport Zero DS, which the company says it has designed to be "agile in the dirt and quick on the street". Apparently, this electric motorcycle has a battery cell power pack that allows the bike to achieve a range of 180 kilometres. Pricing for the bike begins at US$11,495

Norwegian start-up crew

Now there are some new kids on the scene. Take a Norwegian crew called Roskva Electric Motors, set up by four students. Pointing to how you rarely see an electric motorbike on Norwegian highways, the quartet has set out to create the Roskva. On its website, the team has set out a manifesto to create an electric bike that will set itself apart from conventional electric motorcycles. The team claims that some of the current motorbikes in this category lack a modern chassis, suspension and brakes. Watch this space for the Roskva!

Roskva

The Roskva team at the launch of the bike in Norway in July. Image via Roskva Electric

Australian start-up

Finally, moving Down Under, Chunk Moto is a new Australian start-up. The new venture has set out to convert the Honda Cub, otherwise known as the postie bike in Australia, into an electric bike. The start-up is now engaged in the clean-tech start-up accelerator Ignition Labs in Sydney.

Carmel was a long-time reporter with Siliconrepublic.com

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