It’s an exciting time for electric motorcycles. With established electric OEMs like Zero and Energica holding steady and savvy startups like Damon Motorcycles and Verge Motorcycle pushing the envelope of motorcycle design and safety features, the future looks bright for the nascent technology. Unfortunately, many cutting-edge models still haven’t rolled off the production line and customers can only put down deposits in the meantime.
For those that require more immediate gratification, today’s electric motorcycle market is buzzing (both literally and figuratively) with a host of contenders. Whether you fancy a Sunday afternoon bending through the twisties or a week-long trip on the trail, the current crop electrics are raring to go.
American electric stalwart Zero Motorcycles revamped its FX platform in 2022 with the introduction of the FXE supermoto. The standard FX remains the brand’s dual-sport entry point, but the FXE’s new futuristic styling steals the spotlight in the new year. The budget-friendly FXS also returns in 2022, but with the firm’s ZF 3.6 battery, only nets 50 miles to the charge while the FXE’s 7.2 unit achieves 100 miles per charge.
The base model FX comes in both 3.6 and 7.2 configurations, which yields 46 and 91 miles, respectively. The lineup ranges from $9,495 for the FXS and FX 3.6, but goes up to $11,595 for the FX 7.2 and $11,795 for the FXE.
KTM Freeride E-XC
No off-road comparison is complete without a KTM and the brand’s Freeride E-XC brings the same performance found in its internal combustion models to an all-electric platform. Liquid cooling, a removable lithium-ion battery, and an 18kW (24.5 horsepower) electric motor top the tech specs, but the Chromoly frame, composite subframe, and WP XPLOR suspension make the Freeride a potent package in the dirt.
At $11,099, the orange off-roader is anything but cheap, but it is the sharpest electric dirt bike on the market today.
KTM may have the dedicated dirt bike category in the bag, but Zero is the only marque dealing in the electric adventure segment. The firm’s DS platform combines a road-worthy chassis with a 19-inch front wheel for on and off-road exploration. Equipped with Zero’s Z-Force 75-5 brushless motor and 7.2 kWh battery, the DS pumps out 78 lb-ft of torque, 46 ponies, and 82 miles per charge.
Zero amps up the adventure with the DSR, pairing the Z-Force 75-7R electric motor with the ZF 14.4 and ZF 14.4 Power Tank. The extra juice extends range to 163 and 204 miles, respectively. However, all that power and range comes at a price, with the DSR retailing for $15,695 (+$2,895 for the Power Tank), which is much more than the DS’s $11,195 asking price.
For those more interested in tarmac than dirt, Energica’s Ego may be just the thing. Possibly the pinnacle of performance in today’s electric motorcycle landscape, the Ego’s liquid-cooled, Hybrid Synchronous Motor puts out 171 horsepower, peak torque of 159 lb-ft, and a 150-mph top speed. Despite those blistering specs, the flagship superbike reaches 261 miles in the city, 123 miles on the highway, and 153 miles in combined conditions.
Energica matches that range and performance with premium Brembo braking components, Marzocchi suspenders, and a full electronics suite. However, all that trick gear also pushes the Energica Ego to $25,600.
Despite struggling to nail down a core customer base, Harley-Davidson's LiveWire surprised a lot of naysayers when it launched in July, 2019. To help the electric model forge an identity independent of the Motor Company, Harley spun off the LiveWire into its own brand in 2021.
The shift may help with the premium electric appeal to a more urbane clientele, but the firm’s first model—the LiveWire One—is little more than a rebadge version of the original LiveWire. On the other hand, the re-branded electric bike shaves nearly $8,000 off the H-D model’s MSRP. The LiveWire now generates 100 horsepower, 84 lb-ft of torque, and a 146-mile range (city), but the new $21,999 price tag will make it easier for an urbanite to roll it into their gated, underground garage.
Zero revamped its lineup with the hypernaked SR/F in 2019 and the fully-faired SR/S in 2020. Then, the company brought us a new base model SR in 2021. Zero’s 14.4 kWh battery and Z-Force 75-10 AC motor still power the SR/F and SR/S to 140 ft-lb of torque, 110 horsepower, and a 124-mph top speed, but a new optional 6 kW integrated charger reduces charge times to 2.7 hours.
Featuring the same battery and motor configuration, the new SR enters the fray with the same range (156 city miles and 77 highway miles) as the flagship models. However, the base trim concedes in the power department with peak toque of 122 lb-ft, 74 horsepower, and a top speed of 104 mph. At $17,995, the 2022 Zero SR is a feasible entry point while the up-spec equipment accounts for the SR/F’s $19,495 MSRP and SR/S’s $19,995 price tag.
Energica’s Eva Ribelle only slightly lags behind the brand’s Ego superbike. The hypernaked still boasts 171 horsepower and 159 lb-ft of torque but adapts to the street by reducing top speed to 125 mph. On the other hand, the Energica EsseEsse9 favors classic styling and a more manageable power profile with 109 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque along with a 125-mph top speed.
Despite those differences, both models still push to 261 miles in the city, 123 miles on the highway, and 153 miles combined. Those road-focused concessions don’t make the Energica nakeds much more affordable, however, with the Ribelle coming in at $23,800 and the EsseEsse9 going for $22,850.
Of course, those are just the production motorcycles on sale at the moment. With Ducati venturing into the MotoE series with the V21L and Triumph teasing its TE-1 concept recently, it won’t be long before more established manufacturers join the electric revolution.