Electric motorcycles and scooters

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E-max electric scooter

Electric motorcycles and scooters are vehicles with two or three wheels that use electric motors to attain locomotion.


[edit] History

Electric scooter at the 2005 Vancouver EV gathering
  • Late 1860s: Earliest references to electric motorcycles can be found in patents.
  • 1911: Electric motorcycle available according to early Popular Mechanics article.[1]
  • 2007:
    • A123 Li-Ion cell-powered Killacycle makes new quarter mile (400-metre) record of 7.824 seconds and 168 mph (270 km/h) in Phoenix, AZ at AHDRA 2007.[2]

[edit] Power source

Yamaha FC Aqel

Generally, the source of power for the electric motor has been batteries, but development in fuel cell technology has created several prototypes. Some examples are: the ENV from Intelligent Energy, Honda's scooter using the Honda FC Stack, and the Yamaha FC-AQEL. Also, petroleum hybrid-electric motorcycles are under development. Some examples are the Ecycle, and Yamaha's Gen-RYU.

[edit] Advantages and disadvantages

Electric motorcycles and scooters are rising in popularity because of higher gasoline prices. Battery technology is gradually improving making this form of transportation more practical.[3]


  1. Up front costs are higher than for a comparable gasoline powered motorcycle or scooter.
  2. Shorter range before recharging.
  3. Longer "fill up" or recharge time.
  4. Lower maximum speed at similar price points.
  5. Electric power outlets are often not conveniently located near streets or driveways. It is often difficult or impossible to bring the battery into an apartment, for example, for recharging.
  6. Battery capacity can be as low as 20% on a cold winter day with -20 °C (lead battery)
  7. As it is already difficult to be "noticed" by cars/trucks on a motorcycle, the loss of characteristic engine noise might make riding these even more dangerous than their internal combustion engine powered counterparts.
Electric scooters (and an electric bicycle) parked in Chengdu, China

Advantages of electric over gasoline power:

  1. The fuel costs for electric power are approximately 25% the cost of gasoline power (US, mid-2008; see Electric car, "Running costs" for the calculation)[4]
  2. Nearly silent.
  3. Environmental friendly (no exhausted gases at point of use)
  4. Using grid power to charge batteries causes less pollution than gasoline scooters; the amount of emissions caused depends on the sources of the electricity used.
  5. No trips needed to a gas station-- can be recharged at home or in charging stations.
  6. It can be used in a V2G system.
  7. Lower maintenance costs and fewer maintenance activities; for example, there is no need to change the oil.
  8. Can be ridden indoors.
  9. More affordable than electric cars.

[edit] Types

50+ mph fun-ev electric scooter

A scooter is a type of motorcycle with a step-through frame and usually with smaller wheels designed for urban transportation.

[edit] Various types of scooters

Scooters are divided into categories as per the particular niche that they are designed to operate in and speed requirements:

  • Two-wheeled Vespa-styled scooters 0-60 mph (0-100 km/h)
  • Two-wheeled Stand-up scooters (like a kick scooter) 0-25 mph (0-40 km/h)
  • Two-wheeled, side-by-side stand-up scooters like manufactured by Segway PT 0-12 mph (0-20 km/h)
  • Two-wheeled Seated scooters 0-25 mph (0-40 km/h)
  • Three-wheeled standup scooters like manufactured by Zap 0-15 mph (0-25 km/h)
  • Three- and four-wheeled Mobility scooter (disability riders) 0-10 mph (0-15 km/h)
  • Three- and four-wheeled Seated scooters/golf carts 0-25 mph (0-40 km/h)

[edit] Electric motorcycle or electric bicycle

Electric motorcycle "Electrocat"

Two-wheeled motorcycles are generally differentiated from motorized bicycles and mopeds (motorized pedal cycles) by speed, with motorcycles having greater speeds—usually greater than 30 mph (about 50 km/h). Although, this line for what constitutes a 2 wheeled motorcycle has blurred due to marketing, styling, and public opinion.

[edit] Main categories of 3-wheeled motorcycles

Due to vagueness in motor vehicle laws, any three-wheeled vehicle that can travel over 31 mph (50 km/h) may be classified as a motorcycle. This classification does not depend on whether the operator is fully enclosed by a "cage" or exposed to the elements. Several automotive startup companies made their initial designs three wheeled vehicles, because the motorcycle classification does not require the same costly battery of crash safety testing as a four wheeled vehicle.

For design purposes, three wheeled vehicles are divided into 2 categories:

  • 1 wheel in front and 2 in back, known as a delta design or the traditional trike (tricycle) design
  • 2 wheels in front and 1 in back, known as a tadpole design.

Some three wheeled motorcycles enclose the rider in a "cabin" or cockpit. These include the Gizmo, Twike, Myers Motors NmG.

Some three wheeled motorcycles have independent suspension allowing the vehicle to tilt or lean, such as the Carver one.

[edit] Comparison of select production vehicles

Name Top Speed Power Cost Vehicle type Battery Range Comments
Type Life Capacity
Vectrix 62 mph (100 km/h) 20 kW[5] $8,800 Scooter Nickel metal hydride (NiMH)
provided by GP Batteries
10 years or 50,000 miles / 80,000 km 30 A·h, 3.7 kW·h 68 miles @ 25 mph (110 km @ 40 km/h) Review
E-Solex 21 mph ?W E-solex Scooter 37 miles (without extra pedalling) E-solex
Yo Speed (45 km/h) 750W Rs.35000(~$815) Scooter 80 km @ 70kg [6] Review
ZAP Xebra 40 mph (65 km/h) $10,000 3 Wheel Lead acid 3 years 25 miles at 30 mph (40 kilometres at 50 km/h) review[citation needed]
ZAP Zapino 30 mph (48 km/h) 3 kW $3,500 Scooter Lead acid (Lithium option) 38 A·h 30 miles
EVT-4000e 30 mph (50 km/h) 1500W $2,900 Scooter Lead acid, 4x12 1.5 - 2 years [7] 50 A·h 25 to 35 miles (40 to 55 km) Solar Mod, Taiwanese Manufacturer
Zero X + 60 mph (97 km/h) 17.4kW 23 HP High Power $8350 Standard $7450 Off-road Motorcycle Patent-pending lithium ion array ? 2 kWh 40 miles (64 km) 2hrs Zero Motorcycles
Electric GPR-S 70 mph (112 km/h) 14.2 kW $8,000 Motorcycle 24 Lithium cells 2000+ charge cycles 3.3 kWh 60 miles (economy setting) Available October 2008
XM 5000Li 60 mph (96 km/h) 5.000W $6,499 Scooter 21 Lithium cells 2000+ charge cycles 60 A·h 85 miles (130 km) Review
Prism (40 km/h) 250W Rs.33000 Scooter Lead acid 1.5 - 2 years 22 Ah 80 km/charge @ 150kg Review

[edit] Comparison of select upcoming vehicles

Name Top Speed Power Cost Vehicle type Battery Range Comments
Type Life Capacity
Brammo Enertia 50+ mph (80 km/h) $11,995+ Motorcycle 6 Lithium Phosphate by Valence 20,000 miles (32,000 kilometres) 3.1 kWh 45+ miles (70+ kilometres)

Available in 2008.

Smart Cities Roboscooter [8] ?+ mph (? km/h) $? Motorcycle ? ? miles (? kilometres) kWh ?+ miles (?+ kilometres)

Available in ?.

VentureOne 75+ mph (120+ km/h) 40+ kW $23,000 3 Wheel Lithium-ion batteries by A123Systems 5000+ charge cycles 120 miles (about 200 km) video Available in 2010.
Aptera Typ-1e 85 mph (135 km/h) 30 kW $27,000 3 Wheel Lithium Phosphate, unknown manufacturer  ? 10 kWh 120 miles (190 km) Production expected in October 2008.
EVC Volta G/T Metro 70 mph (112 km/h) 8 kW $7,995 Scooter Lithium ion ? 8 kWh 75 miles at optimized speed Production in summer 2008.
EVC Roadking 91 mph (146 km/h) 15 kW $9,895 Scooter Lithium ion ? 8.2 kWh 75 miles at optimized speed Production in summer 2008.
Mission One 150 mph (242 km/h) $68,995 Motorcycle Lithium ion ? 150 miles Production in 2010.
EVC X21 107 mph (171 km/h) 21 kW $10,950 Scooter Lithium ion ? 8.2 kWh 75 miles at optimized speed Production in summer 2008.

[edit] List of electric motorcycles and scooters

[edit] Conversion

Some people acquire motorcycles where the engine is worn out, or has been over-revved and damaged. One person has started an electric motorcycle company where he is buying everything from the manufacturer except the motor and gas tank, then making the conversion, as Enertia and others [10].

[11] EVAlbum.com/type/mtcy is a great resource for those interested in converting a gasoline powered bike to electric. This website has hundreds of bikes that have been converted along with specific details regarding each bike.

Kawasaki Ninja sport bikes are being converted from gasoline to electric.

If you can cut metal with a hacksaw and use a ratchet wrench, you can build this bike. Converting a motorcycle is the easiest EV conversion out there — you don't need a transmission or deal with air conditioning, power brakes, power steering, etc. And you can scale up the performance and range as you gain confidence in the technology and your own skill set. [12].

In the Secrets of El Ninja, John Bidwell [13] recommends beginning with something as simple as a 24-volt machine which utilizes just two, inexpensive lead-acid batteries: he prefers common Group 24 RV [14], 85 amp-hour, "watered" versions because of their lower cost over sealed, AGM-type batteries, though if you dump an AGM-powered bike, there's less chance you'll spill battery acid on yourself or the machine and are available at your local K-Mart or Walmart. It'll have a top speed of under 30 mph (48 km/h) (which keeps it in the moped class) and range around 20 miles (32 km) or so, depending on terrain and the size of the driver. Adding more batteries increases both range and performance, as well as weight and cost. He sees the ideal street machine being 72-volts, which will get you to 65 mph (105 km/h) in a short burst, but you'll quickly drain the battery and possibly overheat the motor. He's run driving tests and found that in normal city stop-n-go traffic, he's gotten as high as 41 miles (66 km) on a charge [12].

[edit] Promotion

Premier of the Republic of China Liu Chao-shiuan said that the government-financed Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) will help domestic manufacturers churn out some 100,000 electric motorcycles in four years [15].

[edit] References

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] News

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