Electric Motorcycles – Buyers Guide (14 Questions Answered!)

Electric motorcycles are part of the larger electrification of transportation.

Just as many car makers are now making the switch to electric powertrains, so too are motorcycle manufacturers.

They work on the same basic principles as other EVs, with a battery-based powertrain, zero emissions, quieter running, high levels of torque and acceleration and electric charging becoming the fueling method rather than gasoline or diesel.

This article answers “Beginner questions about Electric Motorcycles” (Including rules & avangeties of Electric Motorcycles)…

How Many Brands Are Making Electric Motorcycles?

There are already many brands out there making electric motorcycles.

This includes startups that are trying to get the jump on established brands since even the oldest heritage brands have little to no experience with electric vehicles.

The main manufacturers include Harley-Davidson, Pursang, Johammer, Zero, Damon, Lightning, Energica, Tarform, Cake, Sonsdors, Verge, Honda, Arc, Fuell, Super Soco, Horwin, Gogoro, Volcon, and WK.

How Long Do Electric Motorcycles Last?

An electric motorcycle will essentially last either as long as its battery with an owner unwilling to replace the battery once degraded too far, or as long as the owner is willing to replace the battery and restore full capacity.

On the Harley-Davidson Livewire, for example, the battery powertrain is covered by a 5-year and unlimited-mileage warranty.

This means that your electric bike, at least the Livewire, should last about 5 years, at least before there’s any risk of major non-covered work from happening.

Electric motorcycles are also incredibly durable and made for tough riding like the Volcon Grunt, which can even ride while completely submerged underwater, making it perfect as an off-roader for fording streams.

The lack of moving parts and fewer individual components helps them to last longer.

The only component that the bike heavily relies on for long life is the battery, which will naturally diminish over time, but the difference is that the battery can be replaced more easily and with less complexity than replacing an engine.

But it remains potentially expensive, even reaching $15,000 according to some estimates.

Right now, electric motorcycles are still too new to know for sure how long they will last in the long term.

All signs point to a lifespan at least as long as a typical motorcycle, but also perhaps longer thanks to a lower chance of mechanical failure.

With investment in a new battery, there’s nothing stopping an electric motorcycle from going on and on.

What Is High Mileage For An Electric Motorcycle?

Electric motorcycles have only been on the market in earnest since 2019, so that means the oldest models are only about 2 years old.

With that in mind, a “high mileage” model would be anything over 8,000 miles.

Looking into the future, however, it would be fair to say that since the average motorcycle mileage each year is 3,000 miles, and bikes like the Livewire have a warranty for 5 years, you could say that 15,000 miles would be high mileage in these early years of electric motorcycles.

Such a mileage on most bikes would indicate that the bike’s warranty is no longer active.

On a purely mechanical basis, looking at the bikes objectively, high mileage might actually be much higher depending on how well the batteries fare over the years

– it’s still too early to tell in all production model cases –

reaching potentially much higher even than their gasoline counterparts.

How Far Can An Electric Motorcycle Go On One Charge?

The current electric bike with the longest range is the Energica EVA EsseEsse9 which can get up to 250 miles on a single charge.

The exact range does depend on the riding style, speed, and the local topography, of course, but that’s its maximum range.

Most others can do between 100 and 200 miles.

What’s interesting is that while electric cars are still struggling to catch up to the total gas mileage of efficient hatch and sedan cars, electric motorcycles are already quite close to the final target.

The most efficient motorcycles using gasoline can get to about 350 miles on a full tank of gas.

Most motorcycles struggle to break 200-250 miles.

As we said above, there are already electric motorcycles that allow for travel up to 250 miles on a single tank, which means that they’re already on par with most motorcycles. That’s a good achievement.

How Much Does It Cost To Charge An Electric Motorcycle?

The electric cost of most electric motorcycles is about $0.04 per mile, but it does depend on your home state, electricity costs, and being on- or off-peak electricity hours.

Comparisons have been done, however, showing that running an electric motorcycle is much cheaper than fueling a gasoline one.

The Zero SR electric motorcycle was the model tested and was found to cost just $65.68 annually to keep charged up.

This was compared with Honda and Kawasaki motorcycles, known for having pretty good efficiency, for which the annual cost of fuel was $288.32 for regular gas and as much as $361.92 for premium gas.

How Much Is An Electric Motorcycle? (New/Used – Price)

Electric motorcycles are certainly at the expensive end of the spectrum right now, which is an equal reflection of the place of electric cars in the current market.

The powertrains and the materials in the battery help to make them more expensive.

The Harley-Davidson Livewire has been a very popular model, made even more famous by Ewan McGregor’s TV series in 2020 “The Long Way Up” in which he and Charlie Boorman rode Livewires from southern Argentina to Los Angeles, USA.

The price of the Livewire reflects its prestige name at $29,799.

Other electric motorcycle example new prices include:

  • Pursang E-Track – $16,259
  • Johammer J1 200 – $29,551
  • Zero FXS – $8,995
  • Zero SR/S – $19,995
  • Lightning LS-218 – $38,888
  • Daymon Hypersport Premier – $39,995

As you can see, the price range is huge, and the more you pay, the more you get in terms of range, size, power, and performance.

The Zero FXS, for example, is much cheaper but is a bike designed for the city only with its maximum range of 50-100 miles, needing additional battery features to get to 100 miles.

To buy used is tricky to say right now since the “old” models are only a few years old.

There are some on sale, however, including 2020 models for as little as $21,599, which means they depreciate fast.

A 2021 model is $29,799 but a 2020 model can be bought with just 1,000 miles on the clock for $21,599.

You could even pick up an unused (but technically pre-owned) 2020 model for just $24,999, almost $5,000 less than you pay for the 2021 model.

Why do they depreciate fast? It’s the same reason as electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, which is that innovation is coming thick and fast for these bikes.

This drives down the cost of previous models.

Batteries get bigger and more powerful, new features are added and older models instantly become cheaper and cheaper.

Do Electric Motorcycles Require A License?

Yes, you do.

An electric motorcycle carries the same licensing rules and requirements as a regular motorcycle.

You need one of the following to ride an electric motorcycle:

  • Full provisional license with a motorcycle learner’s permit
  • Regular driver’s license with motorcycle learner’s permit
  • Full provisional license with a motorcycle endorsement
  • Regular driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement

How Do Electric Motorcycles Work?

Electric motorcycles look just like regular gasoline motorcycles, but their powertrains and drivetrains are different.

The main power source is a lithium-ion battery pack which is housed within the motorcycle.

This powers electric motors, which provide torque to turn the wheels and propel the motorcycle forward.

They don’t use gasoline, carburetors, and many other components.

Many of them don’t use chains, but instead favor belt-drive single-speed automatic transmission systems, making them easier to ride for many because there’s no clutch, no gear shifting.

Do Electric Motorcycles Need To Be Registered?

Yes, electric motorcycles have to be registered just as regular motorcycles do.

They are the same as simple electric pedal bikes.

An electric motorcycle is a serious vehicle with very real power and speed.

It has to be registered on any public road.

How Fast Can Electric Motorcycles Go?

Some electric motorcycles are already faster than their powerful gasoline counterparts.

The Energica Ego Plus, and the Damon Hypersport Premier, for instance, both can travel at top speeds of 200 mph. Even faster than both of them is the Lightning LS-218 which can reach 218mph.

Do Electric Motorcycles Make Noise?

Yes, it’s a kind of high-pitched whirring sound that you hear from the electric bike.

The electric motors waste no time in generating torque, but the overall noise levels are massively reduced when compared to those on a regular motorcycle, of course.

They are not noiseless, but they do not have that distinctive grumble noise you’d expect from an idling motorcycle engine, especially if it’s one like the LiveWire that carries the Harley-Davidson name.

Do Electric Motorcycles Qualify For Tax Credit?

Yes, there are up to $2,500 in incentives to buy an electric motorcycle.

There’s a 10-percent federal tax credit on all electronic motorcycles up to $2,500 maximum.

This helps to bring the overall cost down, but not by a great deal when you consider that the starting price on many electric motorcycles is $20,000 or more.

How To Ride An Electric Motorcycle?

Riding an electric motorcycle is much easier than a regular one.

There’s no clutch, no carburetor, no tricky components to get the hang of. 

All you have to do is position yourself right, start the bike up and use the throttle to go and the brake to slow down.

There may be some settings you want to set up first, but all of these are as easy as manipulating a standard digital app menu.

When Can We Expect Electric Motorcycles To Take Over?

In Europe, you can expect electric motorcycles to start becoming the norm from around 2030, but as for the US, it’s harder to say.

Right now there are still relatively few models available and they are all brand-new.

Electric cars have had at least 10 years to begin maturing on the market, and it’s likely we’ll still need a decade for manufacturers to expand their ranges, for the prices to come down and for governments to act on the sale of new gasoline models.