Harley Davidson's Worst Nightmare? The Electric Motorcycle
Motorcycles get extremely high gas mileage, that is undeniable. However, they also lack emission controlling components, which makes them produce more pollution by most larger Sport Utility Vehicles by an astonishing 95%. Even though most are getting upward of 50 miles for every gallon of fuel, this comes at the price of clean air. Switching to an electric powered motorcycle would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it would also be cut into the demand for oil in the US.
Electric motorcycles are practical today because of advances in battery technology. The traditional Lead-acid batteries, are very heavy, do not provide adequate range, and tend to last for only a couple of years, making the idea of an electric vehicle impossible. With the creation of the nickel metal hydride and the lithium-ion batteries, all that has changed. These batteries are lighter, and can last up to 10 years. They have become more durable and a lot more versatile.
Currently, there are only a few companies offering these electric powered motorcycles, one of which is Vectrix of Newport, Rhode Island. They offer the fastest to date clocking in at 65 mph. This can be improved by reducing gear-ratios which has been the topic of discussion with Vectrix. Costing only $11,000, it is also highly affordable to most of our the Nation and with no annual fuel purchases, cheap to run and easy to maintain.
These motorcycles are also becoming popular with the sport-bike world as well. In Scotts Valley, CA, a company known as Zero Motorcycles offers an off-road motorcycle capable of a jump in excess of 20 meters. There are plans to feature it on the X-Games in the coming months. They plan to release a street version soon. Electric power has also made its debut in drag racing. A123 Systems, of Watertown, MA currently holds the record for the fastest electric drag-racing motorcycle finishing the quarter mile in 8.17 seconds and reaching 156 miles per hour.
Will this be the end of our loud cruisers and our quick crotch-rockets? Only time will tell, but one this is for sure, electric power is the new and upcoming movement in new-age power. This may be the alternative that the world has been searching for since the realization that using fossil fuels was outdated, but will avid riders be ready for the change?