There are three major reasons motorcycle enthusiasts don’t like electronic motorcycles: they don’t make enough noise, they don’t have enough of a range because the limited amount of charge a battery can hold, and they cost too much.
While motorcycle companies like Harley Davidson scramble to incorporate the iconic rumbling of their traditional bikes into their e-motorcycles, the question of how to better hold a charge while lowering costs continues to challenge the entire electronic motorcycle industry.
Price and Power of the E-Motorcycle
Even though companies have been working on electronic motorcycles for decades, there’s a reason they haven’t replaced traditional bikes just yet—and it’s not just their lack of a roaring engine. Expensive batteries increase the prices of these e-motorcycles and allow traditional motorcycles to reign as the far more affordable option. For example: the Zero S electric motorcycle costs $9,950, nearly double the price of an equivalent 250 cc traditional motorcycle, according to CNET. That doesn’t include the cost of the $5,000 battery that needs to be replaced every five years.
If you are fortunate enough to overlook the price tag, the lack of range remains a problem for many riders. Typical electric motorcycles can go approximately 100 miles on a single charge, and it still takes around six hours to completely recharge an e-motorcycle. That’s a far cry from traditional motorcycles that can go anywhere from 300 to 400 miles on a single tank and refill at a station in just a few minutes.
But that’s exactly the problem Lightning Motorcycles is looking to solve. A company exclusively devoted to creating and improving electronic motorcycles, Lighting Motorcycles announced in February 2017 that it would partner with the Battery Innovation Center located right here in Indiana to create a motorcycle that can travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a single charge. That’s around 380 miles—equal to the range of a traditional motorcycle. No word yet on how that would affect the price of the e-motorcycle.
The Appeal of Electricity
Riders who relish the roar of their engine and the grease on their fingers after changing the oil might not be the target audience for electronic motorcycles anyway. Instead, e-motorcycles offer smooth, seamless speed. Engines are relatively quiet and don’t require much tinkering. Routine maintenance is reduced to simply plugging it into an outlet for the night like you would your smartphone, and maybe giving it a nice wash every once in a while.
The target audience for e-motorcycles might be the same people who fear the seemingly inevitable automation of other vehicles. As driverless cars enter into the mainstream, people who miss driving or riding for fun may buy an e-motorcycle as a sort of bridge between the highly automated world of cars and the mechanical world of traditional motorcycles. For people who want to stick to mostly urban riding, lack of range is no problem. By far, the biggest hurdle to purchasing an electric motorcycle for this new audience is probably the same as it is for everyone else: the price.
Which Is Safer: Silence or Sound?
As with any new transportation technology, it’s important to ask how the technological advancements of the product will affect safety. One of the biggest questions e-motorcycles pose concerns their quieter engines. Do traditional motorcycle enthusiasts have more to their argument rather than just their nostalgic love for the rumbling exhaust? Will a driver of another vehicle have a better chance of spotting a motorcycle if they hear it before they see it?
E-motorcycle enthusiasts may try to argue that their silent engines could help combat hearing loss. Traditional motorcyclists are at a high risk for permanent hearing loss because of the noise that batters them every time they hit the road. However, e-motorcycles wouldn’t solve this problem. The noise that damages motorcyclists’ hearing isn’t the result of the rumbling engine, but is actually the result of the wind. This same risk would affect riders of electric motorcycles despite their quieter engines.
Although perhaps soothing to riders, the silence of e-motorcycles may do more harm than good. The same problem has been spotted in all electric vehicles. In 2016, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a new rule that requires all electric and hybrid-fuel cars to make some kind of noise at low speeds in an effort to alert pedestrians, especially blind and visually-impaired pedestrians, of the vehicle’s presence. Still, some e-motorcycle enthusiasts argue that the silence allows the motorcycle rider to be more aware of their surroundings, and that depending on the driver of a car to hear any motorcycle, traditional or electric, over their own radio, the chatter of passengers, and other noises while their windows are up is a bit unrealistic.
Help from an Indiana Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Whether or not e-motorcycles will overtake traditional bikes rests largely on their price, power, and safety. Until the cost comes down, the range increases, and companies reach a consensus on the question of sound or silence, expect to see e-motorcycles sharing the road with traditional motorcycles for a long time.
Even if you’re on an e-motorcycle, however, you still deserve to receive compensation for your injuries if you’re hurt in an accident through no fault of your own. An Indiana motorcycle accident attorney can help. Call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online for a free consultation.