The 2015 model year follows a big 2014 for the electric motorcycle industry.
Zero made significant upgrades to its entire lineup, the Harley-Davidson Livewire concept was unveiled and toured around the country, and Brammo updated its flagship Empulse.
Some of the higher-end bikes–among them the Energica Ego, Lightning LS 218, Lito Sora, and Agility Saietta–have been seen at test drives and a few are even in owners’ hands now.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article, published in October 2014, has been updated to reflect price cuts of $1,400 on all electric motorcycles sold by Zero, effective May 20, 2015. The prices shown are the new, reduced prices.]
While the primary list of “Buy Now” motorcycles stays pretty much the same as in last year’s guide, some of the “Pre-Order” bikes have now started to be delivered, mostly on an individual basis.
These high-end electric motorcycles offer excellent performance and some impressive options such as standard Level 2 charging and optional DC fast charging.
Interest in electric motorcycles spiked last summer when Harley-Davidson announced its Livewire tour, during which it brought 40 concept electric bikes around the U.S. to gather market impressions and get a lot of people to take a test ride.
Because of the Livewire tour and a higher level of press coverage, electric motorcycles are better understood now than they were a year ago. Due to the significant interest the Livewire generated, it is included on this list–even though Harley-Davidson made it abundantly clear that the Livewire was never meant to become a production bike.
A pair of motorcycles that have received media coverage as well are the poorly named Yamaha PES1 and PED1, which stand for “Passion, Electric, Street” and “Passion, Electric, Dirt”. Yamaha announced that the bikes will become available in 2016.
Both are small electric motorcycles that have been making the rounds at motorcycle shows as concept bikes. A promotional video shows the Yamaha concept going 62 mph at 82-percent power, so it can achieve highway speeds, but it appears too small to have much battery onboard–and hence will have limited range.
The motorcycles in this guide are broken into three categories: Buy Now, Pre-Order, and Concept & Off-Road.
Now that Harley has entered the mix by showing off their concept bike, we included a few additional concept bikes as well. But note that it often takes a long time for concept bikes to enter production–if they do at all.
2015 Zero SR
$16,000 – 12.5kWh – 151mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 67HP – 106ft-lbs – 408lbs
$18,500 – 15.3kWh – 185mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 67HP – 106ft-lbs – 452lbs
The Zero SR is currently the top dog of production electric motorcycles. With blistering acceleration, you will have to spend at least $15k more to find an electric motorcycle with more punch.
Throughout 2014 motorcycle media outlets praised the SR for its strong performance, but wished the suspension and brakes were up to the task. Zero addressed those issues and added 10% more range for good measure. Now featuring fully adjustable Showa suspension and Bosch ABS, the SR now has the components to make it a truly inspired riding experience.
The icing on the cake is the addition of Pirelli Diablo Rossa II tires, which truly give you the grip necessary for a day at the racetrack. Not only that, but a more comfortable seat, new grips, cast allow wheels and a deeper red hue put a nice finish on an already impressive machine.
There is also an App for iPhone or Android that gives the rider the ability to check a variety of stats including charge time, battery state of charge, speed and energy use.
2015 Zero S
$12,000 – 9.4kWh – 113mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 54HP – 68ft-lbs – 376lbs
$14,000 – 12.5kWh – 151mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 54HP – 68ft-lbs – 408lbs
$16,500 – 15.3kWh – 185mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 54HP – 68ft-lbs – 452lbs
Zero has improved its street bike by leaps and bounds while keeping the price down. In 2012 the top of the line Zero S ZF9 had a 9kWh battery good for a range of 114 miles and cost $14,000. It was outfitted with cheap suspension, a dirt bike seat, awkward plug placement, and weak acceleration.
The 2015 Zero S with the least range goes 113 miles, has fully adjustable Showa suspension, Bosch ABS, a fitted seat, much better plug placement, and enough acceleration to put a grin on your face. Also, it costs $600 less than the 2012 version!
The Zero S remains an excellent bike for getting around town and on the highways with some zip. The range has increased by 10%, and the new shocks and brakes make it a high quality vehicle that is very comfortable to ride. The Pirelli Sport Demon tires give it enough grip to have some fun on twisty mountain roads. Zero has an App that allows the rider to check the vitals on the bike including charge time, battery state of charge, speed and energy use.
2015 Zero electric motorcycle
2015 Zero DS
$12,000 – 8.5kWh – 104mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 54HP – 68ft-lbs – 381lbs
$14,000 – 11.4kWh – 139mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 54HP – 68ft-lbs – 413lbs
$16,500 – 15.3kWh – 170mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 54HP – 68ft-lbs – 457lbs
The Zero DS is the dual sport option giving solid performance on highways or dirt roads alike. It gained the same Showa suspension, Bosch ABS, and 10% increase in range as the SR and S models. The new tires on this model are the Pirelli MT-60 Enduro tires, a significant upgrade.
The battery packs are the same size as the SR and S, but range is reduced a bit due to tire friction. The ABS can be turned off for off-road riding, giving greater control to the rider. The extra ride in the fully adjustable suspension makes this a great option for taller riders, as well.
2015 Zero FX
$8,500 – 2.8kWh – 35mi – 1kW charger (110V) – 27HP – 70ft-lbs – 247lbs
$11,100 – 5.7kWh – 70mi – 1kW charger (110V) – 44HP – 70ft-lbs – 289lbs
The lightest bike among available electric motorcycles, the FX has earned a reputation as being great fun to ride. With 70 ft-lbs of torque and a 247lb frame, the FX is showcased in a variety of youtube videos racing on dirt tracks or doing tricks and wheelies.
While it doesn’t gain any range this year, the FX benefits from fully adjustable Showa suspension, Bosch ABS brakes and Pirelli Scorpion MT-9 tires.
Still the only street legal electric motorcycle available for under $10,000, the FX has fun written all over it.
2014 Brammo Empulse
$17,000 – 10.2kWh – 128mi – 3kW charger (220V) – 54HP – 46.5ft-lbs – 460lbs
2014 Brammo Empulse R/Icon Spec 32
$19,000 – 10.2kWh – 128mi – 3kW charger (220V) – 54HP – 66ft-lbs – 460lbs
The Brammo Empulse remains the only electric bike with a gearbox. Sportbike styling, solid shocks, forward seating position and higher foot pegs set this bike apart from similarly priced electric motorcycles. Changes from 2013 to 2014 included new wheels, upgraded dash, new handlebars and upgraded tires.
The company recently had a massive sale on all 2013 and 2014 models, so we’re hoping it has something impressive lined up for 2015. The bikes are currently selling for a promotional retail price of $14,000 for the 2014 Empulse R and $12,000 for the 2014 Empulse.
2014 Brammo Enertia Plus
$11,000 – 6.2kWh – 80mi – 0.85kW charger (110V) – 17HP – 29.5ft-lbs – 330lbs
A bike to get you around town or campus at speeds below 60 miles per hour. This is a very basic form of transportation without much acceleration or range. However, it gets the job done comfortably. Currently selling for a promotional retail price of $7,000.
Lightning LS 218 electric motorcycle
Lightning LS 218
$39,000 – 12kWh – 100mi – 8kW charger – 200HP – 168ft-lbs – 495lbs
$42,000 – 15kWh – 120mi – 8kW charger – 200HP – 168ft-lbs – 495*lbs
$47,000 – 20kWh – 160mi – 8kW charger – 200HP – 168ft-lbs – 495*lbs
The Lightning LS 218 gets its name from its top speed of 218 miles per hour. It was the fastest motorcycle in the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in 2013, and finished ahead of every single motorcycle, both gas and electric, beating the 2nd place finisher by 20 seconds.
Available in California, you can choose to equip an LS 218 with ChaDeMo or CCS for fast charging. The company intends to expand its dealer network to the East Coast in the first half of 2015.
$34,000 – 11.7kWh – 118mi – 3kW charger (220V) – 97HP – 144ft-lbs – 568lbs
A racing bike with an aggressive stance and very strong acceleration. With riding settings of rain, standard, eco and race this bike utilizes the abilities of its electric motor to change riding styles. The throttle is what sets this bike apart as it adapts to the speed and type of riding you are doing to give variable regeneration that feels completely intuitive.
A special Energica Ego 45 edition is available for $68,000 with upgraded suspension, brakes, and other parts as well as visual cues that the bike is the upgraded version. You also get a luxury watch made of wood if you order the Ego 45.
$32,500 – 12kWh – 170mi – 10kW charger (220V) – 163HP – 133ft-lbs – 500lbs
$36,500 – 15kWh – 200mi – 10kW charger (220V) – 163HP – 133ft-lbs – 510lbs
$42,500 – 17kWh – 230mi – 10kW charger (220V) – 163HP – 133ft-lbs – 540lbs
$59,000 – 17kWh – 230mi – 10kW charger (220V) – 163HP – 133ft-lbs – 540lbs
Mission RS+GP Package
$75,000 – 17kWh – 230mi – 10kW charger (220V) – 163HP – 133ft-lbs – 540lbs
With incredible super bike performance and a touchscreen that is cellular-data enabled, this is vying for the title of “super bike of the future.” Able to reach speeds of 150 miles per hour, the Mission R, or upgraded RS, is an impressive piece of machined.
For 2015 the charger is significantly upgraded to 10kW, from 4.5kW, making charging times between 1-2 hours using a 220V outlet with 50 Amp capability. The company also advertises “Direct DC charging”, but doesn’t specify on its website whether that refers to the ChaDeMo or SAE Combo standard.
Mission informed the public that it had decided to push back production until the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2015 due to internal reorganization. The RS & RS with GP Package delivers a bike that is truly track ready with the ability to adjust the throttle mapping and regenerative braking.
$23,000 – 11kWh – 120mi – 1.5kW charger (110V) – 96.5HP – 93.7ft-lbs – 485lbs
The Saietta is a funky looking bike with a solid motor giving it strong acceleration. So far you can only buy this in the UK, and some are starting to hit the streets.
Nobody will ever mistake this bike for any other brand due to the large upper assembly around the handlebars. Early adopters have given it very good reviews for acceleration and rideability.
Lito Sora electric motorcycle
$49,000 – 12kWh – 124mi – 1.3kW charger (110V) – 60HP – 66.4ft-lbs – 573lbs
Lito Green Motion makes the Lito Sora, a sporty bike with a 4.0 zero to 60 time and muscular styling cues. The Sora has a top speed of 124mi/hr and a lightweight carbon fiber chassis, however it carries considerable weight.
This is a heavy bike with a powerful motor, and the company has several dealers worldwide. The name Sora means “sky” in Japanese. A couple of Lito Sora bikes have been seen, but so far they have been fairly elusive.
CONCEPT & OFF ROAD
$N/A – unknown kWh – 53mi – Offboard charger (220V) – 74HP – 52ft-lbs – 400lbs (approx)
Harley-Davidson made a splash in the summer of 2014 when they announced their Livewire concept bike. For months they brought a stable of 40 Livewire electric motorcycles around the country to show off the motorcycle and to get feedback from riders. With solid torque and all the features of electric motorcycles that are currently available, it could compete with 2014 bikes on the market only if the price was in the teens and the range was 100+ miles.
KTM Freeride-E (off-road)
$14,300 – 2.6kWh – 30mi – Offboard charger – 21.5HP – 31ft-lbs – 242lbs
The KTM Freeride-E comes in several different versions including the E-SM (SuperMoto), E-XC (enduro), and E-SX (motocross). KTM has been developing these bikes for several years, and while they have been seen around Europe, they’re not available in the US yet.
The bike is very small, and the company has a wicked YouTube video of a stunt rider performing lots of tricks while riding on technical terrain. It is interesting, and encouraging, to see an established company like KTM put serious time and resources into electric motorcycles.
(NOTE: The author has owned electric motorcycles since 2007 including a Vectrix VX1 and a 2012 Zero S ZF9. He has gone for a test ride on all 2014 Zero, Brammo, Harley & Energica motorcycles and is active in online discussion forums on this topic.)