Unless you've been living in a cave recently, you'll have noticed the massive rise in electric vehicles on UK roads. March 2022 saw electric car sales almost double, and there is no sign of this slowing down any time soon.
But we're here for the bikes, right?
Electric power is still very much behind the trend when it comes to two wheels, and there are various reasons behind this. One of the main factors is that motorcycles are not covered by the ban on the sale of internal combustion engines, which comes into force in just eight years' time (2030), which means some motorcycle manufacturers have taken their foot off the gas when it comes to developing new Electric models, but there's more to it. Due to the size of bikes, they dont lend themselves well to a huge battery being slotted into the frame, meaning they are constrained and have to meet a fine line between performance and range.
Most of the current generation of electric cars have a massive battery, usually sitting underneath the vehicle, covering most of the floor plan. This gives them a range that most drivers can consider practical and means that even some of the more humble EVs on the market have the sort of performance only seen in high-calibre sports cars. But when it comes to bikes, even at the pinnacle of e-bike performance, the Energica MotoE bikes are still behind their old oil-burning rivals, which have an average top speed of around 155mph, compared to the 225mph seen from petrol-powered MotoGP bikes.
On the race track, range is not so important, but it's safe to say that the old school oil burners also still have the edge on range compared to their futuristic electric cousins.
Price also plays a key factor like the cars; electric bikes are considerably more expensive than petrol-powered machines. However, electric cars somewhat justify this extra cost by having significantly better performance than the mechanical elders. Bikes, not so much so. While some electric motorbikes will have slightly better acceleration than the old petrols, it's not the chalk and cheese difference as seen in cars, meaning it's harder for riders to justify the switch over the electric.
So, in a nutshell, electric motorbikes are more expensive, slower, and have less range than a traditional motorcycle which will explain why the motorcycle community have not embraced the power of electricity in the same way that car drivers have. However, there is another route to joining the electric revolution on two wheels that makes perfect sense, it just won't be for everybody.
I'm talking about scooters, more specifically, the 50cc moped category. For 2022 5 of the top ten best selling scooters were electric 50cc equivalent machines, 125cc equivalent electric scooters are also rising in popularity. But why are electric scooters proving to be much more populer than electric motorcycles?
Firstly it's down to cost, with a few exceptions, even a fully loaded top of the range electric scooter is no more expensive than its internal combustion engine counterpart. The general design of a scooter also lends itself well to going electric, with plenty of space to fit a large battery or, in some cases, multiple batteries, generally under the seat or within the floor below your feet.
In most cases, electric scooters will also trump a modern euro 5 petrol scooter equivalent in the acceleration department. Range wise, while petrol scooters will still have the edge, statistics show that most scooters are used for short commutes to and from work or college etc. As a rough average, most electric scooters have a range of around 50 to 70 miles which should be more than enough for most commuters.
So we are starting to see why electric scooters are proving populer, but they also have another trick up their sleeve: gadgets!
In recent months I have had the chance to ride quite a few electric scooters, and they all have a level of tech onboard, unlike what we have seen on scooters until now. We are talking digital displays, built-in alarm systems that lock the rear wheel once activated, GPS tracking systems, LED lighting, Keyless ignition, app support and the ability to link your phone.
One particular scooter stood out when it comes to tech: the new Keeway Blueshark R1, due to be released in the UK very soon. It has all the items mentioned above and has a full-colour TFT display with full navigation, fingerprint ignition, and built-in speakers to stream music via Bluetooth. It also has a projector system which emits angel wings onto the road on either side of the scooter, making sure other road users see you at night. You can also activate a mode on the Blue shark, which emits a sound like a combustion engine for added safety.
I really liked the built-in camera system consisting of front and rear-facing wide-angle cameras, which constantly record to an internal hard drive and can be downloaded via the app in the event of an accident or alarm activation. The rear camera also pops up on the dashboard when you indicate, giving you a clear view of what is behind you eliminating any blind spots found with traditional mirrors or looking over the shoulder. The Keeway Blueshark gives you a glimpse into the future of motorcycles and scooters.
There is something for everyone in the electric scooter market. While scooters are not for everyone, they make the most sense for living that electric life on two wheels, and even the top of the range models will not break the bank. If you want a high-performance electric scooter, you'll be pleased to hear that manufacturers are working on this too. Due to be released soon is the Electric version of the new Italjet Dragster. No exact figures are available yet, but italjet promises its primary focus will be creating a high-performance machine with a sporty look and feel.
So to conclude, As far as large electric motorcycles go, if you can afford another bike as a toy they really are great fun, just not at a level yet to be a true replacement for internal combustion. While scooters will not be for everyone, they indeed represent the sensible yet fun choice for going electric on two wheels. In the 50cc -125cc segment, I would confidently say its a better choice than buying a petrol scooter.
If you are considering switching from your car to an electric scooter to get to and from work, then some entry-level scooters such as the Keeway Ezi or MGB G1 would likely pay for themselves within the first 12 months and see you better off financially too!