The Electric Future of Alternative Motorcycles

Review of available electric motorcycles and motor scooters. Pictured is Brammo Enteria electric motorbike.

Published: 26-Apr-2008

In 1867, Massachusetts inventor Sylvester Roper built what is credited by most as the world's first motorcycle. Powered by a twin-cylinder steam engine, the 25 mph machine was stoked to life via a charcoal-fired stove located under the rider's seat. Flash forward seven score years and we have 150-hp production motorcycles capable of over 180 mph with computer controlled fuel injection and ABS. Quite a bit of technological ground covered since the days of Sylvester Roper. Which begs the question - what does the future hold for motorcycles?

Due to environmental concerns and the fact that $4/gallon gas is now a reality, the desire for alternatives to the internal combustion engine are more in demand than ever before. So, like automobiles, future motorcycles figure to be greener, more efficient machines. Who knows, 50 years from now riders may look back at our gas-engine beauties the same way we look at Roper's steam-powered relic.

Plug-in electrics, hybrids, fuel cells and even compressed air all hold promise in the years to come. And the next big thing in motorcycle design may already be out there. So let's take a fresh look at the alternative two-wheelers.


Powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries and two 67bhp (50kW) electric motors to drive the front and rear axles, the Mixim is a four-wheel-drive car with a theoretical top speed of 112mph and a potential maximum range of 156 miles.

Dodge ZEO is 2+2 electric muscle car for the 21st century powered by 200kW electric drive with 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds and range of 250 miles.

The Air Car may do better than fuel-cell cars, but experts say that using grid power to charge a battery-powered electric vehicle is much more efficient than using electricity to compress and store the same amount of energy in a tank.


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