Up Front

Dammit, I low. two wheels, moun-tain bikes to motorcycles. And if the "engine" is me or a fully built turbo Haya-busa with 380 horsepower or a govern-ment-surplus ex-navy electric torpedo motor, 1 am happy as long as it keeps moving.

Still, it seems as though motorcycle enthusiasts regard electrics with suspicion first and curiosity second. I certainly did. It's pretty easy to trust gasoline and internal combustion because they are well-sorted and have been around a while. And as much as we may enjoy the environmental side benefits of 40-plus mpg and the notion that bikes use less raw material to build, fewer parts, etc., we do fundamentally dig motorcycles because they have flames shooting out the tailpipe (at least spiritually) and haul ass like nothing else on the road. They're a bargain, too: Your typical $13,000 liter-class sportbike will blow the doors off of most cars short of a $1.2 million Bugatti Veyron, and even then it is a close race all the way up to 180 mph. Don't know about you, but I'll take the bike and keep the $1,187,000 handy for track days and tires.

So, sure, motorcycles are a good value and probably better for the environment than your average car, but at the end of the day they are incredible, life-affirming good-time machines that can turn the worst days into the best and focus our enthusiasm for living in a way that most inanimate objects cannot.

And so, I approach the electric motorcycle with curiosity because it has two wheels, and suspicion because, while it may have spiritual flames shooting out its tailpipe, its tailpipe is probably a couple hundred miles away and connected to a coal powerplant.

My commute is 60 miles roundtrip. If you've never had the touring around this suburban megalopolis called Southern California, let me tell you it is take-no-prisoners, pin-it-to-win-it aggressive and surprisingly high speed (when traffic isn't dead stopped). Mix this with a level of driver inattentiveness (cell phones, makeup, sandwiches, newspaper reading) that is frightening, and if you are choosing two wheels it is best to have every advantage.

Still, I have braved this commute on a 1969 Honda 90, a far newer Honda Ruckus, most modern streetbikes and, starting early this year, electric motorcycles. The first was a $7995 Brammo Enertia and most recently it was on a $9995 Zero S.

The first commute on the Brammo was a bit of a flyer. I was told it would have enough "fuel" to get me home, but I wasn't totally sure. By the end of the ride, the excellent and informative power/range-meter dash was telling me I was almost out of electricity (6 percent remaining), and I'd spent the latter third of the trip cruising in the bicycle lanes to keep my speed down and save what I could. The Zero offers a little more battery

Motor. Cycle.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment