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Electric Motorcycles and Scooters

Electric motorcycles and scooters are vehicles with two or three wheels that use electric motors to attain locomotion.

Electric motorcycle of Zero Motorcycles

Detail: Electric motor and Lithium-Ion battery Z-Force


  • Late 1860s: Earliest references to electric motorcycles can be found in patents.
  • 1911: Electric motorcycle available according to early Popular Mechanics article.
  • 1920s: Ransomes, current makers of forklifts, explored the use of an electric powered motorcycle. This and other developments helped pave the way for the company to use electric mining cars and lorreys.
  • Early 1940s: Fuel rationing in United States caused Earle Williams to convert a motorcycle to electric power. This became the basis for the formation of the ParCar from the Marketeer Company.
  • 1941: Fuel rationing in Occupied Europe encouraged an Austrian company by the name of Socovel to create a small electric motorcycle. Approximately 400 were manufactured.
  • 1967: First Fuel Cell powered electric motorcycle created by Karl Kordesch at Union Carbide debuts. Demonstrated the feasibility of fuel cells as a power source. This particular fuel cell was an alkili fuel cell that operated with hydrazine, a rocket fuel propellant.
  • 1967: "Papoose" moped sized electric motorcycle prototype is created by Indian Motocycle Company under the direction of Floyd Clymer.
  • Early 1970s: Aurenthetic Charger moped sized mini bike (small motorcycle) sold.
  • 1973: Mike Corbin sets first electric motorcycle land speed record of 101 mph.
  • 1974: Corbin-Gentry Inc. begins sale of street legal electric motorcycles.
  • Professor Charles E. MacArthur makes first electric vehicle ascent on Mt. Washington, NH using a Corbin Electric motorcycle. The event evolved into an annual rally called the "Mt Washington Alternative Vehicle Regatta".
  • 1978: Electric Harley Davidson MK2 created by Transitron manufactured in Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • 1988: Eyeball Engineering creates KawaSHOCKi electric dragbike and is featured in a major magazine.
  • 1996: Peugeot Scoot'Elec released, first mass production of an electric motorbike.
  • Late 1990s: EMB Lectra VR24 electric motorbike created by Scott Cronk and EMB. Pioneered the use of variable reluctance motors (hence the VR) and marketed as street legal.
  • 2000: Killacycle makes record run of 152 mph (245 km/h) at 9.4 s quarter mile (400-metre) time at Woodburn Drags 2000, OR.
  • 2007: A123 Li-Ion cell-powered Killacycle makes new quarter mile (400-metre) record of 7.824 seconds and 168 mph (270 km/h) in Phoenix, AZ at AHDRA 2007.

 Here is a terrific video by Steve Ciciora at Bandimere in Phoenix, AZ.

(You can go to if the above link doesn’t load)

  • 2008: Electra Green made by Orlando Tony Parker in Omaha,Nebraska. The first electric motorcycle made in the state of Nebraska.
  • 2009: History is made in San Jose, California, when Zero Motorcycles hosts "The 24 Hours of Electricross", an all electric dirtbike race.
  • The first TTXGP (Time Trial Xtreme Grand Prix) all electric street motorcycle race takes place on the Isle of Man.

The development of lithium-ion batteries and powerful electric motors (originally for military applications) made mainstream electric motorcycles more feasible in the 2000s.

Power source

Generally, the source of power for the electric motor has been batteries, but development in fuel cell technology has created several prototypes. Some examples are: the ENV from Intelligent Energy, Honda's scooter using the Honda FC Stack, and the Yamaha FC-AQEL. Also, petroleum hybrid-electric motorcycles are under development. Some examples are the Ecycle, and Yamaha's Gen-RYU.

Advantages and disadvantages

Electric motorcycles and scooters are rising in popularity because of higher gasoline prices. Battery technology is gradually improving making this form of transportation more practical.

Advantages of electric over gasoline power:

  1. The fuel costs for electric power are approximately 25% the cost of gasoline power (US, mid-2008)
  2. Nearly silent
  3. The Libert-E Xero has removable lithium ion batteries that can be charged using any 120v outlet
  4. Environmental friendly (no exhausted gases at point of use)
  5. Carbon tax and vehicle registration tax exemption in some countries
  6. No parking/congestion charges in some countries
  7. No road tax in some countries
  8. Using grid power to charge batteries causes less pollution than gasoline scooters; the amount of emissions and residues caused depends on the sources of the electricity used.
  9. No trips needed to a gas station—can be recharged at home or in charging stations. But charging or battery swapping in service stations, when needed, are faster.
  10. It can be used in a V2G system.
  11. Lower maintenance costs and fewer maintenance activities.
  12. Can be ridden indoors.
  13. More affordable than electric cars.
  14. Many models dispense with a transmission or the need to shift gears, simplifying operation


  1. Up front costs are higher than for a comparable gasoline powered motorcycle or scooter.
  2. Shorter range before recharging.
  3. Longer "fill up" or recharge time.
  4. Lower maximum speed at similar price points.
  5. Electric power outlets are often not conveniently located near streets or driveways. It is often difficult or impossible to bring the battery into an apartment, for example, for recharging.
  6. Battery capacity can be as low as 20% on a cold winter day with -20 °C (lead battery)
  7. As it is already difficult for motorcycles to be "noticed" by drivers of cars and trucks, the loss of characteristic engine noise might make riding these even more dangerous than their internal combustion engine powered counterparts.


Types of scooters

A scooter is a type of motorcycle with a step-through frame and usually with smaller wheels designed for urban transportation.

Scooters are divided into categories as per the particular niche that they are designed to operate in and speed requirements:

  • Two-wheeled Vespa-styled scooters 0-60 mph (0–100 km/h)
  • Two-wheeled Stand-up scooters (like a kick scooter) 0-25 mph (0–40 km/h)
  • Two-wheeled, side-by-side stand-up scooters like manufactured by Segway PT 0-12 mph (0–20 km/h)
  • Two-wheeled Seated scooters 0-25 mph (0–40 km/h)
  • Three-wheeled standup scooters like manufactured by Zap 0-15 mph (0–25 km/h)
  • Three- and four-wheeled Mobility scooter (disability riders) 0-10 mph (0–15 km/h)
  • Three- and four-wheeled Seated scooters/golf carts 0-25 mph (0–40 km/h)

E-max electric scooter

Stylish Eped City, Epeds Uk Ltd

Electric motorcycle or electric bicycle

Two-wheeled motorcycles are generally differentiated from electric bicycles and mopeds (motorized pedal cycles) by speed, with motorcycles having greater speeds—usually greater than 30 mph (about 50 km/h). Although, this line for what constitutes a 2 wheeled motorcycle has blurred due to marketing, styling, and public opinion.

Electric motorcycle "Electrocat"

Certain models of electric bicycle take the form of scooters or small motorcycles, comprising of the standard features of common e-bikes, but with plastic or metal cladding, lighting systems; such as indicators and brake lights, and speedometers. They are however, classed as electric bicycles in most areas.

3-wheeled motorcycles

Due to vagueness in motor vehicle laws, any three-wheeled vehicle that can travel over 31 mph (50 km/h) may be classified as a motorcycle. This classification does not depend on whether the operator is fully enclosed by a "cage" or exposed to the elements. Several automotive startup companies made their initial designs three wheeled vehicles, because the motorcycle classification does not require the same costly battery of crash safety testing as a four wheeled vehicle.

For design purposes, three wheeled vehicles are divided into 2 categories:

  • 1 wheel in front and 2 in back, known as a delta design or the traditional trike (tricycle) design
  • 2 wheels in front and 1 in back, known as a tadpole design.

Some three wheeled motorcycles enclose the rider in a "cabin" or cockpit. These include the Twike, Myers Motors NmG.

Some three wheeled motorcycles have independent suspension allowing the vehicle to tilt or lean, such as the Carver one.


Some information extracted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details.




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