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Thoughts on Electric Motorcycles?

Discussion in 'Electric Motorcycles' started by Designer Jake, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. MotoMind

    MotoMind Long timer

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    I wanted to follow up on this. The manufacturer flew an engineer out with a suitcase full of spares, and he replaced the motor. The issue was related to a function in the bike that's analogous to the rev limiter on a normal motorcycle. It is possible on a normal motorcycle for the revs to be picked up incorrectly, resulting in the same type of failure. So my comments on the failure mode above are unfair.
    #61
  2. Yossarian™

    Yossarian™ Deputy Cultural Attaché

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    That must have been based on the standard lead-acid type of battery.

    Those particular batteries are not used in today's electric vehicles, for a variety of reasons; low energy density relative to weight is one of the reasons.
    #62
  3. PhilB

    PhilB Long timer

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    That would require either (a) that each station stock packs for every EV on the market, or (b) that the government standardize the packs, require all EVs to use the same packs, and thus stymie further development of them. Both of which are very bad ideas.

    It's a valid point, in a mostly coal-fueled country.

    Most of us are not saying that electric motorcycles will never be useful or practical. What we are saying is that they will become useful and practical enough to make a real difference in our overall transportation picture when (and only when) the problems of electricity storage are solved by about an order of magnitude better than they are today.

    I am further saying that this solution is extremely unlikely to involve batteries. Huge capacitors may be a solution. Fuel cells and decent hydrogen storage (say, carbon nanotubes or some other matrix storage that operates at reasonable temperatures and pressures) may be a solution. Yes, this could happen. UNTIL it happens, EVs are a niche product that will make little dent overall in this country's energy usage patterns.

    PhilB
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  4. Lion BR

    Lion BR I'd rather be riding

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    I believe the suggestion mentioned by the other poster was not about competing with current motorcycle segments as you mentioned. But that there could possibly be a new two-wheel segment, where people enter the motorcycle market via electric motorcycles. Small ones at that.
    #64
  5. VxZeroKnots

    VxZeroKnots Long timer

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    Many industries do fine forming their own standardization bodies without government help. Look at cycling, for a mountain bike you can buy any fork on the market that complies to the standard your frame was manufactured under and it will bolt right on. Same with wheels, brakes, and drivetrains. Wouldn't that be sweet if you could do the same for dual sports and dirt bikes? It would make customization to specific needs easy and likely drive costs down. Power sources are going to have a standard general shape so this could be done with minimal sacrifice.

    To me the allure of an EV is the torque curve, it could be powered by bald eagles and whooping cranes and i'd still think it pretty damn neat. It is frustrating though that we use coal and NG when nukes are a lot better on many levels once you get over the antiquated phobia of them.

    So why focus on the obvious near-term short comings like they are some unbreakable barrier? There is nothing gained focusing on the obvious, which are short term problems anyway. It was once impossible for man to achieve powered flight, then to fly faster than the speed of sound, and then to go to the Moon. It was also once impossible for a sailing craft to break the 50kt barrier but that has been done as well. If we have something like standardized power packs in the near term to overcome the range issue we can later implement better energy storage solutions in the long term. I guess everyone just likes imperfect torque curves, cleaning their air filters, checking their valves, dealing with fueling issues for density altitude changes, and having way too many moving parts.
    #65
  6. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    EV's seem to be one of those things that folks tend to choose sides on rather then just taking them for what they are based on philosophical rather than practical reasons.

    Those for them choose to ignore their serious limitations in the hopes that they will be solved, with little regard for the other alternatives, counting the eggs of one chicken before they are hatched. Those against them choose to ignore that they, as they exist today, would indeed meet the needs of a large portion of the population if they were more economically viable for folks with limited budgets.

    I have nothing against EV's, I'm just not convinced they must be the best answer.
    #66
  7. fallingoff

    fallingoff Banned

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    yeh
    he got bought out
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  8. John Smallberries

    John Smallberries Long timer Super Supporter Supporter

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    The other think that may likely kill the electric motorcycle in the US is simply keeping the companies alive long enough for the market to develop. Nissan sold 10,000 Leafs in the US last year with dealerships in all 50 states. Ford sold only 687 Focuses, albeit limited to 3-4 states. These trivial sales make the engineering and marketing effort for these vehicles a massive financial drain on the companies. Luckily, Nissan and Ford can absorb it - I'm not sure about a tiny startup.

    It is hard to guess how many EVs will continue to sell after all the Ed Begley Jr's get their and the state/federal tax incentives go away.

    Tesla would be long gone if not for the combined factors of a true-believing billionaire owner and our generous tax dollars. Ditto with Fisker.

    I am familiar with the engineering that went into the Focus. It is a very good electric vehicle. It is DOA in the marketplace.
    #68
  9. Rcrx21

    Rcrx21 06 KTM 950SM, 04 WR250F

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    About The Federal Tax Incentives

    As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2010 (H.R.1) two new tax incentives were included for electric motorcycles:

    First: is a tax credit in Section 1142 (H.R.1, pp. 214-217) which changes IRS Code Section 30 to allow for 2 wheeled electric vehicles to be included as a qualified plug-in electric vehicle in the overall plug-in vehicle tax credit.

    These vehicles which need to be able to drive on public roads, streets, and highways, are eligible for a 10% Federal Tax Credit up to a maximum of $2,500. This is a Federal tax credit, which reduces your tax liability by the amount of the credit; eg: if you owe $5,000 to the IRS and purchase an $8,000 electric motorcycle package, you would receive an $800 credit and now owe $4,200. If you are owed a refund by the IRS, your refund is increased by the amount of the tax credit
    Second: is a tax deduction for state sales taxes paid on motorcycles under Section 1008 (H.R.1, pp. 203-204).

    This provides all taxpayers with a deduction for State and local sales and excise taxes paid on the purchase of new cars, light truck, recreational vehicles, and motorcycles through 2010. This deduction is subject to a phase-out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income in excess of $125,000 ($250,000 in the case of a joint return). In this case, since it is a Federal tax deduction, the amount comes off your adjusted gross income and reduces the amount of taxes paid based on your income tax bracket
    As with all tax matters, this information does not constitute tax advice, please consult your tax advisor, attorney, or accountant for specific details on how to claim these tax benefits. The IRS will be providing final forms and instructions for these new tax incentives later in 2010.
    #69
  10. OlivierS

    OlivierS Adventurer

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    #70
  11. PhilB

    PhilB Long timer

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    Attachment for a fork is very different from a whole power source. And forks are a well-established technology that isn't changing much; standardizing that is a simple agreement on a couple of measurements, not (say) a voltage/amperage/size and shape standardization for a part that is integrals to the entire design of the vehicle.

    EVs do have a great torque curve. That makes it a fun toy, not a practical means of transport. I agree about nuclear power over coal; maybe we'll wise up and do that someday.

    The problem with the "obvious near-term short comings" is that's where the government subsidies are going, and where the rent-seekers are going to get that government money, to the detriment of the future of the industry (yet another reason why government is a stupid way to get most things done). I would love to see useful and practical EVs. Wasting time on battery-powered EVs won't get us there. Spending time, and the huge amounts of money it would take, on an infrastructure of standardized battery packs would be a complete waste, and divert resources that could be better spent. If we want EVs to be a useful and significant part of our country's energy picture, we need to put our efforts into technologies that have actual promise to solve the problems.

    PhilB
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  12. VxZeroKnots

    VxZeroKnots Long timer

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    That is a very valid point.

    So? Motorcycles in and of themselves aren't always a practical means of transport.

    Most of that sounds like a problem with government, prevailing business ideas, and consumer mindset not the vehicles themselves. Of course for a viable product you need all those ducks to line up in a row eventually, but I'm more of a do it because it's there sort. You're correct in that I'd only considered the form factor of the energy storage and not the more important aspects of what is going on.
    #72
  13. PhilB

    PhilB Long timer

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    :thumb

    Motorcycles aren't generally used as a practical means of transport in the U.S.; they are mostly toys. But they CAN be used practically, and a lot of their uses as toys involve long distances. Plus much of the promotion of EVs is touted as practical for commuters, etc., and that's true in a limited fashion, although if a person can't afford the luxury of an extra vehicle for that dedicated use, it doesn't help much. The point is that if EVs (whether bikes or cars) are going to make a significant difference in oil dependence, or pollution, or anything else, they have to become useful and versatile.

    And yes, you're absolutely right that "most of that sounds like a problem with government, prevailing business ideas, and consumer mindset", especially the first two.

    I think this is the case with alternative energy development in this country in general.

    PhilB
    #73
  14. ridetoak

    ridetoak n00b

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    Actually they do have the range. Almost all electric motorcycles can go 100+ miles on a single charge. A few guys I know commute to work, charge at work, and ride home.
    #74
  15. ridetoak

    ridetoak n00b

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    For everyone who keeps quoting the 787 battery issue it is an isolated issue where Boeing wired their batteries wrong. It has nothing to do with the batteries that power electric motorcycles.
    #75
  16. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

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    I'm pretty much square in the market for an electric moto: short commute, disposable income, live in the city, and easy access to charging at home. Our Ducati dealer even has an EV charging station.

    I so desperately want an electric moto, but it's a bit hard to justify even after the tax credits. With credits and rebates, I'm still paying 2-3x what I paid new for my CBR250, which gets 65-70 MPG city anyway. Add in the fact that I have to ride 20-30 miles for some okayish rec riding roads and 60-80 miles for good curvy roads, and that kinda pushes the electric motorcycle into total commuter/errand duty slogging from stoplight to stoplight. Or maybe some urban hooliganism. Once they start hitting 200 miles on a charge that'd be within the range of some of the roads I ride (round trip), but then we're back into "huh, this is more expensive than my car" territory.

    Still, I might give serious consideration to one in a dual sport or supermoto configuration for romping around the city and commuting/utility duty if I can get the price to somewhere around $6-8k after rebates/credits. Even the ones with short ranges would be fine for that.
    #76
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  17. vortexau

    vortexau Outside the Pod-bay

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    James May rides the ENV fuel Cell motorcycle

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    First Ride: Suzuki hydrogen fuel cell powered Burgman

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    Suzuki Crosscage



    UK's first public hydrogen fuel station opens in Swindon


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  18. swaan

    swaan Adventurer

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    It's a new tech so cost is the only limiting factor really. But I can already see something for my budget in the used segment.

    Performance is there. Look at Mission RS for example: 160hp (120kW),133ft/lb,150+mph,140 "real world",230 miles city. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1CSdYsJIWQ Price? :lol3 Don't even look.

    Having driven electric cars I'd say a point missed in the discussion here is that unlike ICE, EVs are opportunity charged - get home, plug in, wake up: full tank, arrive at work, plug in, finish work: full tank. Unlike a gas station your not waiting in line and you don't need to use your wallet unless public fast-charging. Also, many have to make an extra weekly errand to the gas station. I don't like gas stations at all. This is what I like about EVs - every morning you have full batteries (cars also pre-heated/cooled). That limited range might be 10x as much as is left in your gas tank.

    I also love the very low maintenance: no 45 minute oil changes every 5000km if you have a 640 adv like me :evil, no lines leaking, no air/oil/gas filter changes, sealed motor probably outlasts your own life without any maintenance done, no water/fuel pumps, no ignition stuff, no exhaust. Changing and upgrading batteries very simple - unless it's going to be made by Apple :lol3
    #78
  19. Tinker1980

    Tinker1980 Doesn't ask why, only asks how

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    Biggest issue I see with them right now is cost. I can spend $13,000 on a zero, or I can plop down $4200 on a TW200.

    This is, I think, what has been limiting sales of electric cars. Sure, I can get a leaf for $32,000. Or I can buy a versa for what? $15,000?

    Ive looked at building my own electric bike. The most expensive part is the batteries.
    #79
  20. MeinMotorrad

    MeinMotorrad Long timer

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    E bikes interest me greatly and I'm looking forward to what will be available in 5 years time when I may be thinking about a new bike. If battery technology keeps improving then they maybe 350-400 miles at a reasonable speed between charges might be a reality.

    Maybe a perfect second bike now, especially for commuting and/or stealthy off road.
    #80
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