It seems like we are so close to the "tipping point", when electric motorcycles will be able to outperform internal combustion engine motorcycles, in virtually every way.
Batteries have come a long way, and are still constantly improving. Recharging technology is developing with these new batteries. Electric motors are in production right now that match or almost match the power of conventional sportbikes. And electric motors are also continuing to improve.
I believe the future of motorcycling will be largely electric. It will likely take a few years to catch on, and will face a lot of adversity. But at some point, the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages
Does anyone have experience with electric motorcycles? Opinions or observations?
While pricey, the Mission superbike is on the leading edge of E-bikes.
I've been watching the electric airplane development for a while now. So far the most successful ones are low hp motorgliders ( high efficiency ) and some real neat "racing" machines for certain competitions.
160hp is perfect for a small sport plane like a Vans RV-7...
the bike masses 540 lbs/17kwh - 510/15kwh - 490/12kwh... so..... 15 lb/kwh????
17kwh = 255lbs.? 20kwh =300lbs.
RV-7 with 160Hp. 42 gallon tank, 294lbs gasoline. @75% power, 190 mph, range 825 miles @55% power, 171 mph, range 1015 miles. ( call it 19-24 mpg )
Darn it, I need the power consumption vs. speed chart to calculate the range with any accuracy...
And the weight of the complete motor + electronic pkg.
If I assume a 20kwh battery replacing the fuel tanks PLUS a 5kwh in the nose to balance the lighter motor & Controller electronics..... then.....
Wag? 120-200 mile range for the Mission's motor in the RV-7.
No, because by the time the technology catches up to bikes, cars will be being piloted by computer & gps, driving a vehicle yourself will be a felony, & motorcycles will have been banned in "civilised" countries as unsafe & dangerous to others.
So what you're saying is, I need to get a degree in mechanical engineering and programming, get my foot in the door for automated motorcycles, and program them to take over the world so that we can ensure the presence of motorcycles in America's future.
I'd like to ride an E-bike, and see what the difference in power output is. Not having a torque curve that has to match any transmission gearing, I'd image the throttle response would feel quite different than what you're used to.
I wonder if the absence of rotating mass would make a discernible difference at very low speeds. IE, you couldn't rev the motor and modulate the clutch lever to keep from putting your feet down.
I also wonder how far into the range of battery life you can really go before the motor's performance starts to suffer. If the batteries are at 30 or 40% charge, is the throttle going to start responding like a tired chordless drill?
I really don't like the way these things sound. Maybe someone can develop a new type of electrical motor that sounds like something from Terminator or Transformers.
Wasn't there some recent development in batteries, which was supposed to be even better than Li-Ion?
One hurdle that the electric bike, is the same thing that Honda (and others have faced this same hurdle) recently tested by offering an automatic trans option on certain models. The bottom line is that, while technologically excellent, people simply didn't want that riding experience.
Now add to that the problems with "refueling" during your ride.
Now add the simple fact that if these magic batteries ever do come into existence, demand for them will skyrocket for all sorts of applications. The problem with that is virtually all of these magic battery technologies seem to depend on materials that are already in limited supply. The internal combustion engine would never have been successful if not for an abundance of available fuel. Magic batteries can't be successful without an abundance of what ever material makes them magic. This materials problem is also present in the motors required for these electric vehicles. There's a reason they call them "rare Earth magnets".
Try this thought experiment... If a 20 carat diamond could somehow power a vehicle for a life time, how long until all vehicles are powered by 20 carat diamonds?
I want the atomic powered car ( van by preference if fuel is no longer the issue ) and even know how to build them. Running on reactor waste not a reactor.
The prime obstacle is political. No freaking way to get the atomic anything past a propagandized ignorant bureaucracy.
The second obstacle is there isn't enough waste. Maybe enough to run the Marine Corps afv & transport. (Hummers through mobile artillery) Not enough for the pre-Obama Army. No way the civilian auto fleet.
Having a clutch/gears is a matter of what we're accustomed to. I believe, once the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, only the most stubborn of us will cling to our clutches and shifters.
clutches could still be included on electric motorcycles, but that's unnecessary weight and rotational mass. i think they will get phased out, eventually.
high performance materials cost more, that's common sense. But 10 years from now, current technology will be outdated, and so on. Giving EV's more power and range will become more and more affordable.
it seems like the prime obstacle in atomic power is the mere feasibility, rather than the politics. if it was feasible to store atomic energy, and turn it into rotational energy suitable for a vehicle platform, don't you think a handful of rogue individuals would be doing it already? to my (limited) knowledge, no one has done it. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
folks have been using electric vehicles for awhile now. but their components are quickly becoming outdated.
I look forward to the day when Erik and team release an electric motorcycle. I sure hope they're on the cutting edge of this, and will be among the first of manufacturers to release practical, powerful, electric motorcycles.
A thought on politics. I can't remember where I read this idea (it may have been in the Badweb archives), but electric vehicles get a lot of bad press, because they're not what Americans are accustomed to, and are viewed as outlandish and unpatriotic. In reality, electric vehicles SHOULD be extremely patriotic (hell, we got the ball rolling with the whole "electricity" thing to begin with. As with many other things, you're welcome, world).
Ideally, they should be designed, made, and assembled in the US. They should help us drastically reduce our dependence on foreign oil. "American Jobs" is always a "buzzword" and a very good thing. I know Toyota and Honda (and perhaps others) have been doing a lot with hybrids, but I believe America should step in, claim some ownership of this "project", and completely change the game (leave the other nations in the metaphorical dust). Electric vehicles are a stepping stone into a faster, more affordable, more reliable future. And it should appease the f***'ing tree huggers. Until they find something else to cry about.
There will be other alternative power sources available in the future. But for now, I think this one shows the most promise.
My point about running a vehicle on a 20 carat diamond wasn't just about cost. It's also about simple availability. If it could be done, it couldn't be done on a large scale. The raw materials just aren't there. Same with many of the materials being explored for electrics. Granted to a lesser extent as my example, but it's still a big problem.
Honda felt there was a real advantage to an auto trans on a bike. I tend to agree with them too. The reviews on it seemed to indicate that they had it pretty well nailed in execution, even automatic rev matching on it's down shifts. It just simply isn't what I want though. Apparently, it wasn't what the public wanted either.
Creating oil independence? Maybe. We still use a lot of imported energy to produce electricity. Shifting more demand on the electric grid only helps with energy independence if we ramp up our domestic energy resources in a huge way. I'm not trying to drag this thread down the political rabbit hole, but it is very political. The Keystone pipeline would give us many of the same benefits you point to without the need to create new technologies.
I do agree that electrics show great promise. Right now they can probably work for 95% of many people driving. The problem is that also means that most people need a second vehicle for that other 5%, and that vehicle will work well for the other 95% too. That makes it little more than a toy for the wealthy. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't see it any other way.
Torquehd, I can answer a few of your questions regarding the performance of an electric-powered vehicle. There is no torque "curve" as it is at full max all the time. At any speed you can hit the throttle and the response is immediate. I'd love to have a battery powered dirt bike; no feathering the clutch, no engine bog when you're in the wrong gear half way up a hill, unaffected by altitude, just to name a few.
A couple of weeks ago I got my wife a Fiat 500e and I've not noticed a difference in performance as the battery is discharged, even though it was at 10% left. Sort of like your cell phone works until it doesn't - no gradual loss of performance. Low speed performance on a bike would be similar to a scooter with a CVT.
That makes it little more than a toy for the wealthy. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't see it any other way.
I disagree somewhat with that. I did have the wherewithal to plunk down $5k and then wait 60 to 90 days for the rebates to show up in the mail. Poor people can't do that. Middle class folks (me) who don't live paycheck to paycheck should be able to do that as well, not just "the rich".
Secondly, these are not toys. I thought they were until I got one. As you say, a very practical vehicle for 95% of our needs. I've got a van for the times I need to haul stuff, carry 6 people or go out of town. Battery powered cars still have a way to go but they are road-ready right now.
You don't Want a reactor in a car. You do not "store" nuclear power, you use the waste from commercial reactors. You would plug your car in when you get home. ....... to power the home. The tech is actually well developed ( details later I'm on my phone ) but politics and the "diamond" aspect make it hard to do on any scale.
And....... you CANNOT Have mass use of electric vehicles without more power generation capacity. Can not.
That Fiat runs on Nuclear. coal. Natural gas. A tiny bit on collected solar & wind.
By "wealthy", I didn't mean rich. Upper middle class is what I had in mind. You need to be able to afford the second vehicle, plus a place to keep it, plus the additional insurance costs of the extra vehicle, plus the charging station in many cases.
I didn't mean toy in that they aren't useful, but rather in that they aren't necessary. They also are more likely to be practical in your area than here near Chicago where you may find that your commute home has turned into a four hour nightmare in the snow, running the heater full blast the whole way.
I don't think we are really that far apart on how we view EVs. There are some things that make them appealing at the moment, but many of those things are artificially created, and will go away as EVs become more common. Right now electricity is heavily subsidized for the residential consumer, and you pay zero road taxes. That won't stay that way for long when EVs become common.
There's an Aussie that beat them to it. I can't find his article, but he has an electric car. When he wants to go past the city limits, he has installed a gasoline powered generator in a low drag ( pod ) trailer and it charges the car as he drives and tops it off when he stops. He only uses it when he needs the range. Best of both worlds in a home made way.
Towing a trailer behind the Mission Superbike seems like a horrible idea, but an Electric Gold Wing type bike? Almost rational.
A "make it useful" problem with many current EV's is recharge time. The Mission's website pimps the quick recharge, but that's with freaking bus bar DC current. Don't see that every day. ( well, some of us do )
30 minutes with "Direct DC". ( "In brightest day, in blackest night.....)
1 hour 40 for 220 volt.
14 hours with 110 house current.
Still........ High end Ducati pricing and the racer ergonomics are really what keep me from buying one. If it was $15k and had the seating position of a S3T now........ I would be tempted. But I'd keep my Cyclone.
So I see Sifo's "toy" point. If I never wanted the range the EV bike doesn't have, it would be great.
There's an home made electric Ultralight airplane that has replaces a pair of tiny gas engines with large model airplane motors. And a Trailer with 2 home backup generators to charge the thing since most little airports don't have major power to plug into. ( the trailer is towed behind the truck that carries the airplane, not behind the airplane )
So, carry the "add-a-battery" concept to the motorcycle, and you go from a naked-style sportbike to a "sport utility adventure" bike. Add the bulk of a passenger seat, larger "tank", wider fairing, etc. I'm sure it would be possible to start hanging batteries all over the bike in a stylish way, the "battery casings" doubling as functional pieces.
For anyone intersted in DIY EV technology, there is a pretty good forum i stumbled across, endless-sphere.com
E-bicycles are very interesting too, and i believe their market will grow in the future.
While 2wd is probably not the best thing for a sportbike, it seems like it would have its advantages in a bicycle or off-road bike (like those old Urals that could climb cars or cross steep ditches at low, controllable speeds)
A neat concept from Audi.
I need to finish my 1125 build so I can move on to something electric. Until I can get back to working on the 1125, I'm stuck researching the big "E".
Every time I ride to work in the summer and spring here in the midwest, I look at a field of soybeans and think:
"I am looking at God's solar power plant".
Think about it, fully renewable, durable and self repairing, compact storage for the machinery during transport and the off season (seeds), and the kind of surface area for sun collection that engineers would dream of.
Now if you could convert that to a liquid fuel that is effectively your battery, so that you can take on 5 to 15 gallons of "battery" at a time in just the amount of time it takes to transport a fluid, and as you use it you get lighter.
Maybe it's not soybeans, maybe it's a circulating algae, or something else.
I think a combination of genetic engineering and smart out of the box thinking will be the path forward.
Good batteries might make it cheaper and more flexible. And nuclear will be necessary as well.
For learning about motors, unfortunately the classic theory textbooks will start going off on 3 phase theory and some pretty painful math, because that's what they teach in schools. And much of that stuff isn't actually necessary if you aren't designing the motors and trying to eeek that last few percent efficiency from them.
At the end of the day, here are the basics to wrap your head around:
A motor is a generator, and a generator is a motor. If you feed electricity into a motor you get mechanical energy out. If you feed mechanical energy into a generator you get electrical power out.
They work by "chasing magnets with magnets". The magnets can be either permanent magnets or they can be electromagnets (which is simply a circular coil of wires with a current running through it).
You need a way to continuously move one of the magnets so the motor keeps "chasing it".
Here is how it works on a simple DC (direct current, like a battery) motor...
You glue two permanent magnets to the outside of the motor enclosure. They never move.
You mount a shaft inside that enclosure, and mount on it several coils of copper wire (really just coils... take fine insulated copper wire, wrap it in a loop with lots of turns, when you run a current through it you will create a magnet with a positive pole pointing straight perpendicular to the coil).
Then you take the ends of those coils, and put them on smooth plates on the shaft, each plate insulated from the other.
The clever bit is that you have arranged those plates such that two conductive brushes riding on them will pass a current through a particular coil at the moment when it will then get pulled towards the permanent magnet you glued on the case. When the coil gets close enough to the magnet that it would just stick and stay there, the shaft has rotated far enough that the brushes have disconnected from that coil and started energizing the next coil, which is now in the perfect place.
The result is a perpetual magnetic free fall, and the motor keeps spinning as long as it has power.
It would be fun to try and cobble a motor together from scratch. Just because you can. Nothing to actually power anything, just to see one work.
I think the first viable electric airplanes will be motor gliders. The electric motor will be intermittent use only. when you shut off the motor and start soaring the extra weight of the motor and batteries is no different that the weight of an engine and a tank of gasoline.
Electric motor gliders are commercially available now. One would be on my short list if not for battery price. The same plane with a gas engine just is too much cheaper for my budget.
The motor in the Mission bike is the right power range for general aviation. .....Cessna type planes. The batteries are not there yet.
But from rich guy toy to middle class practical IS the movement. You can only sell so many gold plated hog clones to vain rich guys. ( see thread on that $850000 joke ) To make serious money you have to sell to the working man. Then your hog has to compete on merit not diamond crust. See how many boutique chopper builders are gone while Victory is still here.
I am no expert on EV's or electric motors. I do pay a little attention to the field. You may have read my rants on the Fiskar ( boutique rich guy electric car ) and my disgust with the dumb engineering that failed to keep the very expensive toy from committing suicide if you park it and don't plug it in. One even died plugged into a long extension cord while the owner was having the new garage & multi thousand buck charger put in.
Which leads me to......... If I spend fifty freaking thousand dollars on an electric motorcycle will it kill itself if I park it for the winter and the garage loses power?
Which leads me to......... If I spend fifty freaking thousand dollars on an electric motorcycle will it kill itself if I park it for the winter and the garage loses power? If your cell phone is turned off, how long will the battery maintain a charge? When you park a gas-powered motorcycle over the winter, does the battery go dead (heck, is even the fuel still good)? I imagine a battery tender would work for either type of motorcycle.
Dang you guys for making me sound like a tree-hugging, birkenstock-wearing, tie-dye-shirted hippie.
A transmission may not be necessary on an e-bike, but they will certainly provide a lot of value for anyone who likes maximum acceleration and/or the ability to wheelie or do burn outs.
Being able to decouple the drivetrain from the inertial of the motor is just a safety issue plain and simple. I look forward to my first e-bike, but it will probably not be one lacking a clutch or a transmission.
>>> It seems like we are so close to the "tipping point", when electric motorcycles will be able to outperform internal combustion engine motorcycles, in virtually every way.
In reality, I think we are a lot further than you imagine.
Range, refueling, acceleration ALL must be up to par and for a comparable price. I've not seen any of the three, let alone all three in one e-bike.
Interest is huge in Europe, which has strict noise regulation on aircraft. Electric is quieter, and most pilots in Europe just cruise around the local area. The same is true here, of course, with the primary GA activity being the "hundred dollar hamburger". ( flying to another airport for lunch, then back )
The cutting edge is the long range solar experimentals which are trying to build drones that can stay up indefinitely or fly around the world without stopping. At that level of efficiency they are fusing the lessons from human powered flight and high altitude observation planes into delicate monstrous structures....... flying wings that look like balsa & paper gliders.... but bigger than a 747's and made of carbon fiber and rareite. Covered in the latest solar panels with over a dozen motors.....
Helios is already obsolete, but was an excellent proof of concept, and the accomplishment of flying ANYTHING with wings at 18 miles up is astonishing.
Here's one from Eric Raymond, a guy I used to fly with. In fact I know about a quarter of the folk there from past encounters and there's some serious talent. Totaling the world records this crew has set & broken is astonishing. Like first Atlantic Balloon crossing, First US solar airplane crossing, First Human powered English Channel Crossing, First...........
Strokizator, I'm not talking about "the battery went dead and I have to charge it".
I'm talking about "it's dead Jim", and the car has to be dragged onto a flatbed truck because the freaking wheels are locked! and taken back to the factory to be "fixed". A NEW battery pack for about the price of a well equipped Audi. Dead. Car. That costs as much as a house.
Darn it, can't post the link. Search there for Fisker.
Now out of business, and it seems it's freaking batteries leak.
But my complaint is simple. Spend over $100000 on a car. Park it without hooking it up to a charger and it dies. Dead. Won't roll, can't be pushed, cannot be fixed at the dealer, and would cost you stupid money to fix. ( IIRC about $40,000 ) Now, with the company out of business, you could literally pay a Million Dollars to have your toy fixed. Bad Engineering that.
Park it without hooking it up to a charger and it dies.
Why would you park it for an extended period of time without hooking it up to a tender?
I have Li-ion portable tools, they sat for about a year in my garage while I was overseas, and only one was on the charger. There was no noticeable change in performance when I came back and used them again.
As for comparing electric performance to the 1190rx, that's like expecting electric cars to all match the performance of a bugatti... I may be stretching that one a little, but the mission is making 160 horse and 120 ft lbs. That's respectable no matter what you're used to riding.
It is heavy though. And expensive. And it doesn't have a comparable range. These are all issues that will have to be dealt with. And they will be dealt with, for the sake of making a dollar, if nothing else. Profit is a wonderful motivator, and the free market is the "man" for the job.
I assume Erik and team have been in the process of developing a kick-ass electric sportbike for some time now.
On the Fisker,.........Apparently because the onboard computer wasn't programmed to shut off when the battery got low, it discharges it, just sitting there, until the battery is wrecked.
So you can go shopping, run the battery down and in less than a week it kills itself.
Why would you park it for an extended period of time without hooking it up to a tender?
A week isn't a long time in gas powered car terms and habits. If I let my Diesel VW run out of gas I might damage the injector pump, and if I don't add anti-gel the whole thing can gel up and require a few days in a heated shop to thaw out, but generally speaking your car doesn't require loving attention 24/7 to keep it from dying and requiring a trip to the factory for total drivetrain replacement. ( relatively the same cost as battery replacement )
The breaker could pop for your charger and you not know it for 4 days, or you mistakenly think a 100 foot 110v extension cord will carry enough current to "tend" your battery.
It's just bad engineering in a car that costs at least twice the US yearly average income. I did admire their marketing genius. The guilt free fake leather, the super rare but "sustainable" wood trim, the holier than thou attitude, even the extinct fossil leaf embedded in the rare wood...... perfect for the folk you're trying to get to buy the car. Rich, pretentious, ego driven, and competitive for social status.
It is heavy though. And expensive. And it doesn't have a comparable range. These are all issues that will have to be dealt with.
That is the electric vehicle conundrum in a nutshell.
There is not in the near future a battery that will store power as densely as gasoline/alcohol/diesel does. Electrics will not have the same range for the same mass for a while if ever.
The cost issue is mostly a matter of scale. The motors are potentially cheaper than gas engines, even with rare earth magnets, but today the drivetrain less battery is about the same. That should improve a lot, but a 160hp anything is probably going to be in the $10k range based on current prices for other 160hp engines.
Batteries are, of course the base problem. We probably will someday have light high energy density power storage that is sturdy enough to be portable. A lot of money and brains are working on the problem. Equal range for mass to gasoline is not coming this year, or this decade, IMHO.
There COULD be a real break through and that would be a game changer.
The "Shipstone" of the Robert Heinlein stories was a quantum leap breakthrough in energy storage that the inventor's wife was smart enough to make not just proprietary but monopolistic. No patent filed to steal, but high security design of the packaging so trying to open one to see how it ticked made it melt down..... nastily. But as written a battery powerful enough to run flying cars, trains, ships, everything. It became the basis for all clean portable power, with of course, Nuclear to feed it. ( and ORBITAL nuclear, based on pre WW2 thoughts on power plant design ) Inventors family became the richest folk on the planet.
Heinlein is somewhat famous for being interrogated by the FBI when he wrote of Atomic Bombs long before Trinity. Manhattan Project security was freaked, but RAH was just using open source material from before we decided to make the A-bomb.