With major manufacturers still dragging their feet on electric performance bikes, it's up to smaller, independent factories to forge the future of battery-powered motorcycles. Italy's Energica has just announced the 2015 revision of its Ego street superbike. At 100 kW (134 horsepower), 195 Nm (143.8 lb.ft) and 11.7 kWh of battery on board, it'll be a road rocketship capable of an emission-free 240 km/h (149 mph) top speed ... and it looks the part of an exotic Italian sportsbike, too.
Once you ride a good electric motorcycle, petrol burners start feeling sadly out of date. The major manufacturers have a lot invested in pistons, valves, clutches, radiators and gearboxes; perhaps that's why they're dragging their feet on electrics. Certainly if Honda was to step up and start mass producing electric musclebikes it would bring significant economies of scale to the market.
As it stands, a few of the big boys are taking tentative nibbles at the battery bike market, but the real strides are being made by smaller, independent manufacturers that have started up with the sole aim of bringing electrics to the people.
Independents like Italy's Energica, based in the 'Motor Valley' of Modena, just outside Bologna and the home of petrolhead meccas like the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ducati factories.
Energica, brainchild of race engineering specialists the CRP Group, has been building electric streetbikes with a typical Italian design flair and high performance since 2011, and the company has just rolled out its latest lithium-powered rocket, the Ego.
The hand-crafted Ego now features an 11.7 kWh battery, good for between 100 and 200 km (60-120 miles) worth of range depending on how hard you're thrashing it. The motor puts out a peak of 100 kW (134 horsepower), but as with all electrics it will feel much, much stronger than that figure suggests due to a monstrous 195 Nm (143.8 lb.ft) of torque, which kicks in immediately from 0 rpm.
No clutch or gears are required to take the Ego to its electronically limited 240 kmh (149 mph) top speed, and the 0-100 km (62 mph) time is less than three seconds. Lots of people think they'll miss the clutch and gear lever. I was one of them until I rode the Zero SR and realized a gearbox is completely irrelevant if you've got great stomping masses of drive available to you any time you turn the throttle. The Ego is a significantly more powerful and torquey bike than the SR, you're not gonna need gears.
Suspension is by Marzocchi at the front, Ohlins at the rear, and there's a Bosch ABS system to tame the bite of the radial Brembo brakes.
Engine braking is completely up to the discretion of the rider. You can program in whatever degree of regenerative braking you like through the gorgeous full color TFT dash, right down to having none at all.
Charging the battery through a wall socket will take 3.5 hours from flat to full, or 30 minutes for an 80 percent charge using an optional fast charger.
Price? Yep, still very expensive. The Ego will cost between US$25,000 and $28,000 depending on fluctuations in battery prices, and it'll be available next year. Energica is currently taking a fleet of Egos around Italy, Germany and America offering public test rides. If you haven't ridden a high performance electric before, I'd suggest it's worth your while getting out and trying one.