July 3, 2007 Although the technology is still relatively new, motorcycles are emerging as a great platform for the launch of the electric engine revolution. While high-powered, light and compact electric engines (like the 350hp monster Killacycle Drag Bike) are already available, battery range has typically been an issue. This is perhaps more acute in relation to electric cars, whereas motorcycles are often used as joyriding fun toys and short-to-medium-range commuters, so a 100 mile range still leaves for plenty of practical and fun uses for electric road bikes. With major manufacturers being slow to put electric sportsbikes on the market, smaller enterprises are blazing a trail - like GoBike, who are awaiting DOT approval on a converted Triumph Daytona, with a max speed around 93mph, a cruising range of 143 miles, and a blistering 2.7 second 0-60mph acceleration time that should make it a blast to ride.
Electric motorcycles are an exciting proposition in a very early stage of development. Apart from their obvious environmental advantages, they should prove extremely cheap to run (at about 10% of the per-mile fuel cost of a petrol engine), and easy to refuel through a normal power point. With zero emissions and a silent motor, they can be ridden indoors, and they require far less maintenance than a standard petrol engine. Power and torque are no longer a limiting factor.
Downsides are a limited charge range with today's battery technology, a longer "fill up" time to recharge, and the perception that electric engines are somehow "unexciting" because they don't make the same soul-stirring engine roar that a regular motorcycle does, and have a bit of an image problem that doesn't sit so well with the adrenaline-junkie sportsbiker character.
Electric motorcycle pioneers at GoBike seem to have addressed two of these factors through the evolution of their evDaytona, which appears to be a Triumph Daytona 600 sportsbike converted to run completely on rechargeable batteries.
This is a bike created with excitement in mind; with a huge 59 tooth rear sprocket, the evDaytona's 2.7 second 0-60mph time rivals the latest litre superbikes, and although it won't challenge them for top speed on a racetrack, it's good for 93mph, which is more than enough to get you into serious trouble with radar-waving police on the road. Much of the evDaytona's high speed cruising ability comes back to a large extended windscreen and widened side fairings, which allow the rider to tuck in almost entirely behind the screen for maximal aerodynamic efficiency.
The nature of electric motors means that battery range is directly in your hands; the designers claim a 143 mile economy range for gentle cruising, but this comes down to only 49 miles if you're really giving it the berries. The batteries are guaranteed to last at least 5 years, and will fully recharge in under 10 minutes if you've got a good (but pricey) quick-charger. They're also very safe, built using lithium ion polymer nanotech phosphate that's neither flammable, toxic or explosive.
It's a little heavier than the standard Triumph version, at between 450 and 550 pounds depending on the battery configuration, but should maintain most of the Daytona's well-regarded handling and roadholding characteristics. Styling-wise.... no comment, but it's very aerodynamic and people have been buying Hayabusas for years. The small, flat tank area might turn out to be an issue, as it doesn't look like there's much to hold on to under brakes.
The evDaytona's already into its third generation, and GoBike are spending significant time and money on developing it into an efficient, practical and exciting roadbike. It's available as a spec-built machine for a lucky US$77,770, and while it's not yet DOT-approved in America, the company are seeking interested dealers. Certain designs on the website would appear to suggest the company is planning to adapt the technology to the competition-blitzing Daytona 675 chassis some time down the track, which would be an exciting move for potential buyers.