Rise of the machines

Positively Charged: 7 Best Electric Motorcycles of 2014

Will no pipes save lives, too?

Brammo Empulse R


Quick and Shifty: With liquid cooling, an actual six-speed gearbox and a 110 mph top speed, the Brammo Empulse R is one wicked weapon. Acceleration is instantaneous as the 40kW motor delivers 54hp and 650 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel at the first crack of the throttle. An integrated 3kW on-board charging system means the Empulse plays friendly with Level 2 charging stations — expect an 80 percent charge in two hours and a full cycle in around 3.5.


Lightning Motorcycles LS-218 SuperBike


Lightning without Thunder: With the equivalent of 200 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque on tap and the ability to log up to 180 miles between charges, the LS-218 SuperBike laid waste to a field of 93 bikes (gas and electric) at 2013’s Pikes Peak hill climb. If that’s not enough to have you considering putting that GSXR up on Craigslist, consider this: the LS-218 employs Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension, and Marchesini forged-magnesium wheels and tops out at around 218 mph, making it the fastest production motorcycle ever, period.


Bultaco Rapitan


The Resurrector: Thirty-five years away from the motorcycle game doesn’t seem to have slowed things down for Spanish brand Bultaco. Their all-new Rapitan, their first all-electric offering, features a unique Dual-Link Evolution front suspension set up and two-stage ABS braking to make commuting in silence a sublime affair. Those same brakes serve double-duty, acting as a regenerative charging system to help maximize mileage. On board, hidden storage for a full-face helmet is a huge plus for riders not wanting to lug buckets or trust the general public. Unfortunately it doesn’t hit showroom floors until next year, but we’ll be watching carefully — we love a good comeback story.


Lito Green Motion Sora


Silent But Deadly: Blurring the lines between streetfighter and bobber, the Sora has the upscale and expanding muscle bike market squarely in its sights. Powered by a liquid-cooled three-phase induction motor, the Sora tops out around 118 mph and features on-the-fly tailoring between three rider-controlled power modes: performance, normal and safe range. In safe mode, riders can eek out up to 120 miles of boulevard cruising or about half of that on the highway. Of course, that’s only if they don’t link up with the Sora’s on-board Bluetooth, start plotting routes on its integrated 5.7-inch touchscreen GPS unit, or continually play with its fully adjustable power seat.


Johammer J1


Electric Escargot: We know what you’re thinking: the Johammer J1 looks like a giant, metallic snail. With its acceleration to 60 mph taking double digits, swinging a leg over one may not change your mind, either. But outright performance isn’t its claim to fame; the J1 features some incredible tech. The batteries powering the J1 are rated for 200,000 kilometers or four years with a residual capacity of at least 85 percent.The maintenance-free drive motor and controller are integrated directly into the single-sided swingarm mounted rear wheel, and the front suspension is twin-arm box-section system — reminiscent of the iconic Tesi Bimota — with shock absorbers mounted directly within its torsion-resistant aluminum frame. Instrumentation is moved from a dash to the rear-view mirrors, via twin 2.4-inch integrated LCD displays. Laugh if you will, but the VW Beetle was bug-ugly and slow too, and 25 million buyers had something to say about that.


Saroléa SP7


Instant Café: The Saroléa SP7’s statistics are almost as impressive as its beauty: top speed is 155 mph, its direct drive motor generates 180 hp and and 295 lb-ft of torque, and you’ll hit 60 in 2.8 seconds. Both the frame and the rear swing-arm are crafted from carbon fiber, as is the subframe, to deliver a curb weight of 440 pounds. That puts its specs in line with the lightest and fastest gas-powered superbikes from just five years ago, aside of course from its stump-pulling torque. This cafe racer can (almost) run-the-ton too, as the Saroléa Race squad piloted a race-spec version of the SP7 to a fourth-place finish in the 2014 Isle of Man TT Zero, averaging 93.5 mph over the grueling 37.7-mile course.


Voxan Wattman


Over-Amped Annihilator: If you’re still upset that Dodge’s 2003 “Tomahawk” concept bike didn’t make it to market, we’ve found a reason for you to smile. The Voxan Wattman may not be packing a Viper V10 in its belly, but it does have 220 lb-ft of torque and 200 hp on tap right from word go. That twist of the wrist will catapult riders to 100 mph in 5.9 seconds — on a bike that weighs just south of 800 pounds. The Wattman is the power cruiser that Milwaukee’s best wished they had on the drawing board. Best of all, recharging the Wattman (up to 80 percent) is rumored to take less time than your favorite Cupertino companion and should deliver approximately 110 miles of range. On the downside, expect to pony up concept-car levels of cash for the Wattman, as each bike will be hand-assembled on an order-by-order basis.



Next Page