In the market for an electric motorycle? As with eBikes, it's a growing market with competitors like Zero and Harley-Davidson's LiveWire fighting for marketshare. While at Denago we're fans of all manner of electric technology, no one can deny that electric motorcycles are very expensive compared with their gas counterparts or eBikes powered by Lithium-Ion batteries.
Depending on your needs, you may find it's possible to meet them using an eBike at a fraction of the price of an electric motorcycle. Here are some reasons you might want to consider an electric bicycle (eBike) as an alternative to an electric motorcycle:
eBikes are significantly less expensive than electric motorcycles
Electric motorcycles include some amazing technology and specs, but no one can deny they're expensive. Electric motorcycles cost quite a bit more than gasoline motorcycles, and many orders of magnitude more than an eBike.
How much more? Quality, serviceable eBikes (the kind you'd find for sale at an independent local bike dealer, or "IBD") start at about $1,000. While it's possible to spend $10,000 on some of the premium eBikes at the top end of the market, you can get a lot of performance, speed, and range out of eBikes in the $1,000 - $2,000 range.
Electric motorcycles can cost tends of thousands of dollars more than an eBike. The Harley-Davidson LiveWire ONE, for example, clocks in at $21,999 MSRP, and that's after a recent price drop!
No motorcycle license is needed to operate an eBike
If you want to ride an electric motorcycle, you'll be subject to the rules in your area, and that generally means a motorcycle-specific endorsement on your driver's license in all 50 states.
Getting that motorcycle license involves additional time, training, and expense. In contrast, if you purchase a Class I, II, or III eBike, no special licensing is required for operation, a significant savings in time and money.
eBikes are generally exempt from registration and insurance requirements
As with a driver's license, operating an electric motorcycle means you'll need to comply with the registration and insurance requirements in your state - paying the DMV annually, mounting a license plate and registration sticker, and maintaining insurance.
Compare that with Class I, II, and III eBikes on which there are no registration or insurance requirements - a significant savings, every year of operation.
eBikes have more access to trails and paths than electric motorcycles
If you ride an electric motorcycle with a registration sticker and license plate, you'll be restricted to the roads, and only the roads. Electric bicycles can be ridden in many more places - on those same roads of course, but also in bicycle lanes, multi-user trails and paths, even on off-road trails (depending on the features of your eBike and the local rules.)
This flexibility allows you to do hybrid commutes to work or school that mix roads with local bike paths and trails, all on a single vehicle.
To learn more about the Class I, II, and III eBike system, including top speeds and information about helmet laws, age limits, and trail access, please see this article.
Replacement batteries are much less expensive
Electric vehicles can take some time to recharge. To keep the fun going, many users add a second battery, so they can keep riding by swapping batteries on the fly. An eBike battery can sell for about $400 - $1,000, depending on make/model/style.
How much does adding a second battery to an electric motorcycle cost? The numbers can be shocking! Try $3,000 for a "small" Zero battery or $7,000 for a larger capacity model.
If you're using an electric motorcycle or eBike for a food delivery service like DoorDash or Uber Eats, you know that you can't work if your bike isn't running. For this type of use, eBike batteries are economical enough that you can realistically own 2 or 3 of them, so you'll always have one ready with a full charge.