The Electric Motorcycle ‘agenda’: Why now isn't the time to fear the change

After being accused of having an 'electric motorcycle agenda' to push, it got me thinking about why the frostiness towards them is unjustified... but perhaps not for what you think

Damon HyperSport

[Note from editor] I first wrote this in 2020 and, having come back to it, feel it holds just as much relevance. Some parts have been tweaked to reflect factual changes]

I’ve umm’d and err’d a bit over this feature for a couple of weeks, ever since a particular comment caught my eye on our Facebook page in which Visordown was accused of pushing an electric motorcycle ‘agenda’ hard, adding that they would no longer be reading our website as a result.

If you’re reading this, then firstly I guess we haven’t scared you away, but even if you aren’t, I’m going to say first and foremost there will still be articles detailing new motorcycles and new technologies either coming our way or being developed because – frankly – they still have a part to play in giving everyone a broader picture of an industry in an important state of flux. Regardless of where they source their energy.

However, it did get me thinking about the steady flow of articles we run about electric motorcycles, which I know take up more column space than ever before without having to crunch any numbers.

Of course, you will never get a universal opinion on every single news story electric or otherwise, whether it’s a brand-new powerful sportsbike (it’s too expensive or you can’t use that power in every day riding), or a mid-range facelift (it looked better before) or the launch of any motorcycles (the xxxxx is so much better).

Granted, electric motorcycles come in for a particular drubbing and it’s reasonable to see why. You purchase a motorcycle for the emotion it elicits – the sound, the feel, the rawness of a machine that you feel intrinsically part of, more so than in in a car. Remove those elements and, sure, electric motorcycles are going to feel alien.

Electric may be here... but so is everything else

But that doesn’t mean they should be dismissed for their informational value and not have place to share the limelight with sportsbikes, adventure bikes or compact urban runabouts. And far be it from us to ever say you should purchase any one thing – we could only ever give you our informed opinion but the final decision is always yours.

The motorcycle industry more than most peers through rose-tinted specs at times and you don’t need to go far to find a comment reminiscing over the two-stroke era, but for now electric motorcycles represent a shift in ethos that is just too far for many and that’s completely understandable.

Fortunately for you though, while the change may be coming, it certainly isn’t a tidal wave right now and it’ll be a good decade yet until electric becomes a widely-available mainstream option. Even then though they will still feature alongside petroleum powered models. How long remains to be seen, but don't expect to be purchasing a new ICE-equipped model past 2040... time moves fast, but that's still an infant-to-adult period away.

If you look at our reporting of electric motorcycles from a different perspective though – one of information gathering - you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Electronic Motorcycle Comparison | Zero SR/F vs Harley-Davidson Livewire vs Energica Eva vs Zero SR

Electric motorcycles aren’t at present arriving to prise your conventionally powered motorcycle out of your hands. Maybe one day, but for now it satisfies the curios invested in protecting our planet, otherwise known as the next generation who don't own a motorcycle. Or 'Generation Greta Thunberg'.

Either way, the shift means a huge new area of technology is sparking the imagination of the big manufacturers, not just because they need to lower emissions but because they hear you and want to apply greener thinking while retaining as many traditional values. It’s a challenge but that’s gotten some beautiful minds working harder than ever.

In an age where technology innovations are now every few months – unlike every generation – it’s fascinating to see what new ideas are being thrown into the mix to expand motorcycling’s range, both literally and figuratively. 

Kawasaki for instance is working on the Endeavour, a mid-range sporty number complete with a gearbox, LiveWire is beginning to hit its stride, Yamaha is developing some interesting ideas. And yet, while this is all going on, you're still free to enjoy your ZX-10Rs, Sportster S' and MT-10s. You don't need to 'lump it' rather than 'like it' just yet.

Don’t get me wrong, if your heart is set on purchasing a Yamaha MT-07 to run longer distances and pootle around town, then a LiveWire ONE wouldn’t be for you. If you’re largely city based and running costs are your jam then there is a lot of appeal here. After all, no-one buys an Audi R8 to commute and run errands, they buy an Audi A3 instead.

Point is, the ‘agenda’ of electric motorcycle news is not a reflection that the motorcycle industry is about to do away with all your favourites, it’s an alternative take pushing engineers and designers to do something differently and push them to find tomorrow’s solutions to today’s concerns.

The 'Electric Motorcycle agenda'

Is it an agenda? I don’t think so, I think it’s a celebration of a portion of the industry in its relative infancy that is going to come on leaps and bounds by 2030. 

We couldn’t ever ‘force’ you to purchase – or even read about – any motorcycle on Visordown, nor even suggest you should be converting to electric and forget about those sportsbikes et al, but in isolation it’s worth appreciating an industry putting its collective head together to think outside the box.

It's true, while we have decades to go before fuel supped from a pump will become a distant memory, technology gains notwithstanding there limited reasons for the generic punter to make the switch. An EV brimming with data and volta won't elicit the same reaction as your motorcycle with its oil and grinding, while the price point is excessive enough to negate the fuel savings even with these high prices.

But eventually these polar opposites will be mitigated in some way by the development of gearboxes and prices that will fall as the market and competition expands. I'll say now though, hands up if I'm wrong, feel free to e-mail blast me in 10 to 15 years time.

At the end of the day, we write the articles, you don’t have to read them (though I do have bills to pay here so I’d rather you did…) so while electric may not be for you (or even me to be honest at the moment), there is no harm in staying informed. 

Dismiss them (and us) if you must, that’s your prerogative and we genuinely love to see wide ranges of opinions on our forums. That's the beauty of the human race, we’re all different after all.

In short, while the Ollie Barstow of 2020 [now 2022] does have a conscience for a future that is kinder to the planet, I can assure you Visordown isn’t going to be turning its website 100% green as part of an 'agenda' - there are plenty of other (rather preachy) websites that do it for us, naming no names.

However, at the same time there is room for everything in our – gigantic - fantasy garage!