'True' bike enthusiasts could die out amid electric revolution, OEM CEO suggests

We spoke to Kymco CEO Allen Ko about what the future holds for riders who prefer propulsion of the internally combusted kind

Kymco Revonex concept at EICMA 2022

Although the move to electric powertrains is happening slower for motorcycles than for cars, things are gathering pace. Kawasaki is increasingly interested in electrification, and Honda announced not long ago that it’s to lob the best part of £3 billion at its future plug-in bikes. And then there’s Kymco

Its most significant reveal at EICMA at the tail end of 2023 wasn’t a bike, but its Ionex battery swapping Energy Station. It’s unclear at this point what kind of impact this tech is likely to ever make in Europe, but there are plenty of markets in which two-wheeled transportation plays a much larger role in terms of mobility, and in those, the widespread deployment of a standardised battery swap system combined with new and affordable electric scooter models is a potentially huge deal. 

But that’s the thing with the possible electric revolution on the horizon. It could be great for people who use bikes as a primary mode of transportation, but what about those of us who ride primarily for pleasure, and see an engine as a key part of its personality? Asked if a loss of character was a big hurdle to overcome for EVs, Kymco CEO Allen Ko largely disagreed when we spoke to him at EICMA.

“There will be always die-hard and the ‘real’ motorcycle riders - they will probably lose some excitement,” Ko admitted. He added, though, that “this segment is probably shrinking.”

A shift in attitude has already happened, he thinks, from “maybe 10/20 years ago” when younger riders liked “very loud” bikes. It used to be “Something very cool to do,” Ko said, “But today it's not so cool to do that”. He added that the “whole world” is moving away from “showing off” to being more interested in bikes as a method of mobility. 

He concludes: “I would say people would gradually discover the good side of EVs and gradually forget the weak side of them, and then we will transition from ICE. I believe that's a generation thing.”

Getting younger riders into motorbikes is indeed an issue in the UK, but it’s far too soon to tell whether or not ‘proper’ bike enthusiasts really will die out. For those who’ll remain interested, at least, synthetic fuels may provide a lifeline - the EU has already approved an exception for its 2035 internal combustion ban for thusly fuelled vehicles. 

Plus, despite Ko’s comments about the future of bike fanatics, Kymco is showing interest in catering to enthusiasts in the electric realm. During the same interview, Ko confirmed that the Revonex (above), an electric motorbike concept with a manual gearbox, is still under development.