While the first patent for an ‘electrical motorcycle’ was filed in 1895, and an electric tandem bicycle was exhibited at the 1896 Stanley Cycle Show in London, it wasn’t until the 2000s that electric power became a viable alternative to the combustion engine. Like all emerging technologies, electric motorcycles are not currently able to keep up with the high speeds and long distances of their established fuel-guzzling counterparts. However, new brands continue to enter the electric market to showcase the latest in innovative technology and designs.
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Electric and petrol-alternative motorcycles have promise to be the future of sustainable transport. Compared to cars, they generally cost less to purchase, consume fewer resources and cause less pollution. Motorcycle designers are now also experimenting with more sustainable materials to build motorcycles, including recycled plastics, bamboo and wood.
‘The Motorcycle’ exhibition was in Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from 28 November 2020 until 26 April 2021.
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1 Vespa Elettrica 2019
Seventy-four years after the Vespa debuted in 1946, this iconic scooter has been reinvented with the introduction of the electric-powered Vespa Elettrica. Designed for navigating city streets and crawling traffic, the Elettrica is envisioned to be the electric equivalent of a 50 cc combustion-engine scooter. With the same curved fairings and smooth lines that Vespa riders know and love, the Elettrica aims to not only provide people with affordable mobility but also make their movements more environmentally sustainable. This scooter has a reverse gear for ease of parking, and will take 4 hours to fully charge when plugged in to a regular household socket.
Power: 4 kW (5 hp)
Engine: Electric motor with 4.2 kWh battery
2 Tarform Luna Prototype 01 2019
While many future-focused motorcycle brands have turned to electric technology to deal with growing concerns regarding sustainability, Tarform has gone a step further to consider the environmental impact of all elements of their groundbreaking Luna Prototype. This 40 kWh lithium-ion battery-powered motorcycle’s bodywork is made from fully recyclable and biodegradable materials. With a sleek modern look, environmentally friendly approach and lack of noise and fumes, the Luna is appealing to atypical motorcycle riders looking for a clean way to travel the city. Designed to withstand the test of time, the Tarform Luna Prototype 01 has been built for ‘upgradeability and not obsolescence’ — any element from the battery to the panelling can be swapped for a custom look.
Power: 40 kW (54 hp)
Engine: Electric motor with 10 kWh battery
Designer: Taras Kravtchouk
3 Zooz Concept 01 2019
In the words of Zooz designer Chris Zahner, ‘The amazing thing about electric bikes is how simple they are. Motors, heat exchangers, exhaust systems and gas tanks are requisite masses on combustion motorcycles. But the electric motorcycle can leave a whole lot more room for interpretation, by minimising the number of elements necessary.’ The Zooz electric bike is an incredibly simple concept presented in an elegant, linear package. The battery is concealed under the seat, and in the middle, where all the propulsion happens traditionally, there is nothing – a void. The Zooz shows what a contemporary electric bike looks like when stripped down to its most basic elements.
Power: 4.3 kW (6 hp)
Engine: Electric motor with 0.84 kWh battery
Designer: Christopher Zahner
4 Cake Kalk OR 2019
The Kalk OR is an electric off-road performance motorcycle that handles bustling cities as well as rocky cross-country paths. This minimalist bike has injection-moulded polycarbonate bodywork and is dominated by a 51.8-volt battery, which allows the rider to choose between four-stroke and two-stroke modes. Despite its futuristic look, the Kalk OR is fully street legal. With a top speed of only 90 km/h, the Kalk OR may not be able to keep up with many of its road-going counterparts, but provides a green alternative for modern riders.
Power: 11 kW (15 hp)
Engine: Electric motor with 2.6 kWh battery
Designer: Stefan Ytterborn
5 Savic C-Series 2020
The motorcycle industry is embracing electric technology, with electric vehicles entering the market at an increasing rate. Savic Motorcycles founder Dennis Savic describes the Savic C-Series – Australia’s first full-size electric motorcycle – as ‘a unique offering with the most advanced features and functionality that the materials, engineering, electronic controls, electrical technology and 3D printing can offer today’.
DELVE DEEPER: SAVIC C-SERIES 2020
Power: 60 kW (80 hp)
Engine: Electric motor with 11 kWh battery
Designer: Dennis Savic
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