What You Need To Know About Electric and Hybrid Motorcycles

Electric hybrid vehicles have grown immensely in popularity in recent years. Like cars, the market for electric and hybrid motorcycles is growing as well, making it an exciting time to consider purchasing one. Unfortunately, hybrid motorcycles are not yet available for purchase, but this could change. There are a few things to know about electric and hybrid bikes, what the benefits of having one are, and which companies already have some great ones on the market.

What exactly is a hybrid vehicle?

While it’s pretty clear that electric motorcycles are powered by electricity, hybrids are a little more complex, so let’s start with the basics. “Hybrid” essentially means that a vehicle uses more than one form of onboard energy to attain propulsion. Most commonly, a hybrid vehicle will have an electric motor and battery pack from which it gets its energy. However, because electric power alone may not always be enough to power the vehicle, the vehicle also has a traditional internal combustion engine and fuel tank.

Electric and hybrid vehicles have grown in popularity for multiple reasons:

  1. Concern over relying too heavily on petroleum and oil reserves.
  2. They help manufacturers meet increasingly restrictive Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which are intended to reduce the consumption of oil.
  3. Owners of electric hybrid motorcycles can save a significant amount of money over time due to drastically decreased gas and maintenance expenses.
  4. Increasing concern over climate change, and a desire to improve one’s energy independence.

Because hybrids require two sources of energy–the electric motor and an internal combustion engine–they pose a significant weight problem for motorcycle manufacturers. While the additional weight does not matter as much with a car, it is likely the primary obstacle in getting a hybrid motorcycle on the market. However, a hybrid motorcycle does currently exist strictly for military use. The SilentHawk stealth hybrid motorcycle runs primarily off electricity, and the back up combustion engines are there for those times when the rider does not need to be quiet.

While there is preliminary talk about a Suzuki 300bhp turbo charged hybrid, it is unknown if or when the bike with actually be built. Although hybrid motorcycles are not readily available on the market–at least not yet–electric bikes have been available for some time now.

Unique Features and Advantages of Electric Motorcycles

Electric and hybrid vehicles tend to have a few other notable features, one being the stop-start. Unlike conventional vehicles that simply waste fuel while the gas engine is idling, a stop-start allows an electric motorcycles to turn off their motors when the vehicle comes to a stop. For instance, when the rider comes to a stop at a red light, the engine actually turns off on its own, and automatically starts up again when the rider goes back into motion. Meaning, the rider can ride totally normally and still experience the fuel-saving benefits.

Regenerative braking is another useful feature of electric and hybrid motorcycles. When a conventional vehicle slows to a stop or coasts down a hill, the momentum that is being created is wasted, released as heat in the braking system. On the other hand, an electric motorcycle contains a braking system that is built to absorb that momentum, rather than release it, and then uses it to recharge the vehicle’s battery. However, because regenerative braking cannot stop extremely quickly, electric hybrid bikes have conventional hydraulic brakes as well.

Federal and State Tax Incentives to Own Electric Motorcycles

Another unique benefit enjoyed by owners of electric powered vehicles is the tax incentives provided by the federal and state governments. While the state incentives vary widely state to state, rider everywhere enjoy the same tax incentives from the federal government.

The Electric Motorcycle Federal Tax Credits allows for riders to receive 10% back on their electric motorcycle purchase (up to $2,500) in all 50 states. Additionally, purchases of electric motorcycles chargers—which are extremely convenient to have as an electric motorcycle owner—are eligible for a 30% tax credit (up to $1,000).

As for the state incentives, you will need to check with your individual state to see what kind of incentives or credits they offer. Electric motorcycle dealers are generally aware of the available incentives in their state.

Popular Electric Motorcycles on the Market Right Now

Energica Eva
While Energica released its first electric motorcycle, the Ego, in 2014, the 2016 Eva is a noticeable step up. The Italian company touts the Energica Eva as the first 100% electric streetfighter made in Italy. According to Energica, the Eva can ride up to 90 miles on the highway at high speeds, and up to 100 miles in the city. The bike has already received a number of glowing reviews, including being called a “softer, gentler, electric superbike”. However, the price point definitely matches all the hype, with the bike starting at $34,544.

Zero Motorcycles
The California-based electric motorcycle company is the clear market leader in electric bikes, with dirt bikes, supermotos, and everything in between. Since 2006, the company has been committed to “combining the best aspects of a traditional motorcycle with today’s most advanced technology” in order to provide riders with “high performance electric motorcycles that are lightweight, efficient, fast off the line and fun to ride.” Zero motorcycles are one hundred percent electric, meaning they are not hybrids and do not contain an internal combustion engine—they run exclusively off of power from their electric motors. You can find their range of bikes here, with the price points running between $7,695-$14,395 (these prices include the federal tax credit).