Electric bicycles are limited to a maximum speed of 20 mph in the United States. In Europe, it is different. According to bicycle manufacture Specialized, which markets the 28mph Turbo E-bike only in Europe: “Under a 2004 European Directive, electric bikes are allowed a maximum assisted speed of 25km/h (15.6mph). However, some European nations have got around this by introducing a ’superbike’ class of e-bike that slots in between bicycles and mopeds. For example, Germany’s ‘leichtmofa’ class includes electric bikes capable of assistance up to 45km/h (28mph) and with up to 500 watt motors. A licence and insurance is required but not a helmet and the bikes are not allowed on bike paths.” The popularity of electric bicycles is exploding in some European countries . . . leading to significant investment in both motor and battery technology.
While the exotic M55 Terminus (pictured above) is at the far end of the spectrum (roughly $35,000), e-bikes are available for less than $1,000. Top speeds can approach 50 mph, but most e-bikes are much slower.
What does this have to do with motorcycles? When some e-bikes approach 50 mph top speed and 30 mile range per charge, while weighing less than 60 pounds, one can easily see the development of faster, longer range models that maintain the minimalist ethic. Aside from the pedal assistance, the technology is essentially the same.
The sheer number of manufacturers developing e-bikes for the European market, and the resulting fierce competition, can only hasten the development of faster, lighter electric motorcycles. Expect them sooner, rather than later.