Going green on two wheels

Going green on two wheels

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It’s not just cars. Bikes have played a part in the electric revolution, though you don’t hear about it as often.

One big difference with electric cars is in the battery. Because of their size relative to a car, an electric motorbike can make do with a smaller battery. This means that, at least for some models, the battery is removable. If, for example, you live in a block of flats with nowhere to charge it this could make all the difference in the world. Just carry it upstairs and plug it in overnight.  

And like with cars, there are government incentives to make the switch. You can get a grant for 20% of the bike’s value up to a maximum of £1,500. This is vital because, like electric cars, they come at a bit of a premium.

A number of motorbike manufacturers are producing alternative versions of their models. And there is no shortage of new start-ups, as with cars.

First, the favourites. While the Toyota Corolla may be the best-selling car in the world, it’s the Honda Super Cub which holds the record as the best-selling vehicle ever. For every hatchback with a Corolla badge on it there are at least two of these groovy little motorbikes. Sadly, in the UK at least, the little Honda is only available with a 125cc petrol engine but it should only be a matter of time.

What about some electric bikes you actually can buy?

And again, like cars, there is a start up that appears to be the clear leader in the market. The Tesla of the bike world is Zero. From a single model in 2006 to eight today, Zero’s bikes are available in both on and off-road designs and it is probably this which has secured its success. One model, the Zero S is a ‘streetfighter’ style which around 200 miles on a charge. This makes a great first bike as it can be ridden without a full license, just a CBT. But at £10,000 it may have limited appeal. What makes Zero a little unique however is that its models are designed with the police and army in mind.

How would you like an Italian exotic? The Energetica’s bikes were designed to compete in the Isle of Man TT Zero race. The two models are the ‘streetfighter’ Eva and the sportsbike Ego. Range is well under half that of the Zero’s especially at high speed however. The newest member of the family is the Eva EsseEsse 9, named for a road built by the Romans. This retro bike is anything but cheap at close to £20,000. No wonder the company only built 400 of these special edition back in 2018.  

One way to get around for a lot cheaper is to get a moped or scooter rather than a more conventional motorbike. These can be great for beginners of someone just looking for a cheap way to commute around the capital.

One benefit is that it’s much easier to get licensed to ride on of these compared with conventional motorcycles. The CBT or compulsory bike training is the first step towards riding a motorbike. You would need to pass a full moped or motorcycle test within two years or retake the CBT if you want to continue riding and if all you have is the CBT you will need L plates on your bike. It also limits the type of bike you can ride on. But it is a good way of seeing if two wheels is really for you.

UrbanEBikes.com is a great hub for anyone interested in electric scooters, mopeds and even e-bikes (bicycles with electric assist). In addition to accessories, it has various models for sale.

The NIU UQi Pro is the cheapest with prices starting at just £1,359 while the £7,495 Govecs S3.6 is the priciest. In between are a variety of models to suit anyone’s tastes. The Artisan EV2000R and Govecs Schwalbe with their retro designs will definitely stand out against most of today’s two-wheelers. On the other hand, there are more modern looking bikes if retro isn’t your thing. These include the Super Soco as well as a Peugeot.

An even more affordable alternative is an e-bike. These are regular bicycles with pedals. The difference is that they have electric motors providing assistance. Prices on UrbanEBikes range from the £1,275 Raleigh Array to the £8,895 Stormer ST5. GearBeast sells the same bike LO26 from Poland for just £579.

Another option is to build your own. For motorbikes with a number plate you would have to convert an existing model to be able to register it. But for bicycles it’s a different story. For more information visit gov.uk/electric-bike-rules to see what the government regulations say.   

As far as parts are concerned, there are a number of companies that offer kits for a range of prices to convert or even entirely construct a bike from the ground up. If you’re handy with a welding torch and understand wiring you may even want to build some of it yourself! Then whenever you ride you will know that your bike really is one of a kind.

For everyone who is a car enthusiast, there are probably ten people who see them as just appliances, utilities designed to get from A to B. But motorbikes are different. You have to be a real fanatic to ride one. And thanks to these models which do away with any exhaust fumes, you really can have your cake and eat it too! 

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