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Best cars

Best electric motorbikes 2023

More and more brands are getting in on the electric motorcycle action. Here's our pick of what's out there right now...

Harley-Davidson Livewire

Electric motorbikes are way behind electric cars in both technology and take-up – we’re talking big bikes here, not mopeds and seated scooters, which are very different. Why? Because motorcyclists love the sound of a grunting, snarling petrol engine, and some of them see battery power as anaemic and soulless. The good news is that some key players – Livewire (part of Harley-Davidson), Zero and Energica – all offer well developed electric bikes which have stunning performance. 

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For the moment, most big names in the industry are holding back, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll all be quietly working on electric bikes in the background. Triumph is still developing its TE-1 while Ducati is providing the electric race bikes for the MotoE series in 2023. What’s concentrating their minds is that from 2035 new petrol motorcycles will no longer be sold in the UK, while the EU is likely to follow suit (though with a possible loophole for synthetically-fuelled machines). Increasing urban restrictions on petrol vehicles are also looming large.

In any case, with companies like Zero working hard on getting bums on seats with demo rides the message is starting to get through that riding electric is great fun. As with electric cars, the instant torque of an electric motor means rocket-like acceleration, with the Livewire One claiming 0-60mph in three seconds.

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There's already a wide variety of bikes on offer or on the way, from small 125cc-equivalents to high-tech sports bikes, street machines and cruisers – see our separate list for the best electric dirt bikes. Fast charging options are rare (Zero, Harley-Davidson and Energica are the exceptions) so charging is generally slow by car standards. And look for a decent battery warranty – Zero's five-year cover is the industry leader. Electric bikes cost a lot more than petrol ones upfront, but like electric cars, they're cheaper to run and need less maintenance. For the moment, the Government’s Plug-in Grant is still available, giving £500 off the price of a new bike costing up to £10,000, and road tax, like all electrics, is free.

Maeving RM1

Maeving RM1 – from £5,995

If the Maeving looks like a shed-built custom bike to you, then the British manufacturer will be pleased, because the RM1 is aimed squarely at hipster urban dwellers who might otherwise opt for a petrol-powered bobber in the same style. Made in Coventry (not China or India) it’s a stylish little thing which slots into the A1 class, so you can ride one from age 17 after taking your CBT and theory tests. 

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A 45mph top speed makes the Maeving fast enough for urban riding, and the battery (or batteries, there’s a twin option) lift-out for indoor charging. Claimed range (i.e. less in the real world) is ‘up to’ 40 miles for a single battery, 80 with two. With motorcycle style wheels and suspension the little Maeving nips around and handles well. Downsides? Well, it’s pricier than the Chinese-made opposition and you can’t carry a passenger. Otherwise, we think it ticks every box for urbanites.

Livewire Del Mar S2

Livewire Del Mar S2 – from c.£12,000

Harley-Davidson (sorry, Livewire) promised it would launch a smaller bike to go with the One (below), and it’s finally going on sale in the UK, at little more than half the price of its big brother. At the time of writing, we don’t have the full details, but the Del Mar is clearly aimed more at urban riding, with a probable top speed of around 75mph and a battery of 9-10kWh, which should be enough for at least 100 miles of urban running. Not that it’s lacking in acceleration – Livewire are claiming a similar 0-60 time as the One. It won’t have Level 3 DC rapid charging, but Level 2 means it’ll be able to use some public chargers, and of course smaller batteries take less time to fill.

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The Del Mar is a cute looking thing, and Livewire have majored on air-cooling fins to give the bike a ‘mechanical’ look and get away from the black box battery which some electric bikes suffer from. Like all electric motorcycles, the Del Mar costs far more than the petrol equivalent, but for someone commuting into a city, it makes a lot of sense.

Verge TS Ultra

Verge TS Ultra – £TBC (£21,000 est)

Everything about the Verge screams ‘ultimate’ if the basic figures are to be believed: 1200Nm of torque in the top Ultra version; 201bhp; 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds; rapid charging in 25 minutes; and a range of ‘up to’ 233 miles. Oh, and the Estonian-based manufacturer made headlines recently by being the first electric motorcycle maker to sign up for Tesla’s NASC charging standard – don’t be surprised if Zero and Livewire, both American manufacturers, do the same.

The Verge looks like something out of Tron – some sort of sci-fi, anyway – and has the sort of spec to delight the most tech head rider. Most eye-catching is the hubless rear wheel, which incorporates the electric motor into the wheel rim (along with the brake disc). It’s an elegant solution which does away with the need for any sort of belt or chain final drive. Finally, the four riding modes are: Range, Zen (for cruising), Beast (for burn-outs) and Custom – forget ‘Eco’. Delivery? First quarter of 2024, according to Verge.

Zero S

Zero SR/S – from £23,995

Zero is the Tesla of motorcycles. Like Elon Musk's personal project, it's American, an electric-vehicle pioneer, and has been going for quite a while now, starting off in 2006. And like Tesla, Zero has managed to steal a march on the mainstream rivals. The Californians offer a whole range of road, off-road and dual-purpose machines, even a touring version complete with full luggage!

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The company is moving away from its dirt bike roots, launching the naked SR/F and sports-touring SR/S, with the latest addition SR/X (gunning for the big ‘adventure bike’ market dominated by BMW) unveiled last year.

Batteries range from the long-running 14.4kWh unit to 15.6 and 17.3kWh in the SR series. The SR/S claims a range of 90 'highway' miles (i.e. at 70mph) and 180 miles in town. Charging at 6kW will be slow, but perfect for those with a home wallbox; these smallish batteries don't take too long to top up.

Regardless, Zeros are fun bikes to ride – they handle well with decent brakes and suspension – the smaller bikes can top 90mph, with over 120mph from the more powerful SR/S. We bought a secondhand Zero DS in 2020 and can confirm that all those road test superlatives are true – the instant torque gives an exhilarating ride, the bike handles well and certainly turns heads (everyone seems to know it's electric). Take it easy, and a range of 100-120 miles is realistic.

Super Soco TC Max

Super Soco TC Max – from £4,399

Super Soco – isn't that a great name? – claims to be the top-selling electric motorcycle in the UK, and importer Vmoto is probably right. It's a neat little thing, originally launched as a moped (so restricted to 28mph) but with the 125cc-equivalent TC Max added in 2019.

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This one can top 60mph and has enough oomph to cope with main roads out of town – claimed range is 60 miles if you stick to urban running, so long trips are out, but the Super Soco is as easy to ride as any electric scooter and its motorcycle style is a real bonus. Other nice touches are belt drive (for minimal maintenance), keyless ignition and anti-theft location alert. If you can cope with a 28mph top speed, the basic TC version costs just £2,449 after the grant.

Horwin CR6

Horwin CR6 – from £4,999

The Horwin CR6 is a stylish little bike with a retro café racer flavour about it. Like the Super Soco, it’s the equivalent of a 125cc petrol bike, fitting into the A1 class which allows novice riders to get on the road without taking the full motorcycle test. The 6.2kW motor gives a top speed of 59mph, the battery is a small 3.8kWh job, and the company claims what it calls a ‘realistic range’ of 60 miles. Charging is slow, via standard three-pin plug, but at least that means that the Horwin can charge just about anywhere. The importer is Artisan Electric, which has been selling electric scooters in the UK for nearly ten years – always a good sign.

LiveWire 2018

Livewire One – from £22,990

Never heard of Livewire? You’ll certainly have heard of Harley-Davidson, the company behind this pioneering electric cruiser. Worlds away from the Harley's traditional V-twins, the Livewire One has a muscular look to it, which suits the badge. It's not the fastest, most powerful e-motorcycle on sale, but it can manage 0-60mph in three seconds, so it’s quick. Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman gave it a publicity boost by riding a pair of Livewires 13,000 miles through Central and South America.

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Harley claims a 95-mile range with mixed riding, which road tests seem to back up, and the Livewire can use Level 3 DC rapid chargers, which will allow a 0-80% charge in 40 minutes – say half an hour for the typical 20-80% charge. Brakes and suspension are top-notch equipment from Showa and Brembo, while the Livewire connects to a smartphone to keep you updated on charging, as well as providing tamper alerts and tracking. Oh, and the ‘haptic pulse,’ an artificial vibration to keep you involved while waiting at red lights...

eROCKIT

eROCKIT – c.£10,000

Is it a motorcycle? A bicycle? Well it has pedals, but make no mistake, the eROCKIT is a motorcycle through and through – it's fast, exhilarating, and you need a motorcycle licence to ride one. Power comes in when you pedal, just like an electric bicycle, but with a 15kW peak, it has far more grunt than one of those – about 100 times more than you put in at the pedals.

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The result takes some getting used to; push too hard from a standing start and the eROCKIT lurches forward, but once on the move, it's an incredible feeling, whipping along at up to 55mph on what still feels a bit like a bicycle. Fortunately, brakes, suspension and tyres are all motorcycle items, backed up by a substantial steel frame. The eROCKIT costs the equivalent of £10,000 in its native Germany, so if you ever wanted bionic legs, your steed awaits...

Experia Energica side profile

Energica Experia – from £25,990

The Energica, built in Italy's ‘motorsport valley’ of Modena, has its roots in racing and is the standard machine for the Moto-E race series. Designed from the ground up as an electric bike, it's based around a 22.5kWh battery in the Experia (bigger than any other production electric bike) and is faster and more powerful than anything else currently available.

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Energica claims a 150mph top speed from the 107kW oil-cooled three-phase motor, along with top-spec sports-bike brakes, suspension and steel trellis frame. Regenerative braking coordinates with the anti-lock system, and in a practical touch, Park Assist has the bike inch backwards at 1.7mph to get you out of tight spots. It's also one of the few electric motorcycles that comes with Level 3 DC rapid charging, which the maker says gives an 80% charge in 20 minutes. The latest Energica is the Experia, aimed at the adventure market, so it should be comfy and with plenty of space for two, with full luggage and a claimed combined range of 160 miles.

Damon

Damon Hypersport – £TBC (£15,000 est)

Damon Motorcycles, based in Vancouver, unveiled its Hypersport in 2019 with a compelling trio of claimed figures: 200bhp, a 200mph top speed and a range of 200 miles (mix of highway and urban riding). It bristles with high-tech equipment, such as 'shape-shifting' ergonomics and the ability to alert the rider to dangerous traffic situations.

CoPilot is an array of sensors mounted on the bike (a mix of radar and cameras) which can track the speed and direction of other road users – the rider is warned of potential danger through LED warning lights or vibrations through the bars. Shape-shifting ergonomics allow the rider to change the screen, seat, bars and footrest positions from sports bike to upright commuter at the touch of a button. Choose between the naked HyperFighter and full-on sports bike HyperSports. Production is expected to start in 2024, priced from $19,000 (around £15,000) for the base model SE which makes do with 100bhp, 120mph and a 108-mile range.

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