Electric motorcycles are my jam. If I’m on two wheels and it’s not a bicycle, then odds are I’m on an electric motorcycle. I don’t ride them because they’re clean or green, though those are nice side benefits – I ride them because they’re fun and enjoyable. They’re infinitely better than sitting in a car watching the world go by through glass. And the ownership experience is so much nicer than gas motorcycles due to their greatly reduced maintenance, lower cost of ownership, lack of vibrating cacophony, and a laundry list of other reasons.
My love of these awesome e-motos has put me in a unique position of having ridden pretty much every one of them out there.
Now let me stop the pedants right here for a second. No, the title isn’t clickbait.
But to say it in more words than fit in a headline, I’ve ridden basically every electric motorcycle out there, not counting a few cool international models I’m still missing (Stark Varg, TS Bravo, etc.) and a few super low-volume boutique e-motorcycle companies in the US (Tarform, Lightning, etc.).
But other than those few edge cases, I’ve ridden every major electric motorcycle currently available in the US, and some that aren’t even available yet.
Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about each company, the cool bikes they build, and how they ride. And since I could never possibly cover each one in enough nitty-gritty detail in a single compilation article like this, make sure you click through to the in-depth reviews I’ve done on these bikes as well.
To avoid playing favorites, I’m also going to bang these out in alphabetical order. Sorry, Zero, but that’s on you guys.
You might not even think of Arcimoto’s FUV (which stands for Fun Utility Vehicle) to be a motorcycle, but that’s what these electric three-wheelers are considered in most places. Some jurisdictions call them autocycles, but they’re mostly three-wheeled motorcycles.
And just like the name implies, they’re super fun to ride.
They have some idiosyncrasies, mind you. There’s no power steering, and so they feel pretty heavy to steer at low speeds, but they’re a blast at any speed. With a pair of bucket seats, they basically feel like 75 mph electric go-karts. They’re quite powerful, though they’ll never beat something like a Zero or a LiveWire off the line. Even so, they’ll get you up to 75 mph quickly, and they actually feel quite good at speed.
One of the best parts is also just how many looks and comments you get. The last time I was riding one was in San Francisco when I attended the Micromobility America 2022 conference. People were stopping me on street corners just to ask about these wild-looking things. Another experience near Miami was the same thing – people were riding up next to me on the street just to talk about it.
I also like how they have a locking trunk in back and how the rear seat can also be used for a decent amount of cargo space (when you’re not carrying a passenger).
The range is modest at around 100 miles in city conditions, but highway riding cuts that range down quickly. Don’t expect to go on long touring rides with these.
I’ve also tested the open-top Arcimoto Roadster, which feels more like a trike motorcycle. Its chopped top and sportier seating position give an entirely different sensation. It’s a lot of fun, but I prefer the FUV for daily riding.
Neither are the most practical vehicles on the road. They’re too wide to lane split but too small for carpool duty. But they make up for it in sheer charm.
The only other slight downside is that you’ve got to think about your placement on the road as a triple-track vehicle. Unlike a motorcycle, where you swerve around obstacles or a car where you straddle obstacles, triple-track vehicles like these trikes mean you have to be more accurate when “threading the needle” with potholes, road debris, etc. If this were your daily driver, then I’m sure you’d get used to it quickly. But each time I hop back in one, I have to remember that I’ve not only got three wheels on the ground, but each one follows a different line.
CAKE has three main platforms: the Kalk electric dirt bike, the Ösa electric utility bike, and the Makka electric moped. To be fair, I’ve only tested the first two, and it wasn’t a particularly long test ride on either, but they were both quite enjoyable.
The Kalk is their original dirt bike-style electric motorbike. It introduced the brand’s Swedish design with a love-it-or-hate-it appearance and showed that CAKE was here to play with the big boys. You’ll regularly see CAKE Kalks flying through the air and taking big jumps in stride.
The bikes are powerful, fairly lightweight, and a lot of fun to ride, though they’re pretty pricey at around $14,000.
The lower cost INK line drops the price by a couple thousand bucks, but these still aren’t budget bikes. Fortunately, they do have both on- and off-road versions of the Kalk line, meaning you can actually use them as street-legal motorcycles too.
The CAKE Ösa is a utility bike that was first marketed as a “workbench on wheels.” That feels like a suitable name for these things. They are incredibly modular and are designed to be customized based on your needs. Whether that’s delivering packages, powering an electric saw for a carpentry job, or working as a forest ranger and carrying around axes and chainsaws, they’ve been outfitted for just about everything.
They’re also quite powerful and fun to ride. I was having a bit too much fun with one in a gravel lot in Munich, leading to one of my only motorcycle crashes from getting a bit too jubilant in the corners.
CAKE’s rides are awesome-looking and fun-riding electric motorcycles, but they don’t have the same bang-for-buck you’d get elsewhere. You’re paying for fancy Swedish design, which is still worth something, but it means these won’t be the best option if you’re trying to squeeze every penny. For those that want something different looking though, CAKE takes the cake.
CSC is a California-based motorcycle importer that deals with largely Chinese-made bikes, both ICE and electric. They’ve got some of the best prices in the business, and they only work with good-quality imports. They also have an absolutely massive warehouse in LA that is stocked to the brim with dozens of spares of every part on all of their bikes, which ensures that you get US-level service if you ever need a spare part. I’ve tested all of their electric motorcycles, but my sister has their CSC SG250, and the head mechanic at CSC even walked us through a carb tuning question over the phone while we worked on the bike. So don’t think that just because these are Chinese bikes means you’ll get bad quality or poor service. You get good versions of both.
Now let’s get to the bikes. The most impressive in the lineup is the CSC RX1E. I rode one near LA, and it was so much more impressive than I was expecting.
It’s got a super comfortable adventure bike setup, even though it’s really more of an urban commuter. But with a liquid-cooled motor, top speed of 80 mph (130 km/h), and a range of 112 miles (180 km), it can handle any commute you can throw at it. At its current price of $8,495, it gets you similar performance to an entry-level Zero motorcycle but at a fraction of the price.
A much smaller bike in the company’s lineup is the CSC City Slicker, which is more like a Honda Grom-sized electric motorcycle. It has a lower top speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) and is definitely meant for sticking to the city, hence the name.
The removable battery makes it convenient for charging in an apartment, yet it still gives you all the motorcycle fun of flying around turns while trying to drag knee. It may have scooter-level performance, but it comes in a motorcycle-shaped package. When riding the City Slicker, I would always get questions from people and thumbs-ups along the way. There’s just something about a mini-moto that makes people look up.
Speaking of scooters, the CSC Wiz has much of the City Slicker’s performance but in a true scooter platform. That means you get a cargo trunk, a step-through body for even more cargo space at your feet, and a big comfortable seat with plenty of room for a second rider. As long as you are OK with speeds in the low 40’s of mph, then the Wiz is a great, low-cost electric scooter option at just $2,495.
Last but not least, you’ve got to check out the CSC Monterey. At just $2,195, this vintage Honda Cub-inspired scooter looks incredible. It’s underpowered and only gets up to 32 mph (51.5 km/h), but it makes up for the lackluster performance in pure charm.
I got a Monterey, and everywhere I went, people would smile and give me a thumbs-up. When I parked, people inevitably want to ask me about it. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure. I ultimately gave it to my father, who gets a kick out of the classic styling. It also goes nicely in his retro-themed garage. If you live in a beach community or other area with lower-speed roads where a 32 mph scooter will suffice, the CSC Monterey is a hoot to ride.
Wow, Energica’s bikes are some of the most powerful motorcycles I’ve ever ridden. I’ve been on three of the models, including the Ribelle, EsseEsse9, and the new Energica Experia.
That’s actually the order I tested them, and each one gets better and better, at least in my opinion.
I’m more of a comfort cruiser type of rider than a super-tucked sport rider, and so while the Ribelle is fun, that streetfighter is sportier than I really need. The EsseEsse9 was my favorite with its lower pegs and higher bars, even if the bike has slightly less power than the Ribelle.
But when Energica launched the Experia, that bike quickly became my favorite of the bunch. The sport tourer combined a powerful drivetrain with a comfortable and upright seating position. And with level 3 DC fast charging, touring is a reality with quick charge stops while grabbing a coffee or a bite to eat.
The Experia is my hands-down favorite of the bunch, but any time I get a chance to hop on an Energica, I know I’m going to have a good day.
I was on the Ribelle for a couple of days on a recent trip to San Francisco and had a blast on the bike. While going over the windy bridges, I was glad to be on a solid, heavy bike as opposed to something much smaller.
So while I’d definitely opt for the Experia if it were me, the company’s sportier bikes are still a blast. The only model I haven’t tried is the Evo, which is just so much sportier than I’d ever need or want. But those who have them seem to love them, so to each their own!
Gogoro technically isn’t available in the US… yet. But since the company is rapidly expanding its presence, I’ll include Gogoro just in case they decide to come stateside soon.
The company recently expanded to Tel Aviv, Israel. For those who don’t know, despite being in the US often to ride new bikes and enjoy the country’s vast diversity of riding areas, I actually live in Tel Aviv most of the year. And so I was one of the first to get a new Gogoro S2 ABS electric scooter when they came out.
The scooters use a pair of swappable batteries that are the heart of the Gogoro Network. I’ve never charged the scooter – I’ve only ever swapped batteries. Theoretically, the range is well over 100 km (62 miles) in the city, but I’m often taking it up to its top speed of 95 km/h (59 mph) on highways, and so I often get closer to 60-70 km of range (36-45 miles).
But there’s a battery swap station every mile or two in Tel Aviv, and so range just isn’t an issue. When the batteries start to get low, I just roll into a battery swap station and pop in a pair of freshly charged batteries. The whole thing takes barely a minute if I’m moving slowly, and I can get it done in 30 seconds if I’m quick. A monthly subscription of around $38 covers my access to the swap stations.
The scooter itself is fairly peppy and offers 125cc-equivalent performance. I can best 250cc scooters at traffic light races, but they eventually overtake me with enough time to spool up. For a city ride, though, the Gogoro gives me more than I need.
The combination of a robust battery swapping network with a sexy-looking and powerful liquid-cooled scooter makes for an awesome setup for the city. I really hope Gogoro expands to Europe and the US soon because you guys need to try this.
Kollter is another one of those brands in the US that has Chinese motorcycles but with good quality manufacturing and proper local service.
I’ve tested the ES1 Pro, which is a great commuter bike that can get up to around 65 or 70 mph (105-112 km/h), though I tested it in the city and never had a chance to get it going that fast.
The bike is also available in a chain-drive off-road version, though I like the belt-drive on-road version better as it’s quieter and also lower to the ground, which is nice for my 30-inch inseam.
The bike isn’t wildly powerful, but it’s enough to beat cars off the line at green lights, which is what I expect out of a commuter bike. Anything less, and you might as well get a scooter.
Kollter is actually known as Tinbot in Europe if you’re wondering why there are nearly identical-looking versions across the pond. And the company is coming out with several new models in the next few months that offer more power and speed, so this is going to be an exciting company to watch.
I LOVE me some LiveWire bikes. I was one of the first to ride the original production version of the Harley-Davidson LiveWire back in 2019, and my takeaway was that it was an incredibly-performing bike that was also grossly overpriced. Well, perhaps not grossly. But at $30K, it was pretty darn pricey.
The company ended up spinning off LiveWire as its own all-electric sub-brand and relaunched the bike as the LiveWire One.
At closer to $22K, now we’re talking. I’ve ridden the LiveWire one as well, and it feels pretty much the way I remember the H-D LiveWire to have felt a few years ago. The bike is incredibly powerful off the line with a 0-60 mph of 3.1 seconds.
It’s fun in the canyons and works great in the city as well, and I love the Level 3 DC fast charging for quick fill-ups. The last time I was riding the LiveWire One in LA, I made frequent use of the fast charging in 20-minute stops, which allowed me to get over half of the battery’s charge back into the “tank.”
I also had the chance to test an early prototype of the LiveWire Del Mar, which is LiveWire’s second bike, schedule to be released early next year.
At $17K, it’s a decent bit more affordable than the LiveWire One, but it still offers nearly the same 0-60 mph time. It’s not a toned down LiveWire One, though – it’s an equally fun bike in its own right.
In fact, I also find it more comfortable since it doesn’t have as long of a reach as the LiveWire One. The only downside in comparison is that it’s likely to have around two-thirds of the range of the LiveWire One. (We don’t yet have full battery or range specs from LiveWire at the time of publishing.) But as a more urban-oriented bike, even 100 miles (160 km) of range is going to be plenty for nearly any commuter.
After my LiveWire S2 Del Mar test ride, I was kicking myself for not pre-ordering one of the Launch Edition bikes. Those 100 individually numbered motorcycles are all but guaranteed to become collectors items one day.
This alphabetical ordering gives us some doozies, like NIU’s cute little city scooters following up behind LiveWire’s rocket of an electric motorcycle.
But I call ’em like I see ’em, and I see NIU as a great option for anyone who needs a modestly powerful scooter in the city. I have the NIU NQi GT Long Range, and it has served as my daily driver for just over two years. The scooter does absolutely everything I need it to do (well, except for taking my dog to the vet) and has been an awesome way to get an electric vehicle in the city when my wife and I neither want (nor can afford) something as large as an electric car.
The NIU isn’t the most powerful scooter out there, but it keeps up with the 125cc scooters off the line without a problem.
One of its quirks is that your feet are up a bit high since one of the two giant batteries is under the foot platform, but I got used to it quickly and stopped noticing. I also wish it had more built-in storage, but I just added one of NIU’s cargo boxes on back and that gave me extra cargo space.
With a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), it’s been sufficient for the city, but I’d certainly love to upgrade to the newer NIU MQi GT EVO, which tops out at 100 km/h (62 mph). I test rode one last year at the EICMA Milan Motorcycle Show, and the first thing I noticed was how the more powerful motor accelerates even quicker than my NQi GT. If you’re going to be riding a lot with your partner or just want a faster and more powerful scooter, the EVO is a great option.
I haven’t ridden NIU’s RQi Sport electric motorcycle yet since it’s only been released in China. But the first chance I get, I’ll be on it.
The Ryvid Anthem is an absolutely fascinating bike. I rode it a couple of times on a recent trip to LA and had an absolute blast on it.
The innovative folded metal frame is lightweight and even allows the owner to customize the geometry by changing key points, like the head tube angle and the mounting points for the suspension.
The seat is also mounted on an actuator that lets it raise or lower by up to 4 inches (100 mm), even while riding.
The bike feels light and nimble, even if it’s not the fastest off the line like a LiveWire or Energica. But it makes up for it in style and experience.
The Anthem is also quite comfortable, especially for a smaller rider like me at 5’7″ or 170cm. But because you can raise the seat up by 4 inches, taller riders can feel good on the Anthem as well.
The last cool thing to mention on this bike is the removable battery. It may be small at just over 4 kWh, but it is removable with a quick release and even has wheels so you don’t have to carry the 65-pound pack inside to charge it. Instead, you just roll it like carry-on luggage. That’s a key benefit for apartment dwellers who don’t have a place to charge on the street.
As a commuter bike, the 75 mph (120 km/h) or so top speed is enough for pretty much any urban road or highway sprint.
You aren’t going to be overtaking in the left lane too often on the highway, but you can at least maintain safe speeds to keep up with traffic. And like I said, this is a commuter bike after all. It’s not a sport bike or a tourer. It’s for getting to work and having fun while doing it. And the Ryvid Anthem absolutely accomplishes that while leaving a stupidly-big smile on your face.
The Metacycle. Wow, I waited so long for this ride. The bike was unveiled at the start of 2021 but didn’t start making deliveries until Q3 of 2022, with the volume really picking up this month at the end of 2022.
The bike also changed somewhat from the original design, gaining about 50% more weight and seeing its sustained top speed drop from 80 mph (130 km/h) to somewhere in the 60-70 mph (100-112 km/h) range. A turbo button puts the bike in sport mode for brief sprints up to 80 mph (130 km/h), but then it requires a cool-down period where you’re stuck at the continuous top speed until you can do it again.
But since this is a commuter bike and not really a long highway cruise type of bike, that’s probably going to be fine for most people.
I test rode one of the first production Metacycles in LA and took it on a combination of fast highway riding and local city street cruising. I got an extrapolated range of 40 miles (64 km), though that was with ample use of the sport mode. Not exactly the most impressive range, but obviously fine for anyone with a commute of less than 40 miles (or 20 miles if you don’t have a charge spot at work).
The bike itself is actually a lot of fun to ride. Not only is it a head turner and conversation starter at traffic lights, but it’s a nimble and easy-riding bike for weaving between cars and slicing through traffic.
In fact, it’s so easy to ride that it feels like a simple upgrade from an electric bicycle. If you’ve been riding higher-speed e-bikes like Super73s or other motorcycle-inspired designs and want to upgrade to an actual motorcycle, the Metacycle makes that transition quite easy.
The bike comes with some neat innovations I haven’t seen elsewhere, like a see-through glovebox with a wireless charger for your phone. The original $5,000 price was a great deal, but even the current $6,500 price feels reasonable for what you ultimately get.
Sur Ron Light Bee
The Sur Ron Light Bee is like if an electric bicycle hit puberty, lost its pedals, and grew some power. It’s not a “real motorcycle” in the sense that it’s barely 6 kW (8 hp), but it can hit a solid 45-50 mph off-road and is often found beating gas-powered motorbikes in races.
The thing barely weighs over 100 pounds, and thus it feels more like a heavy electric bicycle beneath you, except that it has a short enough wheel base and sufficient torque to flip you right over if you grab too much throttle.
The Sur Ron’s Achilles heel has always been its lower battery capacity, which can be sucked up in 40 minutes or less of super hard riding, though it could last for a couple of hours of leisurely trail riding.
But as a fun runabout that you toss in the back of your truck and take out to the boonies for off-road shenanigans, it’s a great starter off-road bike. And considering its usually priced at around $4,000, it’s just not that expensive either.
It may not be here for a long time, but it’s here for a good time.
I guess we saved the biggest for last here. Zero has so many models in its lineup that it’s hard to keep track of them these days. I think I’ve ridden most of them at this point. From the flagship SR/F and sleeker fully-fared SR/S, to the smaller Zero FXE and other bikes in between, there’s a bit of something for everyone.
I recently had the chance to test out the new Zero DSR/X, which is the company’s newest and perhaps most impressive model. The electric adventure bike gave me some of my first tastes of high-power adventure riding in the trails over Park City, Utah. Between the rider aides that help a so-so rider like me play at a much higher level to the utility additions like tons of locking storage space, that is one impressive bike! It also comes with a massive battery pack to match its massive pricetag of $24,495, so don’t expect to get into this one cheap.
Even so, Zero’s entry-level bikes in the FX line still offer a thrilling ride for closer to half of that price. I fell in love with a 2019 Zero FXS a few years ago, but the Zero FXE is likely my new favorite among the company’s starter bikes. As a commuter-level bike that still gets you fast speeds, powerful acceleration, and an entry ticket into Zero’s walled garden, it’s a hell of a ride.
As Zero’s prices have walked up, though, this undisputed leader of the US electric motorcycle market has been faced with a number of new start-ups trying to eat its lunch on the commuter end of the spectrum. Companies like Kollter, SONDORS, Ryvid, and CSC all offer interesting and unique commuter-level electric motorcycles that could give options to those that can’t afford (or can’t justify paying for) Zero’s higher prices.
One of the coolest things about the electric motorcycle market is just how quickly it is evolving. New e-moto companies seem to crop up every month, and new models are rolling out on a weekly basis.
Who knows what bikes we’ll see in the coming years?
The only thing for certain is that I’m going to need to find myself sitting in a pile of new saddles if I want to keep this up. And that ain’t a bad thing to me!
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