Many people are suspicious of the real range of electric motorcycles and they are right, although this data will only improve with the passage of time.
How is tested the real range of an electric motorcycle?
And are they already a feasible solution nowadays?
Note: this article will not be biased and it has no agenda of one particular company or product, but rather give examples on all kinds of different ones.
At the end of the article, we give an example of a new prototype of an electric motorcycle arriving in the market next months, just as a way to give a real-world example of what the future holds for electric bikes.
The real range of an electric motorcycle
The first thing that is taken into account when buying an electric motorcycle – or an electric car – is its range. Yes, of course, the first thing is the price, but we assume that those who have already decided to buy a battery-powered vehicle already assume that its price is higher than that of a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.
Returning to the subject at hand, the autonomy offered by manufacturers is that measured by the famous WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure) cycle, which is mandatory.
This cycle, despite being much better than the previous one, the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle), is still not 100% real, since real day-to-day conditions are highly variable, and this has an impact on the actual range achieved.
The real autonomy of electric motorcycles is a key and decisive factor in the purchase.
That is why there is the need to test electric motorcycles and scooters in the same mixed test circuit, urban, suburban, and stretches of highways, real battery guzzlers, a very real and close to the route that can make an average user.
There can be also included sections with slopes, forcing us to make uphill and downhill sections, another litmus test for the battery. With a measured mileage in each situation, we found that the range recorded differs from that offered by the manufacturer, although in most cases it is quite close to the final figure.
The fact is that a range test in which you always drive in the city is not the same as one in which you only drive on the highway. In the city, you will achieve much more range because your average speed is lower, and on the highway is the scenario in which you will achieve the lowest range because you drive at a higher speed.
It is the principle of communicating vessels; the higher the average speed, the shorter the range, and the lower the average speed, the longer the range. It’s a matter of numbered beans. The only route that is ideal for a really interesting range is a very winding curvy road.
And if the electric motorcycle has a good regenerative engine brake, and we use it to the maximum, it is possible to achieve the best data. But of course, to get to that road you have to ride on the highway and in the city, so the average will still be average. The type of route and driving have a direct impact on the range.
Regenerative braking – key to achieve a good range
In mopeds, the real range will always be 100% urban; in models equivalent to a 125 c.c. this data will already be a mixture of urban and suburban sections, and in models equivalent to the A2 or A license, the final range is achieved by averaging the use in all scenarios.
Clearly, if an electric motorcycle with 100 hp and a large 14 kWh battery is used only in the city, with the speed limited to 50 km/h, the range will be brutally high. But nobody uses a 100 hp bike only in the city… All this is to make you understand that real autonomy is subject to many factors.
And the ambient temperature also influences the range; cold weather has a negative effect on the batteries and shortens their range.
In our experience, curiously, in a properly proportioned motorcycle, each kWh of battery on average achieves between 10 and 14 km of range, taking into account that the power of the electric motor, the weight, and the capacity of the battery are evenly matched.
The range of the electric motorcycle improves if the weight is logically reduced.
Logically, motorcycles that are lighter or smaller, or that have a less powerful motor and a large battery, will have a longer range.
Thus, the capacity of the battery will give you an approximate indication of its range: mopeds with 3 kWh batteries achieve ranges between 40 and 50 km, the “125” with 5.6 kWh reach 75 km, motorcycles with 7 kWh achieve 100 km and with a 14 kWh pack can reach 170 km. These are also counted beans.
A prototype example – the Benelli electric
QJMotor, Benelli’s sister company in China, showed off a prototype electric sportbike a couple of months ago. And now, it has filed design patents that reveal its angular shapes and some other differences from the originally displayed model.
The model name is merely informative: QJ7000D. And it refers to the declared rated power of the electric motor. It has 10 kW (13.5 hp), which would be equivalent to a 125 cc motorcycle.
With it, QJMotor seems to bet on a market segment still unexplored. There are large and expensive electric motorcycles on the one hand, such as Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire or Zero’s SR/F; and very utilitarian urban scooters on the other. So an electric sports bike, as an entry into the two-wheeled universe in a more “passionate” and attractive way, at a reduced cost, does not seem like a bad idea.
The future Husqvarna E-Pilen is going in this same direction, but with the benefits of Chinese manufacturing, always very cheap, QJMotor could be in a very favorable position, especially if the company takes the logical step of creating a version of the Benelli brand to target the European market.
The patent for the QJ7000D includes photographs from all angles, and while it is largely the same as the prototype shown in June by QJMotor, there are slight design changes. Most notable in this regard concerns the area under the tank.
Obviously, it’s not really a fuel tank, and there’s enough room to hold a full-face helmet, for example.
On the original model, the sides of this storage area were open, whereas, on this patented version, there are additional plastic panels that largely cover it, merging with the rear of the bike, making it a single piece. However, if you look closely they leave a small section open on each side to maintain the “floating” appearance of the supposed tank. This way, if there is nothing stowed, you can see straight through the bike.
Of note is its secondary chain drive, which promises to make the QJ7000D look more like a regular motorcycle, with conventional controls including a clutch lever, foot-operated rear brake, and shifter.
The moto characteristics and performance
As for the claimed performance, it seems quite realistic. A top speed of 105 km/h and a range of 100 km with a 72 V, 60 Ah battery. This being the case, the QJ7000D may not be far from being ready for production. But with a different, more attractive name, for sure.
Recall that Kymco presented two years ago the attractive SuperNex, a sporty electric concept, as well as the naked RevoNex.