I have waited years (since 2006) for diesel motorcycles to emerge from development. No luck.
Electric motorcycles, however, are now available and look very promising. The Brammo is a good example:
I have read that subsidies can bring the cost of this bike to around $6,000. With a top speed of 60mph and range of 40 miles it can easily handle daily commute tasks. Removing fuel stops from the mix (and only four hours to recharge the battery) makes the following immediate benefits seem likely in urban areas:
- Quieter streets
- Improved air quality
- More time to be productive (less standing at the pump)
- Less traffic congestion
- Better space use — fewer parking spots required
Cities should be jumping on this to bring costs down even more since they stand to benefit in so many tangible and immediate ways. More drivers should be jumping on this as electric bikes give plenty of torque for hills and are more accessible than other bikes — require no clutch/gear training.
It will be interesting to see if anyone develops a sound modification kit to make the electric vehicles sound more like traditional engines. I have listened to race car enthusiasts complain that the Audi Le Mans diesel race car is too quiet — it lacks the scream of gasoline. Some people have also started to make noise about the fact that quiet cars are dangerous — they are so accustomed to listening for engines instead of looking for them they feel threatened.
The temporary solution for this odd problem could be a speaker mounted on the electric motorcycle that gives sound options like Harley, Ducati or Triumph. I know BMW has engineers that tune the engine to have a distinctive sound. Might be the best way to get people past the fear of change to streets with less noise. Another option could be to mount fancy sound systems with massive amounts of bass…that might help make less noise more popular.
It looks great so far, but I also see a security failure in the design.
The key has to be in the ignition for charge mode so it requires secure parking space with power, which is uncommon for urban residences. It begs the question of how easy will it be for the bike to be stolen. It would be nice to have the option to unlock and pull the battery to charge it elsewhere, like the 20th floor of an apartment building, while leaving the bike immobilized. The battery could even serve as another key, such that only the correct battery would power the bike.