Could motorcycles powered by electricity be the next big thing?

Change could be coming to the iconic motorcycle industry, as many of the world’s top manufacturers launch electric motorcycles in the next few years.

Key Points

  • Many traditional motorcycle manufacturers are working on electric-powered models.
  • Harley-Davidson, BMW, Honda and Yamaha all have plans in the works.
  • Zero Motorcycles has electric motorcycles available now that go over 100 mph and have a 200 mile range. 

My family spent the weekend welcoming summer with a camping trip to Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. While driving around searching for the park’s infamous buffalo herd, we saw a lot of motorcyclists out enjoying the scenery. The roar of a Harley is a sound of summer that reminded me it’s officially motorcycle season.

Change could be coming to this iconic industry, as many of the world’s top manufacturers launch electric motorcycles in the next few years. Harley-Davidson is developing Livewire, an electric sportbike. The company hasn’t announced when the prototype will go into production, but some speculate it could be within a year. And I know what you’re thinking: no, it won’t be silent. In true Harley fashion, it will sound more like a jet turbine than a Prius. BMW, Honda and Yamaha are all working on electric motorcycle plans too.

Surprisingly, the current leader in electric motorcycles is a company you probably haven’t heard of. California-based Zero Motorcycles already has electric motorcycles on the road throughout the U.S.. The company started in 2006 and has six electric bike models to choose from, ranging in price from $8,495 to $15,995. According to Cool Hunting, the company has now designed a bike it believes will be appealing to even more customers. Its 2017 models can go over 100 mph and have a 200-mile range. Plus, these motorcycles can be charged using the same type of outlet where you would plug in a lamp or a toaster.

Zero Motorcycles has also gotten creative with its marketing. Fearing that customers might put off an electric motorcycle purchase until Congress decides if it will resurrect electric vehicle purchase incentives, the company started a Don’t Wait for Washington promotion. If you purchase a bike now and the Electric Motorcycle Federal Tax Credit doesn’t get renewed this year, Zero Motorcycles will send you a check for 10 percent of the purchase price..

Would you consider trading in your current motorcycle for an electric one? Or, would having a good electric motorcycle option get you to buy a motorcycle if you’ve never been the leather-wearing, hair-blowing-in-the-wind type in the past? I’m curious to see if options like the ones Zero Motorcycles offers might bring people into the motorcycle market who wouldn’t have been interested in them in the past.

Oh, and before I forget, if you do happen to motorcycle through Custer State Park this summer, don’t get too close to the buffalo.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A. in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

Did you like this article? Here are some other articles that include: electric vehicle, motorcycle, Harley Davidson, Zero Motorcycles, Livewire

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