If you’re interested in riding an electric motorcycle or already have one of your own, you’re probably wondering how it differs from a traditional gas-powered motorcycle. Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way in recent years as manufacturers look for ways to woo those that might be hesitant to give up their fuel hog. They used to be a rarity on the road with their low speeds, long charging times, and limited range, but that’s no longer the case.
Today’s EVs are faster and more powerful than ever. They are also better for the environment than gas-powered vehicles with less maintenance and lower energy costs. This includes electric motorcycles. Here we will learn about the gears on electric motorcycles and what kind of transmissions they use.
What are the Gears in an Electric Motorcycle?
If you’re used to driving a manual stick or a manual motorcycle, you’re used to changing gears as you increase your engine speed. Combustion engines need to operate at certain rotations per minute (RPMs) to generate power. When you shift gears, the power is distributed so the engine can reach the proper RPM. Torque is highest at lowest gears to help the car accelerate from a stationary position. The torque decreases as your speed increases as less power is needed to keep the car or motorcycle accelerating. Manufacturers of combustion engines set specific gear ratios to maximize power and output.
That’s not the case with electric motorcycles. Electric engines produce the same amount of power at torque at any RPM within a specific range, so there’s no need for a multi-speed transmission.
In most cases, electric motorcycles only come with one gear. Manufacturers of electric motorcycles set the gear ratio to maximize power without having to change gears.
Electric motorcycles tend to be much lighter than their gas-powered alternatives. Adding a multi-speed transmission would add unnecessary weight to the bike.
However, having a single-speed transmission comes with a few disadvantages. Manufacturers often have to balance acceleration and the vehicle’s outright top speed to keep the engine from having to change gears. Electric motorcycles can usually accelerate on a dime, but most tap out at certain speeds. For example, the Harley Davidson Livewire can’t go faster than 100 mph.
Electric Motorcycles with Multi-Speed Transmissions
That’s not to say that every electric motorcycle has only one gear. Many electric vehicle manufacturers are starting to experiment with multi-speed transmissions to increase the overall speed of the bike.
For example, Kawasaki recently unveiled the electric H2R supercharged quasi-race bike, which can go up to 240 mph. It has four gears, which gives the rider the best of both worlds. It offers the quick acceleration that comes with an electric motor with the added power you’d expect from a combustion engine.
What’s Best for You?
If you’re thinking of investing in an electric bike, you can now choose between a single-speed and multi-speed transmission. However, the latter will likely cost you extra. The Kawasaki HR2 currently goes for around $55,000, while the Livewire sells for just under $30,000.
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Having more gears will help you reach top speeds, but most of us aren’t going faster than 100 mph, so consider how you plan on using the bike. If you love to go faster than 100 mph, your chances of injury increase. Remember to stay safe on the road by wearing a motorcycle Bluetooth headset.
You will also have more control over the bike with the added gears. Kawasaki says the manual transmission “not only allows a greater speed range, it also allows the rider to have greater input.”
It will also help you feel like you are riding a traditional gas-powered motorcycle. If you’re used to riding a gas hog, using a single-speed transmission might feel a little boring.
However, having more gears will also make the bike heavier, which requires more electricity.
Electric motorists have more options than ever when it comes to finding the right type of vehicle. Whether you’re looking to save the environment or reduce your fuel costs, you can find an electric motorcycle that suits your needs and preferences.
Regardless of what kind of engine you choose, use a Bluetooth motorcycle headset to access your phone hands-free during an emergency. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.