4-12 December 2021
NEC Birmingham

Swapping petrol power for electric power may fill you with uncertainty, Motorcycle Live Online asked Vanessa Ruck – otherwise known as ‘The Girl On A Bike‘ to tell us about her experiences on electric bikes. Having ridden machines from Zero, Super Soco, Horwin and Energica on-road and Artisan and Electric motion off-road, she tells us her thoughts on electric…

I went into electric thinking *insert whiny voice* “electric bikes are the future, we’re running out of gasoline, it’s the end of the combustion engine” and yes, they’re the future – but it’s not because of any of the above. Quite simply they’re the future because they’re absolutely mind-blowingly epic, smashing what we currently know as high performance or smooth delivery out of the window. The torque and acceleration are like nothing experienced before.

“You have instant power on tap. And I mean instant. It’s smooth and linear pulling you and the machine forwards with such force it sends your mind giddy. Words can’t quite describe the way it just flies forward. It’s safe to say that my first electric experience really gave me the buzz!”

You can check out Vanessa’s reaction over on her Instagram channel by clicking here.

Here are Vanessa’s top things to think about when thinking of going electric… 

  • Where is the clutch?

We’re programmed to think we need one – how else would you be safe, control the power, ride anything technical? The reality is that electric technology is so far ahead of combustion in the throttle response that you really don’t need a clutch. With instant and linear power, a slightly superior throttle control can completely negate the need for a clutch. Even on off-road electric bikes!

  • Accessibility for new riders – can we entice future generations?

I believe that electric bikes are going to play a key role in getting new riders into the motorcycle world. The accessibility of electric offerings means swinging your leg over for the first time is easier than ever.

Electric just inspires confidence. Simplistic controls with no clutch or gears, no foot controls or hot pipes and engine to burn you. Quiet unintimidating sound. A super low 770mm saddle height and mere 100kg weight…Just a simple twist and go with bicycle-style dual breaks. It’s intuitive to learn. It makes for a really easy, completely un-intimidating bundle of fun! 

It’s so easy I had my whole family riding around with big smiles – including both my 95-year-old and 92-year-old grandad, sister- mother- and brother-in-law, husband and even my 91-year-old nana went pillion! I’ve taken many bikes home over the years and never had one that everyone tried.

A bike that can inspire that much confidence into giving motorcycles a go is a huge hit in my eyes! If you’ve ever felt a little intimidated by the idea of riding this is a fantastic option. 

For a new or existing rider looking for an insanely economical commuter, first off-road experience, small around town runabout or a motorcycle suitable for those with a CBT, the electric offerings are worth some serious consideration.

  • Range and charging – it’s not as you might have thought… 

Historically the range has not been there but there are now some solid contenders for the average miles most riders actually do. Depending on your riding – ring its neck with a happy throttle and it’s obviously going to be less – you’re looking at anywhere from 60-250-mile range on some of the new offerings. Charging technology is improving rapidly too. 80% in an hour, with some utilising DC fast recharge compatible with the car EV infrastructure and gives a full recharge in 20-25 minutes. 

I don’t know about you, but for me, a coffee every 120 miles is quite welcomed, and one recharge will only cost about £1-2.20.

  • Finding the right electric bike

Not every electric bike is suitable for every use – just like combustion bikes. You wouldn’t take a Tenere 700 into a trials competition…okay…unless you’re Pol Tarres.

A key point with range, price, style, speed is working out what you want the bike for. There are lots of different options on the market with each suiting a slightly different riding approach and lifestyle need. 

For example, there are lots of small, compact, and very affordable electric bikes that would be ideal for a covid-safe, low-cost urban runaround. Such as the Super Soco TC Max. But this bike is looking at a 60-mile range and 60 mph top speed – ideal for a commute, but what about an energetic blast out into the twisty countryside? 

You might then turn to something bigger, more powerful like a Zero SR/F Street Fighter. A more classic roaster electric offering. Or maybe you’re wanting to cover more distance with some serious speed? 0-60 in sub-three seconds with super-fast DC charging across the car electric infrastructure with the Energica EsseEsse9. No motorcycle in its class has a greater range – or faster charging – 100% charge in 30 minutes. Or maybe you’re after some muddy and technical riding, that’s where the Electric Motion Epure would fit. 

I urge you not to dismiss them all just because one is not right.

  • But where can you charge up? 

Compatible with UK 3-pin plugs you can simply charge up at home, work, or wherever you are with electric sockets. Many of the manufacturers now recognise that some owners can’t park close enough to charge and so have easily removable batteries. 

You then have DC charging. A common worry is there not being enough charging infrastructures to travel. Well, this year there are now officially more commercial charge points than petrol stations in the UK and an average install rate of 500 new charge points per month. That’s a huge – and growing – network… 

  • Cost over a lifetime

Something often overlooked with electric is the cost. Not the higher upfront cost, but the reduced running cost. With electric you have a sealed for life motor, there are no oil changes, fuel filters, piston changes or petrol tanks to fill. The reduced maintenance over the average ownership is quite impressive – both in money and time. There’s also a lot less to go wrong.

  • Think you’ll miss the sound?

As someone who rides a loud Harley-Davidson I thought this too. How would you get the same buzz without the growl of a combustion engine? But it somehow brings a whole new enjoyment to riding when it’s removed – and I did NOT expect that.

I can understand the expectations of people who love the raw of their combustion engine, after all #loudpipessavelives – but it’s actually quite incredible having no sound. You somehow feel more out in the elements, closer to the world rushing past. Speed almost feels faster and the world around almost feels closer without the thumping engine we’re accustomed to. Just the sound of the birds singing and the world around. That’s cool if you ask me.

There is the question of safety as humans use sound to identify danger, navigate and see but that is a whole different topic.

There was a surreal moment as I rode the Epure trials bike, it was calm, I was out in the elements and then my husband started filming me on his combustion Beta. That moment was the first time I realised quite how intrusive the sound of an engine is. 

  • What about riding off-road?

Trials riding really has its work cut out in terms of fighting electric misconceptions. Surely electric can’t do trials? Having tried and tested the Epure I can safely say, yes it can. And I now want one over my Beta Evo 250… 

With more range than my body can handle I’m blinking impressed! Clutches, throttle control, balance,  traction – there’s a lot going on. But this electric EPure trials bike just simplifies it all. Not in a way that takes away the pleasure, in a way that accelerates progression, it simplifies the faff and creates smiles. Full hydraulic diaphragm clutch and 600Nm output on a 75kg bike that’s fully trials capable and with near to zero maintenance. no stalling, no gears, it leaves the brain to focus on actually tackling the terrain. Progression is mad. But honestly, the smiles are even bigger!

  • It’s time to just give it a try!

I’ve heard so many reasons why electric can’t work but we’ve reached a time now where most of them just seem to come down to a ‘set-in-your-old-ways’ mindset. Maybe fearing change? New and different doesn’t have to be feared. Electric and combustion can run in parallel. The only way to really know if you like it…is to try it. You might surprise yourself… 

You can find Vanessa, The Girl On A Bike over on InstagramFacebookLinkedIn and YouTube, and www.thegirlonabike.com.