The Speed of Silence

These Electric Motorcycles Hit 160 MPH and Make Zero Noise

When electric motorcycles were first discussed in the media, riders envisioned either scooters with inferiority complexes or science-fiction impossibilities ala Tron. But when Lightning Motorcycle’s electric SuperBike won at the 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, everyone started taking notice. And there’s good reason for that.

While shifting gears and redlining a gasoline-powered bike’s rpm equates to engine noise and heat, electric motors change all of that. They deliver an uninterrupted surge of power, from 0 – 60 mph (and beyond). Eco-friendly powertrains don’t produce exhaust like a combustion engine and have fewer moving pieces, which minimizes wear and tear on the bike. They also come equipped with a staggering amount of torque.

This new breed of two-wheeled machines is quiet, which is great for the rider who wants to hear everything around him. In fact, wind noise in the helmet becomes the primary sound when you’re straddling an electric bike. Some riders think this is a bad thing; they believe these new bikes need to make more noise in order to alert other drivers and/or pedestrians. Others simply love the growl of a gas bike. (Yes, Panigale, we’re looking at you). While this debate continues, check out three electric motorcycles that currently have our attention:

Saietta R

British company Agility Global Ltd. recently rolled out the Saietta R, which reportedly took 7,000 hours to design and engineer. Available in London (we’re dreaming of the export), it can reach 0 – 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and its top speed is 80 mph. It can go 112 miles in the city, 58 miles on the freeway and has a reserve of 12 miles. If you could get one in the U.S., it would go for approximately $22,219 (£13,975).

The above video is from the show Fully Charged. In it, Robert Llewellyn visits the National Science Museum in London to speak with Lawrence Marazzi, director of Agility Global, about the Saietta.

Mission RS

The Mission RS is the first electric motorcycle that can go head-to-head with gasoline-powered bikes in the performance category. Setting a record time at Laguna Seca, the Mission RS offers 120 lb.-ft. of torque and a top speed of 160 mph. Though the top speed is not remarkable, the manufacturer claims “it is in place to promote longer range for the bike. The torque, however, is 20 pounds more than even the fastest gas bikes.”

It’s much more impressive than the Saietta R, and has a range of 230 miles in the city and 140 miles on the highway. Only 40 have been produced so far, and the bike costs $58,999.

Zero DS

With a price tag of only $15,000, the Zero DS offers a more practical demonstration of electric-bike technology than the Mission RS, and is also much more affordable. This price is still higher than a gas-powered bike with equivalent performance, but for those interested in electric, the Zero DS stands out.

The Zero DS offers the same silent ride and constantly available power, with 60 lb.-ft. of torque and a 95-mph top speed. The company says that with serious conservation, the rider can take a Zero DS 137 miles without a charge, and it can travel 76 miles at 55 mph. After that, it needs seven hours plugged into a standard wall outlet or an hour on a quick charger to juice back up. The above video goes into more detail.

However, as our sister site reported, “It is important to note that only a few years ago, Zero motorcycles were barely making 40 miles on a single charge. The improvements in range and power have been tremendous.”