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Rise of the E-Machines….

March 21, 2010

 

Zero DS Electric Motorcycle

Pontefract, England – Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.

E-bikes, electric motorcycles and scooters, are the current buzz in the UK motorcycle industry. E-bikes have all the advantages of their petrol powered cousins i.e., easy to park, congestion busting and fun to ride but none of the downside emissions and noise. Sure there’s an issue with e-bike range, currently around 60 miles, but for the urban commuter that’s approaching a realistic distance and with running costs in the tenths of pence per mile e-bikes are looking more and more like viable personal transport.

Hardly surprising then that just 10 days ago the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) hosted a meeting that sought support in setting up an organisation to represent and support the British e-bike industry in both the UK and Europe. In a market where sales of petrol powered machines remain depressed and appear to be stagnating MCIA’s attempt to broaden the market seems at first sight sensible, but it has not gone down well with some of the niche dealers who have been in the vanguard of developing the UK e-bike market. As one said: “This has all the indications of a gamekeeper turning poacher. I’ve spent time and money developing an electric scooter market. Now I invited to a meeting and more or less told that the ‘big’ boys want some of the action and are going to represent my interests. Everything will be fine if MCIA’s market predictions are accurate. If they are not I’m simple faced with more people selling into a market that I helped develop and will have a much much smaller slice of. I’m not happy and I’m supposed to pay join”. Interestingly post the e-bike meeting MCIA announced that following its intervention the Government was ‘likely’ to include e-bikes in its upcoming electric vehicle assisted purchase scheme.

So what about the e-bike users? Well considering how well MCIA keeps the UK Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) ‘briefed’ don’t be surprised when e-bike owners are welcome into the MAG family. Oh dear leaving the good ole British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) once again wallowing in MAGs wake.

Are e-bike owners needs different to conventional motorcycle and scooter users? That’s an interesting question for debate. Apart from needing somewhere to ‘plug-in’ the answer would appear to be no. However if viewed from, let’s say, Transport for London’s (TfL’s) lofty perch the fact that e-bikes are non polluting at point of use and silent is a factor. Let’s not forget that the London bikes in bus lanes trial ends in July. A lot of ‘busy work’ meetings going on over that. Is it simple a scurrilous rumour that a group of ‘green’ motorcyclists have lobbied TfL to only allow e-bikes into the London Red Route bus lane network??

While over in Brussels the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG Move) seems to believe that e-bikes are indeed different to ‘conventional’ machines. Apart from the obvious non polluting and silent attributes DG Move also seems to hold the opinion that e-bikes are safer. Will this mean we see the representatives of ‘conventional’ machines going head to head with the lobbyists supporting e-bikes? Are we about to witness an engineered split in the user groups, is divide and rule on the European Union biking agenda?

As for the Association des Constructeurs Européens de Motocycles (ACEM) e-bikes are major growth area. Wow, motorcycles and scooters are finally ‘green’ and safe. Not to mention of course that an e-bike would fit very nicely into the new A2 licence category. Anyone want to bet that the rumours that ACEM are supporting a 100bhp limit are true. Less horse power less pollution less crashes, it’s called a European flexible approach.

The rise of the e-bike – hasta la vista baby!

© Back Roads Rider 2010

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Hodder permalink
    March 22, 2010 1:49 pm

    “So what about the e-bike users? Well considering how well MCIA keeps the UK Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) ‘briefed’ don’t be surprised when e-bike owners are welcome into the MAG family. Oh dear leaving the good ole British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) once again wallowing in MAGs wake.”

    Given that the bmf has already been supporting and promoting electric motorcycles through our involvement with various suppliers, electric racing, etc., I find it unlikley that we are going to be left wallowing in anyone’s wake.

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