When you think of motorcycles and electric bikes, it’s easy to compare the two. They are both powered vehicles that often serve as a means of transportation in urban areas. With electric bikes becoming more popular, they naturally invite comparisons to motorcycles, both electric and gas powered, and it’s understandable. In this article, we discuss the major differences between e-bikes and motorcycles in a range of areas: speed, weight capacity/weight limit specifications, price point per watt-hour for battery capacity and features available.
Before diving in, let’s establish the key differences between e-bikes and motorcycles. When riding an electric bike, you pedal just like a traditional bicycle but with electricity assisting your pedaling effort when needed. On some e-bikes, there is an option for throttle operation (just like a motorbike) in addition to pedal assist, but this is not necessary, and many riders never use the throttle. With motorcycles there’s no pedaling required as they use a gasoline powered motor.
The law treats electric bikes and motorcycles very differently. Motorcycles, whether electric or gas powered, are liable for road tax, insurance, and must have registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Riders of motorcycles must also have a driver’s license to be able to legally drive the vehicle. With electric bikes, no such restrictions apply. You do not need a driver’s license, the bike doesn’t need registration or insured, and you don’t need to pay tax. In most areas law enforcement treats electric bikes the same as traditional pedal bikes.
Motorcycles have many more moving parts that require regular lubrication for them to work properly over time. Neglecting these pieces will cause the motorbike to wear out quicker and need replacing. E-bikes have fewer parts needing lubrication allowing them to last longer with less maintenance. It is true that if you don’t do regular maintenance, the motor can become less efficient and at worst fail to work altogether. However, this should not happen under normal riding conditions; besides the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals (after typically 400-800 hours of use), it’s only necessary to check your bike every couple of weeks for signs of wear and tear.
E-Bike Running Costs
Electricity to charge an electric bike cost very little – about $0.05 per full charge, which will take you around 40 miles. Compare this to the cost of fuel for a motorcycle; even if you only use your bike for short journeys, it’s still more economical to use an electric bike.
The price-per-watt hour (PPW) of the battery in each type of vehicle also differs. On average, motorcycles cost around $0.03-$0.05 per watt-hour for a battery that has a capacity of around 0.75 kWh. E-bikes typically cost around $0.05 per watt-hour.
E-Bike Availability and Preparation
An e-bike is ready to go whenever you are, unlike a motorcycle that needs the engine warming up before riding. There’s no need for any sort of pre-ride check or warm-up on an e-bike; just get on and ride away.
Now that we’ve clarified that important distinction, let’s move on to the comparisons. Speed is one key difference between electric bikes and motorcycles. Most electric bikes have a maximum speed of around 20 mph (32 km/h), though there are some that can go faster. Motorcycles, on the other hand, can reach speeds well over 100 mph (160 km/h). If you need to get somewhere quickly or want to enjoy a higher level of speed while riding, a motorcycle is the better option.
Weight capacity and weight limit specifications are another key difference between electric bikes and motorcycles. Motorcycles have a weight capacity of around 300-400 lbs. (136-181 kg), which is significantly more than the average e-bike’s carrying capacity of 200-250 lbs. (91-113 kg). If you’re a larger person, motorcycle is likely to suit your needs better than a electric bike.
Finally, let’s look at some of the features available on electric bikes and motorcycles. Electric bikes come with a variety of features, including throttle operation (if desired), pedal-assist levels, LCD displays, front and rear lights, horns, and locks. Motorcycles also come with several features, such as front and rear lights, horns, locks, mirrors, turn signals (for motorcycles with a fairing), ABS brakes, traction control systems/ABS brakes/ride modes for sporty driving styles.
Though electric bikes are not as fast or powerful as motorcycles in terms of speed, they do have some characteristics that make them preferable for certain situations. If you live in an urban area and need to get somewhere quickly, a motorcycle is likely to be your preferred method of transportation; however, if you want something with more extensive features (e.g., throttle operation) or have concerns about speed-related safety, an electric bike is a great option.
There are key differences between electric bikes and motorcycles in terms of speed, weight capacity/weight limit specifications by country/region (where available), PPW of the battery for each type of vehicle, and features available. It’s important to consider what you need from a vehicle before deciding which will suit you best. Be sure to understand how you will be using the vehicle to choose the right one for your situation.