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Are electric scooters and mopeds about to replace their petrol-driven counterparts as the dominant two-wheeled force on our roads?
Improvements in battery technology in recent years have seen electric motorcycles increasingly become real contenders as an economical, environmentally-friendly option.
While motorists still largely shy away from pricey electric cars because of range anxiety, mopeds are increasingly seen as a viable option by commuter-riders due to their ability to drastically reduce the time spent on the road.
Individuals are also becoming progressively more aware of their own damaging contributions to the environment. A recent study reveals the impact that a shift from fossil-fuel powered vehicles to their electric counterparts could have.
More companies are bringing new products to the market at competitive prices, and the government is setting aside £7.5 million to offer grants of up to £1,500 for buyers of new electric bikes.
So Bikesure has taken a look at what’s on offer. Although engine size typically dictates the differences between types of two-wheeled motors, electric scooters, mopeds and motorbikes are often viewed synonymously. As with their petrol-powered siblings, the restrictions on who can ride electric mopeds and scooters are determined by their speed.
It’s important to know the difference between true electric motorcycles and Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPCs). EAPCs are classed as electric bicycle, limited to a maximum speed of 15mph and must have pedals. This means that they can be ridden without a driving licence and do not require road tax, insurance or an MOT.
The first category of true electric mopeds is restricted to 30mph, equivalent to 50cc petrol bikes. These need number plates, registration documents, road tax and must be MOTd after three years. Riders must wear helmets and these rides cannot be used on motorways, but on the plus side they are road tax exempt.
The most powerful bikes are treated as small motorcycles, and cannot be ridden without a valid CBT certificate and L plate, or a full motorcycle licence. Check our guide to electric scooters and the law.
Yamaha’s electric moped takes full advantage of the lack of an internal combustion engine and delivers a stripped back, modern design. While it looks appealing, one review found that it only had a range of approximately 14 miles – that’s a rather short journey. Charge time is seven hours, which is disappointingly average for something that’s going to require so much of it.
Drawing inspiration from classics like the Vespa, the EV1200 is a stylish scooter with a top speed reported as 45mph. A range of customisation options is available, and a new EV2000R model featuring lithium-ion batteries was launched early in 2016. Despite only having one UK-based dealer (in the Wirral), Artisan Scooters offer a UK mainland delivery service. This might not be the best choice for everyone, but it could be the ideal choice for eco-friendly mods.
E-Rider offers a range of machines covering all categories of electric scooter. The bicycle-class model 15 has a range of 20-25 miles at a stately 15mph, while the 50cc equivalent Model 30 allows 43 miles per charge with a top speed of 30mph. Things get interesting with the Model 60 (above), which the company describes as the most powerful electric scooter you can drive on UK roads. Regardless of whether that’s strictly true or not, its top speed of 60mph puts it into serious bike territory, and you will need a motorcycle licence to ride one. E-Rider sells all its bikes directly to consumers, which helps to keep prices down but means that the company doesn’t have dealers. E-Rider has established a network of owners willing to provide prospective customers with test drives, which would hopefully give you an informed opinion of the bike – although as you can see from the map on their site, depending on where you live you might have a bit of a trek to get there!
The Govecs Go! range of advanced electric scooters incorporates a number of features, including a motor designed specifically for use in scooters. These are all “true” scooters, all equivalent to at least 50cc and therefore you will need a licence to drive them. The main difference between the S1.4 and the S2.4 is battery size – the smallest version has a 15kg battery, giving it a range of between 18-31 miles. It’s worth bearing in mind that Govecs scooters use a belt drive on the wheel, rather than direct drive, which will require adjustment over time. They are also more costly than other bikes on this list, but most reviews refer to a high build quality which should translate to greater reliability in the long run.
The first thing you notice about the Eko bikes range is how good they look. It’s the usual mix of modern designs with the token Vespa lookalike but the designers obviously had a particularly strong cup of coffee the morning they came up with them, because they are rather beautiful. The E-moto Sport, is particularly sleek and thoughtfully designed. The performance matches the design, weighing only 75kg but boasting a battery that can do up to 50 miles per charge! The 48v version only travels up to 31 miles per charge, but weighs even less at 40kg (it’s also classed as an electric bicycle, so there’s no need for a licence, registration or insurance.)
CityCoCo bikes pride themselves on their customisability. With three different models, five Chassis colours to choose from, and over twenty-six mudguard options, you will be spoilt for choice. Designed with safety in mind, all their models have Certificates of Conformity (CoC) and boast a safety sensor on the support foot, preventing any accidents when the bike is stationary.
Their City model is the perfect choice for couples and pairs, boasting both front and rear hydraulic suspension so as not to affect the comfort of the ride, however bumpy the road may be! With a max speed of 26mph, the 20Ah Lithium-Ion can reach up to 74.5 mile range, with an easily removal process for convenient charging. The time it takes to charge is a respectable four hours, a significant improvement on it’s Yamaha counterpart. There is also the option to purchase an additional battery. The engine itself is Bosch, which has been globally accepted as top of its field, providing a maximum 1200Watt power.
BMW C Evolution
By and large, the more established manufacturers have been fairly slow off the mark in joining the electric moped revolution. BMW are one of the exceptions. The C Evolution is certainly one of the better options on the market, although it’s more expensive than many of the alternatives. For your money, you get a range of 60 miles, a cruising speed of 60mph and a top speed of 75mph. It also has a reverse gear, helpful if you’re parking in tight spaces!
Massive sales have made NIU electric scooters a commuting sensation across Europe and they’ve been available in the UK since autumn 2018. Developed from a Kickstarter crowdfunding scheme and co-founded by Li Yi Nan, and Token Hu, formerly of Microsoft, NIU’s models have received rave reviews. In fact, Forbes dubbed the brand “very likely to become the new Vespa”.
The five-model range comprises of The NGT with three drive modes (Sport, Dynamic and E-Save), the M+, the N series, the M series and the U series.
NIUs are easy on the eye and easy on the pocket too. With virtually no running costs and the top-of-the-range models coming in at under £4,000, it’s incredibly cheap – ideal for beginners. In fact, you can be on the road for as little as £1,699 or minus Office of Low Emission Vehicles grant, £1,450. And it comes with a two-year warranty on the bike and three-year warranty on the battery.
Lifan Eco Bike
The Lifan Eco Bike comes in a range of colours and has some great usability features. It has cruise control, which is useful when driving longer stretches, and a removable battery that can be charged indoors. This makes charging more convenient as you won’t have to track down parking that caters for electric bikes when you go to work or install an outdoor charging point at home.
Lifan claims the bike to have an average range of 40 miles, with the battery taking six hours to charge from zero to full. These numbers are fairly average for new electric scooters, and at 72kg it’s not the lightest electric scooter either. Priced at only £1,999 though, the Eco Bike could be the perfect option for some riders.
Super Soco CUX
The Super Soco CUX is a stylish bike. The design of the LED lights in the front and back are particularly eye-catching, and the scooter also has plenty of handy features – keyless start and locking, a motion-activated alarm and cruise control make the bike an attractive option.
The scooter is powered by a 1300W Bosch engine, but falls short in range and charging speed compared to some of the other scooters on this list. A charging time of 7-8 hours for a range of 40 miles is on the longer end, but the engine is slightly more powerful than the 1200W engine in most of the other scooters, so acceleration will be quicker. The Super Soco CUX is priced at £2,099.
As battery technology improves and more modern materials come down in price we’re bound to see increasingly powerful and efficient electric vehicles. The majority of machines currently available are, well, scooters and mopeds, but there are a few indications of what the future holds.
The Daymak Beast (below) is a stripped back and chunky vehicle designed for off-road use. One unique feature it includes is a solar panel, allowing for on-the-go charging. It won’t be completely self-sustaining, but it might well make the difference between walking or riding home. It is mainly available in the US, but there are some other dealerships around the world, including in Italy.
Are you ready to embrace electric scooters, mopeds and motorbikes? Or do you already own one? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how it works for you, or if you can’t bear the thought of leaving behind the engine and exhaust notes of your favourite scooters and bikes. Bikesure insures all types of electric scooters, moped and motorcycles, see what you can save: get a quote.
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