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Honda Ruckus 2022 now in Canada

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from https://voiceonline.com

One of Honda’s most unique and iconic products, the new 2022 Ruckus® will be available in Canada in May 2021.

The Ruckus oozes personality and attitude complete with its industrial-looking design highlighted by dual, round headlights and an exposed frame. More practical features include nimble handling, unmatched reliability and frugal fuel efficiency, making the Ruckus a great choice as a platform for personalization or affordable, around-town transportation. Ruckus Specifications for the Engine and Drivetrain include: Lightweight 49cc four-stroke OHC liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine provides ample power for in-town riding, Fuel-sipping constant-velocity (CV) carburetor with automatic choke, electric starter system allows easy push-button starting, Maintenance-free ignition system, Electronic Control Unit (ECU) provides control for ignition timing, alternator regulator, ACG starter, electric fuel pump and automatic choke, ultra-quiet exhaust system, and Automatic Honda V-Matic belt-drive transmission provides spirited acceleration and smooth operation.

Chassis and Suspension updates include: Two-piece, die-cast aluminum front frame with steel upper-rear frame, Twin-down tube fork provides 56 mm (2.2 in.) of plush travel for a well-controlled ride. Single-side aluminum swingarm with single-shock rear suspension has 66 mm (2.6 in.) of travel for a compliant, comfortable ride. front and rear drum brakes offer predictable stopping, Well-padded seat boasts a low, 735 mm (29.9 in.) seat height for added confidence at stops. The instrumentation includes analog speedometer, odometer and indicator lights for fuel, coolant temperature and low/high beams. Fuel-indicator light comes on with 1.1 litres remaining. Also added is a Maintenance-free battery. Easy-to-use parking brake and a Helmet holder that locks helmet into place under seat. The 2022 Honda Ruckus is available in ur: Gray paint with a MSRP: $3,599. The latest model that launched an entire scooter-customization subculture coming to Canada this spring

Honda Canada Inc. was established in 1969 and is the sole distributor of Honda motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and side-by-sides in Canada. The Honda Canada Motorcycle Division is responsible for sales, marketing, and operational activities for these products through authorized Honda dealers. For more information on Honda Canada powersports products, please visit: https://motorcycle.honda.ca/.

Piaggio, KTM, Honda and Yamaha to set up swappable batteries consortium

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from https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com

The consortium will define the standardised technical specifications of the swappable battery system for vehicles belonging to the L-category, mopeds, motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles.

Piaggio Group on Monday said it has signed a letter of intent with KTM AG, Honda Motor and Yamaha Motor to set up a Swappable Batteries Consortium for motorcycles and light electric vehicles.

The consortium will define the standardised technical specifications of the swappable battery system for vehicles belonging to the L-category: mopeds, motorcycles, tricycles and quadricycles.

The companies will be working closely with interested stakeholders and national, European and international standardisation bodies. The founding members of the consortium will be involved in the creation of international technical standards. The Consortium will start its activities in May 2021.

In the context of the Paris Climate Agreement and the transition to electromobility, the founding members of the consortium believe that the availability of a standardised swappable battery system would both promote the widespread use of light electric vehicles and contribute to a more sustainable life-cycle management of batteries used in the transport sector, the companies said in a joint statement.

Also, by extending the range, shortening the charging time and lowering vehicle and infrastructure costs, the manufacturers will try to answer customers’ main concerns regarding the future of electromobility.

Michele Colaninno, Piaggio Group chief of strategy and product, commented, “With the signing of this letter of intent, the signatories show their proactiveness vis-à-vis the major concerns of their customers and the political priorities as regards the electrification of vehicles.”

An international standard for the swappable batteries system will make this technology efficient and at the disposal of the consumers, added Michele Colaninno.

Honda extend MotoGP commitment

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Honda extend MotoGP commitment: Most successful MotoGP team to compete until 2026

Honda will continue to add to their illustrious history in Grand Prix racing, having extended their contract for the next five years until 2026

from https://www.financialexpress.com

Honda will continue to expand their illustrious history in Grand Prix racing having signed an agreement with Dorna Sports S.L. to compete for the next five years, from 2022 to 2026. Honda started in 1954 when Honda’s founder, Soichiro Honda, declared entry into the Isle of Man TT, the premier motorcycle racing event of the era, with the aim of becoming the best in the world. This journey has so far seen 100 different riders win on Honda machines and amass over 800 wins across all categories. In the premier class alone, Honda has claimed 850 podiums and 25 Rider World Championships, more than any other brand in history.

The journey will continue for at least five more years as Honda have agreed with commercial rights-holder and series-promoter Dorna Sports S.L. to guarantee their place on the grid until 2026.

Noriaki Abe, Managing Officer, Motorcycle Operations, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.: “First, I would like to express my respect and gratitude to Carmelo Ezpeleta and everyone at Dorna Sports for their hard work in organizing races during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am very pleased that we have renewed our contract to compete in MotoGP from 2022 to 2026.

“Honda has been competing in the FIM Grand Prix World Championship since 1959, and won its 800th grand prix last year. Honda believes MotoGP racing is vital to our motorsports activities. MotoGP is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing – it allows us to develop various technologies, and through fierce competition, teach our engineers and nurture their skills. With these engineers working on the development of production vehicles, Honda can create better products for its customers. Honda will continue to bring dreams and joy to its customers worldwide through its motorsports activities, including MotoGP.”

Honda Drops Hot Upgrades for 2021

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by Silvian Secara from https://www.autoevolution.com

Of all the models mentioned in the company’s recent announcement, the 2021 PCX takes the cake for being the most innovative.

Given the abundance of exciting announcements made by motorcycle manufacturers as of late, we’re inclined to believe that 2021 is becoming a promising year for the two-wheeler realm. The latest statement to support that claim was made by none other than the almighty Honda, which revealed details on as many as four new entry-level machines for the 2021 and 2022 model years.

First and foremost, the company’s scooter lineup will have the honor of welcoming an updated PCX that boasts a 157cc single-cylinder powerplant. Back in 2009, this bad boy was unleashed on the U.S. market as PCX125, gaining an array of steady upgrades ever since. Besides a modest displacement boost, the newcomer prides itself with a modified chassis that offers “reduced weight and improved cornering performance.”

Additionally, the 2021 Honda PCX comes equipped with a 30-liter storage unit below the seat and Honda’s state-of-the-art Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) setup. In addition, each and every lighting component is an LED item. This tasty piece of Japanese machinery will hit dealerships as early as March, with an MSRP of $3,799 for the base model. On the other hand, the ABS variant will cost you an extra 200 bucks, which is what you might refer to as a bargain.

As we move down the scooter range, we’ll come across a fresh Metropolitan hosting a generous amount of storage space for your convenience, including in-dash and under-seat compartments. Should you be looking for a “European-style scooter engineered to embody American practicality,” you’ll be able to get your hands on a 2022 Metropolitan in April, for just $2,499.

Next up, the manufacturer’s insanely customizable Ruckus will also make an appearance for the 2022 model-year. The 49cc superstar retains the unmistakable design language that made it special in the first place, as well as the vast majority of its main characteristics. At the end of the day, why would you change a recipe that works so well? This rugged little thing will be priced at $2,799, and we should expect it to hit dealerships during the same month as its Metropolitan sibling.

Last but not least, the final entry from Honda’s 2021 small-displacement goodness is none other than the revered CBR300R – “a single-cylinder machine capable of conquering tight city streets or twisting back roads.” Customers may opt for the base variant, which can be purchased in April for a mere $4,799, while its ABS counterpart could be yours for $4,999.

In terms of paintwork options, the PCX will be clad solely in Pearl White, while the Metropolitan will be available in Pearl Soft Beige or Coastal Blue. Furthermore, Honda’s Ruckus wears either White/Pearl Blue, Gray or Midnight Blue/Tan from the producer’s color palette. Finally, the beloved CBR300R comes dressed in Grand Prix Red or Matte Gray Metallic.

Dakar 2021: Honda registers back-to-back win in motorcycle class

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from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Argentine Kevin Benavides, riding a Honda, on Friday won the motorcycle category of the 2021 Dakar Rally becoming the first South American to achieve the feat.

Ricky Brabec, the 2020 champion in the motorcycle class, finished second to teammate Kevin Benavides to clutch the first one-two Dakar Rally finish for Honda since 1987. Sam Sunderland, the 2017 champion in the category, finished third riding a KTM.

Benavides clinched the title on the 12th and the final stage of the category held on Friday. Honda has now registered a back-to-back win in the motorcycle class.

The finish of the final stage was completely overshadowed by the death of the French rider, Pierre Cherpin, who had been in an induced coma since his crash on the 7th stage.

“On stage five I was worried because I crashed so fast and hit my head and my ankle and felt a lot of pain. On that day I said maybe the Dakar is finished for me. But I continued pushing. I still have some pain, but at the moment I am more happy than in pain,” said Kevin Benavides after the finish.

Honda Gives the Gold Wing Bigger Trunk and Android Auto

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by Daniel Patrascu from https://www.autoevolution.com

Not a week has passed in the new year and Japanese bike maker Honda already announced the first changes to the lineup for the 2021 model year. As you might have guessed, these changes first and foremost target the iconic Gold Wing family.

The touring bike line, in production in the Japanese stables since 1974, bets even more on its ability to handle whatever needs the rider has for long stretches of road. With that in mind, the biggest change pertains to the trunk capacity of the Gold Wing Tour.

According to the Japanese, the trunk can now hold two full-face helmets, thanks to an increase in capacity by 11 liters, to a total of 61 liters. Additionally, the passenger seat has been improved by giving it a “more relaxed angle” and taller profile, but also by making it of thicker foam.

Last but not least, the 45-watt speakers have been bettered as well, there is now a standard XM radio antenna, and optimized automatic volume-adjustment. The bike family now also supports Android Auto alongside the existing Apple CarPlay integration.

“Honda listens to its customers, a fact that is highlighted in our latest new-model announcement,” said in a statement Lee Edmunds, Senior Manager of Powersports Marketing for American Honda.

“In the case of the Gold Wing and our smallest street-legal CRF models, the 2021 iterations reflect improvements that were highly requested by people who ride them every day, and the motorcycles are better as a result. We look forward to customers getting the chance to experience the updates themselves.”

Sporting all red turn signals as the single most important visual upgrade, the new Gold Wing family goes on sale in February in five variants, with prices starting at $23,900 for the standard version and going to as high as $32,600 for the Gold Wing Tour Air Bag DCT.

New Auction World Records Set at Successful Bonhams Motorcycles Winter Sale

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The Winter Sale
including The National Motorcycle Museum Reserve Collection – Bicester Heritage

11 – 12 Dec 2020

Bicester, Bicester Heritage
Offered from the National Motorcycle Museum Collection,1936 Brough Superior 982cc SS100
Registration no. VD 6582 Frame no. M1/1661 Engine no. BS/X 1001

£3 MILLION TOTAL REALISED WITH 92 PER CENT SELL-THROUGH RATE

1936 Brough Superior 982C SS100 from the National Motorcycle Museum Reserve Collection, SOLD for £276,000

Two world auction records for a Sunbeam and Norton F1 motorcycle were set over the weekend at the successful Bonhams Motorcycles Winter Sale at Bicester Heritage, which realised more than £3 million and had an impressive sell-through rate of 92 per cent.

A 1928 Sunbeam 493cc TT Model 90 Racing Motorcycle, which had raced at Pendine Sands, powered through its top estimate of £24,000 selling for £41,400, while a 21,188-mile 1990 Norton F1, the roadster inspired by the sporting partnership with John Player Special, made £40,250, both setting new world auction records.

However, the name dominating the sale was Brough Superior, with no fewer than five examples featuring in the sale’s top ten, led by a highly original 1936 Brough Superior 982cc SS100, bearing the earliest engine number in a production model, which sold for £276,000.

All three machines were offered direct from the National Motorcycle Museum’s Reserve Collection, an exclusive selection of 52 British motorcycles – and motorcycle-related cars – presented on the first day of the two-day sale.

A brace of 1937 Brough Superiors offered from The Connoisseur Collection – comprising blue-chip examples from the estate of a late motorcycle enthusiast – also featured in the sale’s top ten, a 982cc SS80 and a 1,096cc 11-50hp which both exceeded their top pre-sale estimates selling for £73,600 and £71,300 respectively.

The Connoisseur Collection also offered an example of one of the most desirable pre-war American motorcycles, a 1924 Henderson De Luxe Four, which made £48,300, again rising above its pre-sale estimate, despite requiring re-commissioning.

Another 1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp, a project motorcycle offered for restoration rounded out the sale on a high note, trouncing its pre-sale estimate, selling for £57,500.

Modern Marvels

More modern metal also fared well at the Bicester auction, with three MV Agusta motorcycles achieving a combined total of more than £186,000, including a 1973 500cc Grand Prix Replica Racing Motorcycle which made £82,800, comfortably within its estimate, and a 1978 832cc Monza which pipped its top estimate, selling for £48,300.

Another 1970s superbike that found favour in the Bonhams saleroom was a 1976 Honda CB750 K6, with a believed 3.6 ‘push’ kilometres reading, which cruised past its pre-sale top estimate of £4,000 to achieve £9,800.

There was also success for the motorcycle memorabilia sale which offered two special collections from the families of two late motorcycling greats: Barry Sheene MBE and Percy Tait.

Highlights from the Sheene Collection included a leather team holdall, featuring the motifs 7, Sheene and Suzuki, which sold for £3,187, ten times its pre-sale estimate, while a stainless-steel Gabriel chronograph wristwatch awarded at the 1976 ‘France de Chimay’ race made £7,650, again more than ten times its estimate, while a set of Percy Tait’s race-worn one-piece leathers raced away for £5,737.

Ben Walker, International Department Director for Bonhams Collectors’ Motorcycles,”We are more than pleased with the sale which has been the subject of much interest from collectors around the world and competitive bidding.

We were also honoured to have been entrusted with the premium collection from the National Motorcycle Museum, one of the most prestigious names in the motorcycling world, and well as the collections from the families of two of motorcycling’s national treasures, Barry Sheene and Percy Tait.”

The Winter Sale was a fitting end to another successful year for the Bonhams motorcycle department, with the two UK sales realising a combined total of more than £6.7 million in 2020.

The Motorcycle department is already looking ahead to next year and is currently consigning collectors’ motorcycles and collections to The Spring Sale on 24 and 25 April, when Bonhams returns to the Stafford Showground for The International Classic MotorCycle Show.

2021 Honda CRF300L

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by Vlad Radu from https://www.autoevolution.com

One of the most popular dual-purpose bikes out there returns for the 2021 model year with a series of serious upgrades that range from an increase in engine displacement to improved suspension. Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer, shall we?

The origins of the CRF300L can be traced back to the 1970s when the XL250S was launched. It was one of the first bikes to successfully combine on-road usability with excellent off-road performance.

The XL range that followed reached legendary status over the years, proving that an easy-to-use, single-cylinder four-stroke engine combined with a capable chassis can create a useful and versatile motorcycle to ride all around the world in various environments. The new CRF300L takes those qualities to another level, offering one of the most capable all-arounder on the market.

It features a larger capacity 286-cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled DOHC engine. The 14% cubic capacity increase over the previous model is achieved by increasing the bore stroke from 55 to 63 mm (2.2 to 2.5 in.).

The bore size remains the same, at 76 mm (3 in), as does the compression ratio of 10.7:1. The engine’s peak power of 27 hp (20.1 kW) arrives at 8,500 rpm, while the peak torque of 26.6 Nm (19.6 lb-ft) can be reached at 6,500 rpm, making the unit considerably more powerful than its predecessor.

To cope with the increase in power, the gearbox has been heavily revised. Gear ratios 1-5 are shorter, while the 6th gear is taller for better long-distance rides like highway cruises where the new bike can reach a top speed of 132 kph (82 mph).

The addition of an assist/slipper clutch lowers lever load by 20% and manages rear wheel ‘hop’ on quick downshifts, thus providing greater control on- and off-road.

To improve low- to mid-range response, the rpm range most used in day-to-day or off-road riding, the timing of the intake cam, muffler, and ignition have been reworked. Additionally, the air filter has been redesigned, and the exhaust downpipe is 660 grams lighter.

The cooling system has also been revised. It uses a 12.7kW heat-release radiator mounted on the left side of the bike protected by a polypropylene grill. To maintain optimal temperatures, it comes with a thin guide-ring cooling fan.

The new CRF300L is 4 kg (8.8 lbs) lighter than the previous model, with a wet weight of 142 kg (313 lbs). This was achieved by developing a completely new semi-double steel cradle frame.

It features decreased width for the main down tube and across the central bracing tube, along with smaller diameter lower down tubes. Honda claims that these changes result in a 25% reduction of lateral rigidity.

The one-piece cast aluminum swingarm has also been redesigned. It’s narrower behind the pivot point and uses a smooth, cross-sectional shape to create uniform deflection. This makes it 55 grams lighter and improves lateral rigidity by 23%.

The 43-mm (1.7 in) Showa inverted fork gains 10-mm (0.4 in) of stroke to a total of 260-mm (10.3 in). For precise control over any terrain, the spring weight and damping settings have been revised, while the Pro-Link rear suspension now features a 260-mm (10.3 in) axle stroke.

Ground clearance has also been increased to 285-mm (11.2 in) while revisions to the lower frame, engine crankcases, and oil drain plug means the frame and engine sit 20-mm (0.8 in) higher.

The modifications to the engine, chassis, and suspension improve the power to weight ratio by 13%, making for a better ride through various terrain and speeds.

The 2021 Honda CRF300L will be available in Europe next year, but the Japanese manufacturer is yet to release details about prices or its availability in North American markets.

Honda CMX500 Rebel reviewed

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Rebels Without a Pause: Since Hondas rarely break down

by Geoff Hill from https://www.mirror.co.uk

The original looked a bit wimpish, but a macho makeover has made this cruiser version of the hugely popular CBR500 a nice alternative for bikers clutching their brand new A2 licences in their gloves

A Honda Rebel is a bit of an oxymoron, like Boris Johnson’s hair stylist or Vladimir Putin’s sense of humour.

You see, Hondas aren’t really bikes for rebels. They’re bikes for chaps and chapesses who want to get from A to B efficiently and safely on machines which never break down and have fewer vices than Audrey Hepburn in A Nun’s Story.

Even their Fireblade superbike has always been a pussycat to ride, although in the hands of 23-times TT winner John McGuinness, a pussycat with very sharp claws.

Their cars are the same, as I found doing a lap of Silverstone in a Civic R with British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden.

I thought it was going to be terrifying, but he and the car were so fast and flawless that it was a hoot going around corners sideways at 100mph while he chatted about the weather.

The one time Honda took a walk on the wild side was with the 1300cc Fury chopper in 2010.

It looked fabulous, but when MCN compared it to the Harley Rocker C, they said the Harley shook and rattled, and engaging first gear was like dropping a hammer in a bucket, but the Fury was too perfect, so they preferred the character of the Rocker.

You could just see the row of heartbroken designers at Honda HQ trudging out to the car park to commit seppuku.

So I rolled up at Belfast Honda on the Africa Twin with some doubts; particularly since when the Rebel came out in 2017 as a bobber cruiser version of the CBR500 which is hugely popular with bikers who’ve just got their lovely new A2 licence and are limited to 47bhp for a bit, it looked, well, a bit wimpish.

Bobbers, as those of you who have studied Dr Furtwangler’s A-Z of Motorcycles will know, were originally 1930s bikes with everything superfluous removed and the mudguards cut back or bobbed for a lean, mean, moody masculine look.

The original Rebel, though, looked about as masculine as Julian Clary in a frock.

All hail, then, to the chaps at Honda who’ve turned Julian into John Wayne, with a much more rugged appearance, not to mention new LED headlight and indicators and a slipper clutch to stop the back wheel locking during aggressive downshifting.

Climb aboard, and it’s still fairly compact for anyone over 6ft, although I was getting vertigo compared to the Monkey Bike I’d been on the week before, joining some lunatics riding them from Land’s End to John O’Groats for charity.

The mirrors are as useful as before, and the minimalist circular speedo now has, as well as the previous time, fuel gauge and mileage on the 2017 version, a gear indicator, a handy addition for newbies.

Start up, the air filled with a civilised purr, and I set off feeling suitably rebellious and looking for some grannies on scooters to beat up.

Progress is surprisingly perky, helped by the fact that the CBR500 engine has been tweaked to deliver maximum torque 500rpm lower. Peak power comes in 100rpm lower as well, not that you’d notice.

Like all Hondas, you can thrash the bulletproof engine to death without fear of disintegration, but the bike’s perky enough without needing to, and that civilised purr never becomes more than a civilised growl anyway.

Handling, with the bike weighing only 190kg fully fuelled and 16in wheels, is a hoot, allowing even new bikers to fling it around corners as if they’ve been riding all their lives, and the suspension damping is better than on the original model as well, leading to a surprisingly plush ride on a smallish budget bike.

There’s only one brake disc up front, but on a bike this light, that’s all you need, with nicely progressive bit and feel from the rear on the rare occasions you might need to go near it.

For an even meaner look, you can detach the pillion seat, which looks about as big and comfortable as a carefully folded napkin, and for another 400 quid, the Special Edition version has a quilted seat, flyscreen for a bit more wind protection at motorway speeds and black fork gaiters for extra moodiness.

The Facts: Honda CMX500 Rebel

Engine: 471cc liquid-cooled parallel twin

Power: 46bhp @ 8,500rpm

Torque: 32 lb ft @ 6,000rpm

Colours: Grey; blue; black

Price: From £5,799

Players dominating Electric Bike Market

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by Joe D’Allegro from https://www.cnbc.com

  • Harley Davidson and Honda are among the dominant motorcycle makers with big plans in electric bikes.
  • Harley also recently announced that it is spinning off a nascent electric bicycle business.
  • Uber is among the top investors in electric scooter company Lime, which just posted its first quarterly profit, while competitor Bird is reportedly planning to soon go public via a SPAC.
  • NIU Technologies, which makes smart scooters, has seen its share price soar.

Tesla reached a $500 billion market valuation this week, a sign of its dominance in the electric vehicle market. But Elon Musk has shown no real interest in one growing EV segment: battery-powered scooters and motorcycles. An accident he suffered as a youth on a motorbike — nearly fatal, Musk has said — turned him off two-wheelers, for now. But the manufacturing of battery powered bikes is growing and consolidating, which means it’s likely to produce one or more dominant players in the years to come.

The electric motorcycle and scooter market reached $30 billion in 2019, according to a June 2020 report by Preeti Wadhwani and Prasenjit Saha from the research company Global Market Insights (GMI). They estimated that the market — which includes everything from large motorcycles meant for interstate cruising to tiny stand-up scooters as used by Lime and Bird — will grow more than 4% annually for the next few years and hit $40 billion in 2026.

Concerns over vehicular emissions, increasing consumer awareness about air pollution, and increasing investments by government authorities in the development of EV charging infrastructure are all expected to keep the market growing. Another factor boosting electric bike prospects is the continued improvement in batteries.

E-bikes, scooters and motorcycles

Electric motorcycles and scooters are still relatively pricey, and none yet matches the range of the best gas bikes, but that’s slowly changing. Lithium ion battery costs are down 85% in the last decade, said Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research. Within another 10 years, electric motorcycles can achieve price parity with gas bikes, he predicts.

“The playing field is wide open,” says Nelson. He noted that Honda, Yamaha and Harley-Davidson together control about two-thirds of the global motorcycle market, and are each developing electric motorbikes. So too are other big established players, such as the Indian-multinationals Hero Motors and Bajaj Auto, and some smaller electric-only startups, including Zero Motorcycles and Energetica.

Electric mobility is leading to a manufacturing boom for vehicles sized between small foldable scooters and full-on motorcycles, said Sam Korus, an analyst at ARK Invest, which is known for its big bet on Tesla. Uber led a round of investment in Lime earlier this year, while Bird is reportedly considering a public offering through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Troy Siahaan, a road test editor at Motorcycle.com, races a lightweight custom-built electric bike, giving him insight into the similarities and differences between gas and electric two-wheelers.

“The riding experience of an electric bike is similar to gas-powered motorcycles in that you twist the throttle and go,” he said, “but you don’t get sound, vibration or engine heat with electric bikes. By and large, they also don’t require shifting, so they’re easier for new riders than most gas bikes.”

Siahaan also likes the torque output — a measure of the acceleration — of electric bikes, since it is all available at the outset.

Nelson noted that most growth right now is in the small- to mid-sized section of the electric motorcycle and scooter market. These are popular in China and Southeast Asia, where two-wheelers are more common as a mode of transportation, and pollution and noise reduction are socially and environmentally appealing.

Post-Covid-19 demand in urban mobility

Korus said Chinese scooter manufacturer NIU is among the promising players operating in the space between small folding scooters and large motorcycles. The company, which went public in 2018, sells its app-supported smart scooters in 38 countries across Asia, Europe and North and South America. Its stock has risen sharply. The stylish sit-on scooters offer up to 87 miles of range (140 km), multi-color dynamic gauge displays and GPS-based anti-theft systems.

NIU’s primary competition are low-cost manufacturers in China, which make scooters that are less “smart” than its offerings, as well as the higher-end players out of Asia and Europe, which tend to be priced higher. A NIU model may sell for roughly $3,100, while a comparable Honda is over $5,000, a Vespa over $7,000, and a BMW anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, according to Vincent Yu, a Needham & Co. analyst.

Korus noted that NIU’s software actively collects data that can be used to support autonomous driving and allows the company to add value on top of just selling products. This is also a key feature of Tesla’s business model, which ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood has pointed to in her bullish thesis on Musk’s company. But for NIU, monetization of autonomous driving may be fairly far off into the future. Yu said today there is high value in the smart features focused on theft prevention and vehicle maintenance, for example, knowing when parts need replacement. Its lightweight lithium-ion batteries are also an advantage over heavier, older electric scooters as consumers look for more portable batteries that are easier to swap in and out.

A big question for NIU is just how big the market can get and whether it can grow both manufacturing capacity and a retail store network along with it, Yu said. Asia is still heavily reliant on petroleum-based scooters, especially Southeast Asia, but that is changing. And, as the world emerges from the Covid pandemic, Yu is betting more travelers will shy away from mass transit and opt for scooters. In countries like China, they are much easier to obtain than cars thanks to lower costs and less regulation and permitting requirements, especially in larger cities.

NIU commands over 26% of the Chinese e-scooter sales market, and has risen in Europe to No. 3 over the past two years. Yu added that NIU is building a new factory, targeting major Southeast Asian markets like Indonesia, and adding more stores around the world to capitalize on the demand. In Q3, the company opened 182 stores and now has another 100 under construction.

Harley-Davidson and the electric future

In the U.S., smaller motorcycles suitable for urban transportation and only occasional highway use are not as popular as in Asia and Europe. Nelson said U.S. buyers tend to be older and favor larger bikes with traditional looks and the signature sounds of a combustion engine.

Harley-Davidson, the largest and oldest U.S. motorcycle manufacturer, has addressed these buyers with its LiveWire, an electric motorcycle with traditional cruiser styling and an impressive 105 horsepower that lets it accelerate to 60 miles per hour in a quick 3.1 seconds. The LiveWire is 7-feet long and nearly 550 pounds, giving it the size and weight to fit in with the company’s mainstream gas-powered offerings, but, at $30,000, it’s just too expensive for many potential customers.

With the traditional American motorcycle buyer aging, Harley sales are down almost 40% since their peak in 2006. “Demographics will be a problem for them,” Nelson said.

Harley is committed to electric under a relatively new management team, led by CEO Jochen Zeitz, who earned high marks for his focus on sustainability as CEO of Puma. “We believe electric needs to play an important role in the future of Harley-Davidson,” he recently told Wall Street analysts. He said sales volumes are low relative to traditional bikes, but added, “It must be an important segment in the long term future of the company and it’s also attracting new riders, new customers to the brand that might not have considered Harley-Davidson before.”

Craig Kennison, who covers Harley for RW Baird, said the priority for Zeitz and his team is to shore up Harley’s finances and focus its business on the key markets where it can generate the most profits from core consumers today, and it will continue to generate the vast majority of its business from its V-twin internal combustion engine cycles (sales for LiveWire are not disclosed but the assumption is they remain very minor). “It’s not a big number,” Kennison said.

Similar to the path chosen by Tesla to first focus on the luxury consumer, Harley needs to perfect the electric motorcycle technology and given the price points today — it cannot alone control the cost curve in key areas like battery technology — only over time will it become more affordable to a larger consumer market. But if Harley makes the right decisions on current profitability centers, it will support the investment in electric vehicles over the decades to come, he said. “Right now Harley has a huge market and needs to make as much money as they can, and servicing the core customer, which is still highly profitable, is the focus.”

Harley is headed into the pedal bicycle market as well. It recently announced that it will spin off its electric bicycle effort, which has been in research and development for a few years, retaining a minority stake in the new firm, Serial 1 Company, a reference to its first-ever machine.

Targeting the e-bicycle market, with pricing below $5,000, is a smart move by Harley’s new management, as it makes the brand affordable for the masses in a growing segment, said Brandon Rolle, Northcoast Research analyst. And similar to NIU’s target scooter market, riders may not need a driver’s license to operate these vehicles, which will help in Harley-Davidson’s appeal to urban commuters and casual recreational cyclists.

High-end bicycle makers like Specialized have an early lead in this market — e-bikes which generate power that is multiplied by the human pedaling activity — and it does have the potential for widespread appeal in the future, according to Kennison. “It lets ‘the everyman’ get on the road … especially during the pandemic people want to get outside and bicycling is a great way to do it, but depending on your fitness level, having the added electrical power creates a totally different experience. You can go 20 to 50 miles and it changes the appeal” he said.

Harley’s motorcycle competitors

In the near future, pent up demand for outdoor products caused by Covid-19 could benefit motorcycle makers, including Harley, which has had a “rough last five years” according to Wedbush Securities analyst James Hardiman. “A lot of investors have looked at Harley-Davidson and the broader motorcycle one as not benefitting,” from the new outdoors boom, the analyst said. But industry sales and used sales are both up, and those are precursors for a broader-based recovery in bike sales, Hardiman recently told CNBC. While the bear case about the aging demographics isn’t going away, it has been that way for a decade already, he said.

Among Harley’s competitors for the future full-size motorcycle buyer are not just traditional players like Honda and Yamaha, but Zero and Energetica, which have some of the most advanced electric bike technology currently available, Siahaan said.

Zero, founded in Santa Cruz, California, in 2006, isn’t a household name, but it’s one of the most established players in the field. It began selling electric motorcycles in 2009, making it one of the very first production two-wheelers (the earliest production electric motorcycles and scooters appeared in the 1970s and 1990s, respectively, but enjoyed limited success).

Zero’s current all-electric line-up includes everything from the FX, a small on- and off-road capable “dual-sport” motorcycle starting at $9,300, all the way up to the SR/S sportbike which starts at $20,000. The 110-horsepower SR/S can reach 124 miles per hour and is capable of more than 200 miles of range when equipped with an enhanced battery. The FR/S is so advanced Road and Track alluded to Zero getting close to the being the Tesla of two wheels in its review. Zero offers it with an app that lets users modify the bikes maximum speed, power, torque and regenerative braking parameters.

Zero reached a 10-year deal with Polaris, a recreational vehicle powerhouse, that should give it the resources to further expand manufacturing and distribution. It will bring Zero’s powertrain technology and software to Polaris’ lineup of snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

The high-end brand Energetica was formed in 2010 as a subsidiary of CRP Group, a motorsport and aviation manufacturer based in Modena, Italy. It offers a small lineup of attractively styled bikes starting at $17,600 for the general-purpose Eva EsseEsse9, and ending with the top-of-the-line Ego+. The latter is a 145-horsepower sportbike with an eye-watering starting price of nearly $24,000, but a 150 mph top speed and up to 250 miles of range.

Saha of the Global Marketing Institute told CNBC that the company is investing highly in R&D and owns several patents related to electric vehicle manufacturing in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Of course, as the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, Honda Motorcycles of Japan, is not standing still. It recently filed patents for electric-powered versions of its CB125R and CB300R, these are small, easy to manage general purpose bikes with “café racer” styling.

Saha notes that Honda is also making large investments in the development of swappable battery technology for electric motorcycles to allow riders to quickly replace the batteries after use. These moves, and factors like its global dealer and distribution network will aid Honda, Saha said.

Tesla moving beyond cars

And then there is Tesla. Though Musk has said the company will not produce a road bike, he has announced plans to release an electric all-terrain vehicle, the Cyberquad, late in 2021, and has at least teased the possibility of one day making a two-wheeled electric bike. In the least, Tesla could easily pivot a portion of its battery business to supplying other manufacturers, says Nelson.

Generating revenue is a big concern for any start-up, but especially in the electric motorcycle space, where federal and state-level regulation abound and consumer expectations are high. Many of the companies that first entered the electric two-wheeler market place have failed or been absorbed by larger players. This includes Brammo, which launched in 2002 and sold bikes with six-speed transmissions like those in traditional gas bikes rather than the single-speed automatics most electric manufacturers use. It was first purchased by the recreational vehicle maker Polaris in 2015, then engine maker Cummins in 2017. Brammo-branded bikes are no longer sold, but its technology lives on with its purchasers.

A similar fate befell Alta Motors, a maker of technologically advanced off-road electric bikes. The company shuttered operations in 2018 and its assets were taken over by Bombardier’s Recreational Products business in 2019 for use across its product lineup, which includes Ski Doo snowmobiles and the Can-Am line of three-wheel motorcycles.

“It’s always difficult to predict the future,” Siahaan said. “A lot of companies come out with big, bold announcements, but never even come to market.”

“It’s very early, so it is difficult to see how it all plays out, but that’s typical of a true growth market,” added Kennison.