New electric motorcycles in Australia

Electric cars are expensive.

But two-wheeled equivalents are much more affordable, delivering green mobility for a fraction of the price of a new Tesla.

Major brands such as Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha aren’t big on electric motorbikes today – but they are pouring resources into research and development to prepare for the green wave just over the horizon.

Smaller boutique brands are leading the charge for now.

Sydney’s Everything Electric show gave bike-curious folk a chance to sample electric vehicles ranging from bicycles and scooters to military-spec stealth machines and eye-watering superbikes in a small test area.

We brought a helmet along to ride the lightning.

Fonz Moto Arthur 6

What is it?

A cute and cuddly introduction to electric motoring. The Fonz – short for Fonzarelli, a nod to TV sitcom Happy Days – is a retro-chic scooter with modern running gear.

How much does it cost?

Basic models start from $5190 plus on-road costs (about $21 per week if financed), while the range-topping Performance model has a $7990 price tag.

Fonz Moto Arthur scooter delivers electric drive

What are the numbers?

The Arthur 6 Performance model we tried has 9.1kW of power – enough for a top speed of 90km/h – and claims a maximum range of 130 kilometres from a 5.0kWh battery.

Who would buy one?

People who want an EV but don’t have access to street parking. Removable batteries tucked away under the seat allow you to carry the scooter’s power source indoors for convenient charging in your kitchen or living room. Naturally, you can also plug the Fonz into regular charging outlets.

It also appeals to folks who aren’t die-hard motorcyclists. Super easy to use, low-power versions of the Fonz can be ridden with a car licence in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

What’s the catch?

The Arthur isn’t a particularly premium machine. Toylike switches feel flimsy, and it misses out on modern safety gear such as anti-lock brakes. Acceleration is brisk compared to economy cars, but pretty modest for the world of two wheels.

Talaria Sting

What is it?

The love child of a downhill mountain bike and motocross racer, the Talaria is a lightweight and rugged adventure machine.

How much does it cost?

The fancy model we tried costs less than $8000. While that’s not chump change, it is less than half what you would pay for a new dirt bike – and it undercuts premium push bikes too.

Talaria electric bike brings military tech to the road

What are the numbers?

The Talaria has around 80km of range and can reach more than 80kmh. It only weighs about 60 kilos, and you can take the battery out to make it easier to manage.

Who would buy one?

Sneakily silent, the Talaria has won the attention of special units within the Australian Defence Force that are experimenting with its potential as a reconnaissance machine for scouts and snipers. Police in Queensland use them to creep up on vandals in rail corridors, as crims can’t hear the Talaria coming.

What’s the catch?

More bicycle than motorcycle, the Talaria feels lightweight and checkable, but not particularly planted or stable.

You can’t ride it on the road yet, but a properly homologated version with lights and a number plate is just around the corner.

Zero Motorcycles SR/S

What is it?

A modern, if slightly generic-looking electric motorcycle that delivers serious performance. Maybe that’s why it’s called the SR/S?

How much does it cost?

While Zero Motorcycles Australia is finalising local details, we’re confident you’ll get some change from $50,000. Which is a lot of money for a two-wheeled toy, but not much more than you’ll pay for a loaded Euro sports bike.

Zero SR/S electrifies motorcyclists

What are the numbers?

A big 17.3 kWh battery lends about 187km of highway range, or about 275km in the city, where slowing down for traffic lights helps keep the battery charged.

Zero might represent the number of vehicles that will beat you in the traffic light Grand Prix.

This thing is properly rapid, and almost foolproof thanks to sophisticated traction control and the lack of a clutch lever or gear shifter – you can’t stuff it up.

It has a reasonably stout 82kW (tell your grandparents it has 110 horsepower), which is nothing like as impressive as its 190Nm of torque. That’s more pulling power than you’ll find in a range-topping, 1700cc Harley-Davidson Road King, or Ducati’s all-conquering Panigale V4 superbike.

Who would buy one?

Stealth fighter pilots, perhaps? People who want to go very fast, very quietly.

While cheaper bikes are pitched toward people relatively new to riding, the Zero is a proper enthusiast’s machine with fully adjustable suspension, customisable riding modes, and arm-lengthening performance.

What’s the catch?

Zero charges Ducati or BMW money but can’t match the prestigious history of established brands. It has a rocky history in Australia – Zero was here in 2010, then it left, then there were a handful of grey import bikes, and now it has returned through the Peter Stevens dealer group. Hopefully it goes the distance this time.

Originally published as Electric motorcycles set to hit full throttle in Australia