Electric Motorcycles: The New Green Machines

A new bike is showing motorcycle enthusiasts that they no longer have to sacrifice performance for environmental efficiency.

By Nicole Fukuoka
|  Thursday, Apr 19, 2012  |  Updated 5:08 PM PDT
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The ever-climbing price of a gallon of gas has fueled a boom in the electric and hybrid car industry.And now there is an even leaner, greener machine weaving through traffic ?the electric motorcycle. NBC's Ana Garcia reports that the new bikes are powerful enough to handle the freeways of Los Angeles and travel 114-miles on a single charge.

Ana Garcia, James Hourani

The ever-climbing price of a gallon of gas has fueled a boom in the electric and hybrid car industry.And now there is an even leaner, greener machine weaving through traffic ?the electric motorcycle. NBC's Ana Garcia reports that the new bikes are powerful enough to handle the freeways of Los Angeles and travel 114-miles on a single charge.

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Motorcycles evoke images of loud engines, sputtering exhaust pipes, and rough riders.

The two-wheelers and their drivers are the last things you’d associate with the green movement, but a new bike is showing motorcycle enthusiasts that they no longer have to sacrifice performance for environmental efficiency.

"Everybody’s concern with electric vehicles is performance, range and also looks. Electric motorcycles are the coolest electric vehicles around and you can do 90 miles an hour, 114 miles on a charge,” said Harlan Flagg, owner of Hollywood Electrics a leading dealer of Zero Electric motorcycles.

Located in West Hollywood, Hollywood Electrics is a specialty store that sells a variety of two-wheeled electric bikes. Flagg and his business partner Josh Kearney are life-long riders, who are passionate about introducing the latest eco-friendly technology into the motorcycle community.
 
“For us it really is a lifestyle, we love these bikes. When a customer walks in our store, they recognize how much we believe in these products,” said Flagg.
 
Zero (as in zero emissions) motorcycles are made in Santa Cruz where the company is based. The 2012 line of Zero electric motorcycles provide the speed and range that had been lacking in the fledgling industry.
 
Hollywood Electrics have already sold more Zeros this year than the two previous years combined. 
 
“Every month that goes past we think oh we’ve sold all our bikes but people keep coming and coming so currently at the moment zero motorcycles is on backorder,” Kearney said.
 
The bikes retail between $7,000 and $14,000, which is about the same as a Harley Davidson. But with California’s $900 Clean Air rebate and hundreds of dollars a month in gas savings, Flagg says the bikes are a smart investment. 
 
“You never have to worry about maintenance; it costs you about a penny a mile in electricity to charge it up. So 10,000 miles, about $100 worth of electricity, you know you can’t really get around LA for cheaper than that,” Flagg said.
 
The bikes charge in any standard AC outlet and Hollywood Electrics will customize a bike to fit the rider’s needs or personal style. With no clutch to worry about Flagg and Kearney say the motorcycles are so simple to operate that you don’t have to be a seasoned rider to own one.
 
“60% of our new bike sales are going to riders who have never ridden in their entire life because the bike is so easy to utilize,” Kearney said.
 
Kearney and Flagg are so passionate about pioneering the electric bike revolution that they started a riding group called the Electric Cowboys. Made up of customers, they showcase their eco-friendly bikes throughout the streets of Los Angeles.
 
“We’re paving new roads and frontiers as a cowboy did in the old days and that’s what we’re trying to do now," Kearney said. We’re trying to show people that our electric steeds can do everything that a gas bike does.”

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