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Old 3rd June 2018, 22:19   #1
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Default Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

I own a bike, and I would like to believe I am in sort of a comfort zone around its maintenance. I know it's service intervals, and over a period of time, I have managed to learn a little about the mechanical aspect too. Many riders even have a list of upgrades/modifications for their motorcycles which they have refined over months if not years. ECU remaps, aftermarket air filters, exhausts and spark plugs. Using branded engine oil rather than the generic service centre provided one. All this is bound by the presence of an internal combustion engine in our bikes. But have you ever stopped to think how this will all change with the advent of electric motorcycles? And how an electric motorcycle manufacturer would likely be different from conventional manufacturer?

You hear a rattling sound from one of the hard to reach places on your motorcycle. No worries, you think, next time you are cleaning the carburettor, you will fix it. It's most likely a loose screw anyway. The reason for this confidence is you are very familiar with the precautions you need to take while working on an internal combustion engine. Stay away from the hot bits, don't smoke in the vicinity and do not ever play with fireworks around the bike and so on.

But with an electric bike, all these familiar precautions will be redundant, or at least will become very unfamiliar. AFAIK, electric bikes don't get hot, electricity doesn't smell, and the batteries are never really “off”. To complicate matters more, there is an astonishing amount of electrical energy is contained in that “always on” battery and it's the Direct Current type too, the most dangerous type of electricity to be around! To get an idea, just log on to YouTube and see what happens when even a small lithium-ion battery of a smart phone gets punctured. This futuristic electric bike stuff can be properly dangerous in the wrong hands, riding around with a tank of highly inflammable liquid between your legs, while controlled explosions go off under you start to feel sane by comparison.

This will drastically change our behaviour when you and I become electric bike owners. We may think thrice before poking around with a screwdriver, with the knowledge that live electricity lurks in our bikes. Suddenly installing after market ECU’s, spark plugs and exhausts, will become very different if not redundant. Especially with the realisation that we can't tinker around with an electric bike as much we could with a petrol powered one.

I think it would still be possible to perform simple modifications, like installing brake, clutch levers etc on your own, without frying yourself, but the prevalence of electric bikes will most certainly mark the end of doing almost all of the maintenance or repairs yourself. An argument could be made that servicing the bike won't change radically. Because some consumables will be carried forward on electric bikes too. Such as tyres, brake pads, perhaps chain adjustment too. But that's probably it. No carburettors or fuel injection systems to worry about. No valve clearances, air filters, piston kits. No engine oil and oil filters and the rest of it to think about.

One more aspect where change will take place is where we take our electric bikes for repairs and service. Taking it to a FNG is out of the question, at least in the initial period. Also electric bike manufacturers are producing highly different bikes with customized parts and technology which may not be necessarily shared with the people at large, so dropping your electric bike at a FNG may no longer be possible. You will have to go to the manufacturer's dealership to get even the most trivial issues resolved, where the technicians would have been trained by the manufacturer to work safely on their bikes. And the probability of these service centre to be scarce is pretty high.

An electric bike manufacturer would also be different from a conventional bike manufacturer. I believe that an electric bike company is somewhere between an automotive company and a software company as they would have to devote considerably more resources than a conventional bike company on software development. We have all encountered “bugs” on our phones and computers and they are often mildly annoying. But such a “bug”on an electric motorcycle, could result in a crash. It would be imperative that the software on the bike works perfectly all the time. Hence, software development will be an important part of an electric bike manufacturer's headache.

We also would think about the power source differently. Batteries tend to perform differently depending upon their age, how they have been used and charged and even atmospheric conditions. Electric bikes also face challenges different to an electric car. For example, in a Tesla car, an air conditioning system is used to keep the batteries at a constant temperature, so the car performs as optimally as possible. There's no such system available on a bike that I know of, so the software on the ECU, will have to continually assess the atmospheric conditions, and work out the most optimal solution for the battery.

In conclusion, it's easy to think that the difference between a conventional and electric motorcycle is whether you plug into a wall socket or fill up with petrol. The changes go deeper than just that. Electric motorcycles are going to be a enormous part of our future, but our riding experiences will also be changed in many more ways than we might imagine! Interesting times ahead.

Wonder how much of this can be extrapolated to electric cars?

Last edited by Shumi_21 : 3rd June 2018 at 22:36. Reason: Typos
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Old 4th June 2018, 12:47   #2
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

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Originally Posted by Shumi_21 View Post

Wonder how much of this can be extrapolated to electric cars?
Shouldn't we be doing the other way round?
Electric cars are already quite prevalent and what ever changes they have brought about in the "car" domain will happen in the "bike" domain also.
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Old 4th June 2018, 15:54   #3
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

Would like to address a few of your concerns here,

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Originally Posted by Shumi_21 View Post
Many riders even have a list of upgrades/modifications for their motorcycles which they have refined over months if not years. ECU remaps, aftermarket air filters, exhausts and spark plugs. Using branded engine oil rather than the generic service centre provided one. All this is bound by the presence of an internal combustion engine in our bikes.
The ratio of enthusiasts to people who use the 2 wheeler only as a point A to B travel mechanism is quite heavily tilted in the latter's favour. All the people in the latter group are the fill it, shut it, forget it types.

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Stay away from the hot bits, don't smoke in the vicinity and do not ever play with fireworks around the bike and so on.
I'd say this advice is pretty universal and not just limited to bikes, but any kind of machinery, fossil fuel powered or otherwise.

Quote:
AFAIK, electric bikes don't get hot, electricity doesn't smell, and the batteries are never really “off”. To complicate matters more, there is an astonishing amount of electrical energy is contained in that “always on” battery
Will answer this one using what you wrote yourself
Quote:
For example, in a Tesla car, an air conditioning system is used to keep the batteries at a constant temperature, so the car performs as optimally as possible.
Electric Motors and batteries do waste energy in the form of heat, it's just a lot more efficient than a combustion engine. The cooling system that is used in Teslas and other higher end vehicle is a liquid cooling system similar to the coolant and intercooler for your engine. Batteries are "always on" in the same manner that fuel is always combustible, you can put it in a safe container and try to protect it from extreme forces as much as possible.

Quote:
This will drastically change our behaviour when you and I become electric bike owners. We may think thrice before poking around with a screwdriver, with the knowledge that live electricity lurks in our bikes. Suddenly installing after market ECU’s, spark plugs and exhausts, will become very different if not redundant. Especially with the realisation that we can't tinker around with an electric bike as much we could with a petrol powered one.
It's just that tinkering will move from a mechanical engineer to an electrical engineers' expertise. There are tons of people around the world that are picking off electrical components and doing what we would call "drivetrain swap" into all kinds of vintage petrol powered vehicles that are in need of restoration.

Quote:
One more aspect where change will take place is where we take our electric bikes for repairs and service. Taking it to a FNG is out of the question, at least in the initial period. Also electric bike manufacturers are producing highly different bikes with customized parts and technology which may not be necessarily shared with the people at large, so dropping your electric bike at a FNG may no longer be possible. You will have to go to the manufacturer's dealership to get even the most trivial issues resolved, where the technicians would have been trained by the manufacturer to work safely on their bikes. And the probability of these service centre to be scarce is pretty high.
You highly underestimate the ingenuity of your neighbourhood garage. As soon as they notice a shift in their customers having more electric vehicles, they will hire electricians to work alongside them or learn it themselves. I happened to visit an electric rickshaw workshop and believe me, they were able to diagnose and fix all kinds of problems!

Quote:
I believe that an electric bike company is somewhere between an automotive company and a software company as they would have to devote considerably more resources than a conventional bike company on software development. We have all encountered “bugs” on our phones and computers and they are often mildly annoying. But such a “bug”on an electric motorcycle, could result in a crash. It would be imperative that the software on the bike works perfectly all the time. Hence, software development will be an important part of an electric bike manufacturer's headache.
How is the "software" required to run an electric vehicle any different from ECU, PCM, BCM and countless other modules that are installed in a modern petrol powered vehicle? You can even wire up some batteries and a motor to a controller and strap it on to a motorcycle. It will work without any software, just magic of physics alone but it won't be as efficient as one that is optimized using software. Similar to how carburettors vs EFI works.

Quote:
We also would think about the power source differently. Batteries tend to perform differently depending upon their age, how they have been used and charged and even atmospheric conditions.
Again isn't that similar to how a combustion vehicle makes more power in cooler temperatures and loses power at higher altitudes? And how the quality of fuel can affect the functioning of the engine. Although I must mention that battery tech is still advancing at a rapid rate and hopefully soon we can have batteries are cheap, can charge quick and are long-lasting.

Quote:
In conclusion, it's easy to think that the difference between a conventional and electric motorcycle is whether you plug into a wall socket or fill up with petrol. The changes go deeper than just that. Electric motorcycles are going to be a enormous part of our future, but our riding experiences will also be changed in many more ways than we might imagine! Interesting times ahead.
I'd say for the larger public who use 2 wheeler just to commute, it is going to indeed be a simple change of plugging in instead of filling up and combustion fuel will be used only for special uses and recreational purpose. I will be the first one to use petrol vehicle for a recreational purpose but there is no point in denying that for the average commuter, it doesn't make too much sense to keep using petrol powered vehicles.

Cheers!
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Old 6th June 2018, 11:49   #4
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

Electric Bikes Equals:

Higher reliability
Lower cost of operation.
Lower number of movable parts.
No Clutch
No Exhaust
No Gears
Almost no engine sound.
Nothing to tinker around.
Batteries would be well protected.
Lower centre of gravity.

Worries might theoretically exist in case of flooded roads. But am sure secure operation will be provided for.

Last edited by ACM : 6th June 2018 at 11:51.
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Old 6th June 2018, 12:03   #5
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

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Originally Posted by jalajprakash View Post
I will be the first one to use petrol vehicle for a recreational purpose but there is no point in denying that for the average commuter, it doesn't make too much sense to keep using petrol powered vehicles.
Oh for sure! I already have two bikes that I use for different purposes. The Bullet is only for long rides since it's a royal pain to use in the city. And the Pulsar is only for the city since it's not really confidence inspiring on the highway.

Next change once the Pulsar ages is going to be an e-bike.

What does an e-bike service involve? Can anyone who has gotten their e-bike serviced please share? Battery charge, drive belt adjustment? What else?
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Old 6th June 2018, 12:40   #6
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

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What does an e-bike service involve? Can anyone who has gotten their e-bike serviced please share? Battery charge, drive belt adjustment? What else?
i'd assume there would also be brake servicing since front and rear may both have disc brakes, not sure if DC motor needs any servicing/lubrication (commutator, brushes, coils, armature windings, etc.). The electrical components may undergo wear and tear.
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Old 6th June 2018, 13:12   #7
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

A e-scooter by the name Ather 340/450 seems to have launched in bangalore recently.

In addition to the brakes, belt and other consumables servicing involves OTA updates to the on-board tablet

Its priced around 1.24 lakhs for the higher powered variant whereas the cheaper one is 15k less.

I've a 12 year old Pulsar and I'll probably shift to electric scooter once it comes up for replacement in a year or two from now. It looks promising from the reviews, with a claimed 3.9 secs from 0-40 which is the fastest for a scooter!

Lots of reviews too, here's one by Autocar

Last edited by shashank.nk : 6th June 2018 at 13:14.
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Old 6th June 2018, 13:19   #8
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

Pretty much all EV launches theses days have brushless motors, the life of the motor is only limited by the life of the two ball bearings and if for some unknown reason the BLDC motor heats up abnormally high, like a temperature of 80c to 150c depending on the grade of the magnet, the high temperature will cause the magnets to demagnetize.

The other point of failure is the electronic speed controller, which is filled with power mosfets, igbt, capacitors etc which can fail due to high temperature or poor design and components.

Most of the other wear tear are the same as engine powered vehicles, minus the need to give a vehicle for service due to a oil change, air, fuel filter or clutch replacement.

Last edited by aim120 : 6th June 2018 at 13:22.
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Old 10th June 2018, 23:57   #9
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

Interesting thread.
Today, it's not difficult to make anything environment proof. Batteries included. So, the concern of risk associated with batteries failing in floods don't hold much water. (Aren't submarines electric vehicles)

Trust me, the software that goes into the car's ECU is perhaps 10 times more complicated than the one goes into a electric motor control software.

Also, performance of an electronic motor can be tuned to a far greater extent than a combustion engine, I can only envisage lot more tuning houses coming up when future goes electric
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Old 11th June 2018, 02:01   #10
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

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Originally Posted by farhadtarapore View Post
i'd assume there would also be brake servicing since front and rear may both have disc brakes, not sure if DC motor needs any servicing/lubrication (commutator, brushes, coils, armature windings, etc.). The electrical components may undergo wear and tear.

Most EV motors are not the old school DC motor. Some are brushless AC or PMAC. Therefore most EV companies (Zero, Alta, Energica ) dont require motor servicing. Electrical components are usually IP67, so the likelyhood of wear and tear is slim. Brakes,Tires and chain/belt are the highest wear items.

Zero requires service every 10k to the belt and a basic motor check. Alta's are even less.
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Old 14th June 2018, 22:40   #11
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Default Re: Electric Motorcycles: How would they change our riding experience?

Taking the discussion onto a different path here. Electric two-wheelers will bring in transportation that is functional and minimalistic. The battery's energy density forces us in that direction. To put-put around town 15 kms this way or 5 kms that way for the most part we need 2 bhp or 4 bhp not 10 or 15. Similarly I believe electric cars might bring horse power sanity to our cars. To move a family of five in a big city or even 100 kms between two towns we need 30 or 40 bhp not the 100 or 200 we now sport. The limitations of the grid I believe will bring regulation setting limits on the bhp of passenger cars. Surely not a popular point to make on a forum of car lovers but this is one likely scenario. a generation back we had the 44 bhp Padmini or the 39 bhp Herald. A generation before that it was common to have cars to moved on 30 bhp or 20 bhp. But today we consider 100 bhp as too little. It has less to do with transportation and more to do with our image and desires.
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