Congratulations, gang! 2020 is almost over and you made it through alive. What’s more, you’ve probably got some stimulus money coming your way soon. So, if you’re one of the lucky few who don’t really need that money to, you know — survive — you get to help stimulate the economy by buying a brand-new e-bike, and 2021 has more offerings available than ever before!
With that, I’d like to introduce you to my personal picks for the 21 best e-bikes and electric motorcycles you can buy in 2021. I’m basing a lot of this on 25 years of riding, fixing, and building stuff that goes fast … and, of course, wild conjecture, since I’ve only ridden a few of the bikes on this list myself. That said, I look forward to everyone’s comments, and would love to hear your thoughts on my picks — and learn more about your picks! — in the comments section at the end of the list.
Without further ado, then, here they are, in something that feels tantalizingly like a logical order: the 21 best e-bikes and electric motorcycles you can buy in 2021!
Best Electric Balance Bikes for Kids
Image courtesy Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
- Harley-Davidson Iron-e Kids’ Bike, by Stacyc
Marketed as electric balance bikes instead of beginner motorcycles, the Stacyc-built Harley-Davidson Iron-e is perfect for introducing little ones to the physics and fun of motorcycles. With a few power levels and two available sizes, the zippy little bikes have more than enough juice to keep the littles entertained, and their electric powertrains mean they’re welcome on public trails where ICE-powered jr. bikes like the PW50 aren’t.
And, sure, you could probably save a few bucks by buying the Stacyc or Husqvarna or KTM-branded versions of what are, mechanically, the same bikes, but will they be worth more than you paid for them in 20 years? Will the first ever electric 2-wheeler sold by Harley-Davidson? Maybe not, but if I was betting on a future collectible I’d take the one with the bar-and-shield logo on it.
- Indian eFTR Jr. for Bigger Kids
Indian is Harley’s slightly lesser-known, equally century-old rival motorcycle brand. It’s had a more troubled past, maybe, but its latest offerings are generally considered to be a bit more modern, a bit more upscale, and a bit more aggressive than the bar-and-shield brand’s similar offerings. The same seems to be true with the brands’ electric kids’ bikes, too, because the Indian eFTR is just a bit bigger, faster, and more motorcycle-like than HD’s Iron-e balance bikes.
Notice I didn’t say the Indian was better than the Iron-e. I mean, the FTR Jr. is better. It’s got front and rear suspension and wire wheels and disc brakes and blah, blah, blah that the Iron-e doesn’t offer, sure, and it’s targeted at bigger/older kids, but it also has a fake ICE-look plastic “engine” and fake plastic “exhaust pipes” on the side. It’s a pint-sized copy of mom or dad’s FTR1200, maybe, but is it a smart marketing move to “hook” the next generation on a look that won’t exist in 20 years? That remains to be seen.
Best Electric Bicycles (e-bikes)
- Specialized Turbo CREO Pedal-assist Road Bike
This pick is bound to be controversial, and it should be, because it is 100% the most biased choice on my list. I liked the Specialized Roubaix I rode back when I was a fit, good-looking young dude; and I positively loved the Specialized Langster London fixie I owned next. And, while those positive experiences with the brand certainly informed this choice, what really sold me was the f**k-me red paint on the Turbo Creo SL Comp L5.
Click that link, check out the impressive 240 watt motor and 80-mile range, then peruse the impressive component list, and let me know if you think you can find a sexier electric 2-wheeler for that $5000 asking price.
- Ducati Scrambler SCR-E Folding e-bike
Part of Ducati’s expanding e-mobility lineup, this folding urban commuter trades on the Scrambler name and styling, but backs it up with a high-end component list and thick, meaty Kenda off-road tires.
We talked about this bike briefly on the Electrify Expo podcast when it was launched back in July, and wondered why an American might choose this bike over the similarly styled, full-size Ducati eScrambler. What we came up with only fit a narrow slice of urban customers willing to pay up for the Ducati name but not willing to lug around a full size bike on what, essentially, a “last mile” purchase. Still, that niche is probably big enough for Ducati’s purposes, and a 374 Wh battery (good for about 40 miles of pedal-assisted riding) means that overnight charging may well be a once-a-month chore. Not bad!
- Ducati MIG-S Electric MTB
If you’re looking for an e-bike that will go anywhere, do anything, and very likely maybe possibly out-accelerate a for-real Harley-Davidson Sportster for at least a block or so off the line, the Ducati MIG MTB is the one for you.
First launched at the 2018 EICMA show, the MIG-RR was developed with help from World BMX and Down Hill champion, Stefano Migliorini, and features a 250 W Shimano Steps E8000 mid-drive that delivers more than 70 Nm (51 lb-ft!!) of torque to the bike’s gear set. More than enough torque, in other words, to tear across just about any landscape at serious, pants-s***ting speeds.
The best part? That was in 2018, and the 2021 model, now called the Ducati MIG-S, packs 26% more power and range into the same sized battery with a bit slicker software and a bit better price, too!
- Pivot Shuttle v2 Electric MTB
Yes, I know that this is a second mountain bike entry — and that’s OK. That’s because Pivot Cycles’ Shuttle probably won’t be cross-shopped by anyone seriously considering the Ducati MIG-S. I say that, first, because “Pivot” stickers on it won’t impress the same people that “Ducati” stickers will (for better or worse). I say that, second, because the Pivot is about $6,000 more expensive than the Duc.
That’s right. The Pivot Shuttle carries a hefty $10,999 price tag — but for that money you get a spec sheet that’s second to none, with a who’s-who list of top-shelf components complimented by a massive new 726Wh battery that’s fully integrated into the frame, yet designed for easy “hot swaps” on the trail.
You don’t buy a Pivot Shuttle because you want to impress randoms with your new, name-recognition e-bike. You buy the Pivot because you demand — and can afford! — the very best the 2-wheeled universe has to offer.
- Trek Electra Townie Go! 5i Cruiser E-bike
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that the Townie was making waves as an innovative new design — one that, thanks to its laid-back ergonomics and recumbent design, was both supremely comfortable and surprisingly fast. The first Townie I owned was a black 3-speed in 2006. The second? A silver 7-speed. And when it came time to step up and buy a new bike for the wife, a Tiffany green Townie was the obvious choice.
The Townie Go! 5i e-bike pairs an easy-to-use 5-speed handlebar shift Shimano Nexus transmission with an Active Line Plus pedal-assist system from Bosch. Along with the low seat and flat-foot design, the Townie makes it easier than ever to ride around downtown, zipping between coffee shops, and — like in my case — pulling the littlest little ones around in the trailer behind you.
- Urban Arrow Shorty Electric Cargo Bike
Urban Arrow calls the Shorty an urban multitasker. And, with its short, nimble wheelbase and torquey, 250W Active Line Plus Gen 3 motor from Bosch, it’s easy to see why. This is a bike that’s ready to work and ready to play!
On the work side of the equation, this is the bike that could replace many city dwellers’ cars. It has plenty of space for shopping and groceries, and that top section can be had with a lockable hard cover, making trips with multiple stops along the way safe and secure. On the play side, the bike can handle picnic baskets, a few changes of clothes, and even carry a pet along for a ride — and that’s a long, long ride, with about 50 miles of cruising range available courtesy of each 500 Wh battery … and there’s two of those on board! (optional)
The Best Electric Mopeds & Scooters
- Super73 R Series RX Electric Moped
I’ll admit, I’m more partial to the Super73 Z1, but my teenaged offspring don’t get the appeal of that bike at all. The R Series? They get that, and impressive specs of this classically-styled electric moped are more than good enough to justify the premium RX version’s $3495 asking price, so I gave it the nod over its significantly less-expensive Z1 sibling.
For that money, you get an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy frame and swingarm fitted with high-end adjustable front and rear suspension bits. The premium RX model sports an upgraded, inverted coil spring fork with air assist, and a rear piggyback coilover monoshock with adjustable preload, compression, and rebound adjustments — all of which exists to help make urban curb-hopping just as fun as your middle-aged brain remembers it being from back you were someone else’s teenaged offspring, you know?
You know, and — for what it’s worth — so do the guys and gals who built the Super 73 R Series RX. They know, precisely, who this bike is for, and they’ve executed it perfectly.
- Zooz UU1100 Electric BMX-style Moped
If you were a kid in the 80s, this is the BMX experience you remember. No middle-aged huffing and puffing. No twenty-something rushing to and fro. None of that — just effortless pedaling and ever-so-slightly irresponsible fun. That’s the promise of the retro-styled Zooz bikes, and they really do seem to deliver.
The Zooz’ 1092 Wh battery is built into the banana-style seat. It’s a simple and elegant design solution that allows the bike to retain a more authentic BMX flavor. The bike is good for a 27 MPH top speed with a 30-ish mile riding range, which should be more than enough for a day’s worth of riding and stunting.
So, great looks. Great ergonomics. Even a great price … but there’s one small catch that almost made me leave the Zooz off this list: you can’t buy one. Or, rather, the initial 2021 allotment of the Zooz UU1100 is already sold out. Zooz says to check again in May if you really, really want one (and PM me if you get your hands on one before then).
- Segway-Ninebot C80 Electric Moped
There are lots of people who confuse the terms moped and scooter, and if you’re not sure which is which you can ask any of the Vespa riders at the next Mods v. Rockers ride you happen to stumble across. But, be warned: whatever they tell you that difference is, it probably won’t apply to the adorable, pedal-packing Segway-Ninebot C80.
For the low-low price of $2099 (which includes freight), the Segway-Ninebot C80 offers a connected commuter with a 20 MPH top speed, front and rear suspension, disc brakes, a sturdy-looking luggage rack, LED lighting, and a fully digital LCD instrument pod. You also get more than 50 miles of electric range, thanks to a removable battery that’s great for easy charging at home or at the office, even if you don’t have access to a dedicated EV charging network.
- Vespa Elettrica Premium Electric Scooter
For better or worse, the Vespa is the definitive scooter. Like Xerox, Kleenex, Chap Stick, and other category-defining brands, almost every motorcycle company builds “a vespa,” but there is only one big-v Vespa … and only one of those is electric. As such, the Vespa Elettrica stands somewhat alone as the genuine article in an ever-growing sea of electric pretenders to the Italian marque’s cushy leather throne.
As with Harley and Ducati, you’ll have to pay a bit more for the privilege of riding a Vespa — the bike starts at $7499, plus freight and setup, but for your money you’ll get an all-steel body, industry-leading build quality, a single-sided front swingarm suspension, a 45-ish MPH top speed, and about 65 miles or range between charges. Oh, and that all-important Vespa nameplate, of course.
- NIU NQi GTS Electric Scooter
With hundreds of thousands of connected electric scooters on the road, a dedicated charging app, and “mainstream +1” level price tag, if there was a Tesla of electric 2-wheelers, NIU would be it. And, if you were to cross-shop a NIU to the Vespa Elettrica, the NIU NQi GTS would be the one you’d want.
Looking at both bikes’ claimed performance figures side-by-side, both NIU’s NQI GTS and the Vespa Elettrica each have a 43 MPH (70 km/h) top speed and 62 miles (100 km) of cruising range, but where the Vespa carries a $7499 price tag, the NIU’s reads just $3799 in the US. That’s a huge cost difference, and most of your neighbors will still tell you that they love your new “vespa!”
Image courtesy BMW Motorrad.
- BMW C Evolution Electric Maxi-scooter
No, it’s not just you. Despite being around for what feels like forever, these big BMW scooters are incredibly hard to come by, especially in the US. But they are out there, you just need to be prepared to pay.
That said, if you’re looking for something big, comfortable, and 100% electric to go terrorize the big-twin cruiser boys from stoplight to stoplight (the 0-60 MPH sprint takes just under 6 seconds), there is simply no better option than the BMW C Evolution. Range is about the same as the Vespa and the NIU (around 60-ish miles), but the top speed is an electronically limited 75 MPH (120 km/h), opening the door to a very different sort of adventure.
Best Electric Motorcycles
- Husqvarna EE5 Electric Motorcycle for Kids
There’s a reason the Husqvarna EE5 is here in the motorcycle section and not in the kids’ balance bike section, and it’s a simple one: this tiny electric Husky is a for-real motorcycle in every sense of the word. Not only does the EE5 feature a robust perimeter frame, full motorcycle-spec suspension front and rear, wire wheels, knobby tires, and more — it’s even eligible for the AMA-sanctioned Mini-E Jr. national championship series!
The Husqvarna EE5 has an adjustable seat height to allow kids to get a few extra seasons’ worth of riding out of it, along with a rollover sensor to cut power to the throttle when your kids fall. Best of all, it will 100% keep up with any of the 50cc ICE-powered bikes Jr. is likely to come across on the trails, which means that if there’s a better way to teach your kids that electric is the way to go, I don’t know about it.
- Segway Dirt eBike X260 Entry-level Electric Dirtbike
The reinvention of Segway continues with the launch the Segway Dirt. Available in X160 and X260 levels, the X260 model is the one you want, thanks to its slightly roomier frame, upgraded specs, 19″ wheels, and 125cc ICE-like 46 MPH top speed.
If you’re an adult or teen looking for a first off-road motorcycle that’s light, capable, and will help you grow without putting you into too much danger, a new, fully street-legal Honda Trail125 is probably the best first bike your money can buy. If your list of must-haves involves battery power, though, it’s hard to beat a bike you can order from BestBuy for just $3999 (as of 31DEC).
- KTM Freeride E-XC Electric MX
When it comes to electric off-road motorcycles and dirt bikes, KTM is the innovator. The Austrian motorcycle and car-builder saw the electric motorcycle coming from miles away, and offers a KTM-branded version of the Husqvarna EE5 (KTM is Husqvarna’s parent company) as well as this. Meet the 2021 KTM Freeride — it’s several levels of ability above the Segway and simply the best electric MX experience you can buy today.
Featuring an updated brake system for 2021, the Freeride carries over its tough chrome-moly steel frame with lightweight aluminum sections, state-of-the-art electronic control unit (ECU), and the same top-shelf components as the rest of KTM’s internationally acclaimed motocross bike. If you want to push the envelope without the braaap-brap-BRAAAAAP of a two-cycle ICE, look no further than your nearest KTM dealer.
- Zero FXS ZF7.2 Electric Supermoto
With a silent powertrain and more hoon-friendly, wheelie-inducing torque than even the mighty Honda CRF450R, the Zero FX ZF7.2 spec. was an easy addition to this list. Indeed, my most recent first-hand experience with this bike is what reminded me that I needed to get started on my 2021 list in the first place!
As a bike, the Zero FXS’ specs are top of its class— almost without fail. Range? About 100 combined miles per “tank” of electrons, which compares pretty favorably with what most ICE supermotos will get out of a tank. HP? 46 — just a bit behind the previously mentioned Honda. Torque? 78 lb-ft at 0 RPM, which is more than twice what the class-leading Honda makes at its peak.
If you’re looking for an absolutely bada** little urban runabout, or want to terrorize the suburbs with wild wheelies and stoppies without drawing too much unwanted attention from the 5-0, the Zero FXS is absolutely, positively the bike for you … just, you know, skip the cheaper ZF3.6 version.
- Harley-Davidson Livewire Electric Motorcycle
You could probably argue that there has never been a motorcycle as controversial and divisive as the Harley-Davidson Livewire. Whatever your feelings about Harley-Davidson the brand and its “core riders,” it’s impossible ignore the fact that the Livewire is in another class compared to, say, the Zero SR and SR/F models I would compare it to. Up close, the Livewire’s paint quality, the huge, cast aluminum frame pieces, the subtle bar-and-shield logos in just the right places — they just make it feel like a nicer, more expensive bike than a Zero. Which, I mean, for nearly thirty-thousand dollars, it damn well should!
Is the Harley-Davidson Livewire really worth $11,000 more than a Zero SR/F? Logically? Can you really make a logical case for a 50% premium over a bike that delivers nearly twice as much torque and goes 60 miles further on a single charge? No. No, you can’t — but I’d still pick the Harley every time.
- Zero SR/S Premium Electric Sportbike
If you found my choosing the Livewire over the SR/F is confusing, find some solace in this choice. If you want an electric sportbike, if performance and handling mean more to you than the quality of your bike’s paint, then this choice is obvious.
The 124 MPH SR/S Premium is the first full-fairing sportbike from Zero. As such, it’s a bit conservative as sportbikes go. More VFR than CBR in the way it’s been built to appeal to “adult riders” over the guys you hear blasting W.O.T. down the highway at 2AM, you know? And that’s not a dig; it’s a compliment to you — you smart sportbike rider, you. A 124 MPH rolling compliment with a 200-mile, Power Tank-enabled range that can be recharged in about an hour (optional). Heck, the SR/S Premium even comes standard with a 5-year, unlimited-mile warranty.
If you were ever wondering what “the logical choice” for something as fundamentally illogical as a sportbike might be, the Zero SR/S is it.
- Zero DSR Black Forest Electric Adventure Tour Bike
When I first laid out this list, I’d intended for the award-winning Energica Ego to be the final entry. That bike is a factory-prepped race replica based on Energica’s FIA-sanctioned electric MotoGP feeder series racer. By all accounts it’s a rocket, with a 0-60 time somewhere in the mid 2-second range and a willing chassis that — unless your last name is Marquez or McGuinness — you will absolutely not be able to outride. It’s a thrilling machine, to be sure … but those aren’t the kind of thrills that I look for in a motorcycle. For some people, it’s an adrenaline rush. For me, however, that 2-wheeled itch is fueled by a bit of a wanderlust, and the Zero DSR Black Forest is the only electric vehicle out there that comes close to scratching it.
The first electric Adventure Tour out there, Zero’s Black Forest might be dismissed as a tourer in name only, since a best-case scenario range of 157 on a single “tank” of charge is hardly enough to be called a tour and a 2-hour charging time is way too long to keep the rhythm of a good road trip going. But, maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way, and we need to spend more time looking at that “adventure” part of the name.
I was watching Long Way Up, where Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman take their specially modified Harley Livewire electric motorcycles from Patagonia, up through Central America, and on into Los Angeles, California … and I kind of realized that everything they did to get the Livewire up to the task of making the trip — the knuckle guards, the windshield, the luggage — is almost exactly what Zero has done to get the DSR Black Forest up to the task of, well, whatever trip you take it on.
That’s good enough for me.
Ewan McGregor, H-D Livewire in Long Way Up
So, there it is. In what used to be a bit of an annual tradition at the old Gas2 that’s made its way back home to CleanTechnica — my list of the best two wheelers you’ll be able to buy this year. I’d love to hear what you think of it, what I’ve missed, and what you would have put on the list in my place, so head on down to the comments section at the bottom of the page, and make your voice heard.
And (of course), happy new year!
Original content from CleanTechnica.