When you’re starting out in motorcycling and are eligible for an A1 or A2 licence there’s now more electric motorcycle choice available than ever – but which are the best?
Although you can get on the road legally for the first time at the age of 16, being restricted to AM category machines, i.e. sub 50cc mopeds that have a maximum speed of 30mph, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. At 17 though, you’re eligible for A1 category machines which opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
The strict definition of A1 bikes is of motorcycles or scooters up to 125cc with a maximum power of 11 KW or 15bhp. Once you’ve got your provisional licence you must complete CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) before heading out on the road with L-plates.
Alternatively, from the age of 19, you qualify for an A2 licence, which allows you to ride a bike with a maximum power of 35KW or 47bhp.
Obviously, there are now also many electric motorcycles which qualify as A1 or A2 machines. But with such a huge range of eligible electric machinery available in 2023, which should you go for? Here’s our pick of the 10 best available in price ascending order:
Leading electric motorcycle manufacturer Super Soco added two new additions to its all-EV range this year with the launch of the A1 compliant TS Street Hunter and TC Wanderer. The Street Hunter is pitched as the sportier, more dynamic urban runaround of the two new offerings with both boasting a small but efficient 2500W engine, 45mph top speed, modest range of 35 miles, with a full charge possible from a standard three-pin plug in 3.5 hours. A dual battery version is also available for £500 more. The TC Wanderer is the larger of the two with more rugged, scrambler styling, although it, too, can be ridden on either an A1 or A2 licences.
The Miku Super is the range-topping electric bike from leading Chinese firm Sunra and with a similar, street savvy, mini 12" wheeled monkey bike style to Honda’s popular, petrol-driven MSX125 Grom, it’s equally ‘bang-on-trend’. There’s plenty of practical features (e.g., removeable twin batteries), competitive performance (three modes including Eco and a Grom comparable top speed of around 50mph) and features (LED lights, smart digital dash, Smartphone connectivity and even touch ID security). In short, for a monkey it has it all – but in electric form. It even undercuts the Grom on price and comes in pseudo-Suzuki MotoGP colours!
The TC Max was launched in 2020 by leading electric brand Super Soco and was one of the first motorcycle-style A1 electric two wheelers. As such, with 17in wheels and a roadster layout it has plenty of motorcycle style – but still lots of electric commuter practicality, too. There’s a bike style round analogue/LCD instrument pod, the removeable battery is stored in the dummy fuel tank, steel cradle chassis with inverted front forks, a monoshock rear, twin disc brakes, switchable power modes. As a result, it delivers near-motorcycle like nimble handling and fun, albeit in a slightly small (but novice-friendly) package. Of course, there’s no scooter style luggage space or leg guards, but when an electric, novice, CBT-friendly bike looks this good, who cares? For £100 more you can also get wire wheels.
New in 2022, Maeving are a British company with a very different take on electric bikes. Its first product, the A1-compliant RM1, is a vintage-inspired ‘big wheeler’ with 19-inch wire wheels and lots of quality touches and as such is arguably the first truly retro-styled electric bike. On basis of its looks, it’s a direct hit. It gets noticed and you can’t help feeling, for better or worse, that image is hugely important to the kind of customer Maeving hope to attract.
It's easy to ride, good fun and practical, too – up to a point. Give the Maeving to a first-time rider who wants to cut a daily dash across the city, and they’ll love its convenience, agility and ease of use. A dual battery option to extend range is also available for £1000 extra. But there’s also no luggage provision or weather protection and more demanding riders might ask questions about battery life, acceleration and ride quality – but that’s the price you pay for image!
Horwin is an Austrian-designed, Chinese built electric brand and, like the Super Soco, its CR6 is a 125-equivalent electric machine able to top 60mph that looks more like a proper bike, with 17inch wheels, exposed frame and retro cafe racer styling. Plus, unlike the Super Soco, there’s the CR6 Pro with a six-speed manual gearbox and clutch. Logically, of course, it doesn't need one, but for anyone who can't bear the thought of not changing gear, it's a bonus. Again, there’s plenty or retro motorcycle styling touches and you get a three-year warranty on the battery. Again, too, there are inverted front forks, a monoshock rear and disc brakes all round.
The lightweight, trail-style FX is Californian world-leading electric brand Zero’s most basic, affordable and entry-level model and is also able to be ridden on an A2 licence. Although slightly basic, the FX’s trail bike style complete with big off-road wheels and light weight of 135kg means it feels like a big bike but is also light, nimble and manageable, which makes it great for novice riders, too.
The FXE, as introduced in 2022, by also being available in 11kw form, is the first Zero to be available to A1 or CBT riders. Designed to be the most accessible bike in Zero’s range, the FXE is basically a simplified, redesigned off-road-styled FX by taking the same mechanical parts but adding a far more tempting design thanks to a cooperation with San Francisco-based HUGE Design. The suspension is the same as the FX’s, with Showa 41mm forks and a piggyback shock from the same firm. The brakes are from Brembo subsidiary J. Juan, allied to Bosch ABS, and the FXE uses the same 17in wheels as the FXS, with 140-section rear, 110-section front Pirelli Diablo Rosso II rubber. On board, you get a colour TFT dash that’s a big step up from the FXS’s simple LCD unit.
Is it a scooter? Is it a motorcycle? Whatever it is, BMW’s all-new-for-2023 CE 04 is such a significant development in A2 compliant electric two-wheelers we had to include it here. With its bold, futuristic styling, high spec including a big 10.25in colour TFT dash, versatility and performance, it’s a mightily impressive addition and is stylish, slick, effective transport that’s also easy to ride, quick and silent. On the slight downside it’s range is only around 80 miles and there’s no getting away from the high price but there’s no doubt that it’s a brilliant example of clever engineering and design.
Zero’s top spec offering that qualifies for the A1/CBT licence option is the ‘Dual Sport’ DS. As such it’s a street-styled trailie with great looks, generous proportions, small screen, lots of fancy tech and, due to its ‘continuous’ power being the regulation 11KW, is both CBT compliant and capable of 85mph. With the new ZF 14.4 battery capacity is almost double what it was before, taking range to around 100 miles, there’s four riding modes, quality suspension and brake components and it’s great fun, too – if slightly on the heavy side. The downside is, of course, its price – but the performance of CBT qualifying electric bikes doesn’t get any better than this.
The Zero DSR is a pumped-up version of the DS. A 775 amp controller is paired with a Z-Force motor that contains higher temperature magnets to ensure better performance during extended durations at higher speeds. The result is a claimed 43% more torque and 17% more power, with a peak of 70bhp, but due to the rules of the A2 regulations, which refer to ‘continuous’ power, which in this case is 30bhp, the DSR still falls into the A2 category making it one of the most thrilling A2 bikes, on or off road, you can buy (albeit also one of the most expensive).
Licence required: A2
Power: 22KW (continuous, 52KW peak)
Battery: ZR 14.4 KWH
Claimed range: 110 miles
Claimed recharge time: 2.3 hours (fast charger)
Top speed: 102mph
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