alternative fuels

E-motorcycles, Alternative Fuels Rev Bikers’ Interests

Like cars, SUVs, and just about any combustible-engine vehicle these days, motorcycles can also be customized to perform in a “greener” fashion. Environmentally sensitive bikers have started to modify their motorcycle’s parts to run on alternative or biofuels. More riders are taking an interest, both for the potential impact on Mother Nature and on their wallets. Gasoline is not cheap, nor is the routine maintenance required to keep a bike running at an optimal level.

The viability of alternative motorcycle fuels or customized parts varies, though various types — from sport bikes to more lightweight models —provide bikers with options beyond traditional gas and parts.

More riders plugging into electricity

Imagine never needing to visit a gas station. Ever.

Companies like Zero Motorcycles claim their bikes perform comparably to traditional gas-powered models, plus there’s a financial incentive to making the alt-fuel shift. According to the company’s website, each mile on a Zero bike “is considerably less expensive, making it considerably more enjoyable due to the elimination of routine powertrain maintenance and no gas expenses.”

USA Today noted an anticipated 30 percent spike in e-motorcycle sales over the next several years. Riders quoted in the story said their e-motorcycles — made by Zero, Brammo and other companies — seem to have some driving limitations compared with Harley-Davidsons or traditional models, though the savings associated with not polluting the environmental outweighed the need for the high-vibration, super-charged machines designed for wide-open highways. Are they even necessary in big cities? E-motorcycles, according to USA Today, vibrate less and provide city dweller motorcycle riders with a more efficient form of two-wheel transportation.

Alternative parts for a greener ride

Motorcycles generally have a smaller environmental footprint than cars or trucks. Still, noise is a major environmental hazard of bikes. But some people love that sound of a reverberating hog engine.

In 2011, MythBusters looked at the rising trend in people trading in cars for motorcycles in the name of environmental sensitivity. Using portable emissions-measuring devices, the show’s investigators determined that “it’s a wash” and that motorcycles “are just as bad for the environment as cars.”

Even so, many bikers can upgrade their rides with newer fuel-injectors, cleaner catalytic converters and charcoal canisters to mitigate emissions. Retailers like MotoSport.com have those items at reasonable prices for do-it-yourself home mechanics.

As more companies see the increasing need for alternative fuel bikes, the costs associated with that method of transportation will surely drop. Keeping an eye on trends in e-motorcycles and alternative parts will help keep you ahead of the curve. Ultimately it depends on your bike, your style, and how much time or money you care to spend being a more responsible steward of the environment.

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