Petrol Motorcycles 2035

After cars it was inevitable really it was going to happen. Only hope is that by then they’ve sorted out all issues with network, batteries etc and the cost has come down…

How would that even work? You cannot admit that bikes are a minority but expect that many petrol stations to remain open just for bikers once vans and cars stop using them.

It does not even need a law change, because the conversion rate for cars will force those who use bikes for commuting and transport purposes to switch anyway.

Even a 100 mile range is better if you are guaranteed to be able to recharge than 200 miles on a tank if you will be left hundreds of miles from the nearest petrol station.

Poodling around the countryside on a weekend will become the same as for the classic car owners who need to use specialist dealers for leaded petrol, paying a fortune for it.

Well, that’s going to put the cat amongst the pigeons. The legacy car manufacturers seemingly took the approach of running down the Internal Combustion engine when they the direction Tesla were taking the industry, instead of meeting the challenge head-on and competing much earlier as soon as it became obvious EVs weren’t a joke and weren’t going anywhere.

Motorcycle manufacturers better start taking it seriously now, if they’re not already, and go hard on the R&D needed to get electric motorcycles up to par with EV cars. A big challenge on their much smaller budgets, no doubt.

The biggest two issues seem to be miniaturisation of batteries and chargers, compared to cars which have much more natural space for them, and where the charging behaviours are different (you’re happy to wait a bit longer to charge, compared to filling up with petrol, because of how you use them, i.e. stop your journey at home, or at motorway services most of the time, where you have time).

Current top-end motorcycle EVs (by Zero and Energica) are limited to about 100 miles of motorway use and take an hour to charge from empty. Even as a EV enthusiast, this is not good enough for me. As bikers, in the big-bike category, we need them to improve to the point where you can EITHER:

  1. Go 200 miles on the motorway
  2. Charge in ten minutes

Obviously that’s highly opinionated and not true for commuters who already have great, if expensive EV motorcycle options, but for those of us who go on trackdays, spirited rideouts, day trips or touring, we need either of those two points to arrive before long, to make electric motorcycles a viable option, price aside, which we know will come down with manufacturing scale, material & construction improvements, etc.

Even charging in ten minutes would need a sea change of infrastructure to be viable. Look at the queues a large group of us create in a filling station at the moment, and we can pour petrol into our tanks in seconds.

It would only be viable if every cafe, tourist attraction, beauty spot, had a huge collection of plug in points waiting for us so we could all top up at the same time. I can’t see that happening.

We either need charging in two or three minutes, or changeable power packs, or some yet undiscovered tech, or group rides are finished.

That sounds pessimistic but I’m actually quite optimistic. I believe new tech, new charging methods will evolve. Don’t forget early motorists had to buy their petroleum spirits from high street chemists in 2 gallon tins. I’m sure at the time it felt like everyday motoring was only a fantasist’s dream.

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That’s not good enough for me. When I go to visit my sister in Pembrokeshire, starting my journey from Enfield, north London, that is a 270 mile journey for me. I fill up before departure, and need to make two petrol stops on route. the first one is just a petrol stop, the latter, I will take 10-15 minutes for comfort break, coffee and a Snickers bar or equivalent.

When I’ve been abroad with my old IAM group, there would be at least 30+ of us stopping for fuel. How many charging points would be necessary for all of us to fuel up at the same time?

Also, I’d want to fully charge up too, not get to 80% which a lot of manufacturers seem to quote for.

I went out for a charity ride (Essex and Herts Air Ambulance) with my MC on Saturday. Only 15 bikes, but with different meeting points, and covering just over 200 miles for me, and one rider cover just over 400 as she lives further away, that would probably mean extra fuel stops, and much increased travelling time for all of us.

I wonder how the recovery services would cope with many drivers/riders being caught unaware and out of fuel. I don’t reckon their advised range would hold true for normal driving/riding.

Yes, but that was an improvement, from having no motorcar.

There is another option, battery swapping. Facilities that hold batteries, ready charged that you can come and swap on the bike.

That has a huge amount of issues re: reliability, security, ease of removing on bike, waste and disposal etc but it is an option. A bit like a locker system where all batteries charge in secure spot and you just come in, swipe a card and get charged for equivalent price of full charge and just replace battery.

I think it would only work if the user rented the batteries because you wouldn’t want to leave your brand new perfectly functioning battery at a ‘filling station’ and ride off with a battered second hand one which might be at the end of its number of charge cycles.

Yes a faff, and definitely a lot easier to deal with than keeping horses in a stable - and the associated staff to deal with them.

But my point is that faff of buying tins from chemist shops was very quickly replaced with filling stations, which then popped up all over the country. I think there will be a similar sudden acceleration in EV charging, or battery swapping, convenience.

Petrol engined mo’cycles will not be removed from UK roads at a snap of the fingers, the ban only applies to new registrations!

Too late for me as I’ll be an Octogenarian by then but maybe a business opportunity for some of you young pups to buy up and register a shed load of petrol mo’cycles and sell them on from 2036 onwards.

When the “faff” is over, I may entertain an electric motorcycle. I’m not going to put myself into a regressed position and wait for things to improve.

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To those that say it wouldn’t work for them … well, no offence, but you’d adapt. Remember, this is for the greater good, not for your personal convenience. There’s also a plethora of charging points already (more points than pumps atm), and I suspect over time we’ll see them pop up at every single venue and random spots. They’ll just become ubiquitous pieces of infrastructure that we take for granted, i.e. plug sockets, taps, etc.

Also, just my take, but I can’t see replaceable batteries taking off for a couple of reasons:

  • It would hold back technical development of new energy storage/charging systems, when everyone is committed to using the same agreed standards.
  • The idea just doesn’t fit with our primary capitalist business practice - consumerism.

But who knows, maybe I’ll be proven wrong and they’ll become a thing for the low-end/commuters at least. I certainly can’t imagine the likes of BMW, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ducati, Aprilia, Triumph, etc. wanting to use such a system.

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Already happening…

Now the writing is on the wall, I think we’ll see all kinds of improvements, some small, some big. But give it 5-10 years and I think we’ll be seeing something that’s a hell of a lot more viable than today. Maybe not as convenient as today’s petrol offerings, but decent enough to cover the vast majority of people’s needs.

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I think there’s two different things

At the moment it wouldn’t work for a few of us. But that’s only for buying EVs now (rather than in 15 years). Personally the biggest barrier for me is I live in a block of flats and they would need to do huge work to get each parking space electrified. If that happens, it’s a big barrier removed because what everyone wants is to get in/on in the morning or whenever at home.and know you have a full battery

People of course will adapt, just like we adapted to smoking outside when the ban came in, to not using phones whilst driving (some better than others).

But the market will also adapt as the price point is still prohibitive for a lot if not most out there. Perhaps the lack of good used stock is an issue here as it’s still a relatively new and small (proportionately) market.

I’m all for it, I drove an i8 on full electric one of those experience days and there was no difference to the other supercars. But that doesn’t mean there are still lots of things that need to be fixed to create mass adoption. It won’t have to be by 2035 but it will have to be by the time used petrol cars start dying and people need to change.

The other option is that EVs remain so expensive people switch to cycling / public transport.

I think none of us know what it’s going to be like in 15years but that doesn’t mean we can’t flag risks with these deadlines. Also, don’t forget these deadlines are part flexible, there’s always extensions


Aye, I saw it, but I can only see that being viable for commuters/small-capacity bikes. I just don’t see how that makes sense for larger bikes, certainly not the top-end, performance categories (including adventure, touring, sports in this).

Imagine spending £10-20k on a bike and still getting the same range and charge time as the same few bikes you had previously? That’s a really crappy consumer proposition. What exactly would you be getting in that new bike that would justify buying it?

Of course, we don’t know what we don’t know. Who knows how things will develop. I’m looking forward to our new electrical overlords for sure!

And that swappable battery consortium, which is based around the European market and standards, follows another one also featuring Honda and Yamaha, with Suzuki and Kawasaki, for the Japanese market that seems to be going well.

I miss electric milk floats, from bygone days when the likes of Ernie, Ted, Uncle Tom and all delivered all manner of produce to your door, including milk, potatoes, bread, eggs, bacon and more. As a young boy we would bunk into the dairy and have races in the electric milk floats that had superseded the horse and cart, they maxed out at less than 20 mph but it was proper fun all the same.

That was over half a century ago and I’ve never understood why electric delivery vehicles disappeared from our streets. back to the future, well today at least, around here Amazon now run a fleet of electric delivery vans and I saw electric minibuses at Brands Hatch this weekend. Royal Mail have trialled all manner of electric vehicles including trolleys, carts and vans. I’m thinking EV’s will be the primary form of transport on our roads long before 2035, by which time seeing an internal combustion engined vehicle on the road will be as rare as seeing a Ford Cortina today.

I think milk&more (your national franchised corporate milk delivery service) uses electric nowadays… At least they used to when we ordered.

Back the future indeed.

In my childhood I remember our milkman moaning about his new electric milk float the dairy had provided him with because his old horse knew their milk round and was an early version of what we now call an autonomous vehicle. As the milkman was working his way along the doorsteps, all he had to do was call out ‘walk on’ and the old horse plodded the float along with him.

The recent crop of AVs haven’t reached that level of intelligence yet :wink: