Lose the Gas – Get Around in Style on an Electric Motorcycle

My husband and I recently stopped by E-Cycle, a store in downtown Vancouver which sells electric bikes and scooters. We had been checking out zero carbon ways of getting around (beyond the obvious ones of walking and biking) for several months , and had test-driven a number of electric scooters. My husband, being the thorough consumer researcher that he is, had discovered through his on-line investigating that E-cycle was one of the few places in Canada that sold electric limited speed motorcycles, which have more power than regular electric scooters. We don’t live in B.C. but we found ourselves with some time on our hands after making the ferry crossing back from Victoria a few weeks ago, and luckily the store was open.  Gordon and Lance, who run E-Cycle, were happy to answer our questions and let us test drive their vehicles.

Most electric scooters have a 500 W motor with a maximum speed of 32 km/h and a range up to 40 kilometers. They are fine for getting around town if you live somewhere like the prairies where there are no hills, or if you don’t mind holding up traffic in a place with more hills. We don’t live on the prairies. There are some fairly steep inclines in our town, and we draw the line at looking like eco-nerds driving up a hill at a snail’s pace. So a scooter wasn’t right for us. That’s where the EVT-4000e electric motorcycle comes into the picture. It has a 1.5 kW motor with more power, and it manages hills just fine. Its maximum speed is 60 km/hr, and it has a range of up to 45 kilometers with a standard battery. A lithium battery is available but ups the cost considerably.

We ended up buying a 2009 EVT 4000e. Its specifications are:

  • direct drive 1.5 kW 49V 70Nm Brushless Motor (2010 model motors are brushless, 2009 models aren’t)
  • Front and Rear Hydraulic Disc Brakes
  • 48V40AH PowerGel SLA batteries

We also purchased an optional matching trunk box which hasn’t been installed yet. I should mention that E-Cycle also sold the EVT-168, also a LS e-motorcycle but with a retro look. That’s the one Mark really wanted to buy, but we ended up with the 4000e because it’s a double seater, whereas the EVT-168 isn’t. And I think the 4000e looks pretty cool, too! Now we are just waiting for our license plate to arrive – apparently it has come from out-of-town because our local registration office is too small to have them in stock. Also, our insurance agent is getting back to us about the cost of insuring it. So, much to our disappointment, our zero emissions cycle is parked in the garage until we get those things sorted out. And because we live in northwestern Ontario, that means our window of opportunity for driving it around town is closing for 2010, because the snow could come any day now. It doesn’t come with a heater :), so driving it in below zero weather won’t be happening, although Lance and Gordon assured us it can be done.

I should also mention that to drive a low-speed electric motorcycle in Ontario, you need a motorcycle license. In British Columbia, apparently you need a regular driver’s license but not a motorcycle license. I understand that in both of these provinces an electric scooter does not require any vehicle insurance or any kind of vehicle license to drive.

As for the price, it was around $2500 without the optional trunk box. Shipping was extra but very reasonable and fast. This year’s models are more expensive but come with some upgrades. We have a 6 month warranty (on the 2010 models it was 12 months) but I’m not sure what will happen if we have any problems, being that we live in a small town hundreds of kilometers from the nearest scooter shop, and four provinces away from E-Cycle.

Did I mention it was fun to drive? And very quiet! And we can get around town emission-free.  I love it for all these reasons. Now if only we could get the darn license on it.

Anyway, here are some pics:

More links:


Living With My Electric Urban Commuter

0 thoughts on “Lose the Gas – Get Around in Style on an Electric Motorcycle”

  1. Ooooooh, pretty! Congratulations on your new baby! 🙂 My eGO Cycle doesn’t go as fast as your new wheels (maximum 24 mph), but I can attest that going electric is super fun. I get questions/comments about it almost every time I ride it. And small towns are *great* for two wheeled transportation, whether electric or human powered. Have fun!

    • Nice wheels. I assume you meant to say that it has a 1.5 kilowatt motor not a 1.5 watt motor. Electric scooters and cycles are fantastic. There are also some interesting electric “bicycles” which allow one to either pedal or go by motor.

  2. Thanks, Jen for your testimonial and well wishes. And thanks, Steve, for the correction. E-cycle also had some electric bicycles and tricycles which were quite popular. At this point I’m not willing to concede my pedal power to an electric motor (I need the aerobic exercise) but perhaps one day! Mark and I have been considering doing a bike touring trip with the added boost that these would give, but nothing definite on that front yet.

  3. Hi I met a friend of yours, Pauline Thornham on the weekend and she mentioned the bike you bought and your blog. I sell E-bikes in Mississauga and am curious to hear if you can get it licensed for the roads in Ontario as we are looking at selling larger electric scooters and motorcycles.

  4. Hi Andrew –
    Interesting that you should ask – our license plates just came into the local MTO office, but it’s been REALLY hard to find insurance. The province has kept up with the trend towards larger electric scooters and motorcycles, but it seems that insurance companies haven’t. Our local agent checked around, and our home insurer won’t touch anything with two wheels, and 4 other insurance companies she spoke to will insure gas but NOT electric motorcycles (even though our top speed is 60 km/h!), because they’ve never heard of them. I think what we’ve settled on is paying $409(!!) for just liability insurance, not any kind of other coverage. It seems that we are paying the price for being “early adopters”. Insurance companies in Ontario have obviously not kept up with the trend toward electric vehicles. In B.C. I believe it would be much easier, as you don’t need a vehicle license. If you hear about any insurance companies offering better rates, we’d love the hear about them! My guess is that paying $400 (regular gas motorcycle insurance only costs $300), will discourage a lot of interested people from buying these.

    • That’s great to hear that you were able to get it licensed, but $400 a year insurance seems a little high especially considering where you live, the State Farm agent here quoted one of my customers at $23 per month, but he’s also young, in Mississauga(much more traffic, I’d imagine) and no drivers license yet.

      • Thanks for the tip, Andrew, I will get our agent to check with State Farm. Was it a low speed electric motorcycle your customer was quoted on?

  5. Did I miss something? Where does the electricity come from? If I had one of those machines, I guess the electricity might at least sometimes come from coal-fired generators.

    If you could go 100% solar and off-grid, I guess the question wouldn’t arise, but I don’t imagine you are contemplating that.

  6. Good points, Dan. You’re right, Ontario still has some coal-fired plants so some of our electricity will be from those sources at this point in time. But as we are in the process of putting up a 7kW solar panel system on our roof to feed back into the grid, I figure we will be putting significantly more clean power in than we are using, not just to recharge the motorcycle but to power our house (10 kW is the average energy requirement of 5 – 10 households).

    • According to our power bill we use 18KW/h per day and that’s not too bad for winter with electric heating on a 1500sqft with two people. I doubt you have factored it correct when you work out that your solar panels are rated at 7KW and think that you will be able to power your house and push power back into the grid. Are you sure your panels’ total rating under average overcast skies is rated at 7KW or is that at high noon on a sunny day with bright blue skies?

      Your panels may have the capacity to pump out 7KW but I doubt they would give you a steady 7KW for 10 hours to give you 70KW/h which would not even power four places like mine.

      • Hi Sean –

        You’re right, 7KW is the expectation for our 33 panels at peak power capacity.

        But with Ontario’s microFIT program, the power from our solar panels is fed right into the grid – it doesn’t power our house first. We are paid for all of the power we generate, regardless of what our household uses (we get billed for that separately). The reason the microFIT program is a good way to generate renewable energy is that we get paid more for the power that we generate than we pay for the energy we use from the grid. That helps pay for the solar panels, and then once that’s done becomes a source of income for us.

  7. I’m wondering if you’ve had any more luck insuring your electric scooter. I’m in Ontario as well and just purchased a Zero motorcycle. I haven’t talked to my broker yet, but it’s helpful to hear the experiences of others.

    • Hi Paul – We’ve just reinsured our scooter again, and it was the same this year as last (about $375). If you find a better deal, please let us know!

  8. Hello from Montreal.

    I am wondering if you still have your EVT scooter, and if you’ve had any problems with it now that it’s two or three years old.

    I am looking to buy a 2009 EVT 4000e with the same specs as yours, but I am not sure if it’s a good investment or not. The price is significantly lower than new retail, and the scooter is in good condition with relatively few KMs..

    Do you have any plans for battery replacement when that becomes an issue? I know that SLA batteries tend to have a 3- to 5-year lifespan, assuming they’re treated well and not over-discharged.

    Thanks for the article (and your whole site!). The photos are very nice, too.


    • Bonjour Sylvan –
      Yes, we still have our Scooter, although we are looking at replacing the battery this summer. If you are considering purchasing a used 2009, you are probably looking at replacing the battery soon, if not immediately, so factor that into your purchase price.

      The scooter has been great for my husband to commute the 2 kilometres to work and back (he could bike, but doesn’t like arriving at the office sweaty). Last summer I didn’t drive it at all, as I hadn’t renewed my motorcycle learner’s license (which is a minimum requirement here in Ontario to drive it). But if you are commuting shorter distances, I would highly recommend it. It’s got lots of zip, and it’s so much fun to have a non-polluting, carbon-free motorized ride!


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