By Derek Markham
This electric bike offers a little taste of yesteryear's classic motorcycle design on the outside, but has a high-tech heart.
When is an electric bike not an electric bike? Perhaps when it doesn't have any way to pedal it manually, I suppose.
There's been a recent flush of electric two-wheeled 'bikes' to hit the market lately that are too similar in design to a bicycle to be properly called a scooter, and which don't even have pedals, so they don't qualify for the -ped in electric moped, and which are too small to be a motorcycle. Maybe that's splitting hairs, but it's becoming an increasingly important distinction, mostly because of regulations for roads and vehicles, which vary by the country, state, and municipality. A proper motorcycle or scooter has a certain set of licensing, registration, and insurance requirements, and in some places, electric bikes that can achieve higher speeds are subject to some restrictions (again, varying by location).
So when an electrified "bike" is roughly the size of a conventional bike, but is throttle operated and not pedaled, yet isn't powerful enough to keep up with faster traffic, it begs the question of just what category to put it in, and where it's legal or illegal to ride it. After all, these small electric vehicles are convenient, easy to park, and cheap to operate, and are arguably cleaner to use than a gas engine, especially at the 'tailpipe', and getting more people riding could be an effective pollution and climate solution, but most existing transportation infrastructure and regulations aren't really encouraging their adoption.
All of that is a long way of saying that calling the Munro Motor 2.0 electric bike a "bike" might ruffle some feathers, not only for leading people to think that it can be pedaled as a bike can, but also because even as the company incorporates the latest in electric drive technology, it still retains design elements that resemble actual components from its gas-fueled inspiration, just for style. Sure, it looks cool at first glance to have faux V-twin cylinder heads on the bike, but after a quick think, one wonders why that particular skeuomorph was left in the final design. But then again, Vintage Electric is doing it, and so is Juicer Bike, so what do I know? I'd ride one, regardless of any potential shade being thrown my way by non-electric cyclists.
The Munro Motor 2.0, which isn't yet available in the US, is named so in a nod to Burt Munro, a world land speed record holder who rode a highly modified Indian Scout motorcycle to much success at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the 1960s. The e-bike's design invokes some of the same curves and lines as an early Indian motorbike, but on a much smaller scale, and has a Bosch electric motor in the rear wheel and space for two battery packs within the frame's triangle, which are said to be capable of speeds of 28 mph (45 kph) and a range of up to 30 miles per charge (per battery pack). With dual battery packs fully charged and on the bike, the 2.0 could potentially be ridden it for 60 miles before needing to be charged again, and with no pedaling necessary.