Electric motorcycles are still a bit of a niche item in the United States - they're bigger sellers in Asia – and one reason for that is the combination of power and speed that we usually associate with gas-guzzlers. Let's face it, nobody buys a Prius as a muscle car.
World's Most Advanced Electric Superbike: Big Pics
Mission Motors, a San Francisco-based maker of electric car components, aims to change that. The company is planning to roll out a street-legal version of its super-powered electric motorbike, the Mission R and Mission RS. The company says it can top out at 150 miles per hour, and go from zero to 60 in three seconds, with no emissions from a 160 horsepower engine. The model with the largest battery, at 17 kilowatt-hours, can ride for 140 miles.
Getting this kind of performance took some re-jiggering of a traditional motorcycle frame. For instance, the engine is directly incorporated into the rear suspension.
One other interesting effect of riding an electric motorbike is better handling. In a conventional motorcycle, the rider has to lean into turns slightly, just like on a bicycle. That's because motorcycles have an engine spinning at several thousand revolutions per minute and the spinning creates a force that "fights" the turns, making handling more difficult. Electric motorbikes don't have this problem.