Kawasaki has become the first mainstream Japanese motorcycle manufacture to offer an electric motorcycle, and in fact, they now have two. The Ninja e-1 and Z e-1 may look like the current gas-powered bikes, but underneath the green bodywork are fully electrified – and identical – powertrains.
Each bike gets a 9 kW brushless electric motor, with two removable batteries; each weighs 11.5 kg, but Kawasaki is mum on the kWh rating. The combo gives both bikes a range of up to 72 km.
Charging can be done with the batteries in or out of the bikes, though it’s limited to just 120 V; no fast charging here. It will take 1.6 hours for charging 20 per cent to 85 per cent, while a full charge from zero takes 3.7 hours. Of course, each bike also features regenerative braking. And as the batteries are removable, it opens the door for quick swaps for charged cells.
There are two riding modes to balance speed and range, Eco and Road, and both have a 15-second ‘e-boost- for a burst of acceleration. The Ninja e-1 starts with a stop speed of 64 km/h in Eco, jumping to 75 km/h with the e-boost. Road sees an 88 km/h limit, jumping to 99 km/h with e-boost. The Z e-1 starts at 62 km/h in Eco, 72 km/h with e-boost, 85 km/h ion Road and a final 99 km/h with e-boost.
The bikes also feature a ‘Walk’ mode for easier handling at slow speeds, with a 5 km/h forward speed limit and even a 3 km/h reverse drive. They also offer a 4.3-inch TFT colour screen and smartphone connectivity.
While the Ninja e-1 and Z e-1 may not challenge their gas-powered siblings on a race track, they are a good first step and offer plenty of urban thrills. The Ninja e-1 starts at $9,499, with the Z e-1 starting at $9,199.
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