Are you wondering how charging really works? Let's take a look!
"Type 2 chargers are the most abundant chargers for public use with around 30,000 of them in the UK alone. To put that in perspective there are only around 8,000 petrol stations!"
Charging an Electric Motorbike is far easier than you may think, and there are now MORE chargers than petrol stations in the UK, not including your standard wall plugs which are EVERYWHERE!
There are different types of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging systems available, ranging from standard household sockets, to more advanced and faster charging options. Here are the most common types:
Level 1 Charging: Level 1 charging is the most basic and slowest form of charging. It uses a standard three-pin wall socket, just like charging a phone! Level 1 charging is convenient for overnight charging and is often used at home or in workplaces where the vehicle can be parked for an extended period. It provides a charging rate of about 2kW, so a motorbike with a 10kWh battery will take 5 hours to charge. The charge rate will change depending on the on-board charger in the motorbike, so some may be slower than this, but for an overnight charge, or charge while you work as this is the best and most convenient option. Another benefit of Level 1 charging is that the slower the charge, the better the battery health will be long term.
Level 2 Charging (Type 2): Type 2 charging offers faster charging compared to Level 1 and requires a dedicated charging station that you generally find in public carparks, pubs, points of interest, and there are also lots of businesses that have Type 2 chargers installed for the use of their staff. Generally Type 2 chargers are either 3kW, 7kW, or 22kW with the bigger number giving the fasted charging. Type 2 chargers are the most abundant chargers for public use with around 30,000 of them in the UK alone. To put that in perspective there are only around 8,000 petrol stations! Type 2 chargers use an industry standard plug called a J1772, this means that all Type 2 compatible motorbikes can use these chargers, Zero Motorcycles for example use Type 2 chargers with charge rates from 3kW to 12.6kW.
DC Fast Charging (Level 3 Charging): DC Fast Charging, also known as Level 3 charging or DC quick charging, provides the fastest charging rates for electric vehicles. It uses high-powered charging stations that supply direct current (DC) electricity to the vehicle's battery, bypassing the vehicle's onboard charger. DC Charging stations are typically found at motorway services with a growing availability at other point of interest locations and public carparks. There are still much fewer DC stations compared to Type 2 with currently around 8,000 in the UK. The use of DC charging allows compatible electric motorbikes to recharge in 45 mins or less which is great for longer trips. These DC charging stations range from 25kW to 350kW, the best charge rate will be dictated by the vehicle using it so it's not a case of the higher the rated charger, the faster the charge. Only the most modern and expensive electric cars can currently make use of the higher charge rates. Generally on relevant electric motorbikes 25kW will be the maximum.
The reality of charging
So let's put this charging into practice. Overnight, while you sleep, you can fully charge your bike from a standard three-pin plug. This means you have a full charge for when you need the bike the next day. And to make thing easier for those that don't have the ability to charge on a driveway or garage, most of the commuter focused bikes have removable batteries so they can be charged in the home or at the office!
The majority of commutes in the UK are less than 10 miles which means you will only ever need to use the level 1 charging by plugging in overnight, or while you work. This is incredibly convenient and means you never need to visit a petrol station during the rush hour ever again! Commuter bikes currently make up around 60% of motorbike sales in the UK so Level 1 charging would be the most common and easiest means to charge. The electric motorbike brands that best suit commuting are Super Soco, Horwin and NIU and Zero also offer more premium models such as the FXE & S models.
It's common for a motorbike enthusiast to take their bike out for a ride with friends on a weekend and on sunny evenings. Generally these rides would be between 50 and 150 miles, depending on the riders and the time you have available. In these cases you would be on a larger capacity motorbike with a range of 110 - 140 miles. So in this case, you'd use Level 1 charging to ensure your leaving with a full charge, the if you need to top-up charge, this would be done at a Type 2 charging station while you have a chat and a coffee with your rider buddies. You would only need to charge for a short period of time, there's no need to wait for a full charge! Plus, Type 2 chargers are never far from a nice café, if not at the café or pub itself!
Long road trips
So, if you're off on a long road trip, having a motorbike with DC charging would definitely be an advantage but not a necessity. A Zero with the additional Charge Tank installed will recharge in around an hour off a 22kW charger and has a range or up to 140 miles if your enjoying the more adventurous routes on b-roads and country roads. 140 miles can take up to 4 hours to complete, so a charge stop is a welcome break to empty your bladder and have some food and a coffee!
You may need to plan your route to ensure there are chargers in the right places, but this is made easy with apps like ZapMap, and A Better Route Planner.
Charging is getting faster, easier, and more convenient as time goes on, and if you need more convincing why not take an electric motorbike out for a demo ride and try charging it for yourself, it takes a bit of getting used to, but like riding a bike, once you know there's no stopping you!