Best E-Bikes Motorcycles You Can Buy in 2022
Here it is again, for the very first time — CleanTechnica’s list of the best e-bikes and electric motorcycles you can buy in 2022!
It’s 2022, and we want to help you make the third year of this global pandemic the best one yet with the help of a brand-new “best bikes” list that will help you find the right electric bicycle for you!
Once again, I’ll be introducing you to my personal picks for the best e-bikes and electric motorcycles you can buy in 2022, based on more than 25 years of riding, fixing, and building stuff that goes fast — as well as, you know, wild conjecture, since there’s a few bikes on this list that I haven’t yet had a chance to ride. I’ll make that clear enough in the article, though, and we’ll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my picks — and learn more about your picks! — in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев section at the bottom of the page.
Without further ado, then, here they are, in something that feels tantalizingly like a logical order: the 22 best e-bikes and electric motorcycles you can buy in 2022!
Best Electric Bikes for Kids
Stacyc 16eDRIVE | KTM, Husqvarna, or Harley-Davidson (little kids)
Marketed as electric balance bikes instead of beginner motorcycles, the Stacyc electric balance bikes can be purchased with Harley-Davidson Iron-e, KTM, or Husqvarna branding, and remains the perfect choice for introducing little ones to the physics and fun of motorcycles. With a few power levels and two available sizes, the zippy little bikes have more than enough juice to keep the littles entertained, and their electric powertrains mean they’re welcome on public trails and indoor tracks where ICE-powered junior bikes like the Yamaha PW50 aren’t.
We picked the Stacyc for this “award” on our 2021 list, as well — and it looks like a lot of you listened. Out of a total electric-based revenue of 73.9 million since taking over the Stacyc brand, Harley-Davidson made 41.3 million from selling kids’ balance bikes, with only 29.9 million being attributed to selling Livewire electric motorcycles.
Woom UP 5 (bigger kids)
The Woom UP 5 is an ultralight 24″ electric mountain bike with a suspension fork, Fazua drive, and disc brakes designed for children aged 7 years and up that uses the electric motor to “boost” the kids’ leg strength. The thinking is that your child will be able to keep up (UP! I get it!) with faster adult riders on uphills and trails, but still teach them the physics and muscle memory they’ll need to grow as riders.
The Woom UP 5’s features and aluminum frame, adjustable “AIRFORK” suspension, disc brakes, and a trigger-shifter operated SRAM NX transmission. Pricing starts at €2,890.00 (approx. 3,295 US, with current exchange rates), for age 7 and older.
Volcon Runt (for outdoorsy kids)
The Volcon Runt is the fat-tired, go-anywhere funbike that you should get your kids if you’ve been thinking of getting them a minibike. Slotting somewhere between the Honda CRF110 and CRF125, the Runt is perfect for kids who want to get out and hit the trails.
Starting at 2995, the Runt fits right in the middle of the 110-125cc bikes from the Big Four Japanese brands, without the hassles, maintenance, noise, and fire risk of internal combustion. If you’ve been looking at a small bike or ATV for your little rider, stop looking now.
Torrot TWO (for fast kids)
If the Torrot TWO is Michael Jordan or Usain Bolt in their prime then the Stacyc is — well, me. The Torrot TWO may be small, designed for kids up to 9 years old or 88 lb, but it is a serious racing motorcycle designed for kids who show real talent, skill, and maturity. With instant torque, a top speed of 25 mph, and up to 45 minutes of runtime from its quick-change li-ion battery and 48v brushless motor, this is the bike your young Jeremy McGrath has to have.
Best Electric Bicycles (e-Bikes)
FLX Babymaker (fixie gravel/road bike)
To my eyes, there’s nothing quite as sexy as a road bike. In the past, I’ve own a few Specialized road bikes and Langsters, and I’ve loved them all, but the FLX Babymaker and Babymaker II have the almost as good-looking Specialized Turbo CREO e-bikes beat. They’re absolutely gorgeous, the electric motors and batteries are practically invisible, and … did I mention they’re gorgeous? Check out this one, in metallic silver.
Babymaker Pro, courtesy FLX.
I’ll admit, I haven’t had a chance to ride the new-for-2022 FLX Babymaker II, but I take solace in knowing that no one else has, either (the first examples are set to ship later this month). Regardless, I’m picking these e-bikes based solely on looks. The Babymaker is available now for 2499, with plenty of available discount codes out there to get it below that magic 2K mark, if you’re willing to dig for them.
Pivot E-Vault (high-end gravel/road bike)
Image courtesy Pivot Cycles.
It’s been almost a year to the day since the Pivot Cycles E-Vault first appeared on my radar, and I’ve just grown more enamored with it since. This is one of those rare machines that gets better the longer you stare at it. It’s nearly perfect, which, with a starting price of 9299, it should be!
The E-Vault packs a 252Wh battery and 250W Fazua Evation drivepack that offers up to 55 Nm of electric power and top speed of 28 MPH. Pedal power is sent through a Shimano Ultegra HG-800 cassette and GRX 815 Di2 11-speed derailleur and shifter, GRX 810 two-piston brakes, while a set of high-end all-carbon 700c wheels from Reynolds keep this e-bike’s weight down to unelectrified levels.
Aventon Sinch (folding fat-tire e-bikes)
The Aventon Sinch is a fat-tired folding suspension e-bike that’s priced at just 1,699. For that money you get a 20 mph top speed, up to 40 miles of electrified riding range, and an LCD display for speed, remaining battery life, and more. A full color LCD display with app integration is available as a 99 add-on option.
I rode the Aventon Sinch for the first time at the Electrify Expo in Orange County last year, and it really surprised me. Folded up, it’s bigger than you think. On the move, it feels chunky and fun — if you’ve ever ridden a Honda Ruckus, you’ll get it immediately. It’s a stupid fun bike that soaks up uneven surfaces and sandy beaches with ease, but that won’t break the bank. What more could you ask?
Gocycle G4 (lightweight folding e-bikes)
At just 38 pounds, the Gocycle G4 is one of the lightest folding suspension e-bikes out there, and one of the most stylish, too! Our own Kyle Field tested the GX model in 2020 and raved about it, but I overlooked it for the 2021 list, opting for the cachet of the Ducati brand. I was wrong then, but I’ve got it right this time — the Gocycle G4 leverages some impressive engineering feats to pack a ton of functionality into a high tech but easy to use package. What’s more, it’s incredibly adjustable, allowing for a full range of petite, small, medium, or extra-large riders to find a position that works for them. The sturdy frame inspires confidence, too, as does the bike’s proprietary front hub motor gear drive with electronic traction control.
The Gocycle isn’t cheap, at 4,999, and you might want to budget for a few Gocycle accessories, like this 349 portable docking station, but this isn’t a list of the cheapest e-bikes you can buy, is it?
Flyer L885 (cargo bike)
Image courtesy Flyer; Radio Flyer.
The Radio Flyer-built Flyer L885 is a comfortable, capable cargo bike that uses fat tires and clever frame geometry to feel a lot smaller than it is. I was impressed with the prototype I rode last summer, and the production bike I tested recently is equally good at hiding the bike’s length. That said, what makes the LWB Flyer the best cargo bike isn’t any part of the bike itself, per se. Instead, it’s the accessories — specifically, the 299 Kid Cargo Carrier.
Kid Cargo Carrier, courtesy Flyer.
Like many other long wheelbase cargo e-bikes, the L885 can be had with a rear basket, passenger grab rails, and running boards to make loading and unloading kids easy and fun, but the Kid Cargo Carrier goes a step further. It transforms from a kids’ seat to cargo basket in as long as it takes you to unzip and clip. It looks like it’s meant to be there, too, instead of the hasty add-on that so many other cargo bike accessories seem like. The tubes are the same diameter as those in the Flyer L885 frame, and they’re finished in the same durable, semi-crinkle powder coat.
The Flyer L885 offers 50 miles of electric range, 5 riding modes accessible through an LCD display, a standard center stand, and is available for order through the Radio Flyer website with a starting price of 1,999.
Aventon Aventure (utility bike)
Last spring, Kyle Field said the Aventon Aventure electric bicycle, “could be the ultimate fat tire utility e-bike.” recently, Derek Markham agreed, adding that, “it could also serve as an excellent mid-life crisis motorcycle,” and, “the Aventure has ended up being my favorite electric bike so far.”
It’s hard to argue with those endorsements, and the specs back them up. Kyle said that the Aventure is, “an absolute tank of a bike.” Sporting massive tires, 720 watt-hour battery, a an impressive electric motor with a 750 watt average output and peak power output of 1,130 watts. Available in 3 sizes, covering heights from 5’1″ to 6’6″, starting at 1,899.
RadRunner Plus, by Rad Power (utility bike)
The term “utility bike” gets tacked onto lots of different bicycles these days – as evidenced by the fact that both the sturdy, off-road Aventon Aventure up there and the road-biased Rad Power RadRunner Plus wear that label. And, if the Aventure could serve as an alternative to a “mid-life crisis” motorcycle, then the RadRunner Plus could serve as an alternative to a “I just watched Quadrophenia again and now I have to buy an old Vespa.” And I’m a sucker for Vespas.
The RadRunner Plus offers the same 300 lb. payload capacity as the standard RadRunner, but comes fully loaded with an upgraded drivetrain, front suspension fork, fenders, the passenger package (that includes the rear seat and passenger foot pegs), a custom LED halo headlight, and the standard Rad Power Bikes LCD display, all for 1,699.
Gen3 Stride (utility bike)
That’s right, kids, it’s another utility bike, but this one is much more conventional bicycle than the “tank-like” Aventure or slightly funky RadRunner Plus. The Gen3 Stride is the everyday bike for normies, in other words, and they’re getting a good one.
During his review of the bike, Kyle Field was wowed by the Gen3 Stride’s power, writing, “I was instantly impressed as the torque from the Bafang 500-watt rear hub motor kicked in and threatened to turn my lazy wheelie into something altogether more acrobatic.” He was also a big fan of the bike’s long list of standard features, saying, “The inclusion of a beefy, TIG-welded rear rack from the factory that’s capable of supporting 55 pounds / 25 kg makes it even easier for commuters to toss a set of panniers or strap a basket on and get straight to using the bike. I’m personally a huge fan of simply strapping a plastic milk crate to the back for the ultimate utility with the least fuss, but to each their own.”
The Gen3 Stride has a starting price of 1499 on the GEN3 Stride website, but is on sale for 1199 as I type this.
Pivot Shuttle V2 (e-MTB)
With a starting price higher than I paid for my first car, the Pivot Shuttle is never going to be a mass-market choice. The Defender Green Team XTR build does its best to be worth the money, though — it carries a spec sheet that’s second to none, with a who’s-who list of top-shelf components from Fox, Shimano, and more, all complimented by a massive new 726Wh battery that’s fully integrated into the bike’s downtube, yet designed for easy “hot swaps” on the trail, for hours of hardcore riding.
The Pivot makes zero sense. No bike with an 11,699 price tag makes sense — but this isn’t a rational purpose. You don’t buy a Shuttle because you’re rational, you buy it because you demand — and can afford! — the very best e-MTB experience the 2-wheeled universe has to offer.
Wicked Thumb 750 Indian Red (chopper-style e-bikes)
Image courtesy Wicked Thumb Electrocycles.
When Harley-Davidson first announced plans to launch a line of electric bicycles, this is what I (and lots of other people) had in mind. What ultimately became the Serial 1 was not this — and, while that’s probably for the best, that left an opening big enough to ride a TriGlide Ultra through. Ron Leverock didn’t need to be invited, and moved quickly to fill that “Harley e-bikes” void in the market with Wicked Thumb.
Ron understands that, to some people, riding isn’t about the latest specs or highest performance — and it’s not like the Wicked Thumb bikes don’t deliver on those fronts, it’s just that they’re not the end goal. “The entire objective of all of this being to capture the minds of people who think e-bikes are soft and weak, all look the same and can’t be cool,” write Ron. “If you’re one of those people, guess what? You aren’t any more … riding on two wheels, uncaged is just a thrilling experience. It’s like taking your mask off. You don’t have to do 90 mph and dodge traffic to get some of that feeling.”
The brand’s entry bike, the Wicked Thumb Destroyer 750, starts at 2999, but some of the custom builds on the company’s Insta look like they’re approaching 10,000 with polished brass, copper, pinstripes, gold leaf, and more. Check it out for yourself here, and get inspired.
Serial 1 MOSH TRIBUTE (premium e-bike)
Photo by Jo Borrás, at Electrify Expo.
When Serial 1 revealed the production version of its MOSH/CTY e-bikes, I felt conned. Like I’d been bait-and-switched after seeing the initial, 1903-inspired bike get “watered down” into something much more affordable, sure — but much less special, in my own, somewhat dramatic opinion. A few months later, though, Serial 1 came through, giving me the honor of debuting its true-to-concept MOSH Tribute model live at Electrify Expo in Los Angeles, where Serial 1 exec. Aaron Frank joined me on the big stage for an interview.
I couldn’t be more impressed with the MOSH Tribute. Every detail is just about perfect. The Brooks saddle and leather grips are sublime, the paint is deep and rich, the cables are virtually invisible, being routed through the frame for an impeccably clean look, and the Serial 1 shield on the headtube lights up exactly the way you want it to.
Serial 1 offered a limited number of the bikes for 5999, and they sold out almost immediately, but if you want something truly special, you can get the “standard” MOSH/CTY for 3999 and make it your own. The bones of the nicest e-bike you’ll ever see are right there.
Super73 (moped-style e-bikes)
Lil Nas X custom S2, courtesy Super73.
Yes, that’s Lil Nas X on a customized Super73 S2 with leather fringe and a polished frame. He’s not even the coolest guy I’ve seen on one, either — but that might be LeGrand Crewse, the co-founder and CEO of Super73, who has been on an absolute tear developing themed bikes with HotWheels, Roland Sands, and a laundry list of up-and-coming celebs, all of whom just want to ride the coolest e-bikes around.
The Super73 e-bikes begin to blur the line between bicycle and moped, and are probably better referred to as “e-mopeds” instead of “e-bikes.” If you can wrap your head around that, and that sounds like what you’re looking for, just about any one of Super73’s electrified two-wheelers will be sure to put a smile on your face.
Disclaimer: LeGrand Crewse is the coolest guy you know. I have a substantial man-crush on LeGrand, and want to be just like him when I grow up.
ONYX RCR 72V (blurring the lines)
If the Super73 blurs the line between e-bikes and mopeds, then I’m not sure what the 60 (sixty!) mph ONYX RCR does. Similar in style to the Super73 and other moped-style bikes, the ONYX has a unique, almost handcrafted style that will make anyone who has vivid memories of VHS tapes and Atari joysticks feel right at home.
Thoughtful details abound throughout the ONYX RCR, with carefully managed cables, a bright LED headlight, and ONYX logos placed subtly — but throughout the bike’s high-end components, this is one of those bikes that, if it speaks to you, it will speak to you like nothing else. The ONYX RCR 72V starts at 4349, but brushes up against the 6K mark with turn signals (you’ll want those) and the high-capacity 41AH battery 10AH charging. Get the dirt kit for the pannier rack, fork covers, and knobby tires (but ditch the plastic fender).
Ubco 2X2ADV (trail bike)
Jo Borrás on an Ubco at COTA, courtesy Ubco.
The first full-size, pedal-free e-bikes on this list are the Ubco 2X2s. Available in in “Adventure” and “Work” models with slightly different specifications, the Ubco 2X2 is an incredibly stout motorcycle. The two-wheel drive configuration makes it feel like nothing I’ve ever ridden, and — as you can see, above — I rode it at the Circuit of the Americas’ kart track outside of Austin, TX, which is far, far away from the rough and tumble fields it was built for.
Ubco 2X2ADV and 2X2WRK, courtesy Ubco.
It didn’t matter. The Ubco handled even the tightest corners with ease, and the 2WD power delivery inspired truly stupid levels of confidence. The Ubco people I spoke to referenced the old Audi UR-Quattro and the little-known Yamaha YZ490 that’s one of my personal favorites, too, as if I wasn’t smitten enough!
The Ubco 2X2ADV starts at 6,999. If that seems pricey, keep in mind that it is a for-real, capable motorcycle, with a VIN and a license plate and everything. And it’s an absolute beast of one, too!
Aventura X (classic scooter)
Simon Ohanian on Aventura X in Miami, by Jo Borrás.
Yes, the steel-bodied Vespa Elettrica might be the real Vespa, but the Aventura X looks every inch like a classic Vespa VBB from the 1960s. Sure, it’s plastic, but the removable and swappable battery packs are incredibly convenient, the touchpoints are all quality, and the feel behind the wheel handlebars is exactly what you’d expect.
The fact that the Aventura X, starting at 2995, costs about a third as much as the Vespa Elettrica doesn’t hurt, either. And, frankly, it is the prettier of the two bikes (Sorry, Piaggio!). Watch out for Aventura X’s founder, Simon Ohanian, though. I met him in Miami last year (where I took that picture), and he is stylish, charming, and will absolutely steal your girl.
Sondors Metacycle (compact beginner motorcycle)
Another bike on the list I’ve never ridden, the Sondors Metacycle was picked entirely on looks. I don’t know if I’d call it futuristic, post-modern, spartan, or what, but I do know that Sondors’ cast aluminum frame and 11 HP (20 peak HP) electric motor make it more than equal to the task of terrorizing Honda Grom riders, and 80 miles of all-electric range feels like more than enough for a bike like this.
The Sondors Metacycle carries a 6000 price tag, and is available for pre-order with a 999 deposit. Deliveries are expected to begin later this year.
LiveWire ONE (standard motorcycle)
Freed from the burden of apologizing to Harley-Davidson’s “core buyer” demographic, the LiveWire ONE stands alone as a fast, comfortable, upright motorcycle in the spirit the old, do-it-all, Universal Japanese Motorcycle (think: Kawasaki Z1, Honda Nighthawk 759, etc.).
The new-for-2022 colors are clean, the upgraded battery gives up to 146 miles of range, and the LiveWire remains one of the quickest (if not the quickest) street-legal motorcycles to ever roll out of Milwaukee. Best of all? The price has dropped from 29,799 to a much more accessible 21,999. It’s still pricey, sure, but give me ten minutes to walk around the bike, highlight the sandcast frame and other top-shelf details, and you’ll agree: this is the one.
Zero SR/S (sport tourer)
Image courtesy Zero Motorcycles.
The Zero website introduces the SR/S perfectly. “(The bike) delivers 140 ft-lbs of torque and 110 horsepower with the simple twist of a throttle thanks to the class-leading performance and efficiency of Zero’s new ZF75-10 motor and Zero’s new ZF14.4 (standard) and 15.6 (premium) kWh lithium-ion battery.” That about covers it — this is a class-leading bike from the electric motorcycle innovator.
Is it a true sportbike? No. The handlebars are too high, the seating position too upright, the footpegs are kind of– comfortable? The SR/S is more BMW R 1250 RS than it is Kawasaki ZX-10R, but that’s OK. In the real world, on real roads, where real motorcycles are ridden, the Zero SR/S shines.
Pricing for the Zero SR/S starts at 19,995 for the standard model, with a Premium model that includes faster charging and heated grips coming in at 21,995. As I wrote last year, “If you were ever wondering what “the logical choice” for something as fundamentally illogical as a sportbike might be, the Zero SR/S is it.”
Energica Ego (sportbike)
If the Zero SR/S isn’t a true sportbike, the Energica Ego most certainly is. After a few false starts, the Energica is finally, really available in the US, the Ego produces 171 peak HP and 159 lb-ft of TQ off the line, for a blistering 2.5-second run from 0 to 60 mph on its way to an electronically governed top speed of 150 mph (neither the LiveWire nor the Zero come close). Acceleration and speed aren’t the only class-leading performance numbers the Ego delivers. Energica’s proprietary 21.5 kWh battery platform allows a whopping 261 miles of all-electric range in city driving, and more than 150 miles at highway speeds.
This isn’t just a motorcycle, this is the first electric superbike you can buy. Expect to pay up, though — an Ego RS (shown) in tricolor red, white, and green with the frame dipped in Rosso Corsa red comes in at 29,375, but that drops to 25,600 if you can live with the black on red (shown).
That’s a Wrap!
So, there it is. In what used to be a bit of an annual tradition at the old Gas2 that’s made its way back home to CleanTechnica — my list of the best 2-wheelers you’ll be able to buy this year. I’d love to hear what you think of it, what I may have missed, and what you would have put on the list in my place, so head on down to the Комментарии и мнения владельцев section at the bottom of the page, and make your voice heard.
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ONYX Electric Bike Electric Motorcycle Review
San francisco-based startup ONYX introduced the RCR, aiming to bring back popular mopeds from the 70s and 80s in an electrified way. equipped with an affordable electric drive-train, the tough, fun-to-ride, nostalgic motorbike has been updated with new features that include frames, indicators, controls, brakes, electrical, suspension, and a supercharged new battery and charger. on the technical side, the engine reaches 5.4 kW (7.3 HP) and 182 nm, propelling it up to a maximum speed of 96 km/h with a 3 kWh battery.
the ONYX RCR has proven to be wildly popular among the electric scooter market, and these updates are just the company’s way of making an already extraordinary product, even better. the new version features passenger peg mounting holes to the swing arm that allow for two people to ride the bike. the caliper bracket is now stronger, cleaner and has been redesigned to give more stopping power. the new swingarm is reinforced to keep the rider steady no matter the terrain while the new frames have a large rubber battery mat that maintains the battery from sliding around even on savage trails.
the updated ONYX RCR is now 3 inches lower, pulling everything closer to the pavement, lowering the center of gravity and changing the handling. the fork has also been updated in order to deliver a smoother ride. finally, the company has released an option to include turn signals on your build with their stock harness. these low profile LED lights look timid but in reality their brightness can leave anyone blind. the set comes with a stock indicator harness, two sets of lights for the front and the back with two different types of custom mounts.
as described by the san francisco-based brand, their vintage motorbikes are where ‘pure adrenaline meets style’. additionally, get ready for better performance, nearly double the range, and real time data thanks to the new ONYX battery management system app.
An electric moped in the truest sense of the word “moped,” the ONYX RCR is a beast of an electric motorbike.
ONYX RCR electric moped tech specs
Motor: 3kW continuous (5.4 kW peak) rear hub motor Top speed: 60 mph (96 km/h) Range: Up to 75 Mi (120 km) Battery: 72V 23Ah (1.66 kWh) removable battery Frame: Steel tube chassis Weight: 145 lb (66 kg) Suspension: Front suspension fork, dual rear coilover suspension Brakes: Front hydraulic disk brake, rear regenerative braking and hybrid hydraulic disc brakes Extras: Large LED headlight and rear LED tail light, 3 drive modes, backlit LCD display panel, bench seat, wide range of accessories (also accepts many third-party aftermarket moped accessories)
ONYX RCR: Old meets new
The ONYX RCR is a perfect case of old meets new. It combines that classic moped charm with a powerful and modern electric drivetrain.
Incredibly. Deceptively. Hilariously powerful. With a twist of the wrist, the ONYX RCR launches you with a force that betrays its small size. I’ve ridden electric motorcycles ranging from 3kW to 80kW of power. And despite the RCR falling on the lowest end of that spectrum, the bike pulls like a much larger motorcycle.
In fact, its spec sheet lists a 200 amp controller. Unless they are sandbagging that controller, 200A at 72V means a peak electrical output of around 14kW or 18hp. In a bike that weighs less than 150 pounds. Yikes!
What is the ride like?
Have you ever heard of the “e-grin”? It’s a stupidly large smile that people get the first time they try an e-bike and experience the thrill of a silent, electrically powered motorbike.
As something of a professional e-bike rider, I’m on a new model seemingly every week, and it’s been a while since I’ve had a true ear-to-ear e-grin.
The ONYX RCR brought it back in force. I felt this weird, child-like glee as I whizzed off at admittedly dangerous speeds on a vehicle that felt no larger than a standard bicycle, yet rocketed me up to 59 mph. While I never saw the promised 60 mph figure, I got close enough that I can’t complain.
The coolest thing about riding such a powerful, lightweight electric moped is how nimble it is. The strong steel frame and motorcycle-style 17-inch wheels give a strong, rigid feel, while the overall size and wheelbase makes carving up a canyon road effortless.
I was having so much fun that I had to remember to FOCUS on my lines as I entered turns at speeds I would have never even considered attempting on an electric bicycle.
And with sufficiently long travel suspension, off-road riding is a blast, too. James took me down a fire road at speeds that I probably wouldn’t have selected if I had taken point, but that the ONYX RCR ate up like Skittles. The fire road ended in a dirt bowl, and we got the chance to play around with little jumps and hops over the rim, rocks skipping and dust flying.
At the end of the joy ride we headed back on city streets, blending into traffic like we belonged. Which I’m not sure if we actually did, but hell, we were there. Deal with us. That’s probably the only sticky part about the whole vehicle. It’s a giant legal gray area. On the one hand, it’s an electric bicycle in every way. It’s got two wheels, pedals, handle bars, and an electric motor. But on the other hand, it’s a 60 mph motorcycle with a couple of pedals stuck on it. Sure, the pedals work. But I wouldn’t want to pedal it very far.
Thus, as long as you keep it at electric bicycle speeds (alternatively 20 mph, 28 mph or 30 mph, depending on where you live) and keep it in the 750W power limited mode, it’s theoretically a compliant electric bicycle. But good luck explaining this concept to a police officer on the side of the road while jabbing at a print-out of this page.
At higher speeds, forget about it. With a published top speed of 60 mph, you’re almost certainly in electric motorcycle territory in nearly any US state. And while I have a motorcycle license, I don’t even know how I’d begin to register the RCR at the DMV, since the RCR lacks homologation parts like turn signals, mirrors, etc. There are mounts to add your own mirrors, and ONYX is working on adding turn signals as an optional or standard feature, but they aren’t quite there yet.
So while the specifics of vehicle classification are still a bit of a riddle, there’s no doubt about the ride. The ONYX RCR is a blast and half, offering a motorcycle-level ride with the approachability of an electric bicycle.
If you’d like something with the nice build quality of the ONYX RCR but with a more clear-cut road to legality, you might want to check out the ONYX CTY. It’s a step-through electric moped with similar DNA to the RCR, but the company uses a lower power drivetrain that helps it top out at 30 mph. It was initially offered when the company first launched, but demand for the RCR was much greater, causing the company to put the CTY on the back burner after delivering the few initial pre-orders. I got to ride one, and it was still a blast, albeit a bit slower of a blast. And James assured me that ONYX plans to bring it back, just as soon as they are sure that their heads are staying above water after drowning in demand for the RCR.
Room for improvement?
As much fun as the ONYX RCR is to ride, it isn’t perfect. The team should be commended for such a great moped on their first try, but the design can still be improved.
The center of gravity is a bit high with the battery carrier mounted in a typical “top tank” format. And the battery cover is a bit annoying to remove and put back on, requiring some persuasion, a lit bit of massaging and a tad bit of luck each time you pull it off and put it back on. Since most riders will store the RCR in a garage, though, you likely won’t need to remove the battery often.
I had expected to complain about the rear brake. The front gets a beefy hydraulic disc brake caliper while the rear has a dinky little bicycle-style disc brake. However, James explained to me that 80% of the rear braking comes from the powerful regenerative braking, with the little disc brake just there to help lock up the wheel if necessary. Plus, we all know that most of your braking comes from the front end anyways, and I never wanted for more braking power in all of the riding we did.
Lastly, believe it or not, these aren’t just imported e-bikes. ONYX actually has not one but two US production lines running in California. The company’s San Francisco factory has been up and running for a while now, and the huge demand has led ONYX to open a second factory in LA that is just now coming online.
Even though most e-bikes in the US are built in Asia, I can confirm that ONYX actually builds theirs in the US. They’ve got people in their US factories turning wrenches and plugging connectors. They laugh. They answer questions if you pester them while they work. They even let you shove a camera in their faces.
In summary, I am absolutely kicking myself for not pre-ordering from the Indiegogo campaign two years ago, when the RCR was priced at 2,299. Now you’ll have to fork over 3,899 for one, but I’d still say it’s worth it.
Onyx RCR review: A powerful e-bike with a lot of hype
This boutique café racer e-bike will turn heads, but is it worth it?
The Onyx RCR is a “café racer” style electric bike from Onyx Motorbikes in California. The RCR fits nicely above the Super73 but below something like the Sur Ron in terms of raw power.
The Onyx was not my first e-bike. I started riding around NYC on a Super73 RX. Then, on my first group ride, I saw a couple of guys riding the Onyx RCR. The difference in acceleration between my Super73 and their bikes was… noticeable. I kept riding my Super73 for a couple of months, but eventually I sold it and bought an Onyx RCR.
I ordered my bike back in November 2020 and it took about 117 days to be hand built and delivered across the country to New York City. ONYX says that it will now take about 2 months to build an RCR. Shipping will add a few weeks to it depending on your location.
I met up with the delivery crew at a meetup point close by and they rolled my bike off the truck fully assembled and ready to go. I was naturally very excited to give it a try, but the first thing I noticed was how heavy it is. ONYX states that the RCR weighs 145lbs with the stock battery.
My first ride on the RCR was in Eco mode, which tops out at 20 mph. At this speed it was hard to keep up with traffic, so I switched it to “normal” mode, which goes up to 35-40 mph, and that felt a lot better.
There’s also a Sport mode that goes up to 60 mph, but that’s hard to do in New York even in a car.
I’ll go into more detail in a moment, but riding the Onyx RCR is exhilarating. The torque, the form factor, it’s all just very quick and sporty.
I got the optional 2,953 Wh battery, which should provide around 150 miles of range at 20 mph. I ride faster than that. But in the city, range is basically never a problem. I don’t even bring my charger with me.
Sadly, for a bike that costs more than 4,000, there are some pretty annoying build quality issues. The wood panel near the seat of the bike is great, but the aluminum panels below it are flimsy and not designed very well. The mounting screws were already broken by the time I wanted to open up my bike.
It doesn’t stop there
There are more issues with the Onyx RCR as well: Compared to the Sur Ron, the suspension is really stiff and uncomfortable. Because of the hub motor in the back, the rear brake is wimpier than the hydraulic disk brake in the front, and that does make me worry about stopping power.
Should you buy one?
Despite these issues, I would still get an Onyx RCR. Just don’t go into it thinking you’re going to get something that matches or exceeds a real motorcycle. I would consider a Sur Ron if I were buying again, but it doesn’t have quite the same style. Luckily there are a number of mods that make the Onyx RCR better, but even those don’t come cheap.
Michael Verdugo is a photographer in NYC
You can find his Instagram at @Kiddox, and his here.
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Onyx RCR Is Both E-Bike And Electric Motorcycle
A versatile electric bicycle that doubles as a motorcycle? That’s the feat accomplished by Onyx Motorbikes
Is it a bicycle? Is it a motorcycle? It’s actually a little bit of both. The Onyx RCR blurs the lines between practical urban, bike lane-legal ride and high-output highway cruiser in a super-retro package.
Onyx Motorbikes is a San Francisco, California-based company that recently launched two models of electric mopeds. While one is a proper city-dweller, the other one has a wheel in the city and the other on the highway.
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The CTY is the tamer model of the lot and a standard e-bike. It has a 48-volt battery with a range rated at roughly 25 to 40 miles, depending on your speed. It’s the perfect partner for a ride in the city as it can reach a top speed of 30 mph and is fitted with pedals, should the battery run out. The spoke wheels and banana saddle give it an undeniably retro look and for some extra comfort, the CTY has a motorcycle-like suspension to absorb bumps.
It’s priced at 1,875 on pre-order, and comes with a few added perks such as an LCD display, headlight, USB 3.0 port, Bluetooth connectivity, and a Smart key.
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The RCR is a bit of a different beast. It’s hard to understand what you are looking at while scanning the RCR’s design with its low-swept frame and thin tires, but believe or not, it will actually take you on (most) highways. Onyx calls it the Cafe Blaster for its look reminiscent of a cafe racer with its flat saddle, wire wheels, and round headlight.
The model is a cross between electric bicycle and motorcycle. It receives at 72 V battery paired with a 5.4 kW electric motor for a 7.2 HP output. for a bike weighing in at 120 lb. This makes the RCR equivalent to a 125cc motorcycle and therefore doesn’t require a license. Its electric range is estimated at 75 miles. The “economy mode” turns the RCR into a quiet urban commuter, limiting its speed to 20 mph, but when you change the mode, the RCR becomes a proper highway motorcycle with a top speed of 60 mph. The beauty of technology!
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Onyx says that the RCR will go anywhere a bike will go including bike lanes and your office. Regular pricing for the RCR usually starts at 3,500, but when you pre-order via Indiegogo, you can get it for 2600. It receives the same practical features as the CTY. Both models also have regenerative braking and three riding modes; eco, normal, and sport.
Deliveries of the ONYX RCR are expected to begin in December of this year. You will have to wait a month longer to receive your CTY. Just don’t get stuck on the highway having to pedal your way back, that could put a damper on your day.
Sources: New Atlas, Electrek, ONYX Motorbikes