As with an e-bike, 11 kW all of the sudden turns into 59 hp

The motorcycle segment is booming with 125 cc internal combustion engines. Since 2020, the B196 extension of the driver’s license has attracted customers to two-wheeled vehicles who previously had no connection with the topic of motorcycles. However, because a minimum age of 25, five years of driving experience and a few hours of instruction is enough to get a motorcycle license, some motorists switch to two-wheelers for shorter distances, for example for work, if only for cost reasons. .

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

Lawmakers allow the use of up to 125 cc and 11 kW (15 hp) for bikes equipped with a combustion engine, allowing a top speed of about 100 km/h to 110 km/h – depending on the manufacturer. This is always enough for city and country roads, but on the highway, not only a novice biker becomes a traffic obstacle.

If you want to avoid this and want more power, you will need at least an A2 motorcycle license (motorcycles up to 35 kW) – or an electric motorcycle according to B196. What seems silly at first – why should an 11kW electric motorcycle be so much faster than a combustion engine of the same power? – It has always been a reality due to a gap in the impenetrable forest of German laws and regulations. The Driving License Act (FEV) simply ignores the electric motorcycle per se, while the German Vehicle Registration Act (FZV) sets a “nominal output of no more than 11 kW” as a prerequisite for the B196 – thus, intended or not, in the first line meaning combustion variable.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

keyword rating

‘Rated strength’ (also rated continuous strength) – that’s the key word here. “The nominal power of the combustion engine means maximum torque and maximum power with the throttle fully open,” Motorrad recently said under the stunning headline “Small Bill with a Powerful Electric Rap.” With the electric motor, things are different: Here, nominal power is defined as the average power that the motor can deliver at the manufacturer’s specified speed over the course of 30 minutes after it has already run for three minutes at 80 percent of maximum power magazine. The speed must then correspond to at least 90 percent of the maximum output speed.

To the layman, who has at best a rudimentary knowledge of combustion and/or electric motors, this may seem vague at first. In the end, it means nothing but that a motorcycle with an electric motor can sometimes perform much more than the previously mentioned 11 kilowatts allowed for a combustion engine variant. Herbert Hope knows how and why. “With a combustion engine, the torque, the power provided by the engine, increases with speed and eventually reaches a limit.” However, with the electric motor, this limit is already there from the very first moment, as the maximum acceleration values ​​​​of electric cars often appear in themselves, according to motorcycle expert and driving instructor at Auto Club Europa, ACE.

Zero S: 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds

An impressive example of an electric motorcycle that ultimately undermines the B196 segment is the Model S from Zero. The naked bike from the American electric motorcycle manufacturer, which is considered a leader in the field of electricity and “Tesla among the suppliers of electric bikes”, has, like the 125 series, a continuous nominal output of 11 kW, just as the B196 envisions. However, in reality, the Zero is capable of delivering up to 59 horsepower and therefore nearly four times as much as a classic 125 horsepower from a KTM or Yamaha, for example. Unlike a combustion engine, an electric motor can only maintain peak performance for a shorter period of time, otherwise it will get very hot. So the legislator decided that the critical criterion is not the peak power, but the rated continuous power.

Read more after the announcement

Read more after the announcement

It goes without saying that the manufacturers know how to use this half-baked regulation for themselves. Some time ago, Zero aggressively advertised its 11 kW bikes with the tagline “11 kW. Great driving fun – a different driver’s license”, as reported by Spiegel Online in April 2020. Because the criticism took no time So long, they are much more tame today – on the homepage. But things are different on the street. Although the Zero S’s higher top speed, set at 139 km/h, isn’t a quantum leap, it’s certainly more highway-friendly than the 110 km/h of the 125cc KTM. Even more impressive is the sheer acceleration. Zero needs 4.5 seconds to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h, which puts it on par with a sports car. For comparison: the KTM, which can be moved in a sporty way, takes about 14 seconds, which is more than three times.

‘Purely a political decision’

“These acceleration values ​​are possible because the electric motor usually does not require a gearbox and thus an uninterrupted torque output is ensured,” ACE Hopp expert explains. However, he wouldn’t mind thinking that inexperienced pilots who didn’t even have to take an exam would face such initial violence. “Because of the almost instantaneous power when taking off, there is a risk in electric motorcycles that the rider will lose control of the machine, and this is more so on wet and/or slippery roads,” he fears.

Hopp can only guess why the legislature doesn’t see this potential danger even two years later – or doesn’t want to see it. “People definitely want to promote electric mobility, and of course switching from a petrol-engined car to an electric motorcycle sounds better than switching from one combustion engine to another.” In the end, sticking with the B196 in its current form is probably just a political decision. “And I think that’s very doubtful,” he adds. Spiegel Online took a similar view. “Electric ejection seat” was the title at the time.

Download the new RND app for Android and iOS here for free

Leave a Comment