Yamaha brings high-voltage electric motorcycles to the masses with the PES1 and PED1

These stunning plug-in bikes could provide emissions-free wheelies by 2016
Yamaha PES1

Wasn’t PES1 the name of the football game everyone played before FIFA?Yes it was, and although Yamaha’s PES1 (Passion Electric Street) motorcycle looks like Konami designed it; it is actually a stunning all-electric sports bike that you could see cruising the streets in a couple of year’s time. There’s also the PED1 (Passion Electric Dirt) for those who want to experience the thrills of off-roading without the fuel bills.

Yamaha PES1
Yamaha PED1

They look familiar, have we seen them before?Yamaha unveiled the concepts at the Tokyo motor show in November last year but the Japanese marque has confirmed in its recent annual report that they will be put into production by 2016. Electro-bikes are coming, brace yourselves.

But will they be any good? Due to their lithe, aerodynamic structures, electric motorcycles suffer from a lack of space to stuff the cumbersome batteries required to power a vehicle at any serious speed for any notable range. The PES1 is no different, but the naked sports bike is claimed to weigh under 100kg, which lightens the load on the brushless DC motor and compact lithium-ion battery. The top speed on the concept model was just 65mph but expect that to increase by the time it hits showrooms.

It sounds like a fad to us…The big news here is that Yamaha - one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers – is backing battery power. Small scale US bike-makers Zero Motorcycles already offers a range of bikes that can travel for up to 157 miles on a single charge and Saroléa's SP7 can hit 60mph from a standstill in three seconds. Imagine what Yamaha can achieve if it puts its brains and economies of scale behind it.

Isn’t motorbike ownership mainly about the soundtrack?There’s nothing quite like the feeling of pointlessly revving a powerful bike purely for the aural enjoyment – and the prospect of silent motoring will undoubtedly put off many. But those polar bears aren't going to save themselves.