Long-distance travel on electric motorcycles

Ben Rich offers insights, gives technology update

AMA News Author (no byline)

Story and photos by Michael Marino

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Electric motorcycles took center stage Saturday at 2019 Honda AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days presented by Avon Tyres, as dozens crowded into the seminar tent in the Old Bike Barn Crossroads to listen to New Jersey school teacher Ben Rich talk about his long-distance rides aboard Zero motorcycles.

The seminar was titled, "High Voltage Road Trips: 48 states on a Zero SR."

Among those in the crowd were David Hutcheson, Lacey Huber and Anthony Hatfield.

Hutcheson and Huber drove from Lincoln, Neb., to attend their first AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days after hearing it promoted on several motorcycle podcasts.

David Hutcheson (left) and Lacey Huber

Hutcheson said they had heard about Zero Motorcycles on several podcasts, and he had test ridden them. They decided to attend the seminar as a way of learning more about what electric motorcycles are capable of.

Ben Rich

During the seminar, Rich discussed several of his tours on Zero SR models, including how he has ridden in all 48 of the contiguous United States, as well in Canada and Mexico.

His employment as a teacher at a private school offers him the opportunity to do long-distance touring, while maintaining a traditional career. And he said improvements in electric motorcycle battery and charging technology allow him to log more miles each day of riding.

In planning and completing his tours, Rich said he used charging stations at Nissan car dealerships and RV parks that offer electrical hook-ups for campers. His first electric motorcycle tour was on a bike that had a top speed of 45 mph and could travel about 77 miles on a fully charged battery. Recharge was about four hours.

Rich now averages about 400 miles of riding a day with his Zero SR and can ride about two hours before needing to charge for about an hour and a half. 

Rich said he was not a motorcyclist before getting into electric motorcycles, and the only motorcycle he’s had to shift gears on was the one he took his introductory rider course on.

Hatfield, of Columbus, Ohio, was an active participant in the seminar and was attracted to the seminar because he owns a hybrid car.

“I’m a [Toyota] Prius owner, and when I saw this was about electric motorcycles I decided I wanted to learn more,” he said. “I own four motorcycles right now, but the electric motorcycles sound interesting with the fast charging. And the prices are reasonable.”

He was impressed with Rich’s knowledge of current electric motorcycle technology as well as Rich’s ability to present such complicated tours succinctly.

He’s been attending AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days for 16 years.

“I used to work in a Honda dealership back in the 1970s, so that was an attraction for me,” he said. “I don’t follow the racing but am glad to see it happening.”

AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days concludes Sunday. To learn which seminars are being offered, visit www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com.