In an era where the roar of gas-powered engines are gradually giving way to the quiet hum of electric motors, the powersports industry is witnessing a significant transformation. Leading this charge is Simon Zhu, a visionary who has seamlessly transitioned from capturing the essence of motorcycles through his lens to pioneering the development of electric motorcycles. His journey, which began with a deep-rooted passion for motorcycles in China, has now culminated in the creation of Greenger Powersports, a company at the forefront of electric motorcycle technology.
In our exclusive interview, Simon delves into his background, his motivations for leaning into the electric space, and the nuances that set electric dirt bikes apart in the powersports segment. He also addresses concerns about the future of traditional gas-powered bikes and shares insights into Greenger’s latest electric offerings and the company’s vision for the future. Read what lies ahead for Greenger Powersports.
MPN: Simon, give us a brief dive into your background and how you founded Greenger.
Simon: My passion for motorcycles ignited over 25 years ago when I was riding and photographing motorcycles for a living in China. I wanted to fuse my passion with a career and sought after work with motorcycle brands. After working with some of the largest brands in China, I started noticing a subtle shift in the trajectory of the industry and murmurs of electrification and I wanted to chase this new avenue. Upon realizing the changes on the horizon, I got my foot in the door with the Chinese motorcycle giant, Tailg, where I helped research, design, and develop electric motorcycles. After getting the opportunity to hone my skills in the development process, I decided to take a leap of faith with my own ideas and began building Greenger Powersports.
MPN: Why did you lean into the electric space?
Simon: I believe in the implementation of a low-carbon lifestyle and green environmental protection. We are seeing a continued evolution of electric vehicles and there are more and more options becoming available for consumers. This is the future. While also reducing emissions and conserving energy, we are able to capitalize on new technology, keeping the rider experience fun for everyone. It is exciting for me to help lead this charge in powersports.
MPN: What separates the dirt bike segment from other powersports segments pursuing electric mobility?
Simon: Unlike most powersports segments where users are riding for long stretches of time at a consistent speed, dirt bike riders are enjoying quick, peaky rides around the track, trail, or neighborhood. They are on and off the throttle and may want more bottom-end power for jumps or exiting corners on the track. Electric dirt bikes can deliver that power through torque and continued acceleration, while still remaining quiet enough to enjoy rides in areas one may not typically be able to ride.
MPN: Does starting kids and young riders on an electric bike potentially hinder them from ever learning to ride a gas-powered motorcycle?
Simon: Not at all! Although the powerplant may be different, the critical skills of two-wheel riding like balance, throttle control, and braking remain the same, and translate well between electric and gas-powered motorcycles. Personally, I believe the biggest advantage to starting a young rider out on an electric bike is it can be a less intimidating experience for someone who has never ridden a dirt bike. While it may seem like an easy feat to an advanced rider, the sound, vibration and heat from a gas-powered bike can sometimes be overwhelming for beginners. An electric bike offers the same two-wheeled riding experience with less overstimulation, allowing young riders to develop their skills and comfort – and those same skills can translate to any type of motorcycle.
MPN: Do you think electric will overtake gas in this market?
Simon: I believe there will always be a place for gas-powered motorcycles, especially in the dirt bike community. They will remain close to the hearts of enthusiasts. With that said, I also believe that as we see a surge in legislative pushes for electrification, as well as limitations placed on the community by outsiders who have prejudices against the sounds and use of gas-powered motorcycles in their area, we will see more riders turn to electric bikes to get their riding fix. While it is possible that electric may overtake gas somewhere in the future, I think at least for now, electric bikes are being added to the garage line up as another option for riders looking for any way to swing a leg over a bike.
MPN: Tell us about your newest electric offerings.
Simon: We have been hard at work developing a few new models over the last year. We will be introducing two of these models at AIME in 2024. From there, the opportunities are endless. We will continue to offer innovative ideas through our design and development of electric offerings that meet consumer demands.
MPN: How do Greenger motorcycles relate to gas-powered competition?
Simon: In simplest terms, the Greenger CRF-E2 and G3/G3S are very similar in size and riding style to the community’s favorite pit bike, but with more torque and acceleration. They provide the ability to enjoy them at home without upsetting your neighborhood.
Our entry level bike, in collaboration with Honda (called the CRF-E2), is the equivalent of a 50cc motorcycle with a max speed of 20mph in Stage 2 and up to 2 hours of runtime. The G3 and G3S both have a top speed of 47mph in Stage 3 and are the equivalents of a 110cc pit bike.
MPN: What does the future look like for Greenger and its bikes? Immediate future and 5+ years from now?
Simon: Our top priority for Greenger both now and in the future is to keep pushing the capabilities and features of electric dirt bikes, especially now as the community has started to open up to the idea. We are expanding our team to provide the best service possible to our dealer partners, as well as the end consumer. Our customers are what keep us going. We want to be sure they have an enjoyable experience with Greenger from the moment they begin their journey with us. We will continue to provide more options for riders, and expand our network worldwide. While our current offerings and bikes are doing well, the electric market is changing and evolving rapidly. We aim to stay on top of its trends to offer innovative, functional, affordable products that meet the needs of our customers..
MPN: Anything extra to add about you or Greenger?
Simon: As a motorcycle enthusiast myself, I want to speak to the enthusiasts who see electric bikes as the end-all to their passion for gas-powered bikes. Electrification is a new avenue that should be embraced, or at least considered by anyone who loves having the ability to throw a leg over a bike and embrace the freedom of riding. Electric bikes protect the rider’s ability to enjoy bikes in areas where outside forces are trying to stop motorcyclists from enjoying that freedom, and offer new ways to enjoy a motorcycle lifestyle. Regardless of which powerplant you prefer, we are all simply looking for an opportunity to get out and do what we all love – to get out and ride!