Electric motorcycles aren’t just a futuristic idea that might someday take off. A voltage revolution is upon us right now and it promises to be exciting.

There are lots of companies out there that are taking on the challenge of making electric bikes practical for everyday use. And while you’d think some of the bigger manufacturers would be leading the charge for electric power, it’s really the smaller companies that are actually bringing these bikes to the market.

In doing a little bit of research I have found two companies that stand apart from the rest with what they have to offer a consumer. Zero Motorcycles out of Santa Cruz, California, and Brammo from Ashland, Oregon, are two manufactures that really see the potential in the growth of a competitive alternative to the combustion engine. Both offer a selection of bikes that suit different styles of riding. The nice thing about these companies is that their bikes are not only environmentally friendly but also bank account friendly. You normally associate cutting-edge technology with a cutting-edge prices, but these bikes range from $7,995 to $13,995 — and that’s before government tax incentives.

Zero Motorcycles offers two models with variations of each model. The company’s off-road model features an “X”(trail riding) or “MX”(track riding) version that puts out 50 ft-lbs. of torque with 23 horsepower. The range for these bikes is about 40 miles and they can be fully recharged in less than two hours using a standard 110V or 220V outlet. The road model comes in an “S”(street) or “DS”(dual sport) version with a top speed of 67 mph and a range of 50 miles. Oh, and I should mention that the average cost per mile is less than a penny.

Brammo is manufacturing two models aimed at the street market. The entry-level model is the Enertia and Enertia Plus, each with a top speed of 60 mph. The range of the Enertia is about 42 miles, but for another thousand bucks, the Enertia Plus has an 80-mile range.

The second model is the Empulse 6.0/8.0/10.0, with the numbers representing the mileage range of each bike (6.0=60 miles, 8.0=80 miles, 10.0=100 miles). This bike has a noteworthy top speed of 100 mph and 59 ft-lbs. of torque (not bad considering an average 1200 Sportster has 79 ft-lbs.). Brammo’s Empulse also entered the Time Trial Xtreme Grand Prix (TTXGP) in 2009 — an electric-only grand prix — where it finished third.

In my opinion, the electric motorcycle has a strong base of ingenuity and practicality to start the genera off on the right path. Just like the first combustion engine motorcycles, these electric rides are starting off with a short range of travel, but on the flip side of that technologic advances are occurring at a much faster pace in this era. Take for instance an electric 500 hp drag bike, that can do 0-60 in 0.97 seconds. That’s astonishing.

The more I look into this subject, the more excited I become. In the not-so-distance future, I think we’ll be seeing electric motorcycles making their way into more and more garages. These wonderful machines offer the promise of a green future while staying competitive in the performance arena.