PULL UP TO a stoplight on a Vectrix electric motorcycle, and you’ll get a few curious looks. You could act like Marlon Brando in The Wild One and pretend you’re rebelling against the establishment and the world. But you’re really more like Ed Begley Jr., protesting a petroleum-based economy. No gas, no oil, no noise, zero emissions -- who’s the real rebel here? Turns out you are bro!

Ten years in the planning, the Vectrix claims to be the world’s first in-production electric vehicle, powered completely by a nickel-metal hydride battery. The design is sleek, and the specs are impressive: 0 to 50 in 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 62 mph. Special regenerative braking actually helps charge the battery on the go, and maintenance is minimal. The downside? You can’t rev the throttle or burn rubber. But you can “head out on the highway,” as the old Steppenwolf song goes, with a range of up to 55 miles.

Nearly 200 global dealers provide sales and service, and the sticker price of $11,000 is discounted through tax credits in states such as California and Georgia. Police departments around the world have already switched to Vectrix, and many gasoline motorcycle owners are buying electric as a second and third vehicle.

Besides the obvious environmental benefits, riding an electric motorbike is also a lifestyle choice. “Everyone is concerned about the oil we use and the pollutants we put into the atmosphere,” Vectrix CEO Michael Boyle says. “People are making a statement that they want that to change.” (401) 848-9993, http://www.vectrixusa.com

Born to Be Mild: The Vectrix Test Drive


TEST DRIVE PROVIDER
Scuderia West Motorcycles/San Francisco

MODEL
Vectrix VX-1

COLOR
Forest green

MOTOR
Brushless DC, radial air-gap

WEIGHT
515 pounds without driver

HELMET
Borrowed

ROUTE
City streets, US 101 and I-80 freeways, and one sidewalk

NOISE
Weirdly silent

TOP SPEED
102 kmh/63.37 mph

BEATING CARS AT THE STOPLIGHT
No problem

REGENERATIVE BRAKES
A very cool invention

BATTERY
Used 45 percent in 20 minutes

ABILITY TO WEAVE BETWEEN CARS
Excellent (although not recommended)