The earliest references come to us on patents. We the electric motorcycles first appear in the late 1860's. Later on Popular Mechanics released a piece in their magazine showcasing the electric motorcycle. The article was published in 1911. By the 1940's, fuel rationing drove Earle Williams to convert his motorcycle into an electric motorcycle. Then in 1967 Karl Kordesch created the first Fuel Cell powered motorcycle.
As you would imagine, an added benefit to electric motorcycles is that they require very little maintenance over their gas powered cousins. The focus turns now turns away from lubricants and oil changes to "consumables", such as tires, brake pads, and the obligatory brake fluid flush. Many of the new motorbikes have regenerative braking assistance they get from the electric motor. This in turns reduces the amount wear you might see on the brake pads. And as in all electric vehicles, the "fuel" cost is between one or two cents per mile. These motorcycles are extremely silent, which is not always something the avid riders enjoys. But for that, you can easily find artificial noise makers which can immidate the sound of an exhaust. "Vrooom, Vrooom, Vrooom"....
Most modern electric motorcycles are powered by by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. That said, there are older models which are still powered by an older technology in the Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries. A few manufactures are unveiling lead/sodium silicate batteries. The recharging of these batteries is done by way of a traditional wall outlet. They can take up to eight hours to fully charge and give a range of on or about 200 miles on a single charge. There does exist a higher powered charge in the CHAdeMO which claims to be able to charge a battery up to 95% inside of an hour!...think about that.
No Step Through Frame
Ever wonder what distinguishes a motorcycle from a scooter? There are many reasons of course, like the size of the engine which rate it into a certain category with government agencies. But a key difference is their frame. Scooters have a "step through frame". Step through do not have a cross bar or top tube or a tank just behind the handle bars. Electric motorcycle frames are very similar to fuel based models. Electric motorcycles replace the fuel tank and its components with a Lithium Cell battery or a rechargable battery.