Meet Bernard, the motorbike-riding eco warrior - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views


Bernard grew up on a farm 60km from Melbourne in Victoria. It was a genuine rural environment until the late ’70s, when subdivision started to change the area. In the ’60s, it was all ‘horse and working dog’ but as the ’70s rolled on, motorbikes arrived on the scene, firstly as wrecks that were restored for thrashing around the farm, and then genuine road bikes.

“Horses were brilliant for stock work, but bikes could be jumped over anything, and we could play around while the mob drifted in the right direction. Did lose the mob a few times though, playing in the gullies a bit too long, then having to find the mob again,” recalls Bernard.

Bernard was hooked. His road bikes started with the British; 69 Norton 750 Fastback, 68 Triumph Trophy, and 69 BSA Rocket 3. Mid-’70s saw the heavy Japanese bikes, Kawasakis and Hondas, match it with the Moto Guzzi 850T, amongst many others in the family. After more than 40 years of riding bikes, in 2018, he bought a Suzuki GS 500, continuing to commute the weeks away.

Meanwhile, Bernard joined the Australian Greens political party in 2016 to fight against the proposed Adani coalmine, and he is now the convener of the local branch, Bayside in Wynnum.

In 2019, he started the Queensland branch of Certified Public Accountants Australia’s Sustainability – Accounting for Climate Change discussion group, as sustainability impacts every organisation and business. The group looks at how accounting standards are changing to incorporate Environment Social & Governance reporting, initially on a voluntary basis but gradually moving to mandated reporting as part of International Financial Reporting Standards.

So, with that background, he started looking at what he could do to reduce his carbon footprint. An electric motorbike was the logical answer but there was not much on the market, Zero having withdrawn. In November 2020, he ordered an Evoke motorbike for delivery in Feb 2021; it eventually arrived in July 2021, at which point he switched to riding the Evoke and sold the Suzuki. The Evoke is an excellent commuter bike with about 160km range in the city, and about 120km on the highway.

What is the Evoke like to ride? No clutch, no gears, and so simple to ride. The silence is the most noticeable thing, followed by an absence of vibration, and the smoothness as the bike takes off. Bernard guarantees that once a commuter gets on an electric bike, they will never go back to a petrol one. Charging time is six hours from flat for the 9.5kv battery. The bike handles very well, sits on the road confidently, holds the line in corners, gives a good feedback to the rider, hits 120k pretty quickly, has plenty of grunt for passing trucks and is limited to 130km/h.

Selling for around $15,000, the bike is close to the cost of a conventional 400cc, without any of the maintenance costs. The hub motor means there are no belt drives, cogs or sprockets to maintain.

Riding the Evoke, Bernard has saved approximately 12l of fuel each week; that’s close to 408 litres over the thirty-four weeks he’s had it. At an average price of $1.50 per litre, that is a $612 saving.

The Evoke has 9.5kw battery, so charging it from 80% at $0.40 per kw is $3.04 per charge. Bernard charges for free on the weekends with his rooftop solar system, so his estimated running cost is $105 since he’s had it – that gives net savings of $519 in fuel alone. With his old Suzuki, it had to be regularly serviced at a cost of $100, oil being the main cost. With the Evoke, all he has to do is kick the tyres to check that they are properly inflated. “It is a task I know! I also have to put some grease into the two nipples on the swing arm once in a while,” he sighs.

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