The motorcycle industry has problems: its petrolhead riders are ageing, customer numbers are shrinking and bans on fossil-fuel power are looming.

Startup bike-maker Maeving thinks batteries are the answer to all three. Its RM1 motorbike swaps a noisy petrol engine for a near-silent electric motor and clean retro styling. During a test ride at the company’s factory near Coventry – by the Observer’s photographer – the experience is smooth, agile and gearless.

Startup bike-maker Maeving thinks batteries are the answer to all three. Its RM1 motorbike swaps a noisy petrol engine for a near-silent electric motor and clean retro styling. During a test ride at the company’s factory near Coventry – by the Observer’s photographer – the experience is smooth, agile and gearless.

“The holy grail for motorcycle manufacturers is bringing in young customers.”

The car industry is already reaching a tipping point in the move to batteries, but for motorbikes the challenge is trickier: it is more difficult to cram enough electrical energy into their small frames.

However, a growing number of companies are trying their luck. Harley-Davidson, the biggest US motorbike manufacturer,

is offering the £29,000 LiveWire, with a 146-mile city riding range, and California-based Zero’s SR/S model starts at £20,100 for a 161-mile city range.

Another British startup, Arc, will deliver the first of its £90,000 Vector sports bikes in November.