Twenty-nine-year-old French designer Martin Hulin grew up riding motocross and racing motorcycles. He started his career in the bicycle industry for Cycles Devinci in Canada, designing the Wilson Carbon downhill bicycle, then transitioned to motorsports with the Formula E Season 3 facelift and other electric automotive projects. Launching Essence Motocycles with Pierre-Yves Gilton brought him full circle to his throttle-twisting roots. (Note: the term ‘motocycle’ is among the oldest for a powered 2-wheeler; Indian used it until 1934! – Ed.)

We spoke recently with Hulin from his office Lyon, France about his $60,000 custom electric motorcycle, and future plans for the company.

The Essence E-Raw on the road – different! [Thomas Cortesi]
How did the first e-raw bike evolve?

I initiated the design of the e-raw concept a few years ago. Pierre-Yves joined the project two years ago and managed the powertrain development. Since then, with skills and passion of each member of our team and partners, the e-raw is a riding prototype. We officially launched Essence in early 2017 by introducing a very limited series of 10 fully customizable electric motorcycles.

Essence co-founders Martin Hulin (l) and Pierre-Yves Gilton. [Thomas Cortesi]
How many orders have you taken, and where in the world are those customers?

People ride motorcycles all over the world, so purchase requests come from the four corners of the earth. We already registered four reservations; it goes fast and we’re happy to meet our first customers’ needs. In order to reward the pioneer spirit of our first 10 customers, they will also receive a company share of Essence Motocycle.

Rather impressive that Pierre-Yves developed the battery pack, which some consider the true intellectual property of an electric bike. How long did that take to develop, and are you happy with its performance so far?

For me, motorcycling is about passion and performance. Powertrain is always a big deal and especially for electric bikes. Pushing boundaries of power storage, we developed our powertrain for both performance and range. Pierre-Yves has great expertise in AC/DC stuff and is doing an awesome job. It’s not the first time he has engineered a powertrain as he developed many electrified automotive projects before.

The wooden seat is reportedly more comfortable than it looks, and fills the design void left by not having a standard gas tank. Does its profile remind you of a skate or surf board?  [Thomas Cortesi]

It took only several months to run the first riding tests of e-raw but since then, we haven’t stopped improving the performances. We matched our goals: 200 km/h speed and 200 km range. But the more power you get, the more speed you need, so we keep pushing.

A 368-pound motorcycle hits the sweet spot. How did you determine your wheelbase and steering geometry?

Weight has always been the enemy of speed (and range for electric bikes). So we worked hard to keep it simple, because what is simple is light. Just like what is simple is robust and what is robust is lasting.

The brushless motor is made by Emrax, and the battery management system is from Elektromotus. Gilton’s battery pack uses a CCS quick charging system, ready to go in 30 minutes. [Thomas Cortesi]

Leonardo da Vinci once said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” At Essence this rules our decision-making processes. The frame geometry was designed for a natural ride whatever the riding mode. The feeling is clean and sharp.

What are your plans once 10 people have received their e-raw machines?

We’re already preparing the next step, mixing industrial organization and handcrafted work. Stay tuned, because 2018 will be electrifying!

A steel trellis frame takes a page out of the KTM and Ducati notebooks. [Thomas Cortesi]
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