A five-minute electric motorcycle charge?  Read on! “Enormous changes at the last minute” sums up the EV industry at the moment, as more OEM manufacturers join the rush to bring viable vehicles to market, and the world’s largest companies seek innovative solutions for the world’s transport problems.

Shared Electric Platform For KTM, Bajaj, Husqvarna On The Way

A rendering of the Bajaj Urbanite e-scooter [Bajaj]
Back in 2008, Indian powerhouse, Bajaj Auto bought a 48% stake in KTM. The investment resulted in Bajaj producing some of the Ready To Race Brand’s small-displacement models, though a new cross-manufacturer project is on its way from the Indian/Austrian operation, and this time they’re going electric. The new powertrain has already been spotted testing in the form of Bajaj’s Urbanite (electric) scooter, but it now appears this same system will find its way onto a myriad of additional small-displacement-equivalent machines. This includes more scooters and mopeds, as well as entry-level motorcycles and possibly off-road offerings. And with Bajaj already responsible for the largest three-wheeler market share in India, the possibility of a three-wheeler using the electric power plant is a definite possibility. Bajaj’s executive director, Shally Seth Mohile already confirmed that both KTM, and its subsidiary, Husqvarna, will each get at least one new model using this new powertrain — which is reportedly a 48-volt unit with somewhere between 4hp and 13hp (3kW to 10kW). Between the existence of the KTM Freeride E-XC and the pint-sized SX-E5 (which is also sold as the reskinned Husqvarna EE5) there doesn’t appear to be a ton of room for another, relatively small electric off-roader in the KTM product range, so it should be interesting to see what the Austrian outfit has up its sleeve. No additional information was revealed; aside from Bajaj confirming mass production will commence in 2022.

Suzuki India Goes Electric

On June 11, 2019 Suzuki India unveiled its new Gixxer SF 250 in Ahmadabad. The reveal was followed by an announcement from the head of Suzuki India, Koichiro Hirao, who stated the Japanese marque is working on a new electric platform. The news doesn’t exactly come as a surprise considering it was just last week that India announced its intentions for all new sub-150cc two-wheelers to go electric by 2025 (and all three-wheelers by 2023). No details on models or specs were given, but based on the target market it’s pretty safe to assume it will be roughly comparable to a 125-250cc gas-powered bike.

Yamaha Launches EC-05 Electric Scooter

Yamaha’s team-up with Gogoro means an infusion of serious motorcycle tech to the well-funded e-scoot company from Taiwan. [Yamaha]
In 2018 Yamaha went into business with Gogoro, a high-tech, well funded Taiwan-based, e-scooter company founded in 2011. The basis of the joint venture was for Yamaha to utilize Gogoro’s existing power plant in one of its own models, bypassing the need for developing the powertrain from scratch. Because of this, there’s good reason to expect Yamaha’s new scooter, the EC-05, to be on par with the second gen Gogoro model which means a top speed of somewhere between 50-60mph and a 62-mile range when using a pair of the Taiwanese firm’s storable/swappable (2170) Lithium ion batteries.

Under the skin: the new Yamaha e-scooter has a mix of tubing and sheet metal pressings for its chassis. [Yamaha]
Like many of the electric scooters on, or coming to market, Gogoro’s two-wheelers use swappable batteries, though it’s unclear whether these units jive with the standard electric scooter/motorcycle battery that the Tuning Fork Company is developing in collaboration with the other three big marques on the island (Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki). Gogoro already has an impressive network of swappable battery-charging stations scattered over Taiwan, which is the only place Yamaha’s EC-05 is initially being released. Deliveries for the Japanese-designed, Taiwanese-powered EC-05 are slated to begin around August.

Facebook’s Free-Wheeler Patent

What are we looking at, Facebook? A robotic self-balancing electric motorcycle platform. [US Patent Office]
While not exactly a motorcycle, this new patent for a motorized two-wheeler is nonetheless a pretty fascinating find. Filed by Facebook, the patent depicts a fully electric, symmetrical, self-balancing machine with a single, free-spinning caster-style wheel (the type on an office chair or the front of a shopping cart) on each end. Both wheels are capable of powering, steering, or braking the vehicle with disc units horizontally mounted above both wheels.

A caster wheel and a fixed wheel, meaning the motorcycle can turn within its own length. [US Patent Office]
One might think the design is intended for schlepping stuff around a sprawling campus – like Facebook HQ — or a massive Amazon-style warehouse, the patent suggests otherwise, stating the company sees a wide array of potential uses for the autonomous two-wheeler such as a rugged military-type vehicle capable of traversing harsh terrains and conditions, or as the base of a robot capable of doing medical surgeries. More importantly, the patent goes on to explain how the machine could also benefit motorcycles in a number of ways. “The motorcycle’s power assembly (which may include both driving and steering assemblies) may be located entirely outside the circumference of its wheels, thus protecting the power assembly from forceful impacts as well as environmental conditions that may surround its wheels. Similar benefits may be achieved by disposing the motorcycle’s brake assembly distally from its wheels. The robotic motorcycle disclosed herein may also be configured to allow its wheels to freely rotate 360 degrees about its steering axis without becoming entangled by electrical wires or other components of the drive assembly.”

Damon Launches Prototype Smartbike

We love exploded views! What’s up inside the Damon e-Bike? [Damon]
Damon, a Canadian electric motorcycle startup founded two-years-ago, just pulled the cover off its first prototype model, and with it comes a host of new cutting-edge safety features. The Halo bike is seemingly powered by Zero’s Z-Force motor, and the Vancouver-based firm has yet to reveal specs on the bike, but performance figures aren’t really the point here. The full-faired yellow sportbike boasts embedded crash-detection sensors, fore and aft-facing 1080p cameras, and 360-degree radar detection, constantly scanning the road in real time. If a hazard is detected the rider is alerted via haptic feedback in the handlebars and flashing LED lights. The smart bike also gets a super trick curved OLED screen that displays information and a live-feed to the rear camera.

The Damon is a very attractive electric sportbike. [Damon]
Damon also says the foot-pegs, handlebars, and seat can be adjusted, enabling riders to get a nice upright position for commuting around town, and a hunched forward position for the backroads and twisties. The entire system can be linked to Wifi, Bluetooth, or 5G, pairs with an Android or iPhone app, and appears to run off a mix of Android OS and Damon’s own proprietary software. In a press release the company refers to the prototype as a “technology demonstration platform”, and goes on to explain how it felt an electric motorcycle was the ideal platform to use as it sees the segment as “the future of motorcycling”.

A handsome machine from all angles [Damon]
Damon’s bike is only going to get smarter over time too. Each one of its bikes out on the road will feed data back to a network that will analyze things like the cause of accidents and other hazards in order for the algorithm to learn, adjust, and ultimately improve. Despite the company unveiling a prototype with its own uniquely designed bodywork, it appears Damon’s aim isn’t to build electric motorcycles as much as it is to build the technology to supplement them and make riding safer.

The new Damon electric sportbike. [Damon]
Damon is reportedly already in talks with law enforcement agencies in the US about retrofitting existing fleets with Damon’s smart-moto-tech. The company’s website does curiously have a “book a test ride” section, so take make of that what you will. With $2.5M in funding already secured — and Erik Buell sitting on the company’s advisory board — there’s a good chance this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from this Canadian startup.

ARC Crowd-Funding Goes Live

The ARC Vector has a musclebike vibe. With an all-carbon chassis, the weight is kept down to 465lbs, and with 133hp, a top speed of 150mph is projected.  [ARC]
British electric startup, ARC, kicked off its crowd-funding campaign this week on Crowdcube with the goal of raising £850,000 ($1,070,000) to fund its Vector ebike and its 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in South Wales. At the start of the month ARC’s founder, Mark Truman announced the Vector was headed to production in 2020, which has likely helped assure investors that the company is making more than just vaporware. The startup has already previously received the backing of InMotion Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s Venture Capital fund, and as of the time of writing the crowd-funding campaign has collected 80% of its goal (almost £685,000) from more than 430 online investors, with a full eight days left on the clock.

With stacked headlamps and a forward swingarm, the ARC rings bells from the ELF racers of the 1980s. [ARC]
ARC’s inaugural model features a 133hp 399V electric mill (though it only has 109 ft-lbs of torque which isn’t much for an ebike of this size) supposedly capable of traversing 230-highway-miles or 387-city (or 270 mixed) on a single charge. Top-speed is claimed to be around 150mph, steering is performed via a hub-center-style setup, and thanks to its carbon fiber monocoque frame, carbon swing-arms, and minimalist design, the Vector weighs in at a respectable 485lbs. The bike also sports what ARC calls its “Human Machine Interface” (of “HMI”) that pairs with the company’s Zenith helmet, which features a heads-up-display and a haptic feedback system. Only 399 units are being produced, each with a price-tag of just over £90,000 ($110,000).

Electric Motion Expands With New Facilities and Models

The Electric Motion Epure Lite, a trials machine for low-impact riding [Electric Motion]
Electric Motion is a French marque that produces lightweight electric off-road and trials bikes. With a network stretching across the world with a presence in Australia, Japan, North America, South Africa, and all over Europe, the company is already well established, however the addition of a new factory in Vendargues in the south of France, and four new models for 2020 make it abundantly clear that Electric Motion has even bigger aspirations.

The Epure doing what it was designed for! [Electric Motion]
With an eye mainly on the competitive and recreational trials markets, the firm’s 2020 range is comprised of an enduro-esque bike dubbed the Escape, as well as three electric trials bikes; the Epure Lite, the top-shelf Epure Race, and the Epure Sport, the latter of which is supposedly the first electric trials motorcycle to be sold with a diaphragm clutch. The torquey electric motor combined with the precision offered by a clutch definitely makes the Epure Sport a noteworthy offering. While the twist-and-go function of many electric bikes may lower the intimidation factor and help to bring new riders into the fold, the implementation of a clutch (or clutch “conversion kit”) on electric bikes have serious potential to bring existing riders into the EV arena who don’t want to give up that aspect of motorcycling.

Tactica Expands Into US Market

The Italian company Tactica is making hard-core off-road e-bikes: the T-Race Motard and Enduro [Tactica]
Based in Torino, Italy, Tactica is an electric motorcycle manufacturer that produces both on and off-road models. This week — exactly one decade since the firm’s inception in June of 2009 — on its official Facebook page the company announced its plans to setup a new sales and servicing HQ facility in Miami, Florida. Though the company says this move is the first of many in its eventual plans to continue expanding into South America and the Caribbean, there’re several factors that make tapping into the US a particularly good move for the Italian ebike maker. In addition to its T-Race lineup, which consists of a motard model, a cross bike, an enduro, and a “rally light”, Tactica’s only other offering is a fully electric cruiser, and if you want to sell cruisers, the US is the place to do it.

Tactica’s T-Cruise model, looking like an electric VMax. [Tactica]
Based on the T-Race platform, Tactica’s electric cruiser, the “T-Cruise” is touted as offering all the benefits of modern EV powertrain technology in a classic, American cruiser-style package. The T-Cruise has dual “engine braking” maps, two power maps (Eco and Sport), and a PMAC motor paired with a five-speed “gearbox” and hydraulic clutch. The 27kW version — the largest of the three sizes offered — has a claimed 59hp and 73.75 ft-lbs of torque, a range of 186-miles, and a 1.5-hour charge time when using a fast-charger (otherwise its 7-hours with a standard 220V outlet).

A rendering of the T-Cruise in red. [Tactica]
So far the machine only appears to exist in prototype form, though Tactica is taking pre-orders for the T-Cruise on its website. Preorder pricing starts at €11,965 ($13,430) for the 9kW version (which has a 70-mile range), €16,299 ($18,295) for the 18kW-spec (which has a 137-mile range), and €24,508 ($27,509) for the largest, 27kW size.

BP’s 5-Minute Recharge Milestone

BP is moving forward in claiming the electric charging station business. [BP]
Over the last year, British multinational energy company, BP has made several moves to get its foot into the EV trade. After announcing company projections pointing to 15% of all vehicles going electric by 2040, BP began its modern foray into EV tech under the banner of BP’s “Advanced Mobility Unit”, by investing $20M in StoreDot, an Israeli firm working on ridiculously fast, five-minute EV battery charging. Since then BP has acquired UK-based charging company, Chargemaster (with plans of installing 100 new 150kW chargers in the UK in 2019), and invested heavily in PowerShare, China’s EV charging infrastructure. But it was BP’s initial investment into StoreDot that made headlines this week when the two companies publicly demonstrated what BP’s $20M had been going towards. Using an electric scooter from Spanish make, Torrot, BP and StoreDot showed off their technology which allowed the escooter — with a range of 43.5-miles (70km) — to receive a full-charge in just five-minutes. As promised.

A Torrot Muvi E-scooter as used in the BP 5-minute demonstration [Torrot]
It’s worth noting that the Torrot was running one of StoreDot’s special batteries and not the stock unit, though this is obviously a major breakthrough that puts electric recharge times much closer to that of filling up the old fashioned way. The Israeli outfit plans on releasing equally fast smartphone chargers in 2020 that offer full juice in 5-minutes, though its joint effort with BP hasn’t ended. As BP was quick to point out; this is a major milestone for the EV industry, and it has the potential to really shake things up. Five-minute charges largely negate range-anxiety and long wait times — both of which have been major downsides associated with two-wheeled EV’s in the past. Between this breakthrough and the increasing global network of charging infrastructures, the charging hassle involved with EV ownership is on its way out.