After the tremendous success of our 2018 ‘Electric Revolution’ exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum (with 6.3 Billion media impressions), The Vintagent team and the Motor/Cycle Arts Foundation are following up with an exhibit featuring a dozen individuals and teams making an impact in the EV scene.  ‘Electric Revolutionaries’ opens April 9th, and includes the work of our subject today: Hugo Eccles.  Hugo’s futuristic XP Zero prototype has won design awards and garnered attention around the world, and will be featured in Electric Revolutionaries, along with more of Hugo’s work.   Our EV Editor Stephanie Weaver interviewed Hugo about his process designing the XP Zero.

It’s no surprise that the electric revolution is taking the world by storm. And one of the fastest-growing markets in the EV space is electric motorcycles. In fact, the global e-Motorcycle market is projected to experience an explosion over the next decade, with a forecasted CAGR growth rate of 32.5%. And while we’re beyond debating about whether or not the future of transportation is electric (it is), there’s still plenty of discussions to be had for some folks when comparing gas-powered bikes to electric ones. But that’s like comparing apples and oranges.

The XP Zero is a superb piece of design, and points a way forward for electric motorcycles. By simultaneously retaining traditional styling cues, then literally puncturing them with voids, the XP Zero highlights exactly what’s different about EV design. [Aaron Brimhall]
Hugo Eccles, co-founder and design director of Untitled Motorcycles (UMC), began his EV journey almost a decade ago.  A professionally-trained industrial designer who has worked with a robust roster of heavyweight marquee brands, including Nike and Ford, Eccles established the American arm of UMC in 2014. “At that time, Mission Motors was based in San Francisco and I reached out to them and parleyed a test ride on their Mission R, which just blew my mind. I think that was the turning point for me,” Eccles said. “Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it. I couldn’t un-experience it.  The sensation was amazing, it was like catching a glimpse of the future.” Eccles, who earned his Masters at the Royal College of Art in London, combined his engineering intuition and a fresh perspective to create XP Zero, a visionary motorcycle that celebrates all things electric.  “The trick with industrial design is that you’re simultaneously being worldly and naïve. While you need to know how things are manufactured, you’re also trying to look at the world with the wide-eyed innocence of a child and think, ‘why couldn’t it be like that?’” he says.

Hugo Eccles of Untitled Motorcycles America (UMC) at work on the XP Zero prototype. [Simone Mancini]
When Eccles first received the project from Zero, he created a number of self-guided design principles to build a vehicle that was entirely distinct from gas-powered machines. “I wanted to celebrate electric. I didn’t want to design a motorcycle that was covered in fairings and was indistinguishable from a gas bike. I don’t understand the point of electric motorcycles mimicking combustion. It’s a lost opportunity and misleads riders into thinking that electric bikes are just like gas, except with a different motor. The experience is so fundamentally different,” Eccles explains. The divergence of gas and electric bikes has left all riders at a crossroads. But it’s one we’ve seen before. “At the beginning of the project, I started researching electric vehicles and discovered that the first cars were electric. At the turn of the last century, there were twice as many electric cars on the road as there were gasoline vehicles. Around 1914, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were in serious negotiations about starting an electric car company. It struck me that we were so close to living in an alternative reality where had they started such a company, and where we would all be driving EVs,” Eccles says.

With a Zero powertrain and components, the XP Zero is a fully functional eBike, intended to be built in series. But excellent design rarely comes cheap. [Aaron Brimhall]
This concept of an alternative reality would unlock the inspiration for the XP Zero. “Rather than designing a ‘futuristic motorcycle’, which is challenging if you’re using current-day technology, I started imagining what a 2020 motorcycle from this parallel reality would look like,” Eccles explains. “How would an electric motorcycle look today if they had continued developing EVs for the past 130 years?” The result is a bare-bones café racer EV that does away with everything except the absolute essentials. With the XP Zero, you get no carburetors, no fuel tank, no exhaust. The minimalist design leaves the XP’s electric powertrain as the captivating centerpiece. Eccles included only enough bodywork to enable a rider to comfortably and confidently control the bike. “Everything that distracts from the riding experience has been removed,” Eccles explained. “Riding the XP is very pure. There’s no gearbox so whatever situation you find yourself in, you’re always in the right gear. You can dive into a hairpin corner and not worry about shifting gears or unsticking the rear, you just focus on braking and smoothness. You’re barely aware of the machine that’s carrying you, just the pure sensation of speed. It’s like flying a jet.”

The XP Zero has features you only see at certain angles, or at night, as with the elongated taillights under the seat. [Aaron Brimhall]
It’s time to stop comparing electric motorcycles with gas-powered ones. While rotary phones and smartphones, at their most basic levels, have the same core functions, they are two wildly different species with hugely different implications.  The XP isn’t trying to pretend to be something it’s not. Nor should we.

The structure of the XP Zero is clear: a short trellis tube frame connecting headstock to swingarm pivot, and a long battery cover that extends to form the triangulated seat and tail section. The rest is lightweight body panels. [Hugo Eccles]
The XP is available to order from Untitled Motorcycles. Contact them at

The build details are simple, clean and finely wrought, as you would expect of such a design. No shabby fabby here! [Ludovic Robert]
A good light exposes the rhythm of the XP Zero’s smaller details: the cooling fins on the wheel covers, the ribbing over the battery panels, the drilled disc brakes. [Aaron Brimhall]


Stephanie Weaver is the EV Editor of The Current vertical on, and a Philadelphia-based freelance writer. When she’s not locked to her laptop, she can be found riding horses and motorcycles.  Her Instagram is here.
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