Armotia 2WD Electric Dirt Bike and Supermoto Near Release

Italian startup company Armotia is getting close to the release of their extremely exciting debut machines – the Due R dirt bike and Due X supermoto. Both are fully electric and both are two wheel drive with electronic distribution of torque front and rear. The company is slated to begin offering public test rides of the bikes next month and they’ve just registered both bikes with the European Trade Mark office.

These two little gems received very little fanfare upon their debut at EICMA last year – we were among most publications that didn’t even comment on them. In Italy however, they’ve gotten more coverage and despite their startup nature do look likely to deliver a real product this year.

While electric bikes aren’t exactly unique anymore, electric bikes with two wheel drive certainly are. Unlike other two wheel drive systems (such as the Christini AWD), the Armotia doesn’t use a secondary chain and sprocket to drive the front wheel but a second motor. One motor is located together with the battery where the fuel tank and engine usually sits, while the second is on the front hub. A proprietary system controls torque to both front and rear wheels while various modes allow you to split the torque to your choosing on the fly.

The other unique trick that Armotia is planning for the Due R and Due X is tight smartphone integration. While a number of companies now have systems where the bike can communicate with a smartphone, Armotia puts it front and centre. Your phone will sit where the instrument cluster normally would and in addition displaying telemetry data, will also easily allow you to make videos, monitor driving performances, save your telemetry data and share any of your route.

Otherwise however, Armotia has been pretty quiet about the technology behind the machine. While they’ve quoted specifications for much of the bike, there’s little detail on where the components have come from and who manufacturers them. Little is also known about who is stumping up the capital for the company to give potential buyers the confidence to invest what is expected to be around €15,000 for the bikes.

All that being said, if Armotia can deliver on what they’re promising we’ll have two very unique and impressive new motorcycles on the market.

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Suzuki Looks to a Fuel Cell Powered Motorcycle Future

Electric vehicles are all the rage at the moment and according to a new report from Bloomberg, electric cars will comprise 35% of all new vehicle sales by 2040. But around the turn of last century, the next big thing in transportation was supposed to fuel cell cars – or cars powered by simple hydrogen. Suzuki has just filed new patents showing they’re still keen on the idea.

In a nutshell, a fuel cell vehicle uses electricity created by oxygen and compressed hydrogen to power an electric motor. The reason that hydrogen powered vehicles haven’t caught on is that like conventionally powered cars, they require refueling and the infrastructure required hasn’t been developed. Instead, fuel cell cars have been leapfrogged by electric charging stations on the road and at home.

While fuel cells are a promising technology, they’re lagging behind battery technology where all the money and therefore development has gone. But that’s not to say it’s a dead-end and there are definite benefits to the idea of fuel cell equipped motorcycles.

The latest patents from Suzuki show a scooter, similar in appearance to the Bergman and it discusses the options of both air cooled and water cooled fuel cells. This is by no means the first time Suzuki has shown an interest in the technology – way back in 2007 they unveiled the Crosscage – a futuristic looking hydrogen powered machine. Since then, they’ve filed numerous patents on fuel cell powered motorcycle and scooters showing the technology is available and capable – it’s just that the infrastructure is lagging well behind.

It was expected that Suzuki may actually put a fuel cell powered scooter into production last year, although any such mass production of a hydrogen sipping motorcycle or scooter is realistically a while away yet – especially when electric cars and motorcycles are making such massive leaps in capability each year.

suzuki fuel cell scooter

Yamaha PED2 and PES2 A Step Closer to Sale?

Yamaha has registered the design for their electric motorcycle concepts shown at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show – the sportsbike PES2 and the off-road focused PED2 – with the European Union Trademark regulator. While no guarantee of the either bike actually coming to market, it is a sign that Yamaha is continuing to work towards an electric motorcycle in the hopefully near future.

The PED2 concept carries on from the PED1 from 2013, but looks a little more production ready than previous. Even with a heavy battery, Yamaha claims the PED2 well weigh less than 100 kg. The sports bike oriented PES2 is an extra level of unique as it has an additional electric motor built into the hub of the front wheel to make it a 2WD motorcycle. Both models are equivalent in performance to mopeds and small motorcycles (less than 125cc in capacity).

Other features of the two concepts is the use of augmented reality technology via cameras and senors on the bikes which are connected to a ‘smart helmet’. The PED2 also offers the ability to switch between automatic and manual gear changing modes. Yamaha has been registering patents related to electric motorcycle drive trains for many years now, but like Kawasaki who have done much the same, no actual electric bike has yet made it to production.

 

Saietta NGS Is the Most Radical Electric Superbike Yet

Generally speaking, electric superbikes are fairly out there. While Zero and Brammo (now absorbed by Victory) offer mainstream electric options, companies such as Lightning Motorcycles and Energica dial the crazy up a notch to showcase the technology that electric superbikes can offer. And then there’s the Saietta NGS.

While Saietta might sound Italian (it means Thunderbolt in Italy), it’s actually a British firm that’s located in Oxfordshire and one that has long history of developing electric motors and batteries. They’ve stated that with the NGS, they set out to reinvent the electric motorcycle – looking at it you can’t really argue with that. It’s radically different from anything else out there and is actually expected to go on sale within 12 months.

NGS boasts a number of technology firsts including a revolutionary new electric motor, an innovative lightweight and immensely strong structural monocoque, industry-leading battery capacity and range and 3D printing of the body. More specifically, some of those innovations include a load bearing carbon fiber battery compartment and double-wishbone front suspension.

NGS will undergo rigorous engineering testing throughout 2016 including taking part in an extensive race program. First customer bikes will be delivered before the end of 2017 as part of a limited edition of up to 100 bikes priced around £50,000. While what we see here is a prototype and a number of changes will occur before final production, the overall aesthetic will remain.

And while obviously a 100 bikes priced at £50,000 each isn’t going to revolutionize the motorcycle industry, projects like this continue to pave the way for a future where electric motorcycles become commonplace.

Yamaha to Show Three New Motorcycles at Tokyo Motor Show

The 44th Tokyo Motor Show kicks off in just under two weeks time and Yamaha has announced that it will be debuting six new machines – three of which are concept motorcycles. Two of the bikes that will be on display are an evolution of previous electric bike concepts shown at the same event two years ago.

The PED2 concept carries on from the PED1 from 2013, but looks a little more production ready than previous. Even with a heavy battery, Yamaha claims the PED2 well weigh less than 100 kg. The sports bike oriented PES2 is an extra level of unique as it has an additional electric motor built into the hub of the front wheel to make it a 2WD motorcycle. Both models are equivalent in performance to mopeds and small motorcycles (less than 125cc in capacity).

 

The third motorcycle on show will be the Resonator125, a very lightweight retro styled bike sporting wood panels on the fuel tank and seat cowl with authentic wood grain material used in guitars and engravings on the muffler, fuel tank cap and more done with same intricate techniques used for brass wind instruments. If from the image below it looks like it’s lacking in grunt, you’re right. As its name suggests, the engine is a mere 125cc in size.

In addition to the three bikes, Yamaha will also be showing off a Leaning Multi-Wheeler
(LMW), a Recreational Off-road Vehicle (ROV), a car, and an electrically power-assisted bicycle. They’ll also be unveiling an autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot that combines motorcycle and robotics technologies – hopefully the robot looks like a monkey because there would be nothing cooler than a robotic monkey riding a bike.

2015TMS_Resonator125cc_Concept_4-2

Zero Introduces the FXR – an Electric Supermoto

The planets have aligned and given us the 2016 Zero FXR – a supermoto with truckloads of instant torque thanks to its electric engine. It’s a new model for 2016 just announced by Zero and could well end up being one of the most entertaining motorcycles on the market today.

When coupled with a 6.5 kWh battery, the Zero FXR is propelled to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. While that’s not earth shattering, the fact that this bike which weighs only 133 kg produces 95 Nm of torque from rest is. Just to put that in perspective, the current model Triumph Street Triple only produces 68 Nm and that’s only once it reaches nearly 10,000 rpm. Most literbikes produce just over 100 Nm of torque towards redline.

Top speed is still a license revoking 132 km/h and range in the city is 145km – certainly not enough for long trips but adequate for local journeys. Front and rear wheels are supermoto sized 17 inchers and are shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso rubber. Bosch ABS brakes and fully adjustable Showa suspension is also included.

As part of their 2016 model refresh, Zero have announced a new accessory called the ‘charge tank’. According to Zero, the charge tank effectively triples the on-board charging speed by working with level 2 charging stations on the popular J1772 standard. The dealer-installed accessory complements the standard on-board charger of many 2015 and later Zero motorcycles, reducing typical charge times to 2-3 hours. It includes a new tank section that eliminates the tank bag from the motorcycle. Availabitilty will be in about six months and will cost a rather serious $1,988.

Pricing for the Zero FXR starts at $8,495.00 with the cost increasing for the larger capacity batteries and quick charger.

Kawasaki Moves Further Towards Electric Motorcycling with new Patent

It’s well known that Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha and even Harley-Davidson all see a future with an electric bike in their lineup. Kawasaki has probably been the busiest of the major manufacturers with their patents and they’ve just lodged another one – this time for a regenerative braking system specifically for motorcycles.

The issue with regenerative braking on motorcycles is that bikes have much less intertia than larger vehicles such as cars which use the technology to good effect. That means that when rolling off the throttle, the regenerative system can sometimes cause too much loss of speed – akin to actual braking. Earlier reviews of bikes from Zero Motorcycles in fact noted the unsettling feeling this produces although it has been improved over the years.

Essentially, Kawasaki’s system incorporates a variety of sensors that control the regenerative braking process. Just coming off the throttle slightly and the system doesn’t engage. Come completely off the throttle and apply the brakes and the system kicks in. The system also takes into account the lean angle of the bike for those naughty people who chop the throttle in the corners.

It’s not like this hasn’t all been thought of before of course with KTM, BMW and Zero – as well as others – taking these things into account. What is more interesting is that Kawasaki continues to investigate technology related to electric motorcycles. Previously they’ve filed patents for an electric motorcycle with batteries that could be quickly swapped in and out. Kawasaki has also filed trademarks for names such as Ninja E2 and Ninja E2R which may hint to an upcoming electric sportsbike.

 

Is Bultaco The Next Player In The Electric Motorcycle Game?

Is it getting crowded in here? Resurrected Spanish brand Bultaco looks set to enter the electric motorcycle game as early as next year. Last week the company launched a motorcycle/mountainbike hybrid – but that’s just a tiny taste of what could come out as early as next year.

For those following the company, Bultaco actually unveiled two concept machines in 2014 – the Rapitan and Rapitan Sport. Those concepts/prototypes both produced 53 hp, 92 lb.ft of torque and had a range of over 125 miles (200 km). That compares pretty well to the Zero S which is the benchmark for current mainstream electric motorcycles.

The heart of the bikes is a collaboration between Bultaco and MotoCzysz – an American firm which has a good history of electric motorcycle manufacturing and won the Isle of Man TT (electric class) four years in a row starting in 2010.

According to Bultaco, what sets their electric machines out from the crowd is the front suspension and their innovative regenerative braking system. The front end works similarly to BMW Motoradd’s Telelever system which assists in reducing front end dive under braking. It has the added benefit of separating braking and turning forces which is ideal when coming into corners.

Their regenerative braking system which is used to put energy back into the batteries when stopping is also (at least according to Bultaco) more efficient than competing systems. Part of this is done by stabilizing the rear wheel under braking, ensuring that as much regenerative energy is captured as possible.

It’s expected that both the Rapitan and Rapitan Sport will be available for sale in late 2016 with prices around the $13,000 mark.