Introducing The World’s First Fully Functional 3D Printed Motorcycle

Following not long after the worlds first 3D printed fully functional car, Swiss company TE Connectivity has unveiled the very first 3D printed motorcycle that you can actually ride. We were slightly disappointed to hear that the tires weren’t printed as well, but perhaps our expectations aren’t quite aligned with the the technologies capabilities at this stage.

It’s still an incredible achievement with the frame, bearings, wheels and even the engine all printed using ABS plastics. The bike was modeled on a Harley-Davidson Softail and uses a very little 1 horsepower electric motor that can get the bike up to a top speed of 24 kph (15 m/ph) for a few minutes – meaning it has the performance of an HD too (I kid, I kid!).

Despite being made primarily of ABS plastic, the bike can carry a rider and a pillion with a combined weight of 180 kg. Other parts that weren’t printed include all the wiring, brakes, mirrors and a few other minor items. As far as the creation goes, the load-bearing parts of the bike were made using what is called Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) where layers of ABS plastic are combined with a resin called Ultem 9085 which provides added strength without increasing the materials weight too much.

While an actual practical 3D printed motorcycle is a long, long way off, it’s certainly exciting to see the possibilities when it comes to the creation of spare parts to replace damaged fairings and other pieces of a damaged motorcycle. Apparently, Ducati is in talks with the maker of the printers used in this process, Stratasys about using the FDM process for prototyping.

 

Why The Next Motorcycle You Buy Could Be Electric

It might not seem like it now but electric motorcycles are about to get a whole lot more common. Within the next few years, every major Japanese manufacturer will have an electric motorcycle available to buy in their showrooms and the Americans and Europeans are already leading the way. Let’s take a look at what the next generation of motorcycle is going to look like.

Zero Motorcycles

Zero is currently numero uno when it comes to accessible electric motorcycles. Sure, they’re still expensive when you compare them to traditional internal combustion engine powered bikes but they’re also not ridiculously priced out of the average person’s reach either. And Zero looks like it will continue to go from strength to strength.

They recently announced the receipt of a grant from the Californian State Government and a subsequent price reduction across the range. But for alll that, Zero remains a very niche player. For that reason we wouldn’t be surprised if they were bought out in the near future. Perhaps by another American firm…

Zero Motorcycles Rolls into 2015 with Strong Momentum

Harley-Davidson

The legendary cruiser company surprised everyone with their Project Livewire concept but since the hype has died down it hasn’t looked as hot as we’d first hoped. In fact, it’s likely that Project LIvewire is years away from release with Matt Levatich, President and CEO of HD saying the following late last year:

“Its range is 50 miles, but customers are looking for 100… If the electric bike were mass-produced today it would sell for about $50,000, about 50% more than customers would want to pay”

Project Livewire also isn’t a completely in-house product. Harley-Davidson sought assistance from Mission Motorcycles on the drive train. If H-D is truly serious about entering the electric motorcycle game, they’re far better off buying an established manufacturer such as Zero instead of trying to develop the technology on their own.

Project Livewire Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council

Victory Motorcycles

Which is exactly what the parent company of Victory Motorcycles, Polaris did earlier this year. Victory purchased Brammo, Zero’s only real competitor in the ‘mass produced’ electric motorcycle game.

Victory will be entering an electric motorcycle in this weeks Isle of Man TT, indicating that they will be releasing a sportsbike based on the Brammo Empulse as early as this year. Polaris is cashed up so expect them to make a real push into the electric game. And unlike Zero, they have the resources and large dealer network for it to really happen.

BMW Motorrad

Out of all the big players, BMW was the first with an electric two-wheeler. Sure, it’s a scooter but nevertheless, BMW has the technology in place to translate that into a commercially available electric motorcycle. The BMW C Evolution scooter was released in 2013 and produces 35 kW (48 bhp) and 72 Nm of torque which provides more pace than entry level sportsbikes and quite a bit more than the average scooter.

Range is a moderate 100km which makes it adequate for city riding – something plenty of motorcycle riders could be interested in as well. While BMW Motorrad don’t have any immediate plans to release an electric motorcycle, they’ve already got more runs on the board than their competitors.

BMW Motorrad C Evolution Scooter

KTM

But BMW aren’t alone with the release of an electric two-wheeler. In fact, KTM has gone a step better with an electric powered dirt bike, the KTM Freeride E. The Freeride E has gotten nowhere near the amount of publicity it deserves – this is the first electric motorcycle from a traditional motorcycle manufacturer.

Electric dirtbikes should be more appealing than sportsbikes – one of the biggest issues with dirtbikes is the noise they produce. Countless local tracks have been closed due to urban sprawl as well as complaints from rural residents when riders (legally or illegally) take to the trails. With near silent electric powertrains, such issues vanish.

The advantages of electric dirtbikes don’t stop with (lack of) noise. The KTM Freeride E weighs only 110kg which is actually less than the fully fueled petrol powered KTM Freeride 250 R, which the Freeride E’s chassis is based on. Add to that the instantaneous 31.0 ft-lb. of torque from the get go and you have a serious off road machine. KTM is following up the initial Freeride E with an electric supermoto later this year – sure to be a huge hit.

KTM Freeride E

Yamaha

It’s a real guessing game as to which of the Japanese manufacturers will jump first, but if we were asked to put money on it we’d say it would be Yamaha. In 2013 they unveiled two concepts, the PES1 sportsbike and PED1 dirtbike. Since then, Yamaha has registered a number of patents relating to the two bikes and our sources indicate they could be released as early as next year.

The patents indicate that the batteries for the bikes will be swappable and will actually be the same design for both machines which means reduced costs of manufacture. Interestingly, buyers may be able to ‘upgrade’ their bike after purchase by installing a third battery with little to no modifications to the bike.

At the concept launch, Yamaha stated that the PES1 weighed less than 221 pounds, and the PED1 weighed less than 187 pounds. Another interesting fact is that Yamaha will employ DC motors instead of AC which all other electric manufacturers use.

Suzuki

If Yamaha does end up being the first of the Japanese producers to release an electric motorcycle then we think Suzuki might come in a close second. We reported only a few weeks ago that Suzuki had updated a number of its patents in relation to its Extrigger concept from 2013.

This Honda Grom sized bike was first shown off in concept form and now Suzuki, like it’s doing with its Suzuki Recursion concept, is filing numerous patents in relation to the machine. While not guaranteed, it usually means that the company has plans on bringing the concepts to production.

And if any manufacturer needs to do something interesting, it’s Suzuki.

Kawasaki

The green machine have shown that they’re not shy when it comes to using different technologies as the supercharged Ninja H2 and H2R clearly displayed. Kawasaki have filed numerous patents over the years relating to electric powered Ninjas, including ones where batteries can be easily swapped out.

But perhaps even more telling was that earlier this year, Kawasaki registered a number of trademarks in Europe, the US and Japan for machines called the Ninja E2 and E2-R with conjecture being the E stands for ‘Electric’.

That said, we believe that Kawasaki will remain focused on its forced induction technology for now which provides both reductions in fuel consumption and emissions- a big part of the reason for going down the alternative energy route to begin with.

Tesla

This one is out of left field, but we’re not the first to venture the idea that Tesla may get into the electric motorcycle game. They most certainly are at the forefront of the electric car industry and it wouldn’t be a difficult step to cross the bridge into battery powered motorcycles.

That said, most industry observers think it unlikely that Tesla will enter into the motorcycle game. Tesla is still a low volume, high margin business with their cheapest car costing $57,500. There’s enough demand in the car industry for such priced vehicles, but expensive motorcycles are niche items at best.

Regardless of what Tesla ends up doing, the electric motorcycle landscape is going to drastically change over the next few years and for the better. And the more competition in the sector, the quicker prices will drop and the faster the improvement in range will occur.

Zero Motorcycles Drops Prices by $1,350 on Entire Range

Zero Motorcycles, A global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, announced today that it is lowering prices by $1,350 across its 2015 model line. Seeing its battery costs fall and energy density increase faster than anticipated as it develops successive model years of high performance electric motorcycles, Zero Motorcycles has decided to deliver this increased value immediately to consumers in North America.

“As leaders in this space we believe it is important to pass on the benefits of improved battery technology and our increased scale to consumers as soon as possible to allow more motorcyclists to experience the thrill of electric,” said Richard Walker, Zero Motorcycles CEO. “We’re not here to do things as they’ve been traditionally done in the motorcycle industry. Making this change mid-season to deliver great value to consumers at industry-leading price points, rather than waiting for 2016, is just the right thing to do.”

Since most distribution partners across the world buy Zero motorcycles based on the US MSRP, Zero will be able to pass on the benefit of these newly announced prices to consumers in their local markets. In Europe, these cost reductions will allow Zero to absorb the currency impact of the weakened Euro without raising prices from their current levels.

“This announcement will benefit the consumer and, of course, further accelerate our growth. We are the acknowledged technology and commercial leaders in the burgeoning electric motorcycle market, and this move positions us well to remain on top,” said Pieter de Waal, Zero Motorcycles VP of Global Sales and Marketing.

2015 Zero FX
ZF2.8: $8,495
ZF5.7: $10,990

2015 Zero DS
ZF9.4: $11,995
ZF12.5: $13,995

2015 Zero S
ZF9.4: $11,995
ZF12.5: $13,995

2015 Zero SR
ZF12:5: $15,995

*Prices do not include sales tax, destination, freight, set-up, licensing or registration charges. Other charges may apply.

Zero Motorcycles Rolls into 2015 with Strong Momentum

Suzuki Working on Electric and Hydrogen Powered Motorcycles

While Suzuki’s current range certainly isn’t cutting edge when it comes to technological gadgetry, they appear to be very keen at being at the forefront of drive train technology. Not only are they well on their way to releasing a production version of the turbocharged Suzuki Recursion concept, but recent patent filings show that the smallest of the Japanese manufacturers is working on both an electric motorcycle and a hydrogen fuel cell powered dirt bike.

This isn’t the first patent registered by Suzuki for a fuel cell powered bike. Way back in 2007, Suzuki showed off their hydrogen powered concept called the Crosscage. Then, in 2010 Suzuki has actually produced a hydrogen powered Burgman for real world testing. The patent diagrams indicate that the fuel cell, motor and hydrogen tank are exactly the same as the Burgman proof of concept scooter. The configuration is slightly different with the hydrogen tank mounted vertically instead of horizontally and the electric motor beneath it.

The hydrogen powered Suzuki Burgman concept was good for an impressive 200 miles and could be refueled in five minutes – all without a drastic increase in weight from a conventional scooter.

The more recent patent filing pertains to a battery powered electric motorcycle that appears to be Honda Grom like in size. The patent details are fairly innocuous in that there’s no really radical new ideas here, but a small sized electric bike sounds like a great way to introduce a battery powered machine to the mass market.

Again, this isn’t a first for Suzuki. The patent images seem to be very closely related to their Extrigger concept from late 2013. The Extrigger’s electric drive train was actually borrowed from the earlier Suzuki e-Let electric scooter.

So if Suzuki are filing updated patents on a nearly two year old concept, does that mean the Extrigger concept is going into production? Given the popularity of the Honda Grom, we can only hope so.

 

Zero Motorcycles Receives Major Grant

Zero Motorcycles hasn’t been in the limelight much of late, taking a back seat to the goings on with Brammo and its apparent absorption by Victory Motorcycles. But in many ways, no news is good news except for when the news is you’re the recipient of over a million dollars in funding from the Californian government.

To be precise, Zero Motorcycles has been awarded a grant of $1,009,220 from the California Energy Commission (CEC). With matching commitment from Zero, over $2M in funding will be made available to drive the company’s continued research, development and assembly of 100% electric motorcycles at their California headquarters.

“We thrive at the intersection of transportation, technology and energy efficiency,” said Zero Motorcycles CEO Richard Walker. “This generous grant, combined with the confidence of our investors, accelerates our global growth, expands Zero’s local workforce and manufacturing capacity, and will fuel continued innovation across all of our products.”

Zero was founded in Santa Cruz in 2006 and has been pioneering electric motorcycles ever since. Each year, the model line has seen great advancements in performance, range, features and value. Zero motorcycles are proudly “Crafted in California” at the company’s Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz County) headquarters.

“It’s exciting to see Zero Motorcycles grow from a pilot production line we funded to an expanded manufacturing line through this latest grant,” said Janea A. Scott, lead commissioner on transportation for the California Energy Commission. “Transitioning from older, higher polluting vehicles to zero emission vehicles-ones with no tailpipe pollution-helps the state meet its clean air, climate, and petroleum reduction goals.”

The California Energy Commission is focused on promoting efficiency and conservation, supporting cutting-edge research, and developing California’s renewable energy resources. Zero is committed to using the CEC grant to expand its production capacity through improvements in its manufacturing line, production efficiency and engineering processes.

“We believe CEC funding is ideally suited for this kind of project as we leverage 21st century California clean-tech manufacturing,” said Kai Hypko, VP of Operations at Zero. “As electric vehicles continue to gain popularity, Zero Motorcycles helps reduce petroleum use, improve air quality and energy efficiency, all while creating more skilled jobs here in California.”

We’ll be testing Zero’s updated range of 2015 bikes in the near future.

Zero Motorcycles Receives Major Grant

California Energy Commissioner Janea Scott with a 2015 Zero SR (PRNewsFoto/Zero Motorcycles)

Are Victory Going to Release An Electric and ICE Sportsbike?

Victory today announced that it is entering the Isle of Man TT with what looks like a rebadged Brammo Empulse RR electric sportsbike. While it’s not surprising to see Polaris, the owner of Victory Motorcycles who bought Brammo earlier this year make quick use of their new toys, it certainly is surprising to see a Victory badged electric sportsbike make an appearance.

It was heavily rumored that Victory would be the beneficiary of Brammo’s electric technology after Polaris’ purchase of the firm. Most speculation however pointed to an electric powered Victory cruiser that would be designed to steal Harley-Davidson’s thunder away from their Project Livewire concept. Victory trademarked the name Victory Charger earlier this year, too.

That may still happen but it seems that it will be an electric sportsbike, rather than an electric cruiser that first wears the Victory badge in showrooms. But there’s now also a strong possibility that an electric sportsbike will be joined by a traditional internal combustion engine powered machine, too.

Late last week, Victory announced a collaboration with Roland Sands Designs called Project 156 which will see them build a racebike to compete in this years Pikes Peak Hillclimb. There seems almost no value in Victory engaging in such a publicity campaign when all they sell is cruisers, unless something is coming out soon.

And what engine will this bike use? Victory doesn’t want anyone to know at this stage and in the first video released for Project 156, all shots of the engine were blurred out to hide what it is. That would point to an all new engine and there’s no motorcycle company on Earth that would spend money building a brand new power plant for a one off ‘show bike’.

Are Victory Going to Release An Electric and ICE Sportsbike?

What’s hiding there?

Victory was established in 1998 by Polaris Industries who saw an opportunity to compete with Harley-Davidson. While to date Victory has not ventured from this (its range consists of V-twin engined cruisers and tourers), there’s no reason why they couldn’t branch out into sportsbikes.

It makes even more sense as Polaris has Indian Motorcycles in its portfolio – a brand with real history that resonates with many motorcycle enthusiasts wanting something other than a Harley-Davidson. By pivoting Victory towards sporstbikes, it fills a gaping hole in Polaris’ product offering. While we don’t expect Victory to cease building cruisers and the like anytime soon, there seems little doubt that Victory is going to start the next phase of its journey this year.

 

ZecOO Electric Bike, An Anime Inspired Motorcycle

While electric motorcycles are certainly becoming more common and are in many areas already rivaling, if not exceeding their combustion engine powered counterparts, for the price they’re still something most riders won’t consider. The ZecOO from Japan probably pushes that envelope even further given its price of around ¥8,880,000 (around $74,000) – but for that you’ll get one of if not the most unique looking motorcycle available to buy.

At its heart lies the same engine as used in the Zero SR motorcycle. Otherwise however, the ZecOO is all Japanese, most notably its appearance. Looking like something from a Japanese anime in the not too distant future crossed with a Xenomorph, the ZecOO might look like a sportsbike in appearance but has a seating position more akin to a cruiser.

That cruiser style seating also appears to carry over to handling. With a wheelbase of 1,860 mm, this machine isn’t designed with corners primarily in mind. It also weighs a massive 280 kg, nearly 100 kg more than the standard Zero SR. Interestingly however, the ZecOO uses a hub-center steering unit which Znug Design, who are the makers of the bike say is designed to accommodate the battery’s weight, maintaining steer ability without changes in riding posture.

Given its weight, one wouldn’t expect eye peeling acceleration, but with the Zero SR engine, it will still have great power on tap with 144 Nm of torque available from the get go. Range is claimed to be 160 km and if you were to ride in the streets of Tokyo would be plenty of juice.

The ZecOO will have a worldwide limited production run of only 49 and each motorcycle will be handmade and assembled by highly-skilled craftsmen for each customer. Many of the parts are machined from solid aluminum alloy block, and it is made with meticulous attention to detail, even to the individual screws.