The Intermot motorcycle and bicycle fair rolled around in Cologne earlier this month with a lot of focus clearly beginning to shine on the area of electric bikes, scooters, bicycles and even smaller devices.
Just as the evolution of the computer has seen new categories defined (desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone and no doubt, one day, implantable), transportation devices are certain to follow a similar path, causing us to rethink personal mobility. Whatsmore, personal mobility devices will definitely proliferate in the space between a pedestrian and a motorcycle.
Currently, there’s a lot of development activity going on in this area by mobility manufacturers across the world but very little has actually reached market just yet. Dean Kamen’s Segway will one day be seen as the very first of this entire wave of mobility devices, but the Segway weighs in at 50kg plus, and such devices will become increasingly compact and light weight and quite a few such devices will be available a decade from now at the extreme lightweight end of the market – my suggestion is that to qualify as an transportation appliance, a device must be 10kg or less and fold to a size manageable for carrying.
Honda’s U3-X (U3-X video here) and Toyota’s Winglet would both fit into the rough definition of this category above as they too weigh in at 10kg or less, but the big difference is that the Yikebike does 25 km/h, at least twice as fast as that celebrated duo, and the Yikebike is available NOW!
It weighs so little and folds so small it can be carried in one hand and can be easily managed on a train or bus by even a child – it weighs less than 10 kilograms thanks to its economical design and carbon fiber construction. Just how important the Yikebike becomes in the future is going to be interesting to watch. It is the smallest viable transportation device yet invented and it has the added advantage of being similar enough to the bicycle that 75% of the learning to ride it is already done. Noel McKeegan, Gizmag’s editorial director is featured in the video in his first two minutes on the Yikebike and apart from a quick wiggle as he rewired his brain to the steering, you’ll see how quickly he picked it up. In short though, this is a very significant product as it’s commercially available, you can buy direct from the manufacturers over the internet and we’ll have a lot more detail in a feature video in the next week.
The ZEV also has three speeds, operated by a sequential shift button on the throttle grip – 1-2-3-2-1 style just as in Formula One cars, though with a few less ratios available – and the combo offers better acceleration than almost any car. I spoke at length with ZEV founder and chief engineer Darus Zehrbach and Darus was quite clear about his intentions with the brand and future developments.
“We have the world’s fastest production electric scooter and I intend to keep it that way – if you build a faster one, I’ll build another that will be faster than yours.”
Darus was also clear on his intentions to eventually develop the brand into a full range with high-performance electric motorcycles at the high end, and electric bicycles and mountain bikes at the lower end. It was patently clear that more power and range on the way for his scooters too.
There’s an 8-stage Aprilia Traction Control system which is fully adjustable, even on the fly, using a small joystick on the left handlebar. So if you’re sharp enough, you can now choose the exact level of wheelspin for each corner on a racetrack, as you go. Back in the pits, you can choose the position of the engine in the frame, and rake and trail are also adjustable as is the length of the swinging arm It also comes with 3-stage Aprilia Wheelie Control system which we haven’t quite worked out yet, and a Launch Control system - another world first on a production roadbike. Launching a motorcycle is now a matter of engaging the electronics, holding the throttle wide open and doing your best with the clutch – it doesn’t really matter that much because the bike takes care of the rest to get you off the line optimally, and there’s also a quickshifter system that lets you bang your way up through the gears at full throttle without using the clutch.
The last few horsepower are available thanks to additional pressure from the ram air - that is, the bike uses aerodynamics to force extra air down the engine's throat at high speeds – the total 210 horsepower is a new record from a stock production motorcycle, beating the BMW S1000RR, and exotica such as the Ducati Desmosedici and MV Agustas.
The engine size is a result of using a 72 mm cylinder bore with just 5 mm between the cylinder sleeves, a design that squeezes the 6 cylinders into a 555 mm wide block. Experiencing a six cylinder scream at peak torque of 175 Nm at 5,250 rpm will be worth waiting for, and the suitability of the beastie for effortless top gear turbine-smooth touring is indicated by the flat torque curve which serves up 70 per cent of that torque from 1,500 rpm upwards.
The engine was just the start of the wizardry though, and there were several other firsts on the BMW sixers such as adaptive headlights, and electronic Suspension Adjustment, both of which are pointers to the future of motorcycle development.
BMW’s Electronic suspension adjustment means the rider can adjust the rebound damping properties of the front and rear spring strut and the spring preload and spring rate of the rear strut on the fly – you can finally adapt a bike’s suspension to suit the conditions as you go without setting foot on terra firma.
The 1200cc six-cylinder engine also has a belt-drive supercharger and develops a meaty 200 horsepower, putting it right up with Yamaha's V-Max in the musclebike category.
Just four years ago, Dieter undertook his first motorcycle project – creating a four valve-head for a vintage R50 BMW racer – people who know the bike will know the problems. It worked. Next up, Dieter had an idea for creating a compact four cylinder engine from a single cylinder engine using just one conrod. The video contains an animation of his fascinating system which I can guarantee will fascinate anyone who has ever had grease under their fingernails. The system is ingenious, and his next step was to build one
So he took a Honda single cylinder 125 engine, and made it a four cylinder 125, which he installed in a monkey bike for testing. once the engine had worked reliably and powerfully, he decided to take concept and doing something very cool with it - like taking a Ducati 900 V-twin and turning it into a V-8.
The name of the motor is a derivative of the Ford Mustang GT 500 in the film “Gone in 60 seconds" and the entire motorcycle is now nearing completion as an 868cc V8 Ducati – the engine looks a treat, but it’s the workings that mesmerize me. The system he uses to achieve such an astonishingly compact road bike is just fascinating and I am certain these pages will review further engineering astonishment from Dieter in the year's to come.
The desmodromic valve system has been lost, and Dieter says he's not seeking massive horsepower from the bike - his aim is to build a fine roadbike, not a racetrack brute.
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