SUV of electric bikes looks to conquer streets and dirt

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Moto Parilla is trying to get its Carbon bike to market

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The Moto Parilla Carbon comes to life as a heavily motorcycle-inspired electric off-road bike with claims of being the "SUV e-bike." The beautiful but beefy fat bike doesn't exactly make us excited to start pedaling uphill, but it definitely makes a statement and turns heads. Plus, it's available with a throttle so those aching calves can take the day off. After a fling with British carmaker Caterham, its designers are pressing ahead alone.

Back in 2013, Caterham was toying with the idea of selling the Carbon as part of a trio of motorcycles and electric bikes. Not surprisingly (its expertise is in cars, after all), Caterham had some serious help in creating the bike, from a couple of motorcycle/scooter industry veterans, engineer Zeno Panarari and designer Alessandro Tartarini.

After Caterham scrapped its Carbon plans in 2014, Panarari and Tartarini moved forward on their own, developing the bike under the Moto Parilla name, which motorcycle enthusiasts will recognize as the mid-20th-century Italian builder. Moto Parilla PLC was founded last year in London, and has since developed a second Carbon prototype. The company is now trying to raise crowdfunding money to get production started.

Outside of the loss of Caterham livery, the Carbon looks much the same as it did in 2013 – a big, motorcycle-like carbon and aluminum frame secured to "balloon" tire-shod wheels by a front girder fork and rear swingarm. Components include oversized 400 mm Magura front hydraulic discs (210 mm in back), an eight-speed Shimano Nexus hub, 26 x 4.8-in fat tires, and an LED display for information like battery status, speed and distance. There are also front and rear lights, alloy rims with stainless spokes and a Moto Parilla Sport saddle.

The Carbon bike is powered by a buyer's choice of 250-watt 36 V Shimano Steps motor, for an EU road-compliant 15.5 mph (25 km/h) pedelec top speed, or a 500-watt 48 V mid-drive with included throttle and 22 mph (35 Km/h) top speed. The motor at work receives its juice from an internal 12 Ah lithium-ion battery that takes six to eight hours to charge.

Electric bikes can run pretty heavy in general, but the thought of pedaling a 60-something pound (Moto Parilla tells us it hopes to keep weight below 66 lb/30 kg) mini-motorcycle forward doesn't seem enticing, pedal assist or not. We definitely like the idea of a throttle and more power for throwing that big, beefy body forward.

Moto Parilla imagines the Carbon navigating rough roads and open spaces in remote parts of places like Africa, Alaska, the Australian Outback, Iceland, Russia and South America. Given the bike's 49-mile (80-km) range, the riders won't likely be venturing out to those places in the saddle and will have to drive the bike in with a more traditional car or truck. But the Carbon does offer a way of exploring narrow tracks and tight areas that those larger vehicles can't access.

We reckon the Carbon will find more use as a fashionable city cruiser, though, and even Moto Parilla alludes to this idea in citing the SUV definition as "a large vehicle that is designed to be used on rough surfaces but that is often used on city roads or highways."

The Kickstarter campaign kicked off on May 8 with a goal of £100,000 (approx. US$144, 500). The full bike is available in three frame sizes for pledge levels of £2,300+ ($3,325+) for the 250-watt version and £2,500+ for the 500-watt model. There's also a £500 (US$720) reservation option. The bike ships anywhere in the world, but the pledge figure does not include VAT or duties/taxes that might be imposed by your country.

If all goes to plan, the Carbon will be manufactured at an Asian plant where "carbon-made products of other major brands are also produced." Moto Parilla says on its Kickstarter campaign that it plans to provide daily oversight.

Update May 12: Moto Parilla contacted us shortly after publishing to let us know it's revised its Kickstarter pledge levels. The 250-watt Carbon is now available for pledges from £1,345 (US$1,940) and the 500-watt model from £1,580 ($2,280).

Source: Moto Parilla

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