If you want to know what the absolute state of the art in electric motorcycles is, Arc Vehicle reckons its Vector, just launched at EICMA, is a leap ahead. It's a hard-accelerating 120 mph cafe racer with a monster 225-mile range, 30-minute charging, a matching haptic jacket and HUD helmet, and an eye-bleeding price tag.
This British company promised a lot in the lead up to yesterday's reveal of the Arc Vector, but it seems it's ready to deliver. After announcing a significant investment from InMotion Ventures, the venture capital arm of Jaguar Land Rover, Arc unveiled its flagship and only product at EICMA Milan.
The focus here is purely on innovation, with no regard to expense. So let's get the price out of the way: you'll need a tidy £90,000 to square a Vector away, or just under US$118,000. The company is aiming to produce just 399 in the first year. Mass market volume this is not, and Arc is leaving others to work on stuff that's actually affordable and practical.
Instead, here's what you're looking at: a 103-kilowatt (138-horsepower) chain drive electric motor producing 85 Nm (63 lb-ft) of torque at the motor, but a whopping 397 Nm (293 lb-ft) at the output sprocket thanks to internal gearing. That's an absolutely monstrous torque rating, but it'll be tamed somewhat by a single speed transmission that's geared for a top speed of 124 mph (200 km/h). Still, it's gonna wheelie just fine.
The 0-60 mph (0-97 kmh) sprint will take just 3.1 seconds, which is fast for any nakedbike, and reflects its decently low weight figure of 220kg (485 lb). That's not particularly light for a motorcycle, or even an electric motorcycle – but given the whopping energy storage it's got on board, which we'll touch on in a moment, it's pretty impressive.
Arc claims the Vector has "the best power-to-weight ratio of any electric motorcycle of its class by a considerable margin." Mind you, it weighs almost exactly what the barnstorming 248-horsepower Lightning LS-218 electric superbike weighs, so presumably Arc is classing this among electric cafe racers only.
Now, to the battery. Arc has used some cutting-edge Samsung battery gear in its 16.8 kWh, 399-volt battery pack – the first time this particular system has been used by a manufacturer. The capacity sits just under the 17.0 kWh offered by the largest capacity Zero SR when you add the extra Power Tank accessory, but the Vector's more aerodynamic shape squeezes a little extra range out. In urban use, it's good for an honest 200 miles (322 km). On the highways, more like 120 miles (193 km). The batteries will fast-charge in just 30 minutes on a CCS rapid charger.
On the NEDC driving cycle, the Arc press release claims a whopping 362 miles (583 km) ... A jaw-dropping figure, and that's certainly the figure other media outlets are running with. But it looks like a typo to us, there's no way these guys are getting nearly twice the efficiency of a Zero bike. We stand to be corrected, but at this stage we're leaning towards the assumption that it's 362 kilometers instead, or 225 miles. Which is fine, it's a couple more miles than Zero is getting out of 200 more watt-hours, but it's not the sensational, revolutionary figure being quoted elsewhere!
In terms of chassis, the Vector is hub-center steered, with carbon fiber swingarms front and rear, each with its own black Ohlins suspension unit. The rims are lightweight carbon BST jobs, the Brakes are top-shelf Brembo Stylemas, the frame itself is a carbon monocoque too. So there's little to point at and say any corners have been cut. And hey, for your 117 grand, you do get a free helmet and jacket.
The Zenith HUD helmet
EICMA also gave us our first look at the Vector's HMI (Human/Machine Interface) components, and no expense has been spared here either. The Zenith helmet is a full-face job based on the Hedon Heroine with a slightly retro-feeling design and calfskin lining to match the bike's cafe racer styling.
You'd better wear the special Wi-Fi-enabled helmet, because it doubles as the bike's keyless ignition fob, rear vision system (there's a rear camera integrated into the lid) and the bike's dash. The latter is achieved through a heads-up display that projects your speedo data, as well as sat-nav prompts and "ancillary graphics" onto a small transparent glass slide in front of your left eye, that's designed so it's fully in focus when your eyes are focused on the road.
All features, says Arc, are able to be voice controlled – and we assume, although the release doesn't specifically state it, that Bluetooth audio and smartphone connectivity is built in as well. We're not sure how long the helmet's battery will last, but you likely won't be able to ride the bike without it, because it doesn't appear to have another dash built in.
The Origin haptic jacket
The Vector's most original claim to fame is its focus on haptics, both as a safety feature and as a ride enhancement idea. Thus, every bike comes with its own bespoke jacket. The Origin jacket, co-developed with well-established armor makers at Knox, features eight haptic feedback modules across the shoulders and back. It's basically a wireless audio system, using large-amplitude speaker oscillations instead of whirring force feedback motors to cause sensations on your skin.
You can use these sensations in different ways through choosing different riding modes. Urban mode taps you on the shoulder when a car's coming up behind you in your blind spot. Sport mode interfaces with the bike's IMU to give you haptic feedback on how much grip you've got when cornering and braking, amping the signal up as you get toward the limits of adhesion ... no thanks.
Euphoric mode lets you pump music through the suit at the same time, we presume, as it's streaming through your helmet, letting you "feel" the bass as you ride. The battery lasts two hours, but you don't need it for the bike to start, so that's nice. As for the design? Well, the images we've got here make it look like a piece of breathable armor you might wear under another jacket, but there's another shot or two in the background of the media pack that seem to suggest it uses a leather outer somewhere, so I guess we'll have to wait and see.
All in all, the Vector is a very high end e-moto that should be a ton of fun to ride, surrounded by a kitchen sink full of wild high-tech ideas that Arc is throwing at the wall to see whether they stick or slide. The HUD helmet alone is such an ambitious idea that nobody to our knowledge has got one up and running to date.
We wish this British mob every success and hope we get a chance to sling a leg over. And we also hope that one day soon, electric motorcycles will become common enough that we never have to see another one named after things to do with electricity.
Source: Arc Vehicle
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