Banatti's Green Falcon brings bamboo bodywork to an electric motorcycle
A group of green motoring enthusiasts in the Phillipines has built a neat little electric motorcycle to demonstrate what can be done with bamboo. The Green Falcon won't break any speed records, but its marine-lacquered bamboo bodywork is highly sustainable and very cool.
As we've been saying for years, electric motorcycles can look as much – or as little – like a regular motorcycle as the designer likes. And while the Green Falcon doesn't approach Johammer levels of WTF, it's certainly a super unique look.
The work of designer Christopher Paris Lacson and a small team, the bike uses a fairly utilitarian base frame to fit a 3.3-kW (4.4-hp) electric motor and a small 48-volt lithium battery. While the motor is capable of around 70 mph (110 km/h), the Banatti team geared it much lower with a hefty rear sprocket to top out around 37 mph (60 km/h) – the speed limit in Manila – and it'll be a bunch zippier as a result. The team reckons it'll wheelie off from a standstill thanks to its hefty 150 Nm (110 lb-ft) peak torque.
On top of the chassis lies the swoopy one-piece woven bamboo body that gives the Green Falcon its signature look. The Filipino Department of Environment and Natural Resources is planting a ton of bamboo between now and 2020 – as much as 15,000 hectares – for CO2 control and soil erosion prevention. That and other programs, says Lacson, will bring new bamboo plantations up around the million hectare mark nationally. Seeing a glut of bamboo wood coming down the chute, Lacson decided now was the time to develop products and manufacturing techniques to work with it.
Thus, the bodywork, bent and molded on a wooden frame, then coated with marine-grade waterproof epoxy to harden it. Lacson says it's light, strong and gives a very organic feeling to ride, like you're hugging it. We think it looks terrific.
And to take advantage of this bike's quiet electric operation, the team has built in a small JBL sound system, so you can rock out on the road. The saddle is leather and built in a simple horseriding style, and the dash is inlaid into the tank.
The Green Falcon is planned as just the first step. Banatti hopes to hand-build 111 of them for sale once they're approved for street use, at an estimated US$21,000 special-edition price point that will put it out of the reach of many local Filipinos and into collector territory. Thus, it'll go on sale internationally if it becomes a product.
But Lacson considers the bike merely a business card, a way of drawing attention to what he plans to do next: building bamboo versions of the jeepney, the colorful minibus-style public transport of the Phillipines. The Green Falcon can really be looked at as a neat little technology test-bed, paving the way for a larger social project that could positively impact the lives of all Filipinos.
We wish Lacson and his team all the best in their efforts.