Motorcycles

VIDEO – Lit Motors unveils functioning prototype of its C-1 self-balancing electric motorcycle

VIDEO – Lit Motors unveils fun...
The C-1 prototype on the road (Photo: Lit Motors)
The C-1 prototype on the road (Photo: Lit Motors)
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The non-functioning fiberglass mock-up of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The non-functioning fiberglass mock-up of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The non-functioning fiberglass mock-up of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The non-functioning fiberglass mock-up of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The non-functioning fiberglass mock-up of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The non-functioning fiberglass mock-up of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The functioning prototype of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The functioning prototype of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The prototype's two half-scale gyros (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The prototype's two half-scale gyros (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The prototype's gyros and battery pack (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The prototype's gyros and battery pack (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The prototype's steering wheel, pedals and instrumentation (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The prototype's steering wheel, pedals and instrumentation (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Daniel Kim (left) and Gizmag's Ben Coxworth, with the prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Daniel Kim (left) and Gizmag's Ben Coxworth, with the prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Design sketches of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Design sketches of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Design sketches of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Design sketches of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
A design sketch of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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A design sketch of the C-1 (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Inside Lit Motors' San Francisco office space (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Inside Lit Motors' San Francisco office space (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The functioning C-1 prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The functioning C-1 prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The functioning C-1 prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The functioning C-1 prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The functioning C-1 prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The functioning C-1 prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
One of Daniel Kim's other projects, an electric cargo scooter (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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One of Daniel Kim's other projects, an electric cargo scooter (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Taking the C-1 prototype out for a test drive (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The instrument panel on the C-1 mock-up (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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The instrument panel on the C-1 mock-up (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Gizmag's Ben Coxworth, with the C-1 mock-up (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Gizmag's Ben Coxworth, with the C-1 mock-up (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Gizmag's Ben Coxworth, with the C-1 mock-up (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
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Gizmag's Ben Coxworth, with the C-1 mock-up (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
The C-1 prototype on the road (Photo: Lit Motors)
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The C-1 prototype on the road (Photo: Lit Motors)
The C-1 prototype on the road (Photo: Lit Motors)
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The C-1 prototype on the road (Photo: Lit Motors)
The C-1 prototype on the road (Photo: Lit Motors)
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The C-1 prototype on the road (Photo: Lit Motors)

There are definitely a lot of daydreamers and big thinkers out there, showing off their 3D renderings of inventions that “ought to work” – if they were to actually exist. It’s understandable, therefore, that many readers reacted with skepticism when we first reported on Lit Motors’ C-1. The designers of the fully-enclosed electric motorcycle claimed that it would be able to stand up on its own, thanks to electronically-controlled onboard gyroscopes. Well, while there may not be a C-1 in a showroom near you just yet, the folks at Lit have indeed succeeded in building a functioning prototype of their vehicle. We made the trip to their San Francisco workspace, to have a look for ourselves.

The rather steampunk-looking proof-of-concept prototype is electronically limited to a speed of about 10 mph (16 km/h), and its two scaled-down gyros generate only half of the approximately 1,300 foot-pounds (1,763 Nm) of torque planned for the production version. It turns out that that’s still enough, however, to keep it upright while being piloted around the local streets – or when being yanked sideways by a Land Rover, as you’ll see in our video.

While the vehicle that we saw is still very much a work in progress, Lit Motors president Daniel Kim says that they have learned a lot from making it, particularly when it comes to keeping the weight down on the final version. “I have a couple of ideas for our next revision,” he told us. “I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve for what the real potential of this vehicle will be.”

Daniel Kim (left) and Gizmag's Ben Coxworth, with the prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)
Daniel Kim (left) and Gizmag's Ben Coxworth, with the prototype (Photo: Randolph Jonsson/Gizmag)

Kim hopes to be selling C-1’s by 2014. By that time, they should reportedly have a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h), a battery range of up to 200 miles (322 km) per charge, and space for a second passenger – all for US$16,000.

In the meantime, however, take a look at our visit with Daniel, and check out the prototype in action.

Lit Motors unveils functioning prototype of its C-1 self-balancing electric motorcycle

42 comments
PrometheusGoneWild.com
Considering the Segway has been out for years, this seems like a realistic product. Since I live in Connecticut, this would make an excellent all year round commuter vehicle. I was behind a motorcycle today in pouring rain:) But lets be realistic. This is still not a "safe" vehicle. When the old man who can only see out one eye pulls out on front of you in his 6000 pound 1986 Chevy you are still leaving in an ambulance.
Gadgeteer
"they should reportedly have a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h)" Why do designers and manufacturers always make vehicles that have top speeds that you can't legally use? If you want snappy acceleration, that's fine. But nobody other than law enforcement needs a top speed over 75 mph. Good luck to them, but I still think this is a problem with a simpler solution. A narrow track tilting three-wheeler (basically an enclosed Piaggio MP3) can be just as stable at speed or stopped using a fraction of the complexity or power. There's no real advantage to insisting on two wheels.
Bill Bennett
get the range up to 300 miles at 70 mph I would be a buyer
pointyup
At last a machine that meets the market with speed and range. I commute 240km per day and petrol is a killer. The sped limits are slow andmost traffic complies. All it needs is an AUTO PILOT.
Womp
I notice that in the video one of the guys had his head sticking through where the glass roof should be, if we ever get these in Australia I suspect it would require a helmet, so there could be problem in regards to head room there.
The Stav
Looking at video it appears the turning circle just doesn't cut it. A safety cell concept and airbags for rider a must. Half roof removal option would be great for those perfect days. I would prefer blistering acceleration up to a 70mph top speed. A 200 mile range is reassuring for most long distance commuting. Cheaper inner city parking and heavy traffic advantages. Add the newer LED blue tinted lighting for night and the very bright white for day. Obviously Daniel and his team are very mindful of affordability. All electric cars even with great technology built in where I live, won't be had for less than $45,000. A price difficult to justify when many of the super efficient diesel fully imported cars can be bought for $35,000 or less.
Brendan Dunphy
Great work guys! Could be relevant to many European cities and towns with very narrow roads unsuited to cars, low weight increases range and has the cool factor too. 125mph not a problem in Germany.....;)
Ziad Dibsi
Three wheelers are more stable and won't fall if the power is interrupted. Good development never the less.
paulblez
It's great to see it actually working, especially in reverse, but there's still a hell of a long way to go before this thing can 'flip flop' through a chicane, with precision, like a motorcycle, or indeed a Peraves Monotracer, which I will remind you, has been in production for many years now and whose electric version is much closer to sale, with 5 machines already on the road with full legality and a proven 200 mile range cruising at 75mph (and I've driven two of them). I'm still very skeptical about the price and timescales predicted here, and whether there's really going to be room enough for two normal-sized human beings in the current cabin size (I doubt it!). Personally, if I were Lit Motors, I would be doing a KISS* version in parallel with the gyro-balanced one, either with 'Fred Flintstone' holes for the feet or Peraves-type outriggers for true full enclosure. PNB (*KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid)
Stan Ubeki
@thestav: There are a million armchair designers. I'm not one of them. A removable top would decrease the range by upsetting the aerodynamics.