Motorcycles

Lit Motors' C-1 electric motorcycle will stand up for itself

Lit Motors' C-1 electric motor...
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
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The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
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The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
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The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 can fit two passengers for short trips
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The C-1 can fit two passengers for short trips
The C-1 is steered using a steering wheel, not handlebars
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The C-1 is steered using a steering wheel, not handlebars
The C-1's stabilizing flywheels are located under its floor
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The C-1's stabilizing flywheels are located under its floor
The C-1 is powered by dual hub motors
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The C-1 is powered by dual hub motors
The C-1 is proposed as a safer alternative to regular motorcycles
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The C-1 is proposed as a safer alternative to regular motorcycles
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
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The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
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The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
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The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
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The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
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The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle

As any avid biker will tell you, motorcycles have a lot of advantages over cars - they use less fuel, accelerate faster, are more maneuverable, can be parked in more places, and don't incorporate the weight of extra seating for passengers who are non-existent on solo commutes. As many other people will tell you, however, motorcycles also leave their occupants open to the rain and cold, and can potentially tip over and scatter those occupants across the road. That's where Lit Motors' C-1 comes into the picture. It's a proposed fully-enclosed two-passenger electric motorbike that uses an electronically-controlled gyroscopic stabilizing system to stay upright when stopped, or even when struck from the side in an accident.

Lit Motors is based out of San Francisco, and is headed up by industrial/automotive designer Daniel Kim. The idea for the C-1 came to him after he had traveled around the world for a year, seeing the transportation challenges and innovations in developing nations. "I met thousands and thousands of people, and learned how cultures function and how people get around," he told us. "It was an amazing experience. That's basically what informed me, for the rest of my life."

The vehicle

So far, Kim and his team have developed an operating model of the C-1's flywheel-based stabilization system, along with a full-scale fiberglass mock-up of the vehicle itself. They are now working on a hand-built steel uni-bodied working prototype, which should reportedly be complete within about three months. Plans call for an initial run of production vehicles to be available at a price of about US$24,000 by late 2013, with that price going down to $16,000 once full production gets under way in 2014.

The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle

Different versions of the C-1 will be available for different markets. The model aimed at First World countries will have an 8-10 kilowatt-hour battery pack, while a model intended for developing nations will be rated at about 4-6 kWh. The vehicle will incorporate electric hub motors in both wheels, at least one of those motors being a high-performance Remy HVH unit. The top speed should be at least 120 mph (193 km/h), with driving range for the higher-end model expected to sit at around 150 to 220 miles (241 to 354 km) per charge, depending on the exact size of the battery.

Harvesting energy

While the C-1's light weight, aerodynamic shape and low rolling resistance should allow it to get decent mileage, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology will also help in that department. As is the case with the self-balancing Thrustcycle SRT, kinetic power that would otherwise be lost in the braking process will instead be used to assist in spinning up the flywheels. Along with providing stability, those wheels will also deliver power back to the drivetrain when the vehicle is accelerating, giving the battery pack a break.

The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle

The flywheels will be located beneath the vehicle's floor, and should generate over 1,300 lb/ft (1,763 Nm) of torque in the final, commercial model. Although previous attempts at gyroscopically-stabilized vehicles such as the Gyro-X were rumored to be tippy when cornering at high speeds, Kim assures us that a patented system will keep that from being the case with the C-1.

Keeping connected

As with many existing newer cars, the vehicle will also utilize various connectivity protocols to stay in contact with the internet. This will allow its driver to be continuously aware of factors such as traffic, construction, and adverse weather conditions - where applicable, alternate routes will be suggested.Some fairly big names have become interested in the project. While Daniel was first developing the C-1 as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, it caught the attention of Robin Chase, co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the world's largest car-sharing service - she has since become "a huge proponent" of the vehicle. The MIT Media Lab also provided assistance in its design. More recently, Jason Hill, lead designer with the now-defunct Aptera Motors, signed on to work on the final design of the C-1.

The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle
The C-1 is a proposed fully-electric and fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle

Should you want one...

Lit Motors is now accepting US$250 refundable deposits, from people interested in becoming early adopters of the vehicle. Approximately 25 deposits have been made so far, mainly from Europe. When and if it hits the market, the C-1 may face some competition from the E-Tracer, a fully-electric version of the Monotracer cabin motorcycle made by Swiss company Peraves. Unlike the C-1, however, the E-Tracer lacks a gyroscopic stabilizing system - instead, its driver must manually deploy retractable outrigger supports when slowing down or coming to a stop.

"We're creating a safe motorcycle, and that's never been done in the way that we're doing it, where it's also incredibly efficient" said Kim. "We're trying to open up safety to a huge market of 200 million motorcyclists, daily in the world. We have a huge market, and I think we could have a lot of impact."

The video below shows how the C-1 might operate in the real world.

C-1 fully-enclosed self-balancing motorcycle

69 comments
SpaceBagels
Where does the rest of the batteries go? Every picture/videos I\'ve seen there is BARELY enough space for the gyroscope/flywheel. It doesn\'t seem like they\'re in-wheel motors, so where does that go and the rest of the elctronics? Unless they have a range of less than 50 miles I doubt you can fit them all together using current technology. Batteries need a quantum leap in technology and from what have been shown, there is none, other than findings of what it MAY promise, Like Michio Kaku says, batteries are inefficient unless there\'s a quantum leap in physics. Also the ability to lean in motorcycles is also important in what makes them manuevarable, hence for a 2 wheel vehicle being \'unleanable\' and too stable would not be too great of an idea in most circumctances. It may have computer controlled systems which is why I doubt they will able to fit all of them, computers,elctronics, motor, gyroscope/flywhel with a steel unibody while keeping the weight down to attain a range of over 100 miles in a single charge. From what I\'ve seen there is not a single actual real video of the thing MOVING and navigating bends, only CG which is why I have my doubts.
Grunchy
Why can\'t Yamaha or Honda or Harley Davidson come up with something like this? After all, even Mazda figured out that some people want a hard top for the Miata. If Honda made a version with a 600cc motor then I\'d be all over it!
silkblue
Why so much CG? Why no actual footage of it moving? Why no stability test with a full vehicle with someone in it? The test without anyone seems wobbly at best.
Adrien
more vapourware I would have thought any biker would be able to point out the obvious pitfalls of strapping a large gyroscope to a bike. You need to lean it over to turn properly. I guess that's why this is still just vapourware.
phydeaux
Far too much trouble for two wheels. Just make it a three wheeler with two wheels up front like the cam am spyder.
Zappenfusen
Someone has an idea that if brought to fruition would be the answer to a lot of wage earner, long commute, gas not going below $3.00 a gallon ever again poor people, and you complain!
SpaceBagels
^^^^^^ 3 wheels? You\'re kidding! 3 wheels need too much common sense! They need a marketing spiel to make it attractive to unwitting investors like a motorcycle that wouldn\'t tip over if kicked at the side so it can navigate bends at 5 mph with the much required gyroscope/flywheel. From the pictures there doesn\'t seem to be any kind of legs or stand so the vehicle can be parked so I assume it has to run that flywheel and gyroscope FOREVER like some kind of a perpetual motion machine to stay upright. And where\'s the spare tyre WHEN I get a flat? *Ba dum tsssss*
Griffin
It\'s certainly NOT vapourware. Gyroscopes are capable of much more than people realize. I can personally testify that they are fully capable of allowing controlled lean. This vehicle may not make it to market but gyroscopes are extremely under-utilized and misunderstood, even now- as several of these comments demonstrate.
SpaceBagels
I know slime can be used instead of spare tires, but still...
Slowburn
There is no reason to think a gyro-stabilized two wheel car won\'t work. There are plenty of mechanically successful predecessors but I want gas or diesel power. http://www.aqpl43.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/TRANSPORT/gyrocars/gyrocar.htm http://www.aqpl43.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/TRANSPORT/gyrocars/schilovs.htm