BST's wild Hypertek: A new aesthetic standard for electric motorcycles
Remember motorcycle designer Pierre Terblanche? You probably won't, unless you're a bit of a motorcycle nerd. If I'm totally honest, I've never been a huge fan of his designs. He came out from under the wing of probably the most famous motorcycle designer in history – Massimo Tamburini – to design a successor to the Ducati 916 series, which is still remembered as one of the most beautiful motorcycles ever made. Terblanche followed that curvaceous supermodel up with the 749/999 series, which introduced a blocky, angular look that sucked the sexiness right out of the Ducati brand for much of the 2000s.
Early, chunky, beakless Multistradas? That was Terblanche. The Sport 1000? Those weren't too bad, and neither was the Hypermotard, although neither could be described as a style icon. In more recent times, he's penned the surprisingly conservative Confederate X132 Hellcat Speedster and the Royal Enfield Himalayan, which has a kind of rugged Indiana Jonesiness to it. All in all, it's a varied portfolio with an angular and technical sort of theme running through it that seemed like it was still searching for its ultimate form of expression.
Well, with this extraordinary electric bike, I think I finally understand what Terblanche has been trying to get at all these years, and I absolutely love it. Designed and built in partnership with South African carbon wheel specialists BST, meet the all-electric Hypertek.
There could be no better name for this thing and its unabashed, triumphant futuristicism. Every component and detail seems stripped back, technical, modular, functional. It's like a Confederate jumped in a teleportation machine without realizing there was already a Dyson vacuum in there.
The Hypertek is built around the reasonably unglamorous DHX Hawk water-cooled PMS electric motor, presumably chosen for its compact size and high torque output of 120 Nm (88.5 lb-ft). BST claims a peak power of 80 kW (107 hp), but we can't find any motor on the DHX website capable of such peaks – the company's largest advertised Hawk motor makes 120 Nm but peaks at 55.3 kW (74 hp) and offers a continuous power of 34.5 kW (46.3 hp). So perhaps it's a custom build.
Battery size is unspecified, but BST is claiming a 300-km (186-mi) range, with 30-minute DC quick charge capability. Liquid cooling is implemented visually, with a brass-colored, fan forced radiator. There's a second, ducted fan at the back of the battery pack, which presumably draws heat out of the battery and motor cooling systems and deposits it right onto the rear Supercorsa SP tire, where it can make itself useful in bringing the rubber up to temperature.
The footpegs are adjustable using circular locators, and there doesn't appear to be a rear brake pedal. That's odd, because BST says the Hypertek is one of the very few electric motorcycles you'll see that runs a traditional clutch, so presumably that's the left handlebar's lever accounted for and we have no idea how you're expected to operate the rear brake.
The addition of a clutch, even though the bike is an electric single-speed, allows you to rev the motor at a standstill, but also to clutch up bulk wheelies and drop sick burnouts. And if you have (correctly) identified that as a bit of a personal point of glee for me, it should also be noted that BST itself says "burnouts and wheelies [are] standard features."
For those less inclined to antisocial shenanigans, there will be wheelie and traction control built in. Other electronics include cruise control and hill stop. ABS is not mentioned, but can possibly be assumed given that the brakes look absolutely savage: a single 330-mm, unvented disc at the front made from ceramic-infused aluminum and gripped by what looks like a Brembo monobloc caliper, with a smaller copy at the rear.
The wheels, naturally, are carbon fiber. As is the slim, skeletal monocoque frame, which is a beautiful piece of design. The "tank" unit and subframe/tailpiece are barely there, they just hint at the human shape that'll press against them. The tail and transparent brake light take an idea we first noticed in the late-model Yamaha R1 to the extreme, like some kind of floating wing. It would perfectly channel flatulence out into a pocket of negative pressure in the airstream, if flatulence hadn't long ago worked out that the easiest path to freedom was up through the leathers, out the neck and directly into the helmet.
But we digress. Weight will be 205 kg (452 lb), which is around the weight of most decent nakedbikes once they've got a full tank. The seat will be adjustable between 790 mm (31.1 in) and 820 mm (32.3 in), and BST says the bike will feature a sound generator designed to let pedestrians know you're coming, provided they're not bopping along to music in their Bluetooth earphones, which, let's face it, approximately all of them are these days.
You'll notice there's no dash. All instrumentation is built into a head-up display in a custom helmet, which has been built by Cross of Japan. This is a highly futuristic choice, and by that, we mean we're not aware of anyone who's made a proper heads-up helmet really work the way you want them to as yet. It feels like a slightly dicey decision and we don't think the bike would suffer with the addition of a color display, even if just as a backup for when your helmet runs out of battery.
BST is promising to actually manufacture the Hypertek, in limited numbers. Make no mistake, it'll be horrifically expensive. But I think this is the baddest-looking electric motorcycle I've ever seen up to this point. It's like a Meccano set come to life. If I don't see it in a sci-fi film within two years I'll be amazed, and I wholeheartedly agree with Pierre Terblanche when he says "this is the best work I've ever done." Outstanding. We hope it's the first of many like it.
Jump into the gallery, you need to see more pictures of this thing.