Da Vinci DC100, a self-balancing electric motorcycle that will follow you around
Beijing's Da Vinci Dynamics has launched its DC100, a high-performance electric streetbike with an impressive 250-mile (400 km) NEDC range, and some wacky "robotic" tricks, including the alleged ability to self-balance and follow you around.
We've got ourselves a bit of a kitchen sinker here; Da Vinci has thrown all sorts of features at this one. But even some of the basic specs are a tad elusive. For starters, while it makes a peak of 135 horsepower, putting it very much in the "fast electric" category, the company says it runs "a smart control system that seamlessly integrates multiple different motors." Who the what now? Multiple motors? A separate press release then states it's actually 137 horsepower, running through a hub motor.
Peak torque is listed at a ludicrous 850 Nm (627 lb-ft), but then hub motors often have wild torque specs; witness the outrageous Verge TS, with a hub motor that doesn't even need a middle in it to break 1,000 Nm (738 lb-ft). The DC100 will sprint from 0-100 km/h in somewhere between 3-4 seconds, so crazy torque or no crazy torque, a well-ridden gixxer will still see it off at the lights.
Then there's the battery, a 17.7 kWh unit capable of 30-minute level 3 fast charging. That's a tad less battery than our old favorite, the Zero SR, in its latest model with a Power Tank kit in. At 18 kWh, the Zero offers 223 miles (359 km) of start-stop, slow-speed city riding, or just 112 miles (180 km) on the highway. Unless Da Vinci's managed a pretty impressive efficiency leap, we'd say a 250-mile range is highly optimistic.
In addition to a pretty full-color dash and lovely running gear from Brembo and Ohlins, this bike has plenty of electronic fruit in its bowl. Combined ABS braking and traction control for starters, but these are pretty standard. More interesting is the DC's "creep" feature, which starts the bike moving slowly forward when you release the brake lever – much like an automatic car. No playing drums on the tank at the lights, then.
It's got a slow reverse feature for getting out of awkward parking situations, which is nice, as well as the ability to tell when it's on an angle, allowing hill-start assist and automatic mild regenerative braking on downhills to top the battery up and make sure you don't accidentally speed up.
"Coming soon," presumably in OTA software updates, is the really weird stuff. "Using EPS and six-axis IMU, the DC100 will be able to balance itself." EPS, we assume, means electronic power steering, and this would let the bike wobble around without the sidestand down like those concepts Honda put out back in the day. The Honda concepts could also sense and follow, and Da Vinci plans to give the DC100 this capability as well. "Imagine your motorcycle as your jogging companion."
There will also be app-based remote control of the bike as well, so potentially you could get your gear on under cover, and have your bike quietly bring itself to you from wherever you've parked it. None of this seems like an unsolvable problem, we're just highly surprised to see it coming to a production bike.
And here's something to think about: Da Vinci is going to open-source the code, opening up APIs into the system "to allow creative software developers to develop and share new features." New features, let me remind you, that can literally take control of the steering and motor of your high-performance electric motorcycle. That's a yikes from me, dawg.
We have not yet broached the DC100's most egregious crime against motorcycling, so let's go there. It runs a single-sided swingarm – a wonderful way to showcase a spunky rear wheel, floating in space, unfouled by the utilitarian obstruction of a supporting mechanism if viewed from one side. And this rear wheel is indeed spunky.
The downside, of course, is that the other side of the wheel gets an enormous, and generally hideous, swingarm swung all over it. This is typically something we can visually tune out, because the swingarm is on the left side of the bike, meaning it's hidden on the underside when the bike's on a sidestand. But in an act of utterly godless anarchy, Da Vinci has placed the swingarm on the right side. So if you try to look at this bike stopped, you are slapped in the face by the hideous side of the wheel, while the spunky side shamefully gazes down at the ground, shrouded in shadow.
Otherwise, it's not a bad bike to look at, although for a company called Da Vinci, you'd expect a bit more pizazz in the paint job. I see no sfumato here. I see no exploration of chiaroscuro, no mysterious smile, no mastery of anatomy suggesting form beneath surfaces. I see a decently angular electric motorbike, but not one I can imagine the great Leonardo turning in as a finished work.
The Da Vinci DC100 is available for pre-order now at US$27,500. Da Vinci also revealed a naked "DC Classic" model with less fairings covering the big ol' battery box, more blingy bits, "French calfskin seats" and an unforgivable US$90,000 price tag.
There's a video below, if you enjoy frenetic fast-paced editing and every lurching, swerving, rotating camera trick in the book, deployed to distract you from the fact that you're just watching people trundle along up the road at low speed.
Source: Da Vinci Motor