Hybrid kit gives your Ducati 300 horsepower – and a case of the uglies
French company Efesto has built a kit that can take your 205-odd horsepower Ducati Panigale, and turn it into a 300-horse hybrid widowmaker, with a 40-minute all-electric commuting range. Unfortunately, it looks like a Hyosung with a tumor.
The performance hybrid is becoming more and more common in the automotive world. And why not? Electric motors can provide massive torque and acceleration while your gasoline engine is clearing its throat and getting ready to roar. At the expense of weight and complexity, hybrids like the BMW i8, Ferrari SF90 Stradale and Aston Martin Valkyrie gain explosive performance, improved emissions profiles and the ability to tootle around short distances without burning any gas at all. Some of them can even nearly keep up with a Tesla in a straight line.
The idea has understandably not made it through to the motorcycle world. Bikes are so tightly packaged as is that their mechanics can be identified by their freshly and frequently peeled knuckles. It's no big deal to lose some trunk space in a car, but sportsbike riders are already lucky if they can squeeze their wallet under the seat. Where would all that bulky electric gear go?
Well, now we know. Parisian company Efesto has leapt into the unknown and built a performance hybrid superbike, the likes of which we've never seen, beginning with the achingly beautiful Ducati Panigale as the donor platform.
The three big things you've got to lump into your chassis somewhere are a motor, an inverter and a battery pack. Efesto has hung the motor underneath the rear of the L-twin engine's crankcase, where it protrudes in a manner that reminds us of the back end of a bulldog. The output shaft of the electric motor gets a sprocket and small chain, which connects to a double sprocket on the countershaft to co-pull the drive chain to the rear wheel.
The inverter has been plonked under the front cylinder, where it can be fully hidden under the fairings, although this has necessitated the creation of a thin, rectangular section exhaust that... Well, let's just say that if Panigale designer Gianandrea Fabbro ever saw it, he'd go and take one of those showers where you sit in the corner hugging your knees and rocking back and forth.
The battery pack, for its part, lives in a specially crafted subframe that makes the razor-thin Ducati tailpiece look like it's had a bulky accident in its tracksuit pants. We've all been there. My son went there just last night. The walk, that's the giveaway. I should've kicked that guy out when he turned 21.
Moving past the aesthetic desecration of one of the motorcycle world's most beautiful machines, we can start to appraise the genius behind this idea. One doesn't have to look at this bike while riding it, after all, that's a problem for your riding buddies, and the extra performance it adds could well make your own tailpiece look like it's carrying a battery pack.
The electric motor is a liquid-cooled axial flux unit making some 80 kW (108 horsepower) and an enormous peak torque of 150 Nm (111 lb-ft). Combine those figures with the Panigale's already-excessive 205-horse, 1,285cc L-twin, and you get yourself a motorcycle that makes a terrifying 300 horsepower, and 295 Nm (218 lb-ft).
Where the combustion motor is massively oversquare, sacrificing low-end shunt for a flat-out top-end horsepower rush, the electric is precisely the opposite, pulling its hardest from a standstill and never having to pause as the quickshifter bangs up through the gears. The combination must be profoundly insane.
I know what you're thinking: I bet it's a porker. Well, compared to the original Panigale's ludicrous 163 kg (359 lb) dry weight, it is a touch tubby at 194 kg (428 lb). But that's still well within the ballpark for a fast streetbike, and the absolute whimpering motherlode of toe-curling power this system adds will more than overcome the additional poundage.
Efesto offers four riding modes for the hybrid system; the first is electric only, with a round-town range of "up to 40 minutes in urban traffic." Then there's gasoline only, in which you still have access to regenerative braking. Then there's a custom mode, which lets you set whatever torque and power you want from the electric motor.
But the one you're interested in is boost mode, in which you get the whole enchilada, and every stupid thing you've ever done flashes before your eyes, up to and including the moment you thought it'd be a good idea to go full throttle on a 300-horsepower hybrid superbike. Sign me up.
There's also a recharge mode; Efesto will happily let you sip power away from the petrol engine to fill up the battery if you don't want to plug it in.
Color us intrigued. There's very little wrong with the experience of riding a late-model superbike as is; they're already wildly excessive and ferociously overpowered for street use. But more is always welcome, and a hyper-hybrid like this thing gives you absolutely godlike torque without ever having to plan your rides around DC quick chargers. You will, however, want to avoid mirrors.
There's no word on whether Efesto plans to build and sell these demonic machines, or indeed how much they'd want for one. We'll contact them and ask, if they'll still talk to us after reading our thoughts on their design. How do you feel about the idea of performance hybrid superbikes?