Savic unveils production prototype for its 80-hp electric cafe racer
Melbourne-based startup Savic Motorcycles has hit the Australian Motorcycle Festival with a very sweet-looking production prototype of its upcoming electric cafe racer, a significant update to the first prototype we saw this time last year.
Life has been pretty crazy in recent months for Aussie electro-moto pioneer Dennis Savic and his tight-knit team. A rush of local and international interest in the original Savic prototype sent the team into overdrive working on a production-ready prototype built around a new, integrated powertrain unit. Savic himself has been working hard getting the business and production side ready to meet demand, while balancing rapid promotions and escalating responsibilities in his day job as an Optimization Engineer at Ford, not to mention a fresh engagement to his long-suffering partner Tess.
I spent a little time with the team earlier this year, helping out with some photos of the first prototype in motion. There were some clear issues, with the test mule's wiring far from automotive grade and the corners of the big, square battery box dragging early when the bike leaned over, but the bike looked great, handled well and drew plenty of attention. Here's a shot from the day:
The last two weeks have been a frantic sprint for the Savic team, rushing to get the gen-two production prototype ready for public display after the custom powertrain arrived from its Taiwanese manufacturer, and Savic laughs as he explains just how close they cut it. "We literally fabricated the front fender with the bike on the trailer headed for the photoshoot," he says. "I was running back and forth making sure things fit." Nothing like a deadline to get butts into gear!
And here it is, a ground-up redesign that maintains the neo-retro charm of the original but takes everything up several notches in refinement and sophistication. Savic tells us the team addressed more than 150 issues raised by customers and in testing in the redesign.
Gone is the squared-off battery box, replaced by a neatly-angled central unit with cooling fins and a clean (and optional) rounded lower fairing. Ground clearance is greatly increased; dragging the battery box in a corner will take some concerted effort. The round motor unit is now built into the battery pack, and the whole thing is a stressed member in the frame, so the lower cradle rails are gone.
The first bike's quite pedestrian donor-bike swingarm is replaced with a very sexy twin-tube single-sider, giving the right side of the bike a super-clean look that draws attention to the curved black backbone of the frame and the murdered-out rear shock. Australia's strict design rules for motorcycles will unfortunately add a large, unwieldy fender at the back before the Savic bike hits the road, but such is life.
The single seat unit, too narrow to be comfy on the first prototype, has been widened significantly, and the tail has been enhanced with some extra details to complement the Robocop eye-slit brake light. This includes the signature of designer Dave Hendroff; a throwback, Savic tells me, to the days when you'd see Bertone or Pininfarina on the sides of beautifully-designed cars as well as the manufacturer's logo. There will be an optional pillion seat sometime next year.
The hand-formed aluminum tank remains, although the shape has been revised, and the brown leather highlights – a strip down the middle, and knee rests on the sides – will be optional on the production machine. Savic has also designed and programmed its own 8-inch digital dash for the production bike, to replace the off-the-shelf Motec unit on the first bike. Electronic rider aids will include ABS, traction control and regenerative braking.
The new prototype is a huge step forward, and an achievement of huge pride for the Savic team. It's currently not in running order – the battery pack's essentially empty right now due to a supplier issue – but the parts are on the way, and the team plans to have it ready for road testing in the next month or so.
The bigger challenges, of course, are taking the bike to production, preparing a solid manufacturing and assembly process, getting all the burdensome approvals arranged, bringing in sales, and building a functioning business out of the thing. But Dennis Savic strikes me as an exceptionally bright and driven young man with an extraordinary work ethic. I'd give him more than a puncher's chance of doing the near-impossible and creating a successful electric motorcycle company in Australia – a country with very little EV infrastructure in place, and a struggling market for new motorcycles.
Savic is opening pre-orders today on three different specification levels for the bike. Top shelf is the AU$23,990 Alpha, with an 80-horsepower, 180-Nm (133 lb-ft) motor and 11-kWh battery pack making for ~200 km (124 miles) of range. Mid-range is the AU$16,990 Delta, making 54 horsepower and 103 lb-ft, and rocking a 9-kWh battery for around 150 km (93 miles) of range. And the most affordable is the Omega, at a very approachable AU$12,990, with a 33.5-horsepower, 110-Nm (81 lb-ft) motor, and a 7-kWh, 120-km (75-mile) battery.
Customers will get an AU$2,000 discount on Alpha orders, AU$1000 on Deltas and AU$500 on Omegas if they submit an expression of interest during this weekend's expo period. Manufacturing of the first 50 bikes is slated to begin in August 2020, with customer deliveries coming at the tail end of 2020.
We're very much enjoying watching the Savic team make this labor of love a reality, and look forward to throwing a leg over it once it's up and running.
Source: Savic Motorcycles