Motorcycles

Triumph's TE-1 prototype may be the hottest electric motorcycle yet

Triumph's TE-1 prototype may b...
Triumph's upcoming TE-1 prototype will be a wild, 174-horsepower electric Speed Triple lookalike with a groundbreaking powertrain developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering
Triumph's upcoming TE-1 prototype will be a wild, 174-horsepower electric Speed Triple lookalike with a groundbreaking powertrain developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering
View 7 Images
Triumph's upcoming TE-1 prototype will be a wild, 174-horsepower electric Speed Triple lookalike with a groundbreaking powertrain developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering
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Triumph's upcoming TE-1 prototype will be a wild, 174-horsepower electric Speed Triple lookalike with a groundbreaking powertrain developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering
There's no mistaking this machine for anything other than a Triumph naked streetfighter
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There's no mistaking this machine for anything other than a Triumph naked streetfighter
Sky-high charge rates will make 0-80 percent top-ups a 20-minute proposition where infrastructure allows
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Sky-high charge rates will make 0-80 percent top-ups a 20-minute proposition where infrastructure allows
Triumph sure knows how to design a sexy bike
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Triumph sure knows how to design a sexy bike
Because this is a Triumph streetfighter, people will complain about the headlights
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Because this is a Triumph streetfighter, people will complain about the headlights
Triumph, WAE and Integral Powertrain have done an amazing job putting together a battery pack and powertrain that works well visually in a bike design, while breaking new ground in efficiency, energy density and sustained high performance
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Triumph, WAE and Integral Powertrain have done an amazing job putting together a battery pack and powertrain that works well visually in a bike design, while breaking new ground in efficiency, energy density and sustained high performance
The motor weighs 10 kg and produces 173 horsepower; even though we don't know its torque yet, this thing will be a monster to ride
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The motor weighs 10 kg and produces 173 horsepower; even though we don't know its torque yet, this thing will be a monster to ride
View gallery - 7 images

Nearly two years ago, Triumph announced it was working with Williams Advanced Engineering to develop a cutting-edge British electric motorcycle platform. Today, we get our first look at the new powertrain, as well as sketches of the upcoming prototype.

When you get a company like WAE on board, you can be assured of performance that'll make all your wrinkliest skin even wrinklier. And indeed, the TE-1 prototype is designed for an absolutely wild ride. The 10-kg (22-lb) motor, from Integral Powertrain, will put out a peak of 130 kW (174 hp) and continuous power of 80 kW (107 hp), and the 360-volt WAE battery pack is capable of up to 170 kW (228 hp), putting sub-20 minute 0-80 percent charge times on the table.

Battery capacity is 15 kWh – a little bit more than Zero's SR/F offers, so while Triumph has made no range claims as yet, we'd expect somewhere around 124 miles (200 km) between charges. Then again, WAE and Integral seem very excited about their contributions to the project, the former claiming a "quantum leap" in energy density and weight reduction, and the latter claiming to "set new standards in terms of electric motorcycle efficiency," so the final range figures, if they're given to us in a format we can actually compare against Zero's real-world figures, will be very instructive.

Triumph sure knows how to design a sexy bike
Triumph sure knows how to design a sexy bike

"We spent a lot of time on the battery system," said Dyrr Ardash, Senior Commercial Manager at WAE. "Getting this right [on a motorcycle] is arguably more important than with any other type of electric vehicle. We've really pushed the boundaries in order to reduce mass and optimize position within the frame to benefit handling. What's more, we've also pushed the limits of battery performance, balancing cell design for acceleration and range, with simulations based on track-based riding. In other words, as aggressive as possible."

The new pack features a fully integrated electronic control system, which WAE says combines the bike controls with the battery management for the first time, and it's also designed to deliver its full performance punch right down to zero on the battery meter, where others curtail performance as the charge runs down.

Ardash is right that weight is a real passion-killer when it comes to electric motorcycles that offer proper sports-riding range, so we'll be very interested to see the weight of the prototype, and indeed how the battery itself fares on the scale next to a Zero unit. Zero Motorcycles has, after all, been propped up in its pioneering position on a pile of Weight Watchers cash from its chief investor Invus, so maybe a bit of friendly competition might help it get a beach body happening in the next iteration.

Triumph, WAE and Integral Powertrain have done an amazing job putting together a battery pack and powertrain that works well visually in a bike design, while breaking new ground in efficiency, energy density and sustained high performance
Triumph, WAE and Integral Powertrain have done an amazing job putting together a battery pack and powertrain that works well visually in a bike design, while breaking new ground in efficiency, energy density and sustained high performance

In terms of design, I'm personally delighted to see that the TE-1 prototype takes after one of my favorite bikes, the mighty Speed Triple naked streetbike. Speed and Street Triple owners will immediately recognize the frame lines, single-sided swingarm and overall performance naked ergos here. The design treatment is aggressive, sharp and modern without screaming "look at me, I'm electric" – and if it makes it through to the physical prototype without too many changes, it could be one of the best-looking electric bikes we've seen.

A large part of that comes down to the time WAE has clearly spent making sure to avoid the dirty big battery box that has plagued most electric motorcycle designers up until now (notable exceptions like the BST HyperTek aside). Williams has done a great job keeping its design tight and shapely, the motor's not terrible to look at itself, and I'd argue Triumph's design team has framed it all up with metal structures, carbon covers and bodywork that make no secret of its electric heart, but that keep the whole thing looking light, compact and attractive.

Better still, it doesn't look too far off what we might see in production, once you put some mirrors, indicators and a butt-ugly rear fender on there. A range of electric production bikes is definitely on the cards, says Steve Sargent, Triumph's Chief Product Officer: "This project is all about developing a platform for Triumph's future electric motorcycles."

Sky-high charge rates will make 0-80 percent top-ups a 20-minute proposition where infrastructure allows
Sky-high charge rates will make 0-80 percent top-ups a 20-minute proposition where infrastructure allows

The whole thing is largely funded by the UK government, through Innovate UK and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, in an effort to develop and incubate British technology and expertise in the EV sector. Fair enough; major motorcycle manufacturers have apparently seen little point in pushing forth in the performance electric space, leaving the early heavy lifting to companies like Zero, Lightning, Energica and a bevy of smaller boutique builders to get the market started.

So this does seem like the kind of area where government funding can get things done at a level private funding might struggle with; if this powertrain delivers on its promise, the UK has a chance to stamp some serious authority on the electric motorcycle market at a relatively early stage. And Triumph has a chance to get something pretty amazing on the road with a public sector head start that many companies would kill for.

While COVID has delayed the timetable on the TE-1 somewhat, Sargent says we'll see the full prototype soon: "We're all looking forward to having a complete, rideable bike, which we're expecting later in 2021."

Check out a video below.

Project Triumph TE-1 | Creating UK Electric Motorcycle Capability

Sources: Triumph Motorcycles, Williams Advanced Engineering

View gallery - 7 images
10 comments
svenne
Nothing new really here is there, except the name on the tank. I'm happy to ride around my own little mini 'track' on my KTM E-XC, but I can't really go anywhere without putting her on a trailer. Batteries need to make another giant leap before any larger motorcycle crowd will be ready to go weeeeeeiiiiiisssh. But nice to see government funding involved - at the same time a bit scary as next step there is legislation.
guzmanchinky
I can't wait for this silent crazy power revolution.
ljaques
Well, interesting.
Jamie, it appears, graduated from the William Shatner School of Overacting. I'd like to see that video remade with their hands tied behind their backs, just for S&G.
Signguy
Weelllllll, what's the cost? Why do they continue to emulate GAS engine designs?!!?
nick101
Very nice. I'm sure that they will sell plenty. I can't see them being inexpensive though! I heard something yesterday, from someone who was a little child when I had a Honda touring bike "I thought those 'side things' were batteries that made the bike go!" (I took the hard luggage off at night) I think thats what will make electric bikes practical.
toni24
But how far will it go at night with the headlights on? An electric motorcycle sounds great but a quick change battery pack would be a must for people who live off grid like we do
Pmeon
The main reason why it looks like a normal piston engine bike is all those fancy little plastic fairings cost a fortune when you drop it. And all bikes eventually hit the deck at some point or ten. It is an extra profit center for plastic parts that cost about $5 to make and retail for hundreds of dollars.
The real shame with bike design in general is they are delicate pieces of eye candy and the fairings have zero aerodynamic purpose. The ability to put a battery anywhere and make a bike that you can slide down the road, pick it up and maybe drop it again next week is how bikes should be made. Imagine having a mountain bike that fell apart anytime you came off, no one would buy one. As soon as buyers stop putting up with this plastic eye candy crap then real progress can be made. Now you know why 90% of motorcyclists don't know how to ride fast, they are all scared of dropping their expensive tools instead of sliding it around and ripping massive wheelies everywhere.
Jack Austin
Looks good, but Triumph if your listening please please PLEASE put the charging spot somewhere else. In a wreck if that door/flap opens it's going to cut people up in some uncomfortable places.
Daishi
I agree with Jack about the charging spot. With gasoline you need to fuel above the tank because gasoline is a liquid and that's how gravity works but with an electric charge port it doesn't have to be positioned above the battery. The only argument for putting it there is that it's symmetrical but many gas bikes have an exhaust going down one side so I don't think it's critical that the charge port be symmetrical. I'd rather see the space that used to be a gas tank used for minimal storage or as a glove box. Maybe mount a display on top of the tank or create an adapter system meant to receive after market accessories.
Daishi
Another point worth mentioning is that while electric motorcycle sales are slow electric bicycle sales have been explosive for years seeing huge year over year sales gains as companies in that space struggle to meet demand and companies like specialized prove there is demand even in the $13,000 price range. Most high end ebikes are prohibited in Europe without restricting them to 15 MPH / 25 KPH. The revolution of 2 wheeled electric mobility is happening it's just mostly happening outside Europe because of restrictive regulations. Ebike companies like Sonders and Sur Ron are about as likely to bring in the era of electric motorcycles as any traditional ICE/petrol motorcycle company. High end ebikes probably already outnumber motorcycles in volume of sales.