Retro-futurist Electrocycle promises 300 miles of electric range
Colorado startup Zaiser Motors says it's working on an electric motorcycle capable of a whopping 300 miles (483 km) of range per charge. The Electrocycle would also offer 2WD, removable batteries for indoor charging, and a 120 mph (200 km/h) top speed.
This is one of the more traditionally cruiser-ish shapes we've seen in an electric motorcycle thus far. Well, the "tank" and headlight bits, anyway, and an enormous, ornamental rear fender that recalls gangster-era automotive designs, complete with a set of spiky fins that wouldn't look out of place on a retro batmobile.
The oversized rear fender is an odd choice; without it, you could take the design in a scrambler direction and end up with a reasonably conventional look. But as it's done here, it takes a very slim rear wheel (presumably chosen to increase efficiency), and makes it look absolutely tiny among all that bodywork.
This bike looks huge, with a long wheelbase and expansive bench seat. But Zaiser is keen to differentiate the Electrocycle with more than just looks. Thus, it'll run not just one hub motor, but two, sending enough power to both wheels to achieve 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) sprints in the 3.6 second range and a top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h).
Hub motors have pros and cons. On the pro side, drive chains and belts add complexity and consumable parts, so removing them from the equation is nice. On the con side, they contribute considerable unsprung weight, which means the suspension has to work harder to absorb bumps. And an electric motor is a decent size lump you need to fit in the frame somewhere; that's space you could otherwise be using to increase the size of your battery box, and if you're going for blockbuster range figures, every cell counts.
The Zaiser Electrocycle is indeed going for blockbuster range figures. Three hundred miles on a charge is some 50 miles more than the urban range the Energica Eva is now claiming out of a single charge of its huge 21.5 kWh battery. But the Eva is a relatively compact naked sports machine that has to fit a chain-drive electric motor into its frame; Zaiser has freed up a lot of space with the long wheelbase and hub motors. Just how much battery will this 300-mile monster carry?
The answer is a real head-scratcher: 17.5 kWh. Er, what? The language Zaiser uses here appears deliberately vague, so we'll let the company tell you how it'll meet that headline range figure. Italics are ours.
"A 300-mile range is quite a claim," reads Zaiser's WeFunder page, "but we are ready to back that up. By moving the powerplant out to the wheels and shedding weight, we are confident that we will have the flexibility to achieve a 300-mile range on our model 1 Electrocycle. Freeing up space in the center of the Electrocycle will allow us to fit our 17.5 KWH battery unit and more without compromising aesthetics or aerodynamics. Additional improvements consist of efficiency gains thanks to our new twin-hub cooling system and ultra light-weight composite material implemented during manufacturing. These benefits alone give us the '50-mile-edge' over current over the ~250-mile industry average, however, we anticipate rapid advancements in battery technology in the near future, making this goal very attainable for Zaiser."
So... Maybe the 300-mile version will be an optional upgrade with more like 26 kWh of battery on board? It's hard to tell. Either way, don't expect to be going that far at highway speeds. We tend to treat Zero's range claims as pretty realistic, and the Zero SR/F claims 161 miles (259 km) of urban range from its 14.4 kWh battery.
But urban range is the ideal scenario for electrics; lots of starts and stops through which regenerative braking energy can be harnessed, and you're not slogging down a long, fast road fighting against wind resistance. That same Zero will give you just 82 miles (132 km) of range – a hair over half the urban figure – if you plonk it on the highway and sit at 70 mph (113 km/h).
So even if the Zaiser bike does give you 300 miles of range around town – and I tip my hat to you if you're doing 300 miles of urban riding between charging opportunities – a "hit the open road and cruise" scenario would probably get you half that figure.
Still, it's a lot for an electric, and the range could still be useful for days out, since Zaiser says it'll be including fast charge compatibility. The batteries are also going to be removable, so if you're living in an apartment or don't have charge points handy, you can pop the battery out and lug it upstairs for charging.
I'm making a face as I type that, because batteries are heavy. To give you an idea, the 3.6 kWh removable modules used in the Zero FX each weigh about 19 kg (42 lbs). So if your plan is to carry your 17.5 kWh Zaiser pack up the stairs to plug in at night, well ... You'd better eat your Wheaties.
The Zaiser dash looks awesome in the renders, incorporating all the usual stuff plus media control and a very spunky looking navigation system. The company says it'll run traction control on both wheels and "auto stabilization," which sounds mysterious and interesting.
It'll also prioritize safety, including LiDAR sensors and haptic feedback units in the handlebars, some kind of sound system to announce its presence (hey, it's a cruiser, what would you expect), and "other accident avoidance technologies" that have "never before been present on one singular vehicle in this way," which Zaiser believes can "cut two-wheeled related accidents by ~20%." Alrighty then.
The Electrocycle's target price is between US$20-25,000, with deliveries slated to begin in 2023 – although first, the company is looking for early stage investment to "finalize, test and optimize a production-intent design."
Source: Zaiser Motors