Saroléa fires up road-legal version of its electric superbike
Belgian electric motorcycle manufacturer Saroléa has announced the road-legal variant of the SP7 TT Zero racer, due to be introduced towards the end of 2017. The limited and exclusive Manx7 promises a fiery combination of extreme horsepower and long range, with the same high-end gear as its racing sibling.
Saroléa has been around since 1850, starting out as a weapons factory, before moving on to bicycles and motorcycles. The company reached its heyday in the 1920s, followed by economic troubles during the following decade, a war-enforced hiatus, and a brief resurrection period in the 1950s. It officially ceased to exist in 1963, until the Belgian brothers Torsten and Bjorn Robbens reopened Saroléa in 2008 as an electric-only motorcycle manufacturer.
Its first prototype model, the SP7, debuted at the Isle of Man TT Zero race in 2014, and has since been a permanent member of the electric class with solid results – except for 2016, when technical problems kept both of its bikes from racing.
Last year Saroléa revealed an initial sketch of what the road-going version of the SP7 might look like, but now a new teaser portrays a design much closer to the SP7 racer's retro lines. This time things appear to be serious though, as the obscure photo of the upcoming Manx7 is accompanied with a comprehensive spec sheet and a link for potential customers to reserve their motorcycles. According to Saroléa, the new bike is expected to be introduced before the end of this year, marketed as a 2018 model.
At first glance, the Manx7's specs reveal some breathtaking performance figures, with 204 hp (152 kW) of power and 450 Nm (332 ft-lb) of torque for a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph). On paper at least, it could give the Lightning LS-218 a run for its money.
Saroléa's proprietary brushless DC three-phase electric motor fits into a carbon monocoque frame and swingarm, surrounded by carbon fairings, making for a mass of just 195 kg (430 lb). This is measured with the standard 14 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that allows for a 230-km (143-mi) range but, according to Saroléa, the Manx7 can optionally be outfitted with 18 kWh or 22 kWh batteries, resulting in a range of 280 km (174 mi) or 330 km (205 mi) accordingly – and a few unavoidable extra kilos.
Suspensions include Öhlins's FGRT-200 forks and a TTX36 rear shock, while French specialist Beringer contributes with its Aerotec brakes, and Italy's OZ Racing supplies the lightweight aluminum Piega wheels.
The Manx7 will also sport Saroléa's own electronics, namely the vehicle control unit and battery management system that communicate via fiber optics. These form an integral part of the Saroléa Electric Drivetrain, which was designed in-house and developed over the course of several years at race tracks and the TT Zero races.
On-line reservations have just opened, but the Manx7 will probably not come cheap, given that every motorcycle requires some 1,500 hours to be assembled by hand in the Ghent, Belgium workshop. The list of extras includes the aforementioned bigger batteries, 4G connectivity, some even more expensive wheels made from magnesium or carbon fiber, as well as the possibility to build a completely personalized motorcycle. Custom color schemes, seat decorations and possible other bespoke options are always on the table; as the folks at Saroléa put it, if you dream it, they'll build it.
The SP7 was the test mule for developing Saroléa's electric drivetrain, and it delivered in the very demanding roads of the Isle of Man. Exclusive as it may be, the Manx7 is a gateway to future production models.
Admittedly, Saroléa wants to become a major brand in the electric motorcycle scene, and the upcoming electric MotoGP class sounds like another prime opportunity. To this end, right before the recent Aragon GP in Spain, former world champion and MotoGP Safety Advisor Loris Capirossi had the chance to test the SP7 on track.
Dorna Sports, MotoGP rights' owner, plans to run the first years of the new class as a single-make series, and the brand selected to supply the bikes will be announced soon. "We dare to say that we are on the shortlist, along with US company Lightning, the Italian firm Energica, and probably another player such as Mahindra or KTM," revealed Bjorn Robbens.
Having enjoyed plenty of media exposure thanks to the TT Zero, and with hopes for a MotoGP deal on the table, the timing for introducing a production model seems ideal.