Vanguard Motorcycles teams with Erik Buell for two electric commuters
Back in December 2016, New York's Vanguard Motorcycles revealed its first creation: a monstrous 1,917cc v-twin roadster seemingly hewn out of solid aluminum by a pair of Confederate alumni. The Vanguard Roadster was brutal and blinged-out, tightly packaged and massively over-engineered. It had as much aggressively American presence as a monster truck with a stars 'n' stripes paint job.
But, as several of readers were quick to point out, there are a ton of Americans who no longer feel like giant gas-guzzling noise machines are how their country should be represented. There's a growing segment (and I'm goings to assume it's mainly on the coasts) that are much prouder of Tesla, Alta and Zero than they are of Shelby or Harley-Davidson. They see a gleaming future where America takes a commanding lead in high-performance electrics, and they'd like to put the dirty days of petroleum behind them as quickly as possible.
Well, it seems Vanguard can see which way the wind's blowing. Like Confederate, which has changed its name to Curtiss and decided to go electric, Vanguard is launching a sister company dedicated to battery-powered bikes.
VanguardSpark will be run by Vanguard's Francois-Xavier Terny, in conjunction with Frederic Vasseur of Spark Racing Technologies (who will supply the official chassis for FIA's Formula E from Season 5 onwards) and another guy you may have heard of: Erik Buell.
Buell has been reasonably quiet since his Erik Buell Racing (EBR) brand closed down in 2015, but motorcycle fans still see him as one of the industry's greatest innovators. That's not just from his terrific EBR bikes, but also from what he was able to achieve building on a Harley-Davidson platform with his original Buell bikes.
Obviously, he won't be trying to put fuel in the VanguardSpark bikes' frames or oil in their swingarms, but we could certainly see him using his signature rim-mounted disc brake on the front, and it'll be interesting to see what ideas this famously lateral thinker comes up with in an electric context.
Nothing's really been announced of yet apart from two concept CAD renders. The first, at the top of this piece, shows the VanguardSpark commuter, or at least, the direction it'll likely go in.
Sharing some of the Roadster's lines, including that floating flat tail section, the Commuter looks like a simple and unassuming getabout with a very sleek and plain design. It's unclear from the render, but it almost looks like it might have a hub drive in the rear wheel, which would completely restrict it to around-town duties and have some pretty drastic effects on handling and suspension. VanguardSpark sees it as a competitor to mopeds and small scooters, so it's not going to be a hair-raiser.
The other concept is the VanguardSpark SpeedBike, a funky framed electric bicycle.
It looks like a full-suspension ebike, with a rear swingarm almost as chunky as a small motorcycle's. Perhaps the frame and rims might be carbon (they're certainly black), and the battery seems to be nicely integrated into the lower frame brace instead of hanging out like an afterthought.
We're big fans of ebikes, and this looks like a pretty nice design if they get the specs right, which we likely won't hear anything about until July or so. The company does expect to be able to offer a range in excess of 150 km (93 mi) between charges, which would be huge for the segment.
Both these renders are just conceptual ideas at this point, but the team is solid, we'll take a close look at anything Buell puts his name on, and we're 100 percent on board with electric bicycles, electric motorcycles, and whatever kinds of devices pop up in between the two. Watch this space!