Motorcycles

Yamaha goes rock-hopping, electric style, with new TY-E trials bike

Yamaha goes rock-hopping, elec...
The Yamaha TY-E is a sub-70 kg electric motorcycle with a clutch for trials competition riding
The Yamaha TY-E is a sub-70 kg electric motorcycle with a clutch for trials competition riding
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Yamaha TY-E: electric rock hopper
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Yamaha TY-E: electric rock hopper
Yamaha TY-E: doesn't need a big battery
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Yamaha TY-E: doesn't need a big battery
Yamaha TY-E: weighs less than 70 kg
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Yamaha TY-E: weighs less than 70 kg
Yamaha TY-E: designed for highly technical trials work
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Yamaha TY-E: designed for highly technical trials work
Yamaha TY-E: an electric mountain goat
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Yamaha TY-E: an electric mountain goat
Yamaha TY-E: electric trials bike designed for the most technical motorsport on two wheels
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Yamaha TY-E: electric trials bike designed for the most technical motorsport on two wheels
Yamaha TY-E: a rare electric with a clutch
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Yamaha TY-E: a rare electric with a clutch
Yamaha TY-E: slated for competition as early as July
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Yamaha TY-E: slated for competition as early as July
Yamaha TY-E: trials bikes routinely amaze with their climbing abilities
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Yamaha TY-E: trials bikes routinely amaze with their climbing abilities
Yamaha TY-E: it's unclear whether this will become a consumer product
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Yamaha TY-E: it's unclear whether this will become a consumer product
The Yamaha TY-E is a sub-70 kg electric motorcycle with a clutch for trials competition riding
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The Yamaha TY-E is a sub-70 kg electric motorcycle with a clutch for trials competition riding
Yamaha TY-E: angular design 
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Yamaha TY-E: angular design 
Yamaha TY-E: trials bikes don't run seats
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Yamaha TY-E: trials bikes don't run seats
Yamaha TY-E: sounds pretty wild for an electric
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Yamaha TY-E: sounds pretty wild for an electric
Yamaha TY-E: built to get banged around
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Yamaha TY-E: built to get banged around
Yamaha TY-E: custom designed motor
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Yamaha TY-E: custom designed motor
Yamaha TY-E: motor includes a clutch, which is rare in electrics, but essential for trials riding
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Yamaha TY-E: motor includes a clutch, which is rare in electrics, but essential for trials riding
Yamaha TY-E: narrow and lightweight
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Yamaha TY-E: narrow and lightweight
Yamaha TY-E: electric trials bike
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Yamaha TY-E: electric trials bike
Yamaha TY-E: could this sound the death knell for two-stroke trials bikes?
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Yamaha TY-E: could this sound the death knell for two-stroke trials bikes?
Yamaha TY-E: small, lightweight and punchy
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Yamaha TY-E: small, lightweight and punchy
Yamaha TY-E: coming soon to a vertical rock face near you
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Yamaha TY-E: coming soon to a vertical rock face near you

Yamaha's latest electric motorcycle is an interesting one – it's a trials bike weighing less than 70 kg (154 lb). It's also one of the few electrics you'll see with a clutch, for fine control and extra punch when it's time to wheelie over a log or jump on top of a rock.

Trials would appear to be a good early vehicle for electric motorcycles given trials bikes don't run huge fuel tanks, nor are they expected to cover long distances. Trials riding is all about fine control, explosiveness and balance across difficult, technical terrain.

Currently, trials riding is dominated by small capacity two-strokes whose light weight and ability to punch above their weight class in terms of power make them perfect for the job. But Yamaha is asking the question: can electrics do it better?

Yamaha TY-E: designed for highly technical trials work
Yamaha TY-E: designed for highly technical trials work

The TY-E is a competition test bed for the idea. It's a monocoque frame made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer, with an electric powertrain and the simplest of dashes.

Yamaha hasn't been forthcoming with engine power or battery capacity specs, but we do know the engine runs a flywheel and a mechanical wet, multi-plate clutch. Most electrics don't run clutches, as they're generally single-speed machines and there's no need for a clutch to take off. After all, an electric motor can apply torque no matter whether the wheel is turning or not. Trials riding, on the other hand, uses a lot of clutch, be it to pop the front wheel up on a wheelie or jump manoeuver, or to manage traction in the slippery stuff.

Yamaha TY-E: a rare electric with a clutch
Yamaha TY-E: a rare electric with a clutch

It's still a bit chunkier-looking than some of its gasoline-powered brethren, but at less than 70 kg (154 lb) it's around the same weight as, say, a Sherco 300 two-stroke. So if the weight balance is right and the motor has enough pop, it might be a very good thing.

Yamaha will begin competing with the TY-E in July, riding in the exclusively electric FIM Trial-E Cup.

Check it out in the video below.

電動トライアルバイク「TY-E」プロモーションビデオ / TY-E Electric Trials Bike Promotional Video

Source: Yamaha

4 comments
Joshua Tulberg
Interesting that they use a mechanical clutch. I would have expected them to use an electronic clutch; something like a button you can hold down to then twist throttle and release (button) for instant electric-motor power. I guess the mechanical clutch offered more instant power.
sk8dad
JT, Mechanical clutches offer more user-controlled finesse which is crucial for trials riding. Rear whee hops, for example, would be difficult without the ability to quickly engage/disengage and even feather the clutch.
Bob
Since an electric motor has the opposite torque curve to a gas engine with the maximum torque being at zero rpm, are they running the electric motor constantly at lower rpm? If the power is coming from a flywheel does its speed stay constant? What about gear changes or does the flywheel accelerate?
Catweazle
Back in (IIRC) 1963 at the motorcycle show in Blackpool UK there was a simulated trials section on the Lucas stall with a BSA C15T and a Greeves Scottish trials bike fitted with electric motors instead of the IC engines. I gave the BSA a try, it definitely needed a clutch as the throttle was basically an on/off switch. It's interesting to see the concept has taken over half a century before any other manufacturer has tried the concept.