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