The expansion of the electric motorcycle universe is accelerating and the resultant RedShift is a brilliant supermoto from BRD Motorcycles. Beautiful with its two-piece aluminum monocoque chassis in natural and blue finish, and contrasted by an exposed battery pack in orange, the pre-production prototype of the street version was revealed last night at an unveiling at the Dainese D-Store in San Francisco.

While the negative space of the frame's form catches the eye, it's the numbers really make us catch our breath. The road-ready SM weighs in at a relatively light 250 lbs – the dual-sport MX is only 240 lbs – and with 40 horsepower waiting to be unleashed with a flick of the wrist, the power-to-weight ratio suggests performance capable of tackling its intended target: the traditional gas-powered machine. Indeed, "faster motorcycles" is the stated aim of this fledgling venture and the people behind it all have high-performance bikes in their respective garages.

Though it isn't ready to commit to a range figure until more testing is completed, the company suggests that the 5.2-kWh battery should be good for at least 50 miles on the street. If all goes according to plan, the BRD RedShift line will be manufactured in California and should be available sometime in 2012 through traditional motorcycle retailers. BRD plans on releasing more details at the 68th EICMA in Milan, Italy in November so, for now, we'll have to be content with what tidbits we can glean from the official press release that awaits us after the break.

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PRESS RELEASE

"BRD Announces RedShift Electric Motorcycles - Designed to Outperform Gas Equivalents."

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. August 3, 2011 -- BRD Motorcycles announced today its new electric motorcycle, the RedShift, targeted towards off-road and urban use, and intended to outperform gas-powered equivalents.

"We just want to make faster motorcycles" said CEO, Marc Fenigstein. "We're a team of riders and racers with high-performance gas machines in the garage. We're building the bikes we'd rather be riding."

Motorcycles more significant than American public realizes
"In the US, we tend to focus on cars, but globally there are almost as many motorcycles as automobiles" said Fenigstein. "Not only that, they tend to be dirtier than cars, and have usage profiles that are friendlier to electric than passenger cars."

According to BRD, there are about 50 million motorcycles sold annually, worldwide, compared to 60 million automobiles. Emissions standards on motorcycles tend to be significantly lower than for cars, leading to smog problems in cities reknowned for two-wheeled travel like Milan. Especially overseas, motorcycles tend to be used for much shorter distances and at lower speeds than the highway traffic typical of the United States, which makes them ideal for transition to electric.

Uncompromised riding experience
BRD stated that their goal was to create a riding experience that was as least as satisfying as gas motorcycles in the category. "We don't want to sell vehicles based on guilt," said Chief Design Officer, Jeff Sand. "We want to build vehicles that are the most desirable in their category even for enthusiasts. We're committed to developing this bike until it can take on gas motocrossers on their home turf"

The RedShift SM, the urban version, was unveiled this evening in San Francisco. The unit is said to be a pre-production prototype, with production planned for 2012. The RedShift MX, the dual-sport version, is in parallel development. The models share a proprietary chassis and drivetrain, and feature fully adjustable suspension, with conventional wheel and sprocket sizes.

"There are decades of development in modern motocross and supermoto chassis" said Chief Technology Officer, Derek Dorresteyn, a former professional racer. "We chose to harness the best of that while taking advantage of the torque and throttle response an electric motor delivers." BRD states that this creates a familiar riding experience for seasoned motorcyclists, but one that provides riders more control, feedback, and confidence.

Both versions of the RedShift use a 5.2kWh battery that should deliver about 50 miles of range based on other electric motorcycles in the market, but BRD refrained from specifying a range until further testing. Fenigstein clarified, "we expect people to ride the snot out of these in a way that hasn't been possible on previous electrics - that's going to affect the range and we want to be careful about getting the specification right."

Local manufacturing enabled by new chassis design
The most distinctive feature of the bike is the chassis, made of two sculptural aluminum monocoque members. Sand explains: "We've developed a completely new method for manufacturing motorcycle frames that allows us to build a competitive chassis right here in California. The Bay Area is known for information technology, but we're hoping to start a rennaissance in manufacturing here as well"

The motorcycles will be sold through conventional motorcycle dealerships to ensure superb warranty and service support. Specifications and product images can be found at BRD's website: http://www.faster-faster.com.

BRD plans to provide further information on the motorcycles at the 68th EICMA in Milan, Italy in November.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 3 Hours Ago
      Hi Marco Polo I have been reading Autoblog Green for a while now and seen your comments often so I am glad to interact with you. Solar racing vehicles can easily exceed the highway speed limit of 110kmh in Australia with 1 wheel motor so I don't see how you couldn't get acceptable performance with 2 of them and probably reduce the unsprung weight as well. I agree the escooters in china are not up to highway tasks but it is not because they are using a wheel motor. In any case I still think Nick's engineer friend is giving him bad information and would like to hear why he thinks an electric motor can't handle vibrations.
        GoodCheer
        • 3 Hours Ago
        The other thing about the solar racers is that they have whole teams of engineers pouring over them every night, and a trailer full of replacement parts. Even if they didn't, the ability to run through a couple thousand miles in one event (even at highway speed) would not really be good evidence that a wheel motor is a durable solution compared to options where you expect year after year of service.
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Hours Ago
        Well, there is a lot of prototype manufacturers hyping the future of in-wheel electric motors. Either they are improving, or the hypes improving! But, CSIRO, is a very reputable organisation, and anything endorsed by CSIRO would deserve to be given a fair trial. goodchear's answer sounds reasonable, and I can remember Vectrix spending a a huge amount of money to avoid hub motors, But, time moves on, and my knowledge may have become superseded by newer technology. Thank you for raising such an interesting subject. Maybe, we could hear from our resident two-wheel expert, 2WM, to share some of his knowledge on the subject. (Just throw a blanket over DF's cage, if he bothers you!)
      • 3 Hours Ago
      I have seen the machining work inside some chinese scooter wheel motors and it was quite horrible. In any case I think it is far from the weakest link on the product. I have seen the CSIRO solar wheel motor up close and in pieces and although I hear cost played no part in its design it is not difficult to imagine that the structure and bearings could be engineered to give a good life. Sure for a motocross bike or superbike an onboard motor makes sense, but for a city bike which a battery powered one will be, I think wheel motors could work well. I do appreciate all the replies even though I think you're wrong to write off wheel motors and look forward to the day we are all zooming around on EV's with stupid grins for the love of it.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Hours Ago
      e bikes can be built much lighter. it's still too conventional thinking. also it seems inwheel motors work well for bikes. enough torque is apparently easy enough and it frees up the layout a lot.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        eBikes can be stupidly light; mine does 25-30mph for 30 miles and weighs 60lbs. The problem is licencing one as a motorcycle. That will never happen. Before high power eBikes are road legal, the legal classifications need updating. As far as electric motorcycles go though, this is a pretty spectacular piece of machinery for it's weight. I can't hate on it.
        Nick
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Dan Wheel motors are actually terrible. I was a big fan of them until I talked to an engineer. Electric motors HATE vibration and shocks.
          Nick
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          DarylMc This was a Volvo engineer, they spent a lot of cash trying to get wheel motors to work but failed. Even if you add damping and suspension components around the motor, it will still greatly suffer from shocks and vibration. Also, the unsprung weight reduces comfort and harms handling. It is much better, in his words, to have an on board electric motor, well isolated and protected. The only area where wheel motors work is scooters and other low speed vehicles. Mounting one on a motocross is one of the worst applications ever.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          Nick, wheel motors actually work quite well on electric bicycles and electric motors have no inherent problem with vibration. on a car it's a bit different for several reasons. the main problem being the cost of big enough motors to give adequate acceleration of so heavy vehicles as they typically are. I think you will find that it was cost that made volvo give it up. should cars be built lighter you might actually see some with inwheel motors. it's not ideal but it's quite elegant to avoid gears. for bikes including motorway speed bikes it does appear to work quite well. there are DIY builds on youtube of really fast ones with quite small motors. use two and a bit bigger and it should really move.
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          Hello Nick I suppose I have scooters on the brain when it comes to a BEV since it is the thing I will most likely ever afford. I have ridden this scooter http://www.nope.com.au/products/electric-scooters/nope-j50-neo/ and it was rather slow for sure but quite fun in a city environment. And I plan to check these out when they arrive http://www.zevaustralia.com.au/#/specs/4552815433 Not really what I want but the performance seems good. So I think wheel motors are certainly doable for moderate performance 2 wheelers and agree an inboard motor something like this http://www.yasamotors.com/technology/products/dd500 is more suitable for larger or high performance applications. I think we are a long way off battery electric vehicles replacing ICE vehicles for highway use but very close to being able to have a scooter with wheel motors which can do a good job in a city.
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          Hi Nick I'm not an engineer but how did he convince you that electric motors can't be designed to handle vibration. I don't know the numbers but I guess there would be at least a million scooters running around in China with wheel motors and the solar racing cars seem to think they are OK.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Nick
          @DarylMC. Nick's right, solar racing vehicles are very, very slow, so are most of the dreadful little scooters produced in the PRC. At highway speeds, hub motors do not fare well.
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        After doing the conversion I think 108kg is not too bad for this style of machine.
        EJ
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        But you're adding unneeded unsprung weight and moving more mass from under the rider. Neither one are good. Besides, it's no like this thing need less body bulk.
          Alistair Syme
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @EJ
          EJ is right. Unsprung weight is critical when it comes to motorcycle handling. A hub motor would ruin the ride by making the suspension have to work much, much harder. It would also make the bike resistant to turning due both the gyroscopic effect and decreased mass centralization. A hub motor may work for a scooter, but would be an absolute disaster for a supermoto.
          Nick
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @EJ
          "unsprung mass is not really a real issue." LOL
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @EJ
          it weighs 250lbs. should be less than 100. much less. unsprung mass is not really a real issue.
      • 3 Hours Ago
      I have to say this since the escooter I would like to buy would have 2 x wheel motors to reduce unsprung weight and provide balanced regen braking for a decent performing city bike. Plus do away with the dirty noisy chain drive. But for a high performance machine eg http://www.yasamotors.com/technology/customer-vehicles/ttzero I doubt you could do it with wheel motors. The battery pack in this machine @ 5.2kwh looks quite compact and quite exciting for the future of such machines
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