Revealed at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan are three new prototypes that herald the launch of the new Caterham Bikes division. Baddest of the trio is the Brutus 750, an off-road motorbike joined by a pair of electric bicycles: the Classic E-Bike with retro styling and the Carbon E-Bike inspired by the company's F1 team. The news, incidentally, follows the July announcement that Lotus was getting into motorcycles as well.
Caterham revealed little in the way of details behind the concepts, focusing instead on the new division's place within the expanding Caterham group. What was once a business built strictly around the Seven has since expanded into F1 and GP2 racing, engineering consultancy and composites, with the SP/300.R launched with Lola, the new AeroSeven concept launched at the Singapore Grand Prix, and the new Alpine sportscar under development with Renault. Which all points to the inescapable conclusion that, since being taken over by Malaysian businessman and AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes, Caterham is showing no signs of slowing down.
Iconic British brand will carry DNA into two-wheeled motoring for the first time
Caterham Group has today launched its first ever motorcycle division – Caterham Bikes – at the International Motorcycle Exhibition (EICMA) in Milan.
Three prototype products – the Brutus 750 (dubbed the 'SUV of motorcycles'), Classic E-Bike (an all-electric, bike with retro styling) and the Carbon E-Bike (a premium electric bike inspired by F1 technology) – have been unveiled for launch throughout 2014 as part of the Group's strategy of growth through intelligent partnerships.
The arrival of Caterham Bikes is a natural extension to the expanding Caterham Group since the purchase of the historic Caterham Cars brand in April 2011 by Tony Fernandes and Dato' Kamarudin Meranun.
The two-wheeled division joins Caterham F1 Team, Caterham Racing (GP2), Caterham Technology & Innovation, Caterham Composites and the latest arm, Caterham Moto Racing Team, in the rapidly growing Caterham family.
Carrying Caterham's DNA of British heritage, performance and intuitive handling characteristics, the new products will also adhere to the brand's ethos of delivering 'accessible fun'.
The iconic Caterham Seven sportscar is fondly referred to as the closest experience to motorcycle riding on four wheels so this move, the brand's first foray into road bikes, is a natural step and follows the launch last month of the Caterham Moto2 race team.
Mirroring the business experience and strategy employed successfully by Tony Fernandes and Dato' Kamarudin to make budget airline AirAsia the most profitable in the world, Caterham Bikes has allied itself with some of the brightest motorcycle entrepreneurs in Europe and Asia.
The new division will be spearheaded by Al-Ishsal Ishak as CEO. Ishsal comes to Caterham Bikes from his previous role with AirAsia as Group Head of Ancillary Income. The management team is made complete with Chief Designer Alessandro Tartarini, Chief Engineer Zeno Panarari, both known for their entrepreneurial spirit and product development prowess, along with businessman and ex-MotoGP racer, Andreas Leuthe who will head up the distribution and sales function.
Production of the three launch bikes – all priced affordably – will begin as early as Spring 2014, with the Brutus 750 the first to be built, followed by the two electric bikes later in the year.
The Caterham Bikes business strategy caters for the growing global demand for environmentally-friendly and multi-purposed, two-wheeled vehicles. Beginning with the European, North and South American markets, the Group's key growth market will be in Asia, reflecting the burgeoning demand for such vehicles across those territories.
Tony Fernandes, Co-Chairman of Caterham Group, said: "Our vision for Caterham Group has taken another step forward with the launch of Caterham Bikes. Expanding our interests into the two-wheeled market is another natural progression for us and is a good opportunity to showcase the breadth of knowledge, experience and creativity we have at our disposal across the Group, now in the two-wheeled world in addition to all of our other automotive, technology and innovation interests."
Dato' Kamarudin Meranun, Co-Chairman of Caterham Group, said: "Taking Caterham into the motorcycle business has been a key objective since day one of Caterham Group. We are establishing ourselves in markets where we can bring new thinking, innovative concepts and products that will be game-changers; Caterham Bikes does exactly that. Having launched our Moto2 team recently at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the launch of Caterham Bikes takes us from the track to the road – we have partnered with industry experts and we have long-terms plans for the business that are ambitious but achievable, the perfect mix for success."
Ishak said: "We are realistic and honest enough to know that we're not in the business of rivalling the establishment; we're here to offer an alternative that befits the spirit of Caterham.
"Just as the Caterham Seven is a motoring icon because of its unique design and engineering credibility, Caterham Bikes' products will be aimed at a niche audience seeking exceptional quality, bespoke design flare and bikes easy enough for anyone to ride."
Caterham Bikes' three initial launch products, on display in prototype form at EICMA until November 10, are as follows:
- Brutus 750 – described as the "SUV of motorcycles", menacing in stance but surprisingly nimble to ride, the Brutus 750 can operate as a street bike, off-road machine or even a snowmobile (conversion in less than four hours). It is the first motorcycle with an automatic transmission and the first ever two-wheel SUV.
- Classic E-Bike – carrying uniquely retro styling for the rider with a penchant for a design harking back to the golden age of British motorcycling, this bike has a range of 40-80km and does not require the rider to have a licence in the EU
- Carbon E-Bike – a premium bike with modern styling inspired by F1 technology; a limited edition version featuring exclusive F1 input and materials is currently being explored
All three products will be on display at Hall 10, Booth H94 throughout the Nov 5-10 show.