Two Wheels

Milan International Motorcycle Show epic electric wrap up

We had predicted the the 69th edition of the Milan International Motorcycle Show (EICMA) would, for electric motorcycles, be epic. And it was. We've already shared some of the highlights, such as the launch of the 2012 lineup from Zero Motorcycles and the splash that Evolve Motorcycles made with their Tron Light-cycle replica Xenon and the Lithium streetfighter concept, but there was more. Lots more.

For starters, CRP Racing revealed the Energica (pictured above). This beautiful machine, unveiled with help from Californian rider Shelina Moreda, is born of CRP's competitive efforts in both the TTXGP and FIM ePower International Championship racing series. Unlike those bikes, however, this one has moved on from the dual DC motor configuration to a single, reliable 100-kW (134-horsepower) AC motor.

With a top speed of 220 km/h (136 miles per hour) and a range of 150 km (93 miles), it seems likely this drivetrain could find its way onto the track next season, though it would have different bodywork and lose those sweet LED headlights. While we understand the Energica still has some development work ahead, it is now available for pre-order and could be yours for a not completely unreasonable €15,000 ($20,480 U.S. at today's rates).

Too rich for your blood? Not the bike you're looking for? Make your way past the break for more motorcycles with pics and video, starting with footage from CRP Racing telling the story of the Energica.

One of the big questions surrounding electric motorcycles has been, "When are the traditional manufacturers going to start bringing product to the market?" and it was answered in Milan this week, chiefly by KTM. Its Freeride E motocrosser looked a bit more refined than its prototype did back in 2010 and the Austrian company gave up all the details, aside from when, exactly, customers can take delivery.

The E version – it will share its Freeride chassis with a 350cc mode – makes 22 kW (30 hp) at peak and pulls with 42 Nm (31 lb ft) of torque. The battery is a bit on the small side at 2.1kW but that, along with a svelte aluminum-iron composite frame, allows for a weight of 95 kg (209.4 lbs). Riding time is said to last between 20 and 45 minutes depending on how jiggy you get with it and charging can happen in 90 minutes. Check out the videos below for an example of how to quickly deplete your charge, as well as interviews (with subtitles) with KTM folks discussing the bike, the challenges in building it and the electric future.

Gas Gas TXT E electric trials bike in profile
Another OEM bringing the un-noise was Gas Gas with its TXT E electric trials bike. Ironic, yes? This is another machine that we knew was in the works when we saw famed trials rider Adam Raga trying in out in a video earlier this year. This style of machine obviously only reaches a niche market but it's one that should fit an electric drivetrain quite nicely.

The Spanish company took something of a short cut in developing the TXT E, using a conversion kit already offered by German outfit ETA Motors GmbH. It uses a 10-kW (13.41-hp) brushless motor powered by a lithium-polymer (LiPo) battery. Although small, it's said to power the 63-kg (138.9-lb) bike from between 45 to 120 minutes with a little help from its regenerative braking system. It can get charged to 80 percent in less than an hour but needs 2.5 hours to fill up.

One of the advantages of battery-powered bikes is the ability to ride indoors without a lot of air and noise pollution. Adam Raga reprised his role aboard the TXT E and demonstrated those qualities with a bit of stunting on the EICMA floor, as seen in the video below.

The Italian Federation of Motorcycling (FMI) was also in on the electric action. At its modest booth they were showing off the Concept E-xxx from non-profit association Aecivitas Team. They have a vision of a new electric motorcycle competition held at indoor tracks called the Progetto E-Uno, and this carbon-fiber clad bike built on a Honda RS250 GP aluminum frame would be their weapon of choice for the series. It boasts a 40-kw (54.8-hp) Marelli motor powered by a lithium polymer battery pack. We hope to see it in action sometime early in 2012.

Husqvarna E-Go electric motorcycle concept in profile

Although it was previously unveiled in September, it's worth mentioning that Husqvarna had its E-go Concept on display alongside their very sexy non-electric Moab scrambler concept. Aside from its 80-kg (176-lbs) weight, the company has been pretty mum on the details. One of its obvious, and interesting, features is its double-leg, single-sided front suspension which nicely matches the single-sided swingarm rear setup. The BMW subsidiary states this bike is aimed at a younger, entry-level market and is likely a preview of (good) things to come.

While Brammo was on hand, its only official announcement concerned the upcoming launch of its rent-and-ride BrammoParx that we had told you about a little while back. Still, it had its entire range on hand, including the Empulse RR race bike, and took full advantage of the opportunity to showcase its two-wheelers, keeping a large curious crowd gathered around their display for the whole week.

We previously spilled pretty much all the beans on Volta Motorbikes ahead of the show. Its BCN City and BCN Sport did turn lots of heads in Milan though. The company has also updated its website, though its "My Volta" configurator hasn't yet been activated. What has been completed and released is its slick video of the BCN in action, which we have waiting just below.

While all these battery-powered bikes made a big impression in Milan and beyond, perhaps the biggest news in the electric motorcycle world last week took place thousands of miles away when Honda announced it would be presenting the RC-E at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. This concept bike signals that the Japanese giant, with its considerable resources and extensive sales and distribution channels, is that much closer to entering the market.

While some fledgling companies might see this as a threat, we hope they look at it as both a gift and a challenge. A gift because an electric Honda legitimizes the technology and will bring buyers to other brands as well. A challenge because greatness is rarely achieved without it and it would be nice to see the companies that pioneered this effort become truly great.

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