Zaiser Motors refines the design of the “electrocycle” motorcycle and adds a second model

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Colorado-based electric motorcycle startup Zaiser Motors has reached its initial funding goal and has also expanded its model line from one to two bikes. “Electrocycle” motorcycles feature retro styling but are technically complex, with two-wheel drive and other tech touches that Zaiser hopes will set them apart from the growing electric motorcycle market, which is starting to see more models from more brands, including both electric players like Zero Motors and traditional brands like Harley-Davidson’s new LiveWire sub-brand.

The company hoped to raise $100,000 through a crowdfunding effort and ended up with just over $103,000. Zaiser CEO and co-founder Anthony Cross told Forbes.com that the company is on track to produce bikes in 2022, although no firm date has been set.

MORE FORBESZaiser Motors’ long-and-low electrocycle will feature 2WD, 300-mile range and retro styling

Cross said the idea for the bike began in 2019 before the pandemic when he was frustrated in his search for an electric motorcycle with “adequate power, adequate range and adequate cost”. He said the market and features are improving, but he still thinks his Electrocycle models will be a better fit for many riders interested in electric machines. Cross said prototypes are currently being developed.

I disputed Cross’s claims of a 300 mile range, especially on a motorcycle with of them battery powered motors. Cross said they are focused on using “next generation battery technology” which is still under development. “We’re kind of hinting at something more solid [battery] related … something with a much higher energy density,” Cross said. He also said the dual-motor approach, with the motors in each wheel hub, opens up space for more battery storage in the chassis where a motor would normally reside. He said they were still working on partnerships with bicycle battery manufacturers. “It’s a huge challenge,” Cross said of the battery and related engineering challenges.

Cross said he believes initial production of the first small production runs will take place at their Colorado site, “but as we grow, I don’t want to rule out the possibility of us partnering with someone, but scalability is fraught with all kinds of craziness.”

As for the model expansion, Cross said a new design director helped craft a two-model approach and refine the look. The Silhouette model will be the most powerful and have the longest range, while the new Arrow variant will have a more urban “cafe racer” design, with shorter range, smaller battery and an $8,500 price tag. Cross said the Arrow (below) will still be able to hit 100 mph and have a range of 160 miles.

The Silhouette will retain all the high performance and features of the original “Mark I” machine, with a price tag of $25,000.

Technically, putting rather heavy electric motors into wheel hubs presents a challenge for Zaiser: unsprung weight. Heavy wheels acting on heavy suspension components add weight and can negatively affect handling, so much so that in today’s motorcycle market, expensive and lightweight carbon fiber wheels are often found on replica racing bikes. top level, complete racing bikes and even e-bikes to both reduce unsprung (and overall) weight and give a handling advantage. How will Zaiser deal with this problem? Cross said they are looking for lightweight wheel materials and suspension solutions that allow for hub motors, but reduce weight as much as they can affordably include it in the design. “I think it’s solvable and it’s getting more and more solvable every day” as new and improved lightweight materials and engine technologies are developed, Cross added.

Another technological challenge for Zaiser will be the promised functionality of “removable” batteries for motorcycles. Although swappable batteries for scooters are commonplace, they are much smaller power cells than Zaiser bikes will need. Batteries on the motorcycles that Zaiser will compete with Zero and others can weigh hundreds of pounds and so far no major electric motorcycle manufacturer offers a quick-swap or removable battery. Cross said it’s a tough problem and they’re looking at options with battery manufacturers around removable batteries, and hope new developments in battery technology will ease the problem. Cross also said the “removable” feature could ultimately mean owners can easily swap out a new (possibly better) battery when the current unit begins to decline in performance after several years. “Having the possibility and the flexibility where [the battery] isn’t fully integrated into the design is the biggest thing about it,” Cross told Forbes.com.

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The styling of the Electrocycle is, of course, unusual. While many bike makers are either leaning towards a more angular, futuristic profile or decades past, Zaiser bikes seem to adopt an almost steampunk aesthetic with art-deco touches, some anime influence and big, flowing features. Cross admits that Mark I’s initial design (below) was “very polarizing” and was essentially a “living model” for the team to work from and not an end design goal.

He said comments he read after the initial Forbes story posted online told him that new riders liked the design while experienced riders and long-time motorcycle owners didn’t find it so. hot. The new models echo the original design, but also reflect a redesign based on feedback they’ve received, Cross said, noting the Mark I’s “thin” taillight design that didn’t make it into the designs. current. “We didn’t want to lose the DNA of what we were trying to do,” Cross said. He also said feedback on the new design has been much more positive from experienced riders than the first ride with the Mark I, with the Arrow’s cafe-racer inspired design resonating more strongly with new, inexperienced riders. .

There are now more than a dozen people on staff at Zaiser, mostly in engineering, and when we spoke late last year, Cross said they hoped the first prototypes would be completed this quarter. .

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