A component based motorcycle design? Why isn't this a thing?
Today’s super weird, or maybe extremely ahead of its time, motorcycle design comes to us from Ecureuil 1000 ERS in France and two friends who developed this bike specifically for fast and simple disassembly.
Contrasted with the way some motorcycles seem to fight you when you try to perform simple maintenance, it occurs to me that this design is absolutely brilliant, and I do not know why even smaller scale representations of it didn’t catch on. The motor and gearbox can be separated from the rest of the bike in six minutes!
The two friends, Joel Guillet , a motorcycle technician, and Pierre-Marie Poli, a moto-journalist and Dakar rider, designed this motorcycle specifically to compete in the Paris-Dakar Rally with Ecureuil Racing (French for “Squirrel”) way back in 1986. Because of the extreme demands of the race, the bike is built with three main easily-disassembled components: the body of the bike, which includes the seat, tail section, gas tank and headlight and dashboard assembly; the triple clamps and front wheel and suspension; and the engine, swingarm and rear wheel.
Gallery: Cycleweird Ecureuils 1000 ECR
The engine itself was specially ordered from BMW France. It’s a 1023cc BMW boxer twin airhead motor that is also in the R100GS and GS/PD motorcycles of the same era. This one, however, was specifically race prepped for the bike.
The body of the bike, made of kevlar and carbon fiber, has the fuel tank incorporated into it in a soft bladder, and weighs in at only six kilograms (13.23lbs).
The front wheel, forks, and triple clamps are similarly easily removed from the rest of the bike at the steering head as a single unit. They are also adjustable at the mount point so that, depending on the terrain of the day, or the preferences of the rider, the bike can be adjusted to have a longer trail, or a steeper rake.
Three examples of this bike entered the 1987 Paris-Dakar Rally: one ridden by designer Pierre-Marie Poli, didn’t make it to the finish line. One ridden by Daniel Pescheur caught fire in the desert and, of course, didn’t make it to the finish line. The third bike, piloted by Marc Morales, made it to the finish line after the clutch went south three kilometers from the finish line. There are reports that he finished the race by pushing it the rest of the way. For some reason he and his bike were disqualified.
This very motorcycle popped up for sale a short time ago. It is one of two known surviving examples of the 1000 ECR. There’s no information on how much it sold for, but with Marzocchi forks and Ohlins rear shocks, and an engine tuned by BMW factory mechanic Herbert Scheck, this full custom purpose-built bike could be worth quite a lot to the right buyer. What a piece of history!
Photo Credit: Paris Dakar