Range anxiety could become a thing of the past thanks to the Ethec, a bike with a face only a mother could love.
Electric motorcycles are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the global motorcycle market; the silent revolution of the battery-powered motors. With all the models becoming available, we can choose between a standard-looking e-bike that hides its true nature, or a futuristic design that screams “I ride on zero emissions”. The common challenge all these models still face is the lack of range. That could be about to change, however.
It’s difficult to increase the range on an electric motorcycle. To achieve that, you need a bigger battery capable of storing more energy. Bigger battery means bigger frame—an easy equation that results in a bulky electric powertrain. At this point, you might as well throw in a few more wheels for balance, a steering wheel for good measure, and call it… I don’t know. A car?
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A group of engineering students from the University of Zurich in Switzerland has actually managed to produce a one-off motorcycle with a staggering electric range of 250 miles. In addition to the range, the bike has a built-in quick charge system that can top off the battery in about an hour. Take that Tesla! The prototype was designed for a school project that challenged the 14 students to experience all the steps of product development. The result is the all-electric Ethec.
It came from the future. You can tell by the louvers and accent lights.
With mechanical and electrical engineers on the team, the bike is in dire need of a creative eye. The design is brutal, but it serves its purpose: the monobody unit is equipped with a massive lithium-ion 15 kWh battery. The group explains that front-wheel braking dissipated 75 percent of the energy so it addressed this reality by adding a front-wheel hub motor that will recuperate the energy.
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The motor is cooled by a thermoelectric system, combined with a direct-cooling oil stream around the battery’s cells. The prototype is also fitted with a seven-inch touchscreen with navigation and is started with a keyless, push-start button. Yep, we’re still talking about a motorcycle.
Despite its minimalist look and its elaborate technology, the ethec does retain more classical motorcycle elements including a lightweight tube frame, a proper swingarm, and a trapezoidal fork at the front.
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Obviously, at this point, there is no talk of production but the students’ ingenuity could definitely find some real-world applications. After all, it would be easy to market an electric motorcycle with a 250-mile range—which is more than most gasoline models currently on the market. Hopefully we’ll get to see the idea make its way to production. Just, please… let a design student have a go at it.