The internet makes some things easy, but I must admit when searching for detailed information on the recently announced Kalashnikov electric motorcycle I freaked right out.
I landed on Kalashnikov’s website and couldn’t find anything but glitzy images of advanced weaponry – and now I’m worried I’m some sort of terrorist watch list.
Details of the electric bikes are scant but I have been able to discern a few things. Firstly, the adventure bike styled street version (designated UM-1 , or Urban Moto) looks pretty cool, being styled very similarly to KTM’s adventure bikes from a few years ago.
They also have a military only version called the SM-1 (Super Moto) which is weird, since it is undoubtedly more off road focused and more “industrial” looking.
It probably pretty predictable that just like the company’s most famous product (the AK-47) and its “Tesla competing” electric car also announced recently, the bike’s design philosophy appears to be about simplicity, robustness and unglamourous industrial design cues.
Technical details are very sparse on both models but a few key ones have emerged.
Firstly, there are are a few statements about the all important range, which is quoted at up to “150km”. As a headline, it’s a pretty safe bet that’s a maximum (or close to it) which would suggest a battery capacity of around 8-10kWh maximum.
Notably, it has a lowish top speed quoted as 90kmh which would be beneficial in pushing the range out using a smaller battery, but very limiting in terms of buyer appeal.
They also quote the use of a DC brushless motor which seems like an odd choice given the prevalence of AC motors in the vast majority of EV applications.
DC motors due tend to have better torque characteristics albeit at the expense of weight and higher currents – undoubtedly part of the reason they have opted for water cooling the motor. Perhaps low end tractability is the main goal?
Kalashnikov are an odd entrant into the world of EV’s and eBikes, but undoubtedly won’t be the last.
The US based Alta motorcycles are building an impressive following and reputation with the hard core off road performance focused machines, but hit a potentially major snag recently when Harley Davidson announced they were no longer collaborating with the company.
The world also has an Italian made off road eBike in the shape of the Tacita, which looks like its built for the Paris Dakar. They recently announced an expansion to thier range with a cruiser and a few other models but I haven’t stumbled across anyone on the eBike forums who has seen one in the flesh or ridden one yet.
Although we have seen announcements from a number of major brands, only KTM has released a full blown electric motorcycle to the world so far in the big brand space, called the Free Ride.
A buddy of mine has one in the States and is raving about it. Although it lacks adequate capacity or range for longer rides it’s an extremely capable recreational bike.
Interestingly there are also a rapidly growing number of off road eBikes focused on the trials riding market which frankly, just makes incredibly good sense.
Trials is slow, precision riding over ridiculous obstacles. They done need much capacity, or power but do need torque and outstanding throttle response – which is perfect territory for electric motorcycles.
And the other contender in the off-road space is old faithful, Zero motorcycles, also out of the US. Zero seems to just keep plugging away and would appear to be retaining their position as the best selling mid performance electric bike money can buy.
I own their dual sport model but their off road FX model is very popular in the US particularly and I know for a fact there are a few Aussie farmers using them too.
There’s not a lot more to add about Kalashnikov’s electric motorcycle except that I can’t wait to see how it pans out and what the marketing pitch will be – that does seem like a conundrum to me.
Oh, and how to get off the watch list.