Concept To Prototype: Some May Actually See The Light Of Day

As much fun as it is to see all the new bikes that are already slated for production and release, it’s the [concept bikes-<mot297] that really do it for me. The EICMA show presents a number of such items, so join me while I give a run-down of some of my favorites.

Continue reading for a look at my favorite concept bikes from 2018 EICMA.

2018 EICMA

My Top Concept Bike Picks From 2018 EICMA
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They don’t always make it to production; some of them turn out to be like what Edison meant when he said — and I paraphrase for brevity — “I haven’t failed. I’ve succeeded in proving that way doesn’t work.” Nevermind that he didn’t actually invent the lightbulb, but let’s not let details get in the way of the point, which is that some concepts make it to production in some form or another, and some don’t.

Electric Ural Sidecar

My Top Concept Bike Picks From 2018 EICMA
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While the torque is kinda low for an electric plant, it's almost double that of the new-for-2019 flat-twin ICE and horsepower is half-again higher than same.

First up is the Electric Ural Sidecar that’s actually one step past the concept phase of development and into the prototype phase. Ural, if you aren’t familiar with the marque, is a Russian company that’s made a name for itself by producing units based on a captured German machine. It’s impossible to miss the 1940’s panache that dominates the look on the internal combustion engine (ICE) models, but that’s limited to the sidecar as the rest of the bike (the actual “bike” part) is decidedly modern-looking even though it maintains that same leading link-style front-fork/suspension that it has used all along.

If I’m honest, it looks a little out of place ahead of what is clearly not the usual fare, but at the end of the day, form follows function, so let’s get to the stuff that matters most. They say silence is golden, and if that’s true then the “EUS” is straight from King Midas with its super-quiet Z-Force 75-7 perma-magnet electric motor that delivers 81-pounds o’ grunt with 60-ponies on tap. While the torque is kinda low for an electric plant, it’s almost double that of the new-for-2019 flat twin ICE and horsepower is half-again higher than same. That’s fine, because you have to ask yourself, “how much do I really need, and at what point does all become vanity?”

Recommended max cruising speed is 65 mph, just five shy of its ICE brethren, and the top-end is 88 mph with a 103-mile range on one charge. The batteries are a ZF13.0 and ZF6.5, and they recover through a 1.3 kW on-board charger that’ll bring them back up to 95-percent charge in something like 13-hours. Astute readers who are familiar with Zero products will recognize these power packs and motor, but so far there’s neither hide nor hair of the charge-speed/capacity options of that other brand, but this is still a prototype.

Price is still up in the air (see disclaimer about prototype status) but I’ll be keeping an eye on this. My wife and fellow rider Allyn Hinton is a big fan of the brand, so I’m hoping for a reasonable price tag here since this is already on our personal short-list. No matter where you land on electrics, there’s no doubt that this is a yuge (sic) step for a company that has clung to the past with the tenacity of a pit-bull. Exciting stuff!

Curtiss Zeus

My Top Concept Bike Picks From 2018 EICMA
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My Top Concept Bike Picks From 2018 EICMA
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Power and torque seem entirely within reason given the performance of electrics in general, but the 280-mile range seems to me a bit of a stretch.

Next up is another couple of electrics from Curtiss Motorcycles (formerly Confederate Motorcycles), a small outfit out of Birmingham, Alabama that puts out some really wild, artisan-level hardware that are as much art as they are science. To that we can add progressive/futuristic because the Zeus concept has been split into two models — a Bobber and a Café Racer — and these things look to be pulled right out of Gene Roddenberry’s or George Lucas’ imagination. Seriously, these two electric bikes rock a look all their own that defies convention. Neither are quite ready for production, but it’s safe to say the general overall look is settled.

Somewhere between insect and alien, this pair rides with a considerable chunk missing right out of the core; room that’s created by the shallow backbone/tank area, and the drivetrain/power storage that rides concentrated along the belly pan and under the rider’s seat. The Café Racer’s claim to that genre seems to lie entirely in the teeny-tiny tail section that seems to emulate the classic café tail fairing, but reduced to vestigial proportions. As for the Bobber, the pilot seat is reduced to the limits of reason and a vaguely tank-shaped tank area diverges from the straight-shot Café flyline, but only just for a look all its own.

Curtiss (when it was still Confederate) made a name for itself with its outside-the-box designs, but also for its uncompromising dedication to power, and that still holds true with this pair. While the actual metrics are still a mystery, the factory has stated its performance goals as 145 pound-feet of torque with a 0-to-60 time of 2.1-seconds from its 140-kW motor. That seems entirely within reason given the performance of electrics in general, but the 280-mile range seems to me a bit of a stretch. Maybe even a bit more than a bit, but battery tech gets bigger/better/faster/smaller every week, so who am I to doubt?

Gotta’ say, I’m loving the looks. Given what I know about this marque, however, I expect the sticker shock to be severe, but at the end of the day exclusivity is a selling point all its own. I look forward to the production versions with bated breath.

Aprilia Concept RS 660

My Top Concept Bike Picks From 2018 EICMA
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It looks like any of a number of literbikes out there, but plans to limit horsepower to something around 100-ponies to give it a somewhat milder demeanor so it's more user-friendly.

Number-next is the Concept RS 660 from Italian powerhouse Aprilia. Renowned for supersport excellence, Aprilia found itself painted into the same corner as the rest of the industry as it looks for ways to draw in the next generation of riders that’ll keep them in the black for the foreseeable future. The windtunnel-tested fairings scoop and vent with a low drag coefficient, and like a proper racebike, generates downward force to mash that front tire to the pavement and fatten the contact patch for improved traction up front.

Power comes from a curious lump that’s actually an RSV4 1100 engine that’s had the two rear cylinders chopped off to make it a parallel-twin mill. It’s a stressed unit that works with the twin-spar aluminum frame to make a super light and super strong assembly, and it relies on a chunky steering head to stiffen the front end. Of course, you only get a glimpse here and there as the body panels shroud much of the underpinnings. It looks like any of a number of stupidfast literbikes out there, but plans to limit horsepower to something around 100-ponies to give it a somewhat milder demeanor so it’s more user-friendly.

Curb weight looks to be somewhere around, but not exceeding, 330 pounds, so I expect to see lots of carbon fiber, aluminum and maybe even titanium on the finished product. As you might expect, the sticker is still an unknown, but since Aprilia is trying to garner customers from a very frugal generation, I expect it to be relatively reasonable when it hits showroom floors. It’ll be interesting to see how Aprilia finds the balance point between weight and cost.

Yamaha Tritown

My Top Concept Bike Picks From 2018 EICMA
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Just think pit-trike, Segway and mobility scooter all rolled into one very interesting package.

Finally, Yamaha hits the show with its Tritown model that defies categorization. The factory has designated it as a “last-mile” vehicle, and if you have a hard time deciding what that means to you, just think pit-trike, Segway and mobility scooter all rolled into one very interesting package.

It’s meant to be ridden from a standing position (hence the Segway reference), but unlike that mall-cop transport, this thing runs in an LMW (leaning multi-wheel) — or Delta-trike configuration — that delivers a stable ride for short-distance traipses but leans into the corners like a bike. The Tuning Fork Company makes it stiff and strong through a concept known as “biomimicry,” and essentially, that’s a method of construction that uses lightweight, self-supporting members in an almost organic arrangement, and you can go ahead and pencil me in as a fan.

It’s electric, so it’s clean and quiet to operate. Yamaha teased this last year in Tokyo and will be showing off a working version of the new design at CES2019. I envision short-distance jaunts and security transport with definite potential for use as a runabout at events like Burning Man, Mardi Gras and the like; you get the idea, I’m sure. The price is an unknown, we don’t even have a ballpark yet, but it’ll be interesting how it all shakes out in the end.

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Further Reading

Ural

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Read more Ural news.

Aprilia

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Read more Aprilia news.

Yamaha

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Read more Yamaha news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: eicma.it, aprilia.com, yamaha-motor.com, imz-ural.com, curtissmotorcycles.com

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