With the latest trend for transportation shifting toward greener means of energy sources, motorcycles have been playing catch up with their automobile counterparts in terms of harnessing electric motors. The latest generation motorbikes that use electric motors are now called “Silent Motorbikes”. An example of which is the Sora, the first Canadian-built street-legal electric motorcycle, which is scheduled to be on sale this fall. Pretty much like Toyota Prius, the Sora generates virtually no sound at all, making the rumble of two stroke engines a thing of the past and leaving all the legwork to the belts of the electric motor.
Features of Silent Motorbikes
Despite the general perception of electric motors in motorbikes not being powerful enough to be able to last a ride through the expressway, it contains quite the powerhouse. Its electric motor is able to deliver 57 horsepower and 66 lb-ft of torque. Pair this with an automatic CVT transmission and it suddenly becomes capable of speeds of up to 190 kilometres per hour and a 200-km range. For users who are weary on whether or not they will make it to their destination by using the motorcycle, Sora contains a safe-range mode where the computer ensures that the user manages to reach his or her destination (placed as input through the onboard GPS) by managing power consumption before the battery is dead. Once the bike is plugged in again, Sora has the capability of sending the user an e-mail to notify him or her when it is fully charged. The only drawback for Sora is its price tag. At $46,399, most people will surely turn their heads away from it.
Purpose of Creation
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The quietness of Silent Motorbikes can also extend to military purposes, primarily for stealth operations. Just recently, USA’s DARPA has awarded a contract to Logos Technology to develop a prototype of an all-wheel-drive hybrid-electric bike named as the “SilentHawk”. The SilentHawk runs on a gas engine for long distance travel, while it can be switched to its electric motor when stealth is needed. Once the SilentHawk is in production, their usage for the troops, according to the US military, would be seen as “special group of forces silently racing across enemy borders on silent motorcycles that nobody will know they are coming”. This type of hybrid engine, on the other hand, is capable of traversing difficult terrain for about 55 miles an hour.
Advantages of Silent Motorbikes
Since off-roading has already been mentioned. Silent bikes have also entered the scene of enduro bikes. The main advantage of going all electrical in off-road situations is that the vehicle becomes less reliant on liquids present on its counterparts that use combustion engines. A prominent name in electric bikes built for off-roading is Tacita. Hailing from Italy, the company was named after the Roman Goddess of silence. Their main goal is to provide a motorbike that respects the environment and at the same time, provide a machine for real off-roading. The uniqueness of Tacita’s machines are the speed gears they provide with it. Compared to combustion engines that need to properly pair the right gear with the right speed, the electric motors in Tacita bikes do not necessarily need frequent shifting of gears. Although the gears can provide efficiency in increasing the torque or maintaining the engine peak, it becomes most useful through downhill. Engaging in lower gears during hill descents slows down the bike through the motor itself, allowing the lesser use of brakes and preventing overheating.
Improvement on Silent Bikes
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In addition to its off-road capabilities, its combustion engine of the SilentHawk is removable, enabling the bike to shed off much needed weight, or to simply take out parts that require maintenance or repair. Fortunately, the electric motor can power the bike for about 50 miles. Even though the advances of the project look promising, SilentHawk is still developed. Further specifications on it has not been announced yet.
Varying conditions mean varying set-ups for the silent bikes that Tacita has. Back in 2012, Tacita released its T-Race model for dessert rallies, meaning that endurance becomes more of an important factor than that of power, mustering only 32 horsepower. A successful run through the Merzouga Rally 2012 by Canadian rider Patrick Trahan proved that Silent Motorbikes have gone through major leaps in advancements to be able to catch up to their combustion powered siblings.