Mission One electric superbike promises green performance

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By now, you’ve probably seen the Mission One electric superbike. It’s a rare motorcycle that can garner the kind of instantaneous, Internet-wide coverage this bike has. How has it done so? With a mix of green credentials, good design and high performance; the Mission One will hit 150mph and has a range of up to 150 miles on a full charge. But while we feel all the positive press is deserved, we want to take a closer look at the reality behind its creator’s claims.

Update: We’ve embedded the first video of the Mission One live and in the flesh below. While the bike does appear to both  exist and be capable of spinning the rear wheel under its own power, we’re still disappointed that we haven’t seen it in motion yet.
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Earlier today the Mission One was announced to the world with an email
that began, “Hello, I hope this finds you well.  We follow your blog
daily and look to it often for inspiration within our studio.” This
identical email was received by many publications, including Jalopnik,
Gizmodo, Boing Boing, TreeHugger
and, yes, Hell for Leather.

That email was almost too good to be true. It contained details of a
never before seen product that looked good, went really fast and, most
importantly, was powered by electricity, meaning it was eco-friendly.
Recognizing that there’s a very mainstream desire for just such a
product the editors of these publications jumped at the opportunity to
outdo each other with positive press. The more they could talk the
Mission One up, the more page views they’d get.

Mission_one_dyno.jpgWith 100lb/ft of torque available from zero rpm, the Mission one
promises performance to rival gasoline-powered superbikes. In
comparison, a Ducati 1098 R makes 99.1lb/ft at 7,750rpm and 180bhp at
9,750rpm. No power figures for the Mission One have yet been released,
but, if this chart is accurate, it looks like 140bhp could be a rough
figure. That incredibly flat torque curve sounds wonderfully usable,
only beginning to tail off at 7,000rpm, which presumably leads to the
top speed not quite matching that of most liter bikes.

Recharging is claimed to take just two hours using a 240v outlet. That
might sound odd, but most electric car companies install such a device
in owner’s homes to facilitate rapid charging, we can’t see why,
especially for $68,995, Mission should be any different. Using an 110v
outlet requires eight hours to complete a full charge.

Perhaps more impressive than the machine’s looks and performance claims
are the people behind it. The list of employees reads like a list of
recent wunderkind from companies like Google, Tesla, Ducati and Ford.
Which brings us to our concerns.

The Tesla Roadster first captured minds in a similar way to the Mission
One in July 2006. Since then it’s received near universal acclaim, but
has only just gone on sale in very limited numbers, for a price that
keeps getting adjusted upwards even while performance and specs keep
getting less impressive. The current price tag is $128,500, but
indications are that a $140,000 figure could arrive as early as this
week. In all that time the company has managed to blow through over
$105 million in venture capital while seeing numerous scandals and
turnover among its staff and has still only managed to deliver a small
handful of vehicles to high-profile customers.

Looking at the Mission One’s specs, early indications are that they’re
very similar to those of the Tesla Roadster. Like that vehicle, the
Mission uses lithium-ion cell batteries with intensive cooling and
management to counteract the natural tendency for those batteries to
heat up under heavy load and catch fire.

Amid the impressive list of components on the Mission — Öhlins, Brembo,
Marchesini — there’s one notable exception: any mention of what kind of
frame is used, any picture of it or even an indication as to what
material it’s made of. Could the Mission One, like the Tesla Roadster,
be based on the frame of a gasoline-powered competitor?

Neither is there a mention of weight, electric vehicles are notoriously
heavy with the Tesla Roadster weighing 804lbs more than the Lotus Elise
it’s based on.

When it comes to the design, we’re both incredibly impressed and a
little disappointed. While designer Yves Béhar has achieved a wholly
new take on the conventional superbike shape using flat surfaces and
right angles to subvert the typically more acute sportsbike archetype
the opportunity to pursue new solutions free from the packaging
constraints of internal combustion was not taken. The decision to do
this was likely taken due to price, proven performance and customer
acceptance, not to mention the possible need to use an existing frame.
We’re also not sure how production-ready these concept renderings are,
the tail in particular looks incredibly impractical.

The one the thing that the Tesla Roadster has achieved, that no vehicle
before it could, is generating proof of mass market acceptance of an
electric car. Because of it, manufactures like GM, BMW, Chrysler and
Mitsubishi are all bringing electric cars to market. Well, in
Chrysler’s case it’s lying, but the other three have genuine electric
products either on the road or in their near future.

Could the Mission One do the same thing? If it can, the planned initial 2010
production run of 50 bikes could have an impact far greater than its limited
numbers.

We don’t want to say that the Mission one is all hype as we’re
genuinely excited about the prospect of an electric superbike, it’s
just that we’re reluctant to commit the weight of our hopes and dreams
to it, at least until we see an actual physical, working example.
Fingers crossed.

Specifications

Powertrain
Battery Pack:     High Energy Lithium-Ion w/ Integrated Thermal Management System
Motor:     Liquid-cooled, 3-phase AC Induction
Torque:     100 lb-ft @ 0 to 6,500 rpm
Transmission:     Single speed

Chassis
Suspension/Front:     Ohlins 43mm inverted fork; fully adjustable, 4.5-in travel
Suspension/Rear:     Ohlins Single shock w/piggyback reservoir; fully adjustable, 4.5-in travel
Brakes/Front:     Dual Brembo 310mm disc; Brembo radial-mount forged 4-piston calipers
Brakes/Rear:     Brembo 220mm disc; single-piston caliper
Wheels/Tires/Front:     Marchesini forged aluminum 3.5″ x 17″, 120/70ZR17 – race Compound
Wheels/Tires/Rear:     Marchesini forged aluminum 6.0″x17″, 190/55ZR17 – race Compound

Target Performance
Top Speed:     150mph
Range:     150 miles per charge (est. EPA drive cycle)
Recharge Time:     Under 2 Hours @ 240V (8 Hours @ 120V)
Interactive Feature:     Adjustable regenerative rear wheel braking
Interactive Feature:     Intuitive / adjustable data acquisition system

Mission

  • Geoff

    I agree with you that the overall design isn’t very functional… there isn’t even an exhaust pipe

  • Wondering

    Whenever someone brings up the subject of electric motorcycles, I often wonder about the relative safety compared to gas bikes.

    With gas engines, the exhaust sound is an indicator to some drivers that a bike is near. With race pipes, it becomes more so. It is clearly a safer situation if the drivers around a motorcyclist are aware of their presence.

    With electric bikes, there is no noise, no indication of the biker’s proximity to other drivers.

    I really think people need to stop and question this issue and keep banging on the fact that without the exhaust noise, these bikes are less safe then the current models.

  • Daniel

    True, Wondering. From this point of view, I’m more excited by electric enduros. Maybe this is why the first major producer to go electric is KTM.

  • dimitri

    couldn’t agree more with wondering. Load pipes do save lives.

    I really can’t believe the hype about electric car of motorcycles. There is no infastructure at all. How do I charge my car or motorcycle when I live on the second floor of an apartment building? And I can’t be the only one.

    This attempt to building an electric bike literally and figurally seems to al lot like Aladins magic oil lamp.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      Dimitri,

      I can’t believe that you, of all people, are hung up on the “loud pipes save lives” thing. Electric bikes could be just the thing for an urban race series.

      We love the idea of an electric performance bike too, we just want one in our garages, not on our computer screens.

  • nick

    It runs on electricity, Wow!! No nasty gas engine, no yucky petrolium, no harm to the environment. Its a good thing this will be powered by a coal burning powerplant rather than refined gasoline!! -Dont sneeze, or you could kill the earth!
    This is typical of today, there is never any consideration given to the details of a problem, only the image counts, things are fixed, but only on the surface.
    When this is combined with the expansion of PRODUCTIVE, and COST EFFECTIVE energy sources, what is the problem with Neuclear power? Read about it..) and a more robust infrastructure, then we will be going places.. very quietly, appairently rather quickly, and from the looks of it, rather stylishly.

    Oh, and when it can be recharged in about three minutes, then we will talk. Im not spending three hours at the gas station when Im not home.

  • Shawn

    Ummm…. I think this is F**kin Awesome. If I had the money, I’d buy two (just so I could ride one when the other was charging).

    I love the looks of this bike too….including the tail. Sure the back wheel will need a small fender so you dont throw crap all over it, but it looks great.

    As far as the weight and charging issues. Its supposed to only weigh 30-40 lbs over a standard sportbike, so not a biggie. I’ll trade the weight with not having to hear an engine and having immediate torque.

    And it goes 150 miles per charge. So no… its not a touring bike. But hey… for a nice morning ride…. could you beat it? Just imagine what it would be like to find a road with no cars on it and ride it in silence. F**kin Awesome.

  • http://www.urbanrider.co.uk Urban Rider

    Batteries, batteries, batteries!!

    To my knowledge there is not a battery on earth that can get 150 miles out of a perfomance bike, that doesn’t weight more than a small elephant.

    Even Vectrix only claim a 70 mile range with their electric superbike: http://www.gizmag.com/vectrix-electric-superbike/8395/

    And judging from my experience of their scooter, that 70 miles will actually be 30 miles in normal use.

    I take all companies like these with a truck load of salt. Vehicle designers are notoriously heavy on concept, light on detail. They are acting like architecture firms, trying to get PR from concept work to get some actual paid work.

    Build the thing, don’t just release glossy 3D modelling shots so we can see how good your Rhino skills are.

    • manu

      This is a picture of an actual running prototype, not a rendering.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

        Looks like a rendering to me. Where’s proof that it runs?

  • ehpawk

    am i the only one who thinks this bike is hideous?
    it looks like a duracell 9v battery with wheels stapped on. whats with the lattice work like cheap fence look they got going on also. the idea is great the application isn’t.

  • http://www.urbanrider.co.uk Urban Rider

    EDIT: At least they seem to have a team of mechanical engineers amongst their ranks.

    We looked at Emax scooters http://www.e-max-scooter.com/ and even they had some concerns over lithium batteries so I’d love to know how Mission are going to solve this fundamental issue.

  • http://weroam.wordpress.com Darek

    I bet the 150m estimate is at like a constant 45mph or something. Still impressive.

    I can’t believe people are saying loud pipes save lives.. If you’re riding in reverse, maybe.

    Visibility saves lives.

    Back on topic. I hope as the company progresses they look towards a more mid line-higher production rate vehicle. Something that could, say, top out at 100 but make it 170 miles. I think this is exciting, and I’m interested to see where it goes.

    I bet Leno buys one.

  • http://www.speedymoto.com Christian

    Its fun to look at these new electric motorcycle and car designs knowing they most likely will be the next step in human transportation.

    For me however, they are still just pipe dreams until they compete against each other on the sales floor and the race track.

    Is the mission one signed up for the IOM TTXGP?

    • http://www.speedymoto.com Duc Le

      Good point. Bring it!

  • Jason

    After an admittedly brief glance at their team roster, I’m left wondering who at Mission Motors has actual motorcycle design experience (much less superbike design experience).

    The one guy who spent some time at Ducati-looks like he was at Ducati North America (not Borgo Panigale), and in a marketing role. Methinks the secrets of the steel-trellis frame are safe.

    Anyways, this all could well be in their business plan. Solve the power and motor engineering issues first, then augment the team with people who know how to develop a motorcycle that will perform on the track.

  • Wondering

    @Darek

    Yes, visibility saves lives. However, by removing auditory information, you have cut your visibility by 50%. “Visibility” isn’t simply visual information, it’s making your presence visible to other drivers.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      That’s such a bullshit argument. You should never rely on the ability of someone else to perceive your presence and behave appropriately. A loud pipe is as likely to scare a driver, prompting them to behave unpredictably as it is to prompt them not to run into you.

      Learn how to ride, use good equipment, ride appropriately for the conditions and pay attention. That’s safety.

  • Wondering

    Wes,

    With all due respect, calling my argument bullshit does little to help prove your point. Of course safety has many aspects, and wearing bright colors or safe riding has as much to do with avoiding accidents as auditory information.

    Defensive riding is what ultimately saves lives, but having your presence felt by drivers means it’s less likely that you will need those defensive skills to avoid an accident.

    Unless your are lane splitting at high speed and at 8000RPM, I don’t think you will be scaring people with most aftermarket exhausts.

    I can tell you from personal experience, that a loud pipe does increase your exposure to other drivers. There have been studies that say that other safety equipment helps more than loud exhaust alone. However, why take away a tool that can enhance your other equipment and abilities.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      The reason I don’t like the whole loud pipes thing is that it shifts the responsibility for safety from an individual onto others. That’s a very car driver-like attitude to have. “It’s not my fault, it’s somebody else’s.”

      And do you really think someone cocooned inside a luxury SUV, listening to the stereo and talking on the phone is going to hear you at anything less than 8,000rpm?

  • andy

    Loud pipes are for slow riders!!!
    Jeez,you guys probably eat cooked foods too!!

  • http://weroam.wordpress.com Darek

    I gotta agree with wes. I’m usually the jackass with the radio too loud, so you’re loud pip is useless until your right next to me.

    you’ve gotta be responsible for everyone else on the road when you ride. You’re the only one on the road that can and will always make the decision to do what’s in your best interest.

  • Wondering

    Wes and Darek,

    I am not advocating the 115db pipes that are on some Harleys, and this article is against them, and other excessively loud exhausts also. However, the Rancho Cordova Police seem to agree that louder pipes do make a difference.

    http://www.sacbee.com/driver/story/1403291.html

  • Wondering

    Edit:

    That should be Oakland PD. The crash occurred in Rancho Cordova.

    • modelasian

      The fact that some biker cops like to make noise is irrelevant to whether or not pipes actually are safer.
      I’ve been biking in cities and highways for over 20 years and have never had an accident. How loud is my main bike? Except for the squeaky back brake, silent. My motorcycle with a stock pipe isn’t very loud either.
      There is an intuitive allure to Wondering’s argument. However, think about the last time a loud motorcycle blasted by you. When did you first hear it? If you’re driving in the same direction, probably not until it was passing you. Even if you heard it coming towards you, it’s doubtful you could accurately locate it. And what was your reaction? Someone who doesn’t know what that noise is might flinch (I do), which causes twitchy steering.
      All this goes to the fact that other people’s awareness of me (as a biker, bicyclist and jogger) is my responsibility. That’s what horns and lights are for.

  • Wondering
  • Nick R

    Lets get something straight,
    Aftermarket pipes are made for two reasons, performance and looks/sound.

    Performance- to free up exhaust for more power, and to lighten, or move weight.
    Looks/sound- to enhance the sound of your motor, or to add some jewelery to the ass of your bike, or car for that matter.
    These may not be all that a set of pipes can offer, or result in. Im sure that in some way or another an exhaust can could do any number of things, like make me a sandwich. BUT one of those two things are the ONLY reasons why anyone has ever bought an aftermarket pipe.
    No one ever thumbed through a catalog looking for a set of carbonfiber Akropovics to make them safer. Do they still make catalogs?

    With that in mind, aftermarket pipes, with the exception of those designed for the VFR, tend to be loud and annoying. Im sorry but you know I dont speak alone here. They are just sex for the rider, but for crap’s sake, its just as bad as my homeboy neighbor and the twenty five sub-woofers in his Ford Ranger. The whole car buzzes its self slightly to the left, its amazing. We all know this and you all know this.
    The enhanced safety of loud pipes is a selling point for your wives, and since you dont let us have access to your checkbook like she does, we arent buying it. Again, we know this and so do you.

    That was fun.

  • thomashenny

    I took the muffler off my 75/5 to scare children, small animals and old ladies. Then I did the same for my K1200. No matter how safe of a rider you are or what actions you take, if you are going to die, then it is your time to die. Leave it to the universe and quit arguing about safety this safety that.

    http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p62/taynghi/12345copy.jpg

  • rae rae

    there’s a video fo it at TED:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxeOWlJ-CI8

    • Giggidy

      Hmmm looks better in that video than in the above pics, still no beauty queen

      Not refined enough for me, and not at that price, that said technology (even in batteries) is advancing quite rapidly, another decade and we might be seeing double the power or half the weight, lower cost…. hopefully some decent mileage too.

      To the “loud pipe’s save lives debate”, have the mindset that everybody, every motorist, pedestrian can’t see you/hear you, ride defensively and intelligently, look after yourself, noone else will.

      How many riders have been struck by cars regardless of their pipes decibel level.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      Thanks Rae, we’ve embedded the video above. If anyone else is visiting TED and has pictures or video, we’d love to see them. You can email us on: tips@hellforleathermagazine.com

  • dimitri

    Hi Wes,

    It is not not that I like riding around with load pipes. I just to ride a Laverda jota 180 with period racing exhaust. It was earsplitting and not very comfortable because of the terrible noise. But it did save my life on several occassions.

    I am not against electric bikes either. But the lack of infrastructure in cramped cities like Amsterdam it would be impossible to use since recharging would be constant nightmare.

  • http://artistruth.livejournal.com will

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsBtgxfBVt0
    Rider testimonials of the supposed prototype.

  • j j jameson

    The headline sucks. Its passive, clumsy and just sucks. Go back and take a newswriting coursefor shit’s sake. Active voice, inveted triang, all that shit.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes

      Damn, and here I was thinking that I could be a journalist when I grew up.

  • Frank

    The point about electric vehicles is that they don’t use imported petroleum which will (more probably sooner rather than later) start running out. Using electricity reduces pollution by a factor of two compared to gasoline. Electric motors are ~5X more efficient than ICE’s. And the grid will probably only get cleaner over time. Sure there’s issues with recharging time, etc. but that’s what R&D is all about.

  • Rocco

    I’m completely lost in all the arguing about pipe noise. If you actually did feel unsafe on a “quiet” bike you could always but baseball cards in the spokes. Seriously though, there was a lot of talk over quiet cars being dangerous to pedestrians, especially the blind. The hype might be nothing more than that, but even a pipe-dream with this much exposure might be enough to get the big names set to make their own. There will be tons of small issues like charging and whatnot, but that’s when people buy the innovation that meets their needs best and capitalism will sort it all out for us.

  • Rocco

    Oh and to the questions on possible frame source, the video says it’s “The same set-up as a GSXR.” I assumed he meant geometry, but he could mean it’s literally the same set up as the Suzuki.

  • Shoffy

    With a $68,000 Price tag i think ill stay with my gas powered motorcycles…

  • http://attractwomenfast.wetpaint.com/ Colton Parrett

    It’s impressive that google voice is at last out of beta and anyone is able to just register for it without an invitation available. I’m already playing around with its various benefits and understanding what I can do with it. Thanks google!