Help Maarten Timmer develop the VertiGO

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Remember Maarten Timmer’s VertiGO? The concept attempts to leverage the packaging advantages of an electric motor and batteries to define an alternative, but still clearly sport-focussed design language for electric motorcycles. Now, VertiGO is part of a design competition at Delft University with a grand prize of €7,500. If he wins, Maarten wants to use the money to develop the concept into a running prototype. You can help him do just that by voting here. Click through for a video. >

via Delft

  • Sean Smith


    After hearing all about how awesome electric bikes were, I rode the Zero supermoto. Wow. What a turd.

    Now, I haven’t ridden this thingy, (I doubt anyone has) but I’m pretty sure that they just don’t have the battery technology yet to make an electric supersport a reality.

    One thing they Do have the tech for, but just aren’t using, is transmissions. Single speed is for hipster bikes, not for motorcycles. A lot of people misunderstand how an electric motor makes power, and just sort of assume that it’s a magical power curve that never goes away. Turns out that just like a regular internal combustion engine, there’s a sweet spot with good usable power, and after that it kinda tapers off. Witness the tesla roadster, the zero, and prettty much anything else electric. Elon Musk has even said that the tesla could be faster with a trans, but then says that it’s too complex and too much money.

    This brings me to my next point: If everyone else that makes cars and motorcycles can toss a transmission in there, and it’s not too hard or costly, why cant the electric guys do it? It says a lot about what kind of people they are, and frankly makes it look like they don’t know what they’re doing.

    Which brings me to my last point. It looks like no one trying seriously to build an electric bike knows much about motorcycles, racing, or high performance machines. Elon Musk, as much of a shady snake oil salesman as he is, at least used to autocross, and knows a thing or two about putting together a car. The bike Brammo put together for Isle of Man was close, but borrowed a lot from other bikes (triumph 675, RS250 fairings). Unfortunately, it still doesn’t have batteries that’ll hold a charge worth a damn, or a top speed worthy of a serious machine.

    This concept looks like nothing more than a ridiculous design exercise and not much else. That tail section screams flexy, and the added bulk of stuff to prop it up from the front is guaranteed to make it heavier and less functional than a small aluminum subframe like everyone else uses. Oh, and that shock out back? The geometry looks way funky. Please use a linkage, or at least set it up with a rising rate spring and geometry to make it work.

    I know this is a long rant, but as a guy that rides 500+ miles a week, drags a knee everyday, builds motors for a living, eats, sleeps, and breathes bikes, these electric bikes are a joke. People need to stop supporting them until they’re worth a damn, and the guys building them need to step it up quite until they are worth a damn.

    • Matt Pewthers

      If people cease to support those that try to innovate, then there will be no perceived need. Without a perceived need there is no impetus to innovate. With no motivation to innovate and improve, the technology will never be “worth a damn.”
      I’m not arguing with your other points, I trust that you know motorcycles better than I do; it’s just unrealistic to expect that boycotting a fledgling industry will improve its product.

      • Sean Smith

        Innovation is good, hell, I’m all about innovation, but the only innovative aspect of these bikes is that they’re electric, and they have license plates.

        My main point is that electric motorcycles, in their current form, just aren’t worth the praise they’re getting.

        We need to see real innovation, not battery operated hack jobs.

        Sorry guys, I’m just a little bit fed up with the amount of kudos anything electric or hybrid gets these days.

    • nobody

      (So few facts/So much emotion)* no relevant experience with the subject at hand = Typical internet heckler.

      As long as stupid comments are part of the “online magazine” experience, print will always live on……..

      • Sean

        I’m pretty sure I’ve got some relevant experience with this subject. As a motorcycle mechanic, I would say I’m an expert on the subject of motorcycles.

        Are you assuming that just because I see some obvious flaws/things that just aren’t addressed that I’m an internet heckler? Are you aware that your comment brings nothing to the table except for an insult? I hate to say it, but it looks like you added a stupid comment to this online magazine.

        • nobody

          Being a motorcycle mechanic does not make one an expert on motorcycle design any more than being a stewardess makes one an expert on piloting large commercial aircraft. Feel free to consider that an insult

          Your statement regarding the rear suspension dynamics was insulting to anyone with any knowledge of the subject. I’d explain why – but laughing at you is a lot more fun and a lot less work. Consider that another insult.

          Equally laughable is your rant, er, “relevant criticism” regarding transmissions on electric motors. Do some research on the torque curves of various DC and AC motors in vehicle applications. Then do the math regarding torque curves before AND after they go through a transmission – then plot them to speed for fun. Then do some research on transmission “weight” and “efficiency”. Then re-read your “rant”.




          Then go ask Wes why he considers your heckling (sorry for insulting the intelligence of some by pointing out the obvious) “relevant criticism”. I’m not smart enough to understand that one.

          However, thanks for reminding me why I work on my own bikes. And why I’d rather read Kevin Cameron’s work.

          • Sean

            Alright, alright!

            Relax. There’s no need for a flame war here. I’m just fed up with all the press and support anything electric gets. Maybe it’s because as a mechanic I quite literally have gasoline in my veins, maybe it’s because I spend most of my day talking cam profiles, the benefits of filled and raised ports and dyno tuning, and it’s definitely because I took one look at that tail section, and saw function taking a back seat to form. That was all I needed to hear to voice my opinions on the current state of electric motorcycles.

            I realize that I was totally harsh, but the fact is that the world of super-sport bikes is harsh. Build something that cant keep pace with the best of japan or italy, and you’ve got problems. People take performance very seriously when it comes to these bikes, they criticize every flaw, and you can bet they’ll notice when something isn’t what it claims to be.

            Nobody: I know a thing or two about motorcycle design. Being a motorcycle mechanic, I do more than spinning wrenches. I design pistons and cylinder sleeves, and I do machine work. I know what I’m talking about when it comes to suspension, and you can bet I know what I’m talking about when it comes to horsepower. The dyno in the corner is well used, and never has more than a few days to gather dust. My “heckling,” flat out isn’t. As much as I love internal combustion, I know that nothing ever stays the same, and electric power is what’s coming next. That said, what we’ve got now just wont cut it. I’ll eat my freakin’ hat the day someone builds an electric bike that can compete with a modern 600. Hell, if someone built an electric bike that could keep pace with a FZR400 for 150 miles I’d shut up and look into buying one. There is altogether too much hype surrounding electric bikes right now.

            Design Ronin: Your first comment shows your inability to understand subtlety, and the sarcasm aint so hot either. The web design site you link to has a broken link and is sorely lacking in professionalism. And when I click on Hark design, if appears that they did the Mountain Cycle site, not you.

            Sorry to bust you guys so hard, but you both kind of attacked me.

            Wes: I read everything you and grant post, and I hope that I can be forgiven for writing something so inflammatory.

      • Wes Siler

        But there’s no conversation in print. At all. Sure, there’s a little too much personal attack in this thread, but typically we have quite a high degree of civility in our comments.

        In general, try to remain civil and on-topic. Sean raises relevant criticisms in an slightly harsh manner, Marteen addresses those criticisms. Thus the conversation continues.

    • Design Ronin

      Sean Smith, nice rant. You’re right, I’ll stop supporting everything that’s in it’s infancy.

      I’ve read you ‘argument’ and I think the the above comment from ‘nobody’ sums up my feelings about your claims pretty succinctly, so I’ll leave it at that.

      I’ll see you at the end of the world.

    • facepalm

      ‘Our off road electric motorcycles feature the ability to customize both the speed and acceleration. With a flip of the switch you can limit the top speed to a “motorized bicycle” legal 30mph. Another switch sets the acceleration from a beginner friendly “easy” mode to a highly aggressive “sport” mode.’

      I’m guessing they didn’t want you to hurt yourself.

  • Maarten Timmer

    The design of the VertiGO is put together wit hte ste-of-the art technology.

    Let me explain some points to you before you judge a bike you do not understand..

    The VertiGO is a motorcycle project in which new technologies are developed inside the University and with external companies.

    We are discussing a partnership with a company, able to develop exactly the battery packs we plan to use in the VertiGO.
    This high-performance battery pack in combination with a innovative TRANSMISSION and a high torque electro engine, which guarantees explosive rides!
    So don’t say that this bike is designed with excisting parts and just put together by guys who don’t know anything about bikes..

    Develoment of electrical bikes will continue and for sure you will be riding those bikes in the future.

    • Sean

      I’ve gotta hand it to you for adding a transmission. This was one of my biggest gripes with the electric vehicles that are already out there. Now, if it has the electrics it needs to give it real superbike speed, you guys are really getting somewhere.

      I hate to break your balls even more, but there’s one last thing: That seat/tail section just rubs me the wrong way. I’m sure it really doesn’t add too much weight, and is likely strong, but it looks like a case of function following form.

  • Sal Khan

    There you have it.

    All I can add is how do you get anywhere without these intermediate steps electric vehicles are taking today? You won’t just have something mind-blowing’ly amazing hit on some random date. The ICC has had a century+ head start (part, if not most, of which I personally believe is due to political reasons and/or good ol’ fashion business greed) which is a little difficult to overcome.

    The battery/electrical revolution is coming and I say the sooner the better. I hope I’m not senile before I get to see a grid of electric bikes sounding like pod racers and garages filled with quantum computers instead of clutch plates and spare pistons. ;)

  • vic

    i voted for the concrete that fixes itself,the design of the bike is stunning but i bet you can fit a ducati engine or other slim twin in there with no additional increase in bulk.if electric bikes are to have a future,then it will be something like the zero offroader,perfect that and then we can talk superbikes

  • DoctorNine

    While I agree that the current first generation of electric bikes aren’t at the same sort of performance peak which we find with ICE designs, I can’t agree that we should ‘stop supporting them’, whatever that means.

    First, it is in society’s interest to develop alternative electric drivetrains, and one of the best ways to do that, is give out prizes to get innovation stimulated, and provide a reward, however small, to people willing to try new things. Having won awards, the business can then use this fact to capitalize, and start building consumer product.

    Second, the level of performance of ICE’s, at a similar point in their historical development, was similarly modest. One can only expect the technology to mature, and improve. As I’ve mentioned on other forums, ultracapacitors and batteries are nowhere near design perfection, so a relatively modest improvement in their physics/efficiency would yield large gains in total vehicle performance. Competition rewards those willing to do the basic sciences necessary to make that technological leap. Most people simply don’t have enough capital to do that in a modest way.

    So we need MORE support to get better results. Not less.

  • Eli

    I honestly think it’s a great looking bike but not worthy of winning this competition. There are some great ideas on this site. Maybe you guys should just provide a link to the competition instead of where to mindlessly vote for a motorcycle. Some of the people in the design competition actually entered designs and innovations that could better peoples lives and society….in more ways than another electric joke of a motorcycle could. Electric motorcycles are killing the sport. Some things should just remain sacred and traditional.

  • Salad Shooter

    The cantilevered tail, side-mount shock and other details certainly recall/resemble the Robrady-designed Vectrix electric Superbike concept. Any relationship?

  • Jeremy D'Ambrosio

    you are still missing the main point by MILES…

    Technology and design are a developmental society. You cant start a revolution and expect you first few (if not hundreds) of attempts to be valid, relevant, or successful.

    Yes, electric motorcycles are lacking in performance and complexity in their current state; but remember, the electric age has just started to catch wind and develop… you are truly looking at the restart of design technology (remember back in the day when bikes were carburetor fed, air cooled, heavy, low performance machines?), well, we are starting back at that point one, but instead of combustion, we are using electrical power (albeit the fact that chassis, material, and build technology is now readily available. i am speaking strictly from the aspect of developing new electrical technology such as batteries and power systems).

    To say that “well, the vertiGO cant compete with modern sport bikes, so why bother” is very ignorant, as they shoulder be compared in this infantile state. from that point of view you might as well say “well, biomedical prosthetic organs aren’t always 100% functional to their user, so lets just let someone in need of a mechanical heart valve die”.

    i find your point of argument very condemning and uneducated.

    Yes, you are a motorcycle mechanic, and you understand technical knowledge of the workings behind motorcycles; but that doesn’t mean that you understand viable/ and or developing technologies that are ultimately going to rule the future of motor sports. i also find the fact that you said “i design pistons” very far fetched, as that is a task of high end engineers…

    I’d like to add, that i fully support the movement of electric motor sports, and the vertiGO is an excellent attempt to bring that movement to fruition… BUT, strictly speaking from my background in industrial design, i must say that the other offerings for this competition are a bit more “relevant, revolutionary, and viable in todays society”. I am NOT putting the vertiGO down in any way, i just feel there are more important products that could improve our quality of life in this competition than a motorcycle.

    • Sean

      I really and truly do design pistons. In a small shop with Very few employees, when it comes time to figure out how to build that crazy 660cc KTM stroker motor, me and the boss sit down and draw up what we want CP to make for us. It’s really not all that hard.

      I see your point, but I think you’re missing mine, which is: This bike is masquerading as a machine with “very swift acceleration, beating most current motorcycles,” even though the technology doesn’t exist yet. That quote is taken directly from Maartin’s site. Now I understand that this is just a concept, but I’m not making that comparison, the designer is. That, and the fact that the technology needed to achieve that kind of performance is at best 5 years out. What I’m saying is that people should be a bit more realistic. An electric motocrosser like the Zero? Yep, we can do that. The Brammo Enertia? Yep, it’s real, and it does what it says. It’s a small standard, with an electric drivetrain. The battery may not last all that long, and it wont be winning any drag races, but it’s a solid machine, and a step in the right direction.

      I’m not condemning electric motorcycles, I’m pointing out the rather obvious fact that the technology has a long way to go before it can take on any serious sport bike. That, and I know I’m beating a dead horse, but the seat just bugs me. Awkward hanging seat is awkward.

  • Long Island Civil Engineering

    Wonderful to read!