Inside the Mission R electric superbike

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Here’s a rare look inside the workings of of an electric race bike. The Mission R is unique not because of its 141bhp electric motor, but because it packs that plus a 14kWh battery pack (the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc is only 13.75kWh) into a package no larger than a 600cc sportsbike. A big part of the ability to do that came from the James Parker-designed chassis.

The following explanation comes directly from James:

Any motorcycle chassis design combines three basic design elements into a cohesive whole.  The three elements are:  components, geometries, and packages.

“Components” are the basic parts of the bike: Motor, frame, suspension, wheels, brakes, bars, footpegs, and more.

“Geometries” are the spatial relationships, measurements and paths of motion of the parts: Rake, trail, wheelbase, wheel travel, center of gravity, and a lot more.

“Packages” are the spaces components and geometries have to fit within: The lean-angle package that lets the motorcycle corner at speed, the ergonomic package that gives the rider a place to operate effectively, the aerodynamic package that keeps the rider and motorcycle parts out of the airstream, and the assembly and servicing package that gives mechanics access to every necessary part and fastener.

In designing an electric motorcycle, geometries and packages need to be very much analogous to those in a ‘conventional’ motorcycle, but the components are very different.  Since the electric components need to work with, and fit within relatively conventional geometries and packages, there is a lot of re-thinking to do.

The Mission R chassis uses unique components to achieve the geometry and packaging demands of a high-performance motorcycle.  The battery is a large box surrounded on four sides by three different structure types.  At the front, a machined aluminum box serves as the steering head/fork mount and spans the full width of the battery. At the rear, the fully stressed “power unit” contains the motor, primary drive, and countershaft as well as the pivot for the swing arm.

On each side of the battery, connecting the steering head box and the power unit, are chrome-moly steel trellis sections. The battery is thus surrounded by protective structure to insure maximum safety.  An aluminum plate that is integral to the battery serves as a further chassis element, providing longitudinal and lateral bracing to the 4-sided structure.  In the stripped bike photos we’ve left a battery plate in place to show the structural connections clearly.  In actual use the entire battery, including the battery plate, is installed or removed as a unit, lifting from above.

The power unit has several structural functions:  As well as a mounting for the swingarm pivot and the trellis sections, the power unit provides mounting points for the rear suspension linkage rocker on its bottom surface, and on the upper radius, provisions for the structural carbon-fiber seat base and the attached upper shock mount.

The single-sided swingarm, machined from billet aluminum, has a unique linear telescoping, rather than eccentric (as on other single-sided designs) chain adjustment, which allows adjustment without altering ride height.

The Mission R’s electrical and structural components work with superbike geometries and packaging requirements to reveal a unique approach to designing a high-performance electric motorcycle.  We’ve achieved a compact, mass-centralized design that uses new approaches to the problems of chassis design in harmony with new energy sources and new drive systems.

  • Michael

    awesome piece

  • michael uhlarik

    Elegant and well executed. My compliments to Mr Parker.


  • Brammofan

    It’s a stunner, for sure. As always, looking forward to seeing it perform on the track.

  • mugget

    That is fantastic to see those photos and hear James explain the design.

    Previously I had always thought of electric bikes as some kind of big hulking contraptions. But seeing that stripped chassis made me realise that it’s really just the batteries that make alot of the mass. The electric motor is so small, amazing that such performance is available from a unit that size…

    Of course battery/power technology will improve so this all suddenly seems like a very attractive proposition to me… No doubt they could even make future lightweight more powerful batteries backwards compatible with older bikes.

    I am still very interested in the maintenance side of things, at least as far as the motor goes. Does anyone know about that? I am figuring less maintenance definitely, combined with lower running costs it starts to make sense as a track bike. I am thinking of the running cost of my washing machine, and the performance of my Gixxer! :O

    • Wes Siler

      Yeah, electric power actually eliminates most moving parts and the one that remains, the motor, is virtually maintenance free. The rest of the components are all standard bike stuff, so anyone can service them.

      But yeah, we need a production bike with this power-to-weight and a 100 mile range, then I’d be sold. Probably literally.

  • JonB

    So good. I like to think of it as the SF Giants World Series Championship Edition.

  • rohorn

    With a little bit of squinting, I can see what front end this is going to end up with – I just wonder when that will happen.

    Neat article – thanks!

  • Deltablues

    Nice. Have any of the electric motorcycle manufacturers found a way to convert the suspension movements of a motorcycle into energy? The roads here in the Rock are nasty, but I rode my 675 today and was thinking about this as I was getting hammered on the frost heaves and potholes that have appeared after the snow storm last weekend.

    • Kipling

      I don’t know if any electric vehicle manufacturers are using it, but there have been research projects and patents related to regenerative suspension. I think the easiest to understand example is This is similar to an electric motor/generator, except that the motion is linear (axial) instead of rotational. Something like this could be controlled on the fly by the rider or vehicle, like regenerative braking, with stiffer suspension charging the battery more quickly. And, since it’s not only a generator but also a linear motor, this shock absorber could be used to actively set suspension position (preload/stance).

      • Deltablues

        That is really neat. That would generate enough energy to power LED lighting,LED headlight, or accessories. 256W is about 1/3HP.

  • Mark D

    I can’t wait until 15 yrs from now, when we look back on 14 kWh like we now look back on 14 hp. ICE bikes will always have their place, but the potential advantages of electrics will far outweigh their negatives to most people, likely within 10 years. ::fingers crossed::

  • Barry

    Heh, “service and maintenance package”. Someone should tell the Italian’s that someone actually considers that when building a motorcycle. “You mean I have to take off the windshield to get to my battery? You’ve GOT to be kidding me.” And no, I wasn’t. Ask any Ducati ST4s owner.

  • Barry

    That’s a really interesting shock linkage they’ve got going on there. Looks like a TTX Ohlins variant with a really long shaft, but I can’t tell from the top if they’ve gone with some manner of their linear damper-style shocks. Wish it had a better shock close up. I’m curious what manner of tweaking(valving ratios esp., but that won’t show up in pics ;) they’ve done to handle the different torque behavior of an electric motor versus a gasoline engine.