This electric motorcycle is drop-dead gorgeous…
I’m constantly hit with a barrage of press releases and news stories about all kinds of vintage-style electric motorcycles to the point it’s hard to not feel jaded about them. Each one is supposedly a hearkening back to bikes in the 20s, 30s, 40s, or whatever era someone wants to make you feel all nostalgic about. However, when I saw the One from Curtiss Motorcycle Company, it really made me stop and say, “wow, what a beautiful motorcycle.”
Learn about the pros and cons of all-electric motorcycles here.
Not everyone is going to agree; in fact, I think some people will think the One is as ugly as a backside of a donkey. That’s okay, aesthetics can be subjective. Perhaps it’s my jaded eyes which have beheld far too many cookie cutter “vintage” electric motorcycles, but there’s something absolutely captivating about this one.
For starters, it’s not trying too hard to look like a particular bike of historical significance. It’s doubly awkward when a company is trying to craft the design of their new motorcycle to be inspired by a bike which was made by another brand, so they can’t copy the look too much. The result is akin to a candy bar left in the sun all day. The One strikes out in its own direction, yet it has a spiritual connection with the history of motorcycles.
What you can somewhat see in the photos is the aircraft-inspired TLP monocoque chassis. Digitally milled from a solid piece, Curtiss says the chassis doesn’t flex yet is incredibly slender and lightweight. At the bottom of the chassis is a cylindrical compartment which contains the batteries, which are submerged in a non-conductive coolant. A toothed belt drive the company says requires no maintenance connects the axial flux electric motor to the rear wheel. Curtiss Motorcycle claims that motor is the most power-dense in the world.
Designers of the One said one of their main aims was to create a modern electric motorcycle which isn’t cluttered with digital gizmos, what they all “an analog, electric experience.” Just like in cars, motorcycles these days are like smartphones on wheels. Sure, some people love that, but it really gets in the way of just hopping on and enjoying the purity of the riding experience, of feeling connected to the bike. There’s no way to check your text messages, switch riding modes, or mess with anything else digital while riding. This could be the way to enjoy that connected experience without turning to an actual vintage motorcycle.
Curtiss Motorcycle claims the all-electric design improves rider ergonomics. It also says without an engine vibrating the chassis, you can feel more connected to the road. These types of arguments have been made in favor of electric motorcycles before. One big concern with this and any other nearly-silent bike is if the rider will become even more invisible to drivers? With all the noise-deadening insulation in modern cars and the drivers who are even more distracted not only by the phone but also their infotainment touchscreen and squawking safety alerts, does a loud motorcycle still save lives? Obviously, everyone’s going to have their own opinion on the topic.
Another aspect of the electric drivetrain is that it gives the One perfect weight distribution. That’s right, the motorcycle is apparently perfectly balanced, plus the vast majority of the weight sits at the bottom of the chassis. Curtiss Motorcycle claims the result is the most perfect state of balance any rider has ever felt on two wheels – that’s quite the statement.
However, beauty and innovation of this type certainly doesn’t come cheap. The starting price for a Curtiss Motorcycles One is a whopping $90,000. In other words, it’s out of reach for many of us.
Bottom line is I haven’t ridden the One so I can’t say for sure what it’s like. However, the design is striking and it’s a standout on the market for that alone. If it rides even half as good as it looks, this could be a hit. And having another strong, independent motorcycle manufacturer in the United States would be a good thing.