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Triumph Electric Motorcycle: The TE1 is Work in Progress

With the TE1, Triumph is exploring the potential of electric motorcycles with a consortium of British companies and organizations including Williams Advanced Engineering (of F1 fame), Integral Powertrain Ltd  and the University of Warwick. While the Triumph press release was long and very detailed regarding the four-phase development of a potential electric motorcycle including the complex engineering of a drivetrain, it lacked a definitive date for an actual bike on the showroom floor. There was however this definition of the Triumph electric motorcycle project and it does hint at the project’s ultimate goals:

“The objective of this two-year project is focused on developing electric motorcycle capabilities providing an input into Triumph’s future electric motorcycle offer, driving innovation, capability and new intellectual property, enhancing the credibility and profile of British industry and design.”

So there is a project to see if it can be done, although that part is quite obvious considering the countless electric bike manufacturers revealing product and more opening their doors every month. But it also a project to foster future growth in all aspects of electric mobility and some serious progress has been made toward an electric motorcycle as the cooperative effort reaches the halfway point. 

Triumph TE! frame, battery and engineThe electric bike segment is at the moment a bit of a wild west show with multiple claims made by multiple companies of having the best, most advanced and powerful ground-breaking technology. (“Our bike is going to be the game-changer!”) The Triumph project does have some respectable numbers to report. The first is that their battery developed in conjunction with Williams has extremely high power density (arguably a more significant feature than the power output of the electric motor). Also the battery does not compromise performance as the charge is drawn down to low levels. The battery is said to currently have twice the density of the density-target set for batteries to meet by 2025 by the UK Automotive Council.

The electric motor is however no slouch. It is said to weigh only 10kg and yet produces an impressive 180 hp due to an innovative design that includes eliminating the heavy high voltage cables that connect to the battery. Integral Powertrain says the powertrain will be industry leading and “help define the future of electric mobility.”

Both the battery and the powertrain have been bench tested so we assume that Triumph will build the  platform with wheels for the power bits. The company has released images of a new Triumph electric motorcycle concept that looks remarkably like a Speed Triple so give them points for making a motorcycle look like a motorcycle—sales numbers of Tesla’s Cybertruck will reveal whether or not people want their electric vehicles to look outlandish. 

Ultimately, whether the Triumph TE1 actually becomes a production motorcycle the project is a tool for building “expertise and capability within the UK workforce, creating jobs and a talent base that both ensures sustainable employment and drives the UK’s reputation and influence on the world stage.” 

But why bring together the government, industry and universities around the Triumph electric motorcycle project? Would an automobile project not make more sense and lead to broader gains? The answer might be simple. Triumph Motorcycles sits almost alone as a mainstream British owned manufacturer. Jaguar is owned by India’s Tata Motors as is Land Rover, BMW owns Mini and Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen owns Bentley and Aston Martin will soon have Mercedes as its largest shareholder. For most of these companies the German owners will provide much of the electric powertrain development. Triumph seems to have been provided an opportunity to showcase what homegrown engineering can achieve and in consideration of the historical debt owed by motorcycling to iconic and departed British marques, that sounds like a fair deal.

concept drawing of the triumph TE1

Canadian Biker, Issue #353


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