Modern cars are littered with sensors looking in every direction, most of which are tasked with one simple duty: keeping you safe.
Motorcycles are a lot simpler. Riders are literally hung in the wind with little more than their reflexes, skills and situational awareness to keep them safe. Even essential safety technologies like anti-lock brakes and traction control are relatively new additions to the two-wheeler world.
But that’s changing, and it looks like Finland’s Verge Motorcycles (no relation) could lead the pack with the most advanced safety system for riders on two wheels when the Verge TS Ultra launches later this year.
The TS looks like nothing else on the road, because it looks like nothing else on the road. For starters, it’s electric, which still makes it a rarity in the motorcycle world, but its performance is even more radical. It has no less than 201 hp and 885 Nm of torque, almost twice as much as a Corvette E-Ray.
That couple comes from an unusual source. When Marko Lehtimäki, CTO of Verge Motorcycles, came up with the first motorcycle design in 2018, he said the team was unhappy with the few electric motorcycles on the market.
He said most electric motorcycle designs simply replace the basic layout of a gas motorcycle, replacing an engine with a motor and a gas tank with a battery. “We thought this couldn’t be optimal,” he said.
A special point of attention was placing the battery high in the frame. “These batteries are very heavy,” he said. “The center of gravity becomes high and these are top-heavy and not very enjoyable experiences compared to traditional motorcycling.”
It has no less than 201 hp and 885 Nm of torque, almost twice as much as a Corvette E-Ray
Verge Motorcycles engineers knew they needed to place the battery in the bottom of the frame to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. But by dropping the battery onto the base, they filled the space usually occupied by a motor.
“We came to the conclusion that we had to move the engine outside the main chassis, out of the body of the motorcycle,” he said. So they decided to try something different by placing the motor in the rear wheel.
Electric motors in the wheels are not exactly rare. They are even common in the e-bike scene and can be found on options like the VanMoof S4 or the Bird Bike. However, the TS Ultra’s engine is slightly different.
It’s a hubless ring design, meaning you can put your hand right through the center of the wheel. This makes for a radical look, and while it has some drawbacks – namely adding a lot of weight to the rear suspension – Lehtimäki said the practical benefits of the battery placement far outweigh these.
“We made a prototype, and let’s just say it wasn’t an easy path,” Lehtimäki said. “Even when we got the prototype working, people thought we were crazy, and many said it would never work in real life. But we just really believed that this is the future, and if we can make this work, it will change everything.”
The result is an unintentional eye-catcher. “We didn’t start with ‘let’s make something that looks like a Tron bike’, but with the question of how can we make a better motorcycle with a completely redesigned EV architecture,” he said. “The answer was this ring engine.”
Although the appearance of the bicycle is unique, the way the bicycle looks back at the world is just as new. At this year’s CES in Las Vegas, Verge Motorcycles will unveil a new sensor package that comes with the TS Ultra, the range-topping version of the company’s debut motorcycle. The company calls it Starmatter Vision.