This is the world’s first glimpse of a working version of the all-new 200bhp Lotus C-01 superbike, spied testing on the roads near the German headquarters of the firm behind the bike.
The image is the first ‘in-the-metal’ confirmation the ambitious plan to build a Lotus motorcycle is now nearing reality, lending weight to the firm’s intention to get the first bikes to owners within a matter of months.
The image was captured by an MCN reader based in Germany, who accidentally scooped the Lotus test mule with his on-board video camera.
There is no official comment from Kodewa, the company behind the project, but this single low-resolution image clearly shows a Lotus C-01 in unfaired prototype form as it undergoes testing on the road.
While obviously a rough test bike, and despite the lack of fairing, the form is immediately recognisable as the bike revealed in official computer-generated images first seen in early 2014.
A Lotus insider told MCN: “There are now a couple of bikes out testing on the road as we want to make sure they work properly. We are making sure they are good road bikes.”
The long, low look of the bike with a single round front light, stretched-out fuel tank, V-twin engine, twin shocks, carbon wheels and tiny rear seat unit have all been carried through to this test prototype.
If they can carry off the original bold design of the all-encompassing fairing panels then the futuristic look of the bike will be essentially unchanged from the original vision for the C-01.
Lotus announced it was moving into the world of motorcycles in June 2013, and at the time it promised a 200bhp bike would be on sale in late 2013 or early 2014.
MCN managed to source two images from a source close to the project back in January 2014, six weeks before the bike was officially unveiled, but this is the first time a real bike has been seen out on the roads.
Lotus is using a tuned KTM RC8R
V-twin, which has 1148cc and 173bhp in standard form, at the heart of the C-01, so the claims of 200bhp appear genuine.
Boosting the engine power up to around 200bhp shouldn’t be too much of a stretch as there is experience available from the German superbike series of tuning them and still maintaining reliability. Nonetheless, a figure of around 175bhp at the back wheel seems more likely.
The outfit behind the Lotus bike – which bought a licence to use the Lotus name from the British sportscar company – is German firm Kodewa. It races under the Lotus name in the FIA World Endurance car championship, and competes in races such as the Le Mans 24-hour.
The firm already has links to KTM through Kodewa’s ownership of Kalex, which makes chassis for bikes in the Moto2 world championship class.
The design of the bike is the work of Bugatti Veyron designer Daniel Simon; who also designed the Tron Lightcycles for the movie Tron: Legacy. He was also the designer responsible for the design of the flying craft used by Tom Cruise in the movie Oblivion.
The motorcycle design and engineering team is made up of around 15 people, working completely separately from the car team, and Colin Kolles – boss of Lotus Motorcycles – is very clear about what the C-01 should deliver: “The look is inspired by motorcycles of the past while the air intake is inspired by the Lotus T49 racing car.
"The Lotus motorcycle will be unique in its look and will implement technical innovation by using lightweight materials like carbon, titanium and aerospace steel.
“It is a combination between performance and style. We looked at the ultimate performance and driveability and also emphasised the styling. We have a strong link with Kalex, and we employed engineers from BMW motorcycles working together with the other designers and engineers. This makes us confident that we will have a high-end product.”
Check out the August 20 issue of MCN for our exclusive first ride of the Lotus C-01.