World Exclusive: Lotus C-01 superbikes ready to roll

1 of 8

This is the world’s first look at the finished production version of the Lotus C-01 superbike, which was first revealed by MCN at the start of this year.

When computer images of the C-01 were revealed by MCN in January this year showing what the bike was going to look like many derided the outrageous styling, penned by former Bugatti designer Daniel Simon, saying it would never end up looking so radical, and if it did – and ever made it into production – that it would never handle.

Well here it is just nine months later, looking almost identical to those very first computer-generated design images.

The limited edition, super-exclusive C-01 has been in production since September, with the first batch of the total 100 examples already built, tested, and ready for shipping to customers around the world. The bike you see here is one of the very first produced and is now being delivered to its owner. The chassis number of this bike, which is also marked on the engine casing, is number 99 because the bikes are no being built in numerical order; customers have been able to choose their preferred chassis number on a first-come-first-served basis.

At the heart of the C-01 is a 175bhp 1195cc V-twin from the KTM RC8R superbike, and it has a host of superbike specification parts like Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension and a steel trellis frame built by Kalex (which is co-owned by Holzer Group which is behind the Lotus project).

Contrary to assumptions that the C-01 would deliver a compromised ride, at best, MCN can confirm that the bike actually handles well, as discovered on our exclusive test ride of a development mule on the roads around the German headquarters where the bike has been built and engineered. We were left stunned by the resolved handling, startling performance and generally good build quality of a bike that was devoid of bodywork but otherwise almost finished.

MCN understands the licence to build motorcycles under the high-profile Lotus Motorcycles name is for a set period of time; after that Kodewa, the firm behind the brand, will use the Performance Motorcycles Company (PMC) name to build their motorcycles. Many of the first batch of bikes are going to extremely high-profile owners, one of whom bought two bikes to be delivered with different paint schemes. Once the run of 100 bikes has been completed, the team will move onto the development and production of a second bike.

The man heading the project, Dr Colin Kolles, told MCN: “There will be more bikes. We want to see a C-02 after this bike. We aren’t here to ‘piss around’, as you Brits say!”


The KTM RC8R engine packs 175bhp from the 1195cc water-cooled V-twin and Lotus Motorcycles has chosen to use the engine and electrics from the bike without changing them or risking unnecessary problems getting bespoke parts to work. When we tested the prototype bike in summer it worked perfectly despite blistering heat and felt civilised and rideable despite the performance available.


A chromoly trellis frame is the work of frame building experts at Kalex who use jigs to assemble and weld the frames to within a 30-micron tolerance. These are then painted to the colour specified by the customer.


Another example of the masterly work of Kalex, which builds the hollow section aluminium swingarms made especially for the C-01. The swingarm not only has to keep the 175bhp under control but also has to be able to handle the rear suspension as the twin Ohlins shocks are mounted directly to it.


The style of the Lotus C-01 was always one of the most controversial elements of the design when it was first seen in January this year but despite many people saying it would never work once made real the fully carbon-fibre bodywork is almost exactly as it originally designed to look.

It comes in 12 sections.

Wheels and brakes

The carbon-fibre wheels are made by South African company BST and have been specially made for the C-01 as the sizes are a slightly unusual 19in diameter at the front and a traditional 17in at the back as was laid down by the design of the bike in terms of styling. The brakes are Brembo twin discs with 320mm radially mounted calipers.


The tiny rear section of the bike meant there was no room for a single shock so twin Ohlins have been mounted between the subframe and the swingarm. Upside down Sachs forks are at the front but have been covered in aerodynamic sleeves to retain the oval fork design from the original computer generated images.

Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter