California dreaming: Canadian E-bike maker Beachman tap into surfing culture

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Beaches aren’t the first thing that come to mind when thinking about Canada, but Beachman Bikes are banking on their brand of retro electric motorbikes becoming the model of choice for a new generation of sustainable bikers.

Canada’s first electric bike manufacturer was founded by Ben Taylor and Steve Payne as an idea in 2016, with Ben coming from a marketing background and Steve being a café racer builder with a decade of experience.  

Ben said: “I love the beach, I love surfing and that California surf culture of just owning a motorbike, a board, and enough money for gas. That lifestyle exists around the globe, and I saw it even in Tofino, Canada.”

Beachman '64 electric café racer

The bikes have been designed through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, as Ben explains: “The frame is based on the Honda CB125, and the overall feel comes from the classic café racers of the ’60s. Steve and I spent two years perfecting the look and basing it off of old Honda and Kawasaki builds.”

Their first bike, the Zero, was a modified 1979 Kawasaki KZ200 with a battery system handbuilt by Steve in 2020. The company made and sold 30 of the units and have now released its follow-up.

Ben said: “I had a crappy little Tomos moped when I lived in Vancouver, and that was what got me thinking about making a cool 50cc café racer for broke college kids like myself that wanted a nice ride that wouldn’t run them $10k for a custom build.

Beachman '64 seat

“Steve has owned 20 plus motorcycles in his life, so bringing our two perspectives together created the ’64.”

The most difficult part of the build was finding electric parts that fitted the brand’s retro leanings as the electric market, says Ben, “is obsessed with looking futuristic”.

The result is unapologetically retro and features a 72v brushless hub motor, 18in wheels and a claimed range of 90km – and the pair see it as the start of something big.

Beachman '64 in the woods

“I see a lot of growth. We want to be selling bikes in America, Europe and Australia,” said Ben.

“My dream is to ride on the Italian coast five years from now and see an anonymous guy ride past me on his Beachman, his girlfriend on the back, both of them having the time of their life.”