American electric motorbike firm, Curtiss, have unveiled two new concept versions of their Zeus electric model (also a concept) slated for production in 2020. The café and bobber variants build on the concept prototype of the Zeus unveiled in February 2018 with upgrades made possible by advances in electric bike tech.
"Our original Zeus concept prototype featured obsolete battery and motor technology that was as graceful as a cinder block," explains Curtiss Design Director, Jordan Cornille.
"This made it difficult for our team to engineer the machine we all aspired to create. With our new Advanced Technology division, we are developing new battery, motor, and control system technologies that enable us to deliver on our clean, modern aesthetic vision."
When the café and bobber variants were released, Curtiss started throwing some very impressive sounding performance stats around. "By utilizing cutting-edge energy storage systems to balance power and range we aim to deliver a range of 280 miles, 145ft-lb of torque and a 0-60mph time of 2.1 seconds, all with a 140Kw motor," explained Paul Ogilvie, Advanced Power Train Division Leader.
There’s no word yet on charge time or price, but if Curtiss achieve stats like that it will put the bike in the same ball park as the British, Jaguar-Land Rover backed, £90,000 Arc Vector.
Who are Curtiss?
You’d be forgiven for not having heard of the firm, but you may have heard of Confederate or Zero. Confederate used to make small-batch bespoke motorbikes that were as expensive as they were bonkers, like the Hellcat and the P51 Combat Fighter.
In 2017 they announced a new partnership with electric motorbike makers, Zero under the banner of Curtiss. The Curtiss name came from Glenn Curtiss, a builder and racer who set numerous motorcycle speed records in the early 1900s.
Despite the fact that Curtiss is an electric bike company, the only motorbike they currently sell, the Warhawk, has a 2,163cc V-twin petrol engine. Just 35 of the £86,140 Warhawk were scheduled for production, representing the end of the fossil fuel driven chapter in the company’s history.
In May 2018 Curtiss unveiled the first Zeus prototype powered by a 14.4kWh lithium-ion battery and the world’s first ‘E-Twin’ power unit (two motors joined to a single output shaft).
Curtiss said at the time that the design DNA of the Zeus would define every Curtiss motorcycle moving forward.
"This minimalist, pure, organic brand language has been carefully developed over the last several years, and foreshadows an entire family of Curtiss products to come," said Cornille at the time.
And it only took a few months before the next member of the family came along. The Curtiss Hera took its design inspiration from Glenn Curtiss’ 1907 V8 motorcycle with which he set a land speed record of 136.3mph on Ormand Beach, Florida.
"With Hera, we set out to create the world’s most luxurious motorcycle," explained Curtiss CEO, Matt Chambers at the time.
"Featuring the world’s first V8 battery architecture, an ultra-powerful, yet refined, E-Twin motor, and a 66-inch wheelbase, Hera will occupy a class all her own."