One of my daily stops in the blogsphere is a little tech blog called TechCrunch, which is known for its pretty firm grasp on the pulse of Silicon Valley, and balances its coverage of this fantasy ecosystem we have here in the San Francisco Bay Area with the appropriate amount of irreverence. As much as I like the site, the two-wheeled coverage of TechCrunch is fairly abysmal in its analysis and superficial in its depth, but that is probably a good thing, since it keeps me gainfully employed.
That being said, we should all be thankful for any coverage outside of motorcycling’s very small footprint, as when a tech blog behemoth like TechCrunch covers motorcycles, it exposes our little industry to a new audience of potential future motorcyclists. Such is the case with Lit Motors, which before this week was an obscure EV startup with a novel idea, but now after being named the first runner-up of the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco conference, the Lit Motors C-1 has significantly more buzz about it.
A fully-enclosed electric motorcycle, the defining feature of the Lit Motors C-1 is its ability to stay upright when stopped, thanks to some gyroscopes inside the vehicle. Similar to the MonoTracer design that has been bouncing around for over the past decade or so, the Lit Motors C-1 offers all the comfort and safety benefits of an enclosed vehicle, yet Lit’s design irons out some of the kinks and drawbacks to what MonoTracer was trying to do with its approach.
Touted by founder Danny Kim as having “all the efficiency and romance of a motorcycle, combined with the safety and comfort of a car,” the Lit Motors C-1 uses “1/4 the batter pack of Nissan Leaf” (that’s a 6 kWh battery pack according to our math…we’ve seen quotes of a 8kWh pack elsewhere though), which the company says is good for 200+ miles.
We all know how accurate these sort of estimates from EV companies are though; and for reference, the 14 kWh battery pack on the Mission R from Mission Motors lasted us a grand total of 75 miles in spirited riding conditions, and the 9 kWh battery pack on the Zero S ZF9 was good for about 60 miles in everyday driving.
As a motorcyclist, I have a hard time with the Lit concept. If you cannot already tell, I’m hardly excited about the C-1. But, that might be the point. The technology around the gyro-stablization that Lit has developed brings up a host of interesting possibilities in the two-wheeled world, and if something like the Lit Motors C-1 appeals to people outside of the already establish (and very conservative) motorcycling community, then more power to it.
I cringed my way through this 13 minute presentation/pitch at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF conference, but keep in mind that these are the reactions and opinions of non-motorcyclists. If this industry is to grow, it better take heed as it is going to be through winning the hearts and minds of people currently outside of motorcycling’s core constituents. Something to chew on for the weekend indeed.