If you didn’t have the time to read my 3,700 word tome on what it is like to ride the Mission R electric superbike through San Francisco’s motorcycling playground, I will break it down for you: it was awesome. Of course, riding an entirely custom-built motorcycle with the absolute best components, design, and engineering available should be an awesome experience, especially when you add in one of the most sophisticated electric powertrains on the market. The Mission R isn’t some exercise in hugging trees and saving humpback whales though, it is an exercise in building a better motorcycle than what we have today.

We have known the downside to this discourse for some time though: Mission Motors is no longer in the business of selling motorcycles, and the Mission R is not, and will not, be available for sale (just ask Ryan Reynolds, who was turned down by Mission when he tried to get a Mission R of his very own) — sad trombone. If you too feel a might blue because of that news, I have some information that will pick you up this Monday afternoon. The guys at Mission Motors have been floating the idea of licensing the Mission R to a manufacturer, creating the possibility that if the right OEM was interested, the Mission R could become a publicly available motorcycle for your two-wheeling pleasure.

Tight-lipped on specifics, the only formal comment that Mission Motors will make about the subject is that conversations of this nature have taken place with OEMs, and that the company is open to the idea of either licensing the entire Mission R, or just its powertrain, to a well-qualified motorcycle manufacturer. While the Mission R in its current trim is easily a six-figure machine, using more obtainable components, and producing a run of some volume could bring the electric superbike’s price down into the $40,000 to $50,000 price range. Still a pricey endeavor to be sure, but not entirely unheard of when it comes to limited edition sport bikes.

When you take a step back for a minute, it is with great irony that Mission Motors made the Mission R electric superbike when it did. Known as Hum Cycles when it first set out to build an electric motorcycle, the company would later change its name as it came out of stealth mode and debuted the avant garde Mission One PLE. Despite the favorable press at the time, the Mission One by most accounts is now considered an epic failure.

Beautiful in its own right, the Mission One’s design however was entirely too edgy for the conservative tastes of the motorcycling community, which was already struggling to wrap its collective heads around the idea that the motorcycles of the future would that run off electricity rather than fossil fuels.

To complicate matters, the company’s first racing effort would end with a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2009 Isle of Man TT, and while the electric powertrain components on the Mission One were quite good (they were after all Mission’s core competency), the chassis was considerably under-developed, as was the bike as a whole. The $70,000 price tag didn’t help things much either.

Around the same time as Forrest North’s departure from the company in February 2010, Mission Motors went under a drastic change regarding its corporate direction. Focusing instead on supplying electric drive components to automotive OEMs, the company left its formal two-wheeled pursuits behind. However by the end of the year, Mission Motors debuted its second-generation electric motorcycle, the Mission R.

Learning from the mistakes of the Mission One, the Mission R features a well-sorted chassis, courtesy of James Parker of GSX-RADD fame, as well as a modern, but approachable, style that was tastefully done by Tim Prentice at Motonium. The best part about the Mission R though is that the bike has some serious racing chops — obliterating the competitive 2011 TTXGP field at Laguna Seca in with lap times that would have qualified it fifth on the AMA Supersport grid. The company then saw the departure of its last remaining founder, Edward West.

A looker and a runner, Mission Motors has broken many hearts, both in the electric & internal combustion realms, with the news that it would not be producing the Mission R for public consumption. The irony then, if you haven’t already caught onto yet, is that when Mission Motors was in the business of making electric motorcycles, it failed in that endeavor.

But when the San Franciscan upstart focused its efforts in other directions, its “rolling showcase” became a very competent motorcycle — something I got to witness first-hand not too long ago, and bringing us full-circle in this diatribe.

While today’s news isn’t a resounding confirmation that the Mission R is coming to fruition, it at least cracks the door open to the possibility that one of the best street-legal electric motorcycles in existence could come to some sort of purchasable realization.

Our next question is whom, if anyone, will pick-up the project from Mission, and if they do, will the Mission R have been in the public space too long for its unique design and characteristics to be relevant to a motorcycle buyer. Only time can tell.

Photos: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • Archer

    “if the right OEM was interested, the Mission R could become a publicly available motorcycle for seventy five miles of your two-wheeling pleasure.”

    there, fixed that for you. Carry on good sir. ;)

  • Actually, the interesting part about this is that by the time it came to market, the Mission R would have probably have double the battery pack on board. So, make that 150 miles of your two-wheeling pleasure.

  • Spektre76

    The guys at Mission Motors have been floating the idea of licensing the Mission R to a manufacturer, creating the possibility that if the right OEM was interested, the Mission R could become a publicly available motorcycle for your two-wheeling pleasure.

    So, greed wins again?

  • protomech

    Mission R has what, around 14 kWh? That should be good for around 75 miles of riding like a lunatic or about 100 miles at legal speeds on the freeway. Around town – at speeds of 45-55 mph – it should see 120+ miles.

    Lightning claims 100 miles on the freeway from a 12 kWh pack, and Brammo claims 56 miles on the freeway from its 9.3 kWh pack.

    Mission also has some very nice onboard charger designs that share a liquid cooling system with the motor for reduced weight and packaging. The sample charger is a 4.5 kW unit, which almost certainly is not integrated into the R race bike. A future production model could be upgraded to a 30A or 40A unit .. which would give you recharge speeds of around 45 to 60 freeway miles per hour charging.

    The ultimate solution to bury “range anxiety” is fast DC charging. Ubiquitous, compatible fast DC charging stations – like the 480V CHAdeMO charging system used in the Nissan Leaf – could fill a Mission R-like bike to about 80% in 15 minutes (an effective rate of 320 freeway miles / hour).

    Wrinkles abound: batteries that can be charged quickly are compromised in other ways; regular fast charging can prematurely age today’s batteries; SAE and CHAdeMO are struggling with competing standards; 480v supply is uncommon. Most of these are engineering problems. We’re good at solving engineering problems.

  • @img 14 of 33: Well those cops weren’t there because of a noise violation!

  • NickGr46

    To Mission Ones’s boss.

    Sell it to a japanese manufacturer, then let him build it in China or India.

    After that maybe the whole world is able to ride it….:P

  • Hugh

    Man, that helmet is so cool. What I wouldn’t give to fit AGV’s…

    Oh and bike’s pretty neat too!

  • Westward

    I’m guessing Honda

  • Adam Silver

    Now they have Audi’s backing, Ducati should do this. However, I suspect there’s a big NIH culture at Ducati – so unlikely.

  • Everett

    I didn’t get a chance to write in with the previous article, but I knew the results as soon as I saw the review: “the best bike that you can’t have (and only goes 75 miles)’. But now, with this, I’m stoked again, need to start saving. Do want.

  • David

    Why in the hell would an OEM want to buy a POS like this when they (Honda maybe) could (if they ever get serious) pop out these kind of bikes in their sleep without even trying.?

    Once the large OEM’s decide there is a market for electric sportbikes then their massive engineering departments will start coming out with stuff that is megawatts ahead of what the current little guys are building.

  • David, I’m no great fan of electrics, but really, calling it a POS? Who are you? Because you’d better have some serious cred to take that stance against something this complicated and difficult to create.
    Seriously, what merits have you to say that?
    I’m waiting.

  • David, I think you grossly overestimate the ability of large OEMs to create highly focused products, especially in new categories, let alone excel in those categories. As the perfect counterpoint (laced with behind-the-scenes irony), Honda DID in fact build an electric superbike. It competed at Isle of Mann this year under the Mugen team. It did pretty well (3rd), but the Mission R is a superior bike (as were the two MotoCsysz bikes that beat the Mugen at IoM) despite being a full year older.

    The right team will beat a big team in a new space every time.

  • Ken C.

    Electric drivetrain technology isn’t just a matter of slapping an electric motor and a few batteries into a chassis. Anybody can do that. It’s the engineering and development that goes into making the most efficient and best performing drivetrains out there. Why do you think OEMs like Mercedes Benz and Toyota partnered with Tesla Motors for electric drivetrain development in cars. Companies like Mission Motors and Tesla are years ahead of anybody else in terms of EV development. Unless OEMs sink a gazillion dollars into development, they’ll never catch up.

    That said, if Tesla Motors can go from building a few Roadsters to mass producing the Model S, I say Mission Motors can go from building the Mission One to mass producing the Mission R. It just wouldn’t be the same if an OEM took the Mission R drivetrain and put it into, say, a Honda Ruckus. :P

  • David

    I’ll concede that it might have some interesting technology underneath the bodywork. But,for me, the lack of range makes it a useless,overpriced,POS. Sorry if that offends you guys, but that’s just the way I feel about something so expensive and so useless.

    An electric golf cart is more useful then the Mission R.

    I’m fully aware that the handwriting is on the wall for ICE transportation. The electric revolution has only just begun. It may not be in my lifetime, but I expect somebodies Grand kids will be laughing at their GrandPa when he tells them about having to put gasoline in his fuel tank for his motor run.

  • protomech

    Marc – the Mugen placed 2nd at IOM TT Zero with their freshman entry. MotoCzysz has been racing there since 2009.

    John McGuinness is the best there is on the IOM. I’m hugely impressed at MotoCzysz’s gains over 2011 and that they beat out a well-funded racing effort with McPint onboard. With that said, Mugen was very conservative with their energy management – I would put huge odds against MotoCzysz placing a bike on top in 2013.

    Tesla is on top of the electric car game because they’re spending huge sums to do so. They don’t have a lot of legacy baggage and bureaucracy, but the difference in resources for Tesla vs Nissan et al is much less than MotoCzysz / Brammo / Zero vs the Hondas of the world.

  • Hugo

    Where is the problem?
    you get the frame from the guy who built it, you buy from Mission motor the powertrain, as it is what they appear to be interested in. You fit it with the components you like and there is your bike. How much it would cost?
    If you need to ask …..

  • Rob

    Sorry but for $40k and only a 100 mile range of normal riding is kind of a joke. There aren’t enough charging stations so in reality what ever you get is really cut in half plus another 10% for some peace of mind. Once charging stations are everywhere like parking meters then a bike like this will make sense. Also prices have to be similar to gas powered motorcycles if electric motorcycles want to gain any type of market share.

  • protomech, I’ll stand by my statement that the measure of resources is quality not quantity, and organizational capability is a bigger barrier than engineering capability. A huge team and bottomless cash reserves is not a formula for success in this nascent space. The challenge is simplified in a racing arena because the parameters for performance/success are tightly defined, and even there Honda first needed several first movers to define the challenge (fit as much battery on the bike as possible), and then some considerable outside help in creating a solution. A roadgoing bike is a far more complex problem than a race bike. Like the race space, Honda will wait for others to test and prove the waters. It will be 5 years or more before they are able to sell an electric superbike (barring an acquisition), at which point other players and likely several new brands will have established themselves.

    No one can optimize better than Honda, but they need other companies to point them to the spaces and products for optimization, and they take a long time to do it. They have an advantage in a space that is leveling off, but are too slow to create an advantage in one that is rapidly evolving. They can build a better bike than the Mission R, but by the time they do, Mission will have done the same, possibly twice over.

  • Bob

    $40-50k is ludacris for 100 mile range. Missing has some catching up to do: the Brammo Empulse 100 mile range bike is $18k.

  • Westward

    I agree with Rob.

    Bob, more like $19k, the federal incentives may be enough to negate tax, setup fees and such. But either way, its still too much for a theoretical 100 too…

  • Bob

    Brammo still needs to actually deliver an Empulse R to the market, but when they do, I will be VERY surprised of it does 100 miles in real life use – especially with my heavy throttle hand.

    What EV OEMs claim on the test course, and what consumers experience in real life are two very different things.

  • Spektre76

    Maybe Mission just needs the financial backing of an OEM. Like the Audi / Ducati relationship.