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$114,000 Arc Vector Electric Motorcycle To Go Into Production In 2020


By Andrew Cherney, Cycle World

When Arc showed up at last November’s EICMA Motorcycle Show to debut its new electric motorcycle, the Vector, many pundits assumed the high-priced, high-concept, high-speed bike would never make it into production. Too ambitious, they grumbled.

You know what they say about assuming—especially when the company in question was founded by the former head of Jaguar's White Space division (essentially the skunk works section). That would be one Mark Truman, who along with his team developed the electric motorcycle concept that eventually took the form of the Arc Vector concept unveiled in Milan.

 
After a period of crowdfunding, nonstop testing, and design revisions, Truman and Arc have just announced that what they call “the world's most advanced motorcycle” will enter full production at a new facility in South Wales by the end of 2020. Because just 399 units are slated to be built (and those will be built to order) in the first 18 months, the neo-café racer's price tag will be set at a lofty $114,217 (90K pounds).
What makes this electric two-wheeler so special? More than a couple of things: the so-called Human Interface Technology (which includes a HUD display); a state-of-the-art carbon monocoque and custom swingarm design; groundbreaking hub-center steering arrangement; extremely power-dense battery cells; made-to-order brakes and suspension; and race-inspired wheels. Definitely not your basic factory machine.

What makes this electric two-wheeler so special? More than a couple of things: the so-called Human Interface Technology (which includes a HUD display); a state-of-the-art carbon monocoque and custom swingarm design; groundbreaking hub-center steering arrangement; extremely power-dense battery cells; made-to-order brakes and suspension; and race-inspired wheels. Definitely not your basic factory machine.


Arc is one of a few OEMs to also develop its own carbon swingarm (in collaboration with MotoGP manufacturer Riba) to maximize lateral flex for cornering stability, grip, and agility. Furthering weight reduction was the healthy application of carbon and quality alloys, the use of exposed copper for detailing, as well as aircraft-grade aluminum, all of which helped to keep the Vector’s stated dry weight at an impressive 485 pounds.

Then there’s the hub-center steering, which puts the steering pivot points inside the hub of the wheel, rather than above the wheel in the headstock on traditional layouts. On the other hand, the carbon-fiber swingarm looks to be business as usual with a conventional twin spar arrangement, also connected to a fully adjustable Öhlins monoshock.

The componentry may be impressive, but what really differentiates the Vector from other bikes is its battery-module carbon monocoque design, rather than the conventional frame you'd see on most other bikes. The battery, motor, and controllers are packaged into a carbon container in the body which is structurally integral, making the chassis super stiff while allowing the front and rear suspension to be directly attached. When you combine the novel structural design and the new type of battery cells being used, the Arc Vector claims to be 25 percent lighter than its nearest competition.


Founder (and CEO) Mark Truman has done the lion's share of track testing the bike himself at tracks and airfields, and then revising and dialing in the Vector's geometry. Truman explained the advantages of hub-center steering this way: “The system we’ve developed gives the bike low-speed control. There are a handful of manufacturers who’ve implemented hub-center steering in the past, but they did so with an anti-dive system. Riders want the bike to dive under braking, that’s what we’re used to. For the Vector, we’ve created a system that has all the benefits of HCS but which feels like a set of forks. The advantage is stiffness which allows for a steep rake angle and a chassis that enables fast changes of direction with stability at high speed. What we’ve devised is the best of both worlds with none of the negatives.”

A good amount of development has also been done on the powertrain with battery-cell supplier Samsung. The Vector packs in 960 Samsung 21-700 batteries, which are some of the most energy-dense cells in the world—and the Arc Vector is the first motorcycle to use them. “Right now, you can't actually buy them,” Arc’s Head of Electrical Engineering Robin Boyd explains. “Samsung is prototyping and developing them, and have partnered with Arc Vehicle as part of this process. The Vector has more battery cells and power than any other electric motorcycle. With these upgraded cells, we are extremely confident in meeting our performance and range targets.”


Another major part of the Arc Vector’s design is how it incorporates wearable technology, like a Head-Up Display helmet developed by the company which serves up all crucial ride information to the rider while allowing him to keep his eyes on the road. Another component of that so-called Human Interface Technology includes a special haptic jacket designed to give riders cues and feedback via vibrations from built-in electronics.

With a 399-volt electric motor capable of 133 bhp and sporting that low weight of 485 pounds, Arc says the Vector will have the best power-to-weight ratio of any electric two-wheeler. Battery capacity is 16.8 kWh, and a combined range, they say, will be around 270 miles. Zero to 60 mph gets done in three seconds, and the top speed will be 125 mph (or limited to 200 kph). On its website, Arc says charge time for the Vector will be 40 minutes—assuming that’s with the fast-charging CCS DC charger.


Mark Truman’s philosophy on handling is to balance performance with control. The Vector seems to be agile and unquestionably powerful, but is designed to be user-friendly too, and Truman wants it to be fun to ride, either in town or out on the open road. Those sound like admirable and attainable goals. But can we drop the price a bit too?

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Unplugged Magazine: $114,000 Arc Vector Electric Motorcycle To Go Into Production In 2020
$114,000 Arc Vector Electric Motorcycle To Go Into Production In 2020
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