Attention, track day riders and racers: How would you like a motorcycle that weighs 147 kgs, has 600 cc supersport acceleration, and never needs a valve adjustment?
Michael Uhlarik is promising just that, with his new electric motorcycle, the Amarok P1.
You might not recognize Uhlarik’s name, and that’s not surprising. He’s been a motorsports industry insider for years, but always behind the scenes. His new battery bike might change that, though.
Uhlarik (who calls Nova Scotia home) built the Amarok P1 in conjunction with Kevin O’Neil, and the bike sounds like it could be a game-changer, not just for the Canadian industry, but for the electric motorcycle scene as a whole.
We recently had the chance to quiz Uhlarik about their bike via email; here’s what he had to say.
Meet the bike
Uhlarik started working on the Amarok project in 2010, when the global financial recession cost him his previous position. O’Neil joined the project shortly before Uhlarik started the initial mock-up of the P1. They’ve funded the project 100 per cent themselves, with Uhlarik handling technical drawings, and physical modelling, and O’Neil handling the manufacturing of the real prototype.
Uhlarik had been thinking about monocoque electric vehicles for a while, and decided to take advantage of his new found free time to build a lightweight, powerful track bike offering “the kind of balance and handling that only the best gasoline race bikes can dream of.”
Two years later, he says he and O’Neil have reached that goal, without using any exotic materials.
“We are massively lighter than the next lightest bike with the same sort of power output,” Uhlarik says. “The Italian eCRP has the same engines and about the same battery as us, but weighs 20kgs more, and it has the benefit of magnesium wheels, carbon fibre bodywork and a large number of very expensive and exotic components.
“In other words, they have very little left in the way of weight saving potential with their current design, whilst the P1 rides on off-the-shelf street wheels, brakes and not one gram of titanium or carbon. Once we get our new swingarm and front fork assembly made, and real racing wheels installed expect to shed at least another 20 kgs.”
For further comparison, Uhlarik says more famous electric motorcycles, such as the Brammo Empulse RR, Motoczysz and Lightning motorcycles all weigh over 220 kgs. They may put out more power, but that extra grunt is needed to push the additional bulk.
It’s not as if the P1 is a slouch in the speed department, either; Uhlarik says the bike’s theoretical top speed is 245 km/h with its current gearing, although they haven’t reached that speed on the machine yet. Acceleration should be on par with a 600 cc supersport machines, he says.
The bike is powered by twin Agni 95R DC motors, each putting out a maximum of 42 hp, and with a constant output of 21 hp, making a total max output of 84 hp and constant output of 42 hp. The motor draws energy from the a 185-volt lithium-polymer battery, with 7.5 kWH nominal capacity.
It has an EVNetics Soliton Jr. ECU, with fully adjustable throttle-by-wire. Users can configure power delivery to suit their needs, as well as power regeneration – the rear wheel can be configured to pump “juice” back into the battery, allowing users to not only regain some of the battery’s charge, but also take advantage of engine-braking, electric-style.
Otherwise, braking comes from two 310 mm floating discs up front, with four-piston Tokiko calipers and Tokiki master cylinder. The rear brake is an inboard coaxial rear disc brake, attached to the motor drive shaft, similar to E-type Jaguar autos, or Jesse Jame’s VTX1300-based cafe racer concept.
The P1 doesn’t have a gearbox transmission like Brammo. It doesn’t even have a CVT transmission; it has a single-speed transmission, with double reduction. Uhlarik says he and O’Neil wanted to follow the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
“Transmission systems are incredibly expensive, finicky to get right, and extremely heavy,” says Uhlarik. “While the multiplying effect of a transmission system like those is undeniable, there is an equally punitive effect to cost and performance.
“Even the very best motorcycle transmissions incur terrible power losses. With electric batteries being where they are, we don’t believe that is the right solution.”
Another advantage of the P1’s design is that it lets racers use existing off-the-shelf chain and sprocket kits; Uhlarik says he wanted racer to be able to buy the parts they need as easily as possible, instead of being stuck with one-of-a-kind parts, like a one-off sprocket with a unique bolt pattern.
It’s also designed to be easily upgraded when better parts – improved batteries, for instance – come to market.
The Amarok P1 Experience
Why would a racer want to buy an Amarok P1? Uhlarik says his bike has a lot to offer. Riders don’t have to worry about shifting the transmission, gas sloshing around in the tank, the power-sapping effects of a cooling system or gyroscopic effects of pistons and gears. Instead, they can focus on speed and cornering, and the bike’s neutral handling.
And after the race, instead of spending money on pistons and top end work, says Uhlarik, users can focus on tweaking their electronic setups.
“When they pull into pits, they can wirelessly connect to the control unit and adjust the throttle and engine power map. Click click, done. Back out on to the track in minutes, no wrenches of mess,” he says. “The old guard may not like that idea, but anyone born after 1990 is wired this way. And anybody will appreciate having GP style power electronics at their fingertips for a reasonable amount of money.”
Uhlarik says the P1’s current battery lasts for about 45 minutes of extreme on-track use before the power control unit shuts it down. That would translate to about 50 or 60 kilometres on the street; Uhlarik figures it would be good for 140-160 kilometres under normal throttle use on the street, but this bike isn’t designed for that.
Instead, this bike is designed for track use, at least for now.
What lies ahead
For now, there’s only a single P1 in existence, and Uhlarik is wary of placing exact availability on the bike, or nailing down an MSRP (likely in the $18-25,000 range).
But for 2013, Uhlarik and O’Neill plan to take the P1 on the road. They’re planning to raise support and race in the TTXGP electric bike race series, as well as demo the bike at Canadian tracks. They also plan to develop the P2 model; the updated bike should be 10 per cent more powerful and 25 kgs lighter than the P1 model. Charging times should drop as well, thanks to battery improvements.
While the P2 will still be a machine aimed at serious racers, Uhlarik says they’re hoping to have a machine for the masses available by 2014. This model the P3, should be smaller, lighter, and less costly. Inevitably, Uhlarik says, this will lead to a street version of the bike.
“This is why electric vehicles are so exciting,” Uhlarik says. “This is the kind of development we haven’t seen in gasoline tech in 75 years
“Amarok is the first Canadian electric motorcycle out there that is designed by motorcycle industry professionals for motorcycle enthusiasts. There will be a lot of competition and that is great, but I feel that our approach, of taking the very best qualities of modern gas bikes and building an electric motorcycle vehicle system from scratch, from the ground up, to maximize those qualities is what makes us special.
“In the end, I want Amarok to be recognized as a true, racers choice.”
And, he wants Amarok to be a made-in-Canada machine, saying our country has a supplier network that’s second-to-none in automotive expertise. That expertise can translate to success in the world of motorcycle manufacturing, he says.
“People forget that Canada manufactures more cars than the UK, France or Italy, countries with famous car brands sold around the world,” he says. “Making motorcycles is small beer compared to automobile production.
“… In my travels and working life around the developed world, I met Canadians working at the very highest levels, at prestige posts of tier one brands, even in MotoGP and Formula 1. So yes, we sure as hell can build world class motorcycles here.”
For another look at the bike, check out the video below.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.