Batteries power Bultaco’s return

Bultaco Rapitan

Decades ago, Bultaco was a big name in off-road motorcycles. Now, the Spanish marque is back, but things have changed – big time.

Bultaco made their name in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s on scramblers, trials bikes and enduro machines. But in the late ’70s, labour troubles and money woes set the brand backwards, and by 1983, they were out of business. Now, they’re back.

Instead of two-stroke ring-dingers, though, the new bikes (the Rapitan and Rapitan Sport) are powered by PowerCore MK1 air-cooled brushless moto electric motors, making around 53 horsepower and 92 ft-lb torque. That motor was designed specifically for Bultaco, and it’s a far cry from the two-smokers of the past.

The new bikes have aggressive street styling, and interesting design features. To reduce front suspension dive, they’ve got Hossack-style front ends, similar to BMW’s Telelever suspension. They’ve got a storage hatch up front where the gas tank would be, similar to Honda’s NC700 series.

Of course, the Bultacos don’t need gas tanks, because they’re battery-powered. The company claims they can get 200 kms of city riding on a charge of their lithium-ion batteries. That’s impressive range; the company claims they get more range due to their proprietary drive train. It’s supposed to offer regenerative braking that offers a feel similar to four-stroke engine braking, while recharging your bike’s batteries as you slow down. This isn’t revolutionary technology – other battery bike builders are doing the same thing. However, Bultaco claims their machines are going to outperform everyone else’s.

Are the new bikes the real deal? On paper, they sound like they have plenty to offer, although the power output is definitely behind some of the competition. When they hit the streets, we’ll know more, but you’ll have to wait a while for that, as there hasn’t even been a hint of Canadian availability yet. They’re planning to start their sales campaign in Europe and the US next year. They’re going to build the machines in the old Derbi factory in Barcelona.

Want more details? Visit Bultaco’s website here, but be warned – you’ll need to learn to speak Spanish, or use Google Translate.


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