Electric motorcycles generally fall into two categories these days: Expensive bikes, with high-performance chassis and brakes to go with highway capability and long-range batteries. Or, less expensive motorcycles, with minimalist powertrain and low range, aimed at urban transportation.
Opibus has designed a motorcycle that combines aspects of those two worlds, aimed at a role of practical transport in Africa.
The Opibus electric motorcycle (see the website here) came about as a research project from a Swedish university, aimed at bringing electric mobility to emerging markets. The planners decided to produce the motorcycles in Kenya, due to its position as the fastest growing country in sub-Saharan Africa. The Opibus project started with electric conversions of used vehicles (the standard 4×4 SUVs that you see all over Africa), but has now morphed into production of its own battery bike.
The new motorcycle has a top speed of 90 km/h, which should be enough for many African roads. There’s room for a dual-battery setup on the bike, and Opibus says those two batteries are good for a 200-km range. Plus, they’re quick-swappable, so if you can get your hands on a set of charged-up batteries, you can trade the depleted cells for new ones in a hurry, instead of waiting for a recharge.
The bike has a pretty barebones chassis; dual rear shocks, drum brakes, and no mention of regenerative braking. It’s not intended too be a fancy virtue-signalling toy; it’s intended to function as a workhorse. Note that big rear rack. Still, there are LED lights and other modern, relatively low-cost features that make sense to include as stock, but a Japanese OEM would charge you to add.
The most noteworthy feature of all: Supposedly, this bike is priced around $1,500 US. That’s a lot of money for a developing country, but it’s sure a lot more affordable than some of the competition, and at least running costs should be minimal.