The Opibus electric motorcycle project: Built for African transportation

Photo: Opibus

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.

Photo; Opibus

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.

Photo; Opibus

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.


  1. Kinda’ looks like an ole’ CZ. That Honda Navi trying to look all futuristic with a gas burner, then this little retro stripper electric comes along. Which is the future?

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