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Caterham charged to produce e-bikes and motorcycles

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November 8, 2013

Caterham’s Classic e-bike draws design inspiration from the track-board racers of the 1920...

Caterham’s Classic e-bike draws design inspiration from the track-board racers of the 1920s

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Since 1957 Caterham Group has been known for its purpose-built sports cars, Formula One entries and overall motorsports shenanigans. This week at the International Motorcycle Exhibition (EICMA) in Milan, however, Caterham announced that it will be expanding its product offerings from four-wheeled machinery to that of the two-wheeled variety. Starting in 2014 Caterham Bikes will introduce three new products: the Brutus 750, the Classic E-Bike and the Carbon E-Bike.

Brutus 750

If Mercedes Benz' Unimog division was ever to build a motorcycle, the Brutus 750 would be it. Dubbed the “SUV of motorcycles” and with a face only a mother could love, Caterham’s utilitarian off-road bike is less about the pretty and more about pure off-road functionality. Brutus’ most obvious element, those big, fat, chunky 26 x 10 R14 tires are, according to Caterham, designed to give the bike flexibility as a on-road machine, off-road device or even a snowmobile.

Brutus 750 is powered by a 750 cc single-cylinder engine, with liquid-cooling, DOHC, 4 val...

Powering the Brutus throughout its various snowy, backwoods adventures will be a 4 valve, DOHC, 750cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled engine. Brutus’ automatic CVT gearbox is designed to give inexperienced riders an easier learning curve and more user friendly experience versus the traditional manual configuration. To keep the ride as polite as possible, Caterham has outfitted Brutus with up-side down 43mm Hydraulic telescopic forks up front and a single shock out back with compression and preload adjustments.

But back to that snowmobiling. We haven't yet seen any photos, but according to Caterham the Brutus 750 can be converted from rugged two-wheel riding machine into a snowmobile with ease thanks to an aftermarket conversion kit. The kit means Brutus can play about in snow, sand or other loose materials with the dexterity of a traditional ATV.

Classic e-bike

With a wheelbase of 1.46 m (4.8 ft), height of 1.13 m (3.6 ft) and a total length of 2.15 m (7 ft) Brutus 750 weighs out at a hefty 235 kg (518 lb) ... so it's not exactly nimble. To pretty up Brutus' otherwise polarizing aesthetic Caterham chose to strategically splash yellow, white and British Racing Green colors about the bike's chassis. Unlike its hefty big brother, Caterham’s Classic e-bike draws design inspiration from the track-board racers of the 1920s. The e-bike is powered by a 36 V, 250 W, brushless motor mounted in the center with a torque sensor to manage power. A Panasonic 36 V, 12 Ah lithium battery provides the juice and Caterham has designed the bike so an optional second battery pack can be added if desired.

The Classic e-bike is powered by a 36 Volt, 250 Watt, brushless motor with torque sensor

The fake cylinder heads are a nice design touch in hiding the electric motor while also paying homage to the track racers of yore. The bike rides on old school, 26” x 4” balloon tires sized while braking is handled by disc and roller brakes. A Shimano Nexus 3 Speed gear setup gives riders moderate gearing flexibility as they pedal/ride throughout the bike’s claimed 25-50 mile (40-80 km) range. The faux fuel tank not only provides idyllic real estate for the Caterham logo but doubles as storage space for personal items or the battery charger.

Carbon e-bike

Last but not least of the bike trifecta is the Carbon e-bike. With an appearance that's neither retro nor utilitarian, Caterham says the Carbon’s design and material choices were inspired by the firm’s Formula One experience. This racing inspiration might explain the bike’s modular carbon-aluminum frame, oversized carbon girder forks, mono-shock rear suspension, lightweight aluminum rims, performance based braking system and carbon-fiber impregnated tires.

Production of Caterham’s three bikes will begin in the spring of 2014, with the Brutus 750...

Like the Classic, the Carbon uses a small LED screen mounted on the handlebars to provide speedometer, trip meter and battery range information. The bike also uses a similar powertrain configuration to the Classic bike, but instead of a three-speed gearbox it receives an eight-speed Shimano Nexus gear hub. The Carbon e-Bike will be available in three different frame sizes.

Production of Caterham’s three bikes will begin in the spring of 2014. The Brutus 750 will be first off the production line, with the Classic and Carbon e-bikes to follow later in the year.

Source: Caterham Bikes

About the Author
Angus MacKenzie Born on the cold, barren Canadian plains of Calgary, Alberta, Angus MacKenzie couldn’t decide between marketing, automotives or an entrepreneurial path - so he chose all three. When not writing, Angus has for the past six years been Editor-in-Chief for elemente, an internationally recognized architecture/design magazine.   All articles by Angus MacKenzie
14 Comments

I love the Classic beautiful old blended with the function of today. I would not change a thing. I even like the paint as it is. Ilove the fender lip details. Going with the early style front suspension is a delight. I've a bit of an issue with the copy writer. 26x2.125" ballon tires are old school. As best I know the 4" wide tires are a recent development for specialized riding on very soft soils. Frames of old bicycles that used 2.125" tires can not be fitted with a 4"wide tire. To me the 4" tires look great on this bike, and the electric assist will make a bike with these tires a lot more enjoyable. Now to find a place to put it, and a way to safely secure it when not on it when out & about.

Dave B13
8th November, 2013 @ 08:35 pm PST

I cannot describe how disappointed I am by this crap.

When I heard months ago that Caterham would be entering the motorcycle and ebike markets, I imagined nimble efficient cycles packed with hard earned F1 technology.

These things are the bottom of the barrel for rebranded plastic garbage.

Seriously Tony, you can do so much better.

glazey
10th November, 2013 @ 09:26 am PST

I love the simplicity of the board track racer look, even the fake V-twin, though it should have fins.....

Martin Hone
10th November, 2013 @ 04:15 pm PST

I suppose the most you can say is that they are 'different', though from what is the question.

Mel Tisdale
11th November, 2013 @ 02:30 am PST

So much for Caterham's reputation as a brand that stood for absolute purity of 'form follows function'- I don't think anyone over the age of six would hanker after these embarrassing ride-on toys.

Presumably Caterham intend their e-bike riders to make their own 'let's pretend' motor noises as they suck sugary drinks out of the phoney fuel tank...

bergamot69
11th November, 2013 @ 05:56 am PST

Looks to me like Carbon e-Bike above would have met all the desires of glazey whine. Also the front fork on that one looks pretty buzy, maybe the front wheel is also driven. I'd guess there is some computer control/ monitoring of rider pedal force with back & front wheel motor torque.

Dave B13
11th November, 2013 @ 06:22 am PST

Poor design in every possible sense ... fake plastic "V" twin engine cover? ...or a really poor copy of some Confederate Motorcycle model http://www.customfighters.com/2450/ ... what are you guys doing?! ... sad sad to see

Biggiginthesky
11th November, 2013 @ 08:57 am PST

Love the Classic E-bike. I do agree the motor should have fins, but otherwise a bullseye.

VoiceofReason
11th November, 2013 @ 09:41 am PST

What are these guys thinking?

At 518lb., this 750 should be called "Big Fat Brutus." Try picking this hunk up in the woods as that's the weight range of these 1200c.c. (phony) "adventure" bikes. There's no way it will compete/compare with the KTM or BMW 1200's.

Agree,the Classic e-bikes engine looks so phony.

Carbon e-bike is most true to the companies design heritage.

Good luck with the sales as I can't imagine but selling a few as collectables. Cannondale came close to bankruptcy with getting into the motorcycle market with a much better product. Service and dealerships will be another obstacle.

chidrbmt
11th November, 2013 @ 10:48 am PST

The fake cylinder heads on that ebike are hideous. The rest of the bike is pretty nice, but the fake cylinders look like something blown up from a cheap toy.

Michaelc
11th November, 2013 @ 08:02 pm PST

The reason I find the fake cylinder heads ok as they are is the batteries have to go somewhere, I figure they are the fake cylinder heads, other arrangements for locating the batteries that you'd prefer over what they did would be nice. The lack of fins does not upset me, if they are not needed, why have something that's going to be a pain to clean. If they realy wanted to give the impression of cylider heads, making them round, having fins, and running spark plug wires would be the JC Whitney thing to do, wait, maybe JC will come with a dress up kit., Could also have a license plate holder, now a change does occur to me. first thing I would do in remove the oval number plates, and put on a space age headlight & tail light.

Dave B13
12th November, 2013 @ 05:47 am PST

a 750cc watercooled single? What a bizarre choice of powerplant.

Has there ever been such a high displacement single-cylinder engine on any other motorcycle? I'd like to take a ride and see how it feels

Mandres
13th November, 2013 @ 12:04 pm PST

I actually like all 3 bikes and at least appreciate the Caterham is helping to advance the art of e-bikes and deserves kudos, while the large motorcycle manufacturers have all but ignored this market. As for the Classic, I agree that the execution looks a bit cheap and childish, but only when compared to bikes like the "Juicer", as featured in Gizmag last year, where the V-twin was actually the battery storage:

http://www.gizmag.com/juicer-old-timey-electric-bicycles/21045/

Brian Sharpe
20th November, 2013 @ 11:51 am PST

@Mandres,

Yes there has, Suzuki produced the DR "Big" 800cc single for a while, which was a total flop, enormous lumpen single cylinder machines are prior to the four stroke revolution that was forced to produce off road bikes to compete with nimble 2 strokes. The run of 450cc 4 strokes that followed were all kick arse. KTM produced a 690cc single (with better technology) which won Paris Dakar a few times. I believe it was a short stroke (oversquare) engine. Truth be known go and watch the world Enduro Championships, the top 10 is still full of 2 strokes - the direct injection version (pollution Euro 4 compliant) is going to be the motorcycle panacea. Light weight, massive power, bugger all moving parts. Not quite there yet. KTM etc have also worked on 2wd drive systems for performance off road machines.

Speedbump Andy
12th February, 2014 @ 03:43 pm PST
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