Chris Bell has just put the finishing touches to a new version of his Brutus electric sport cruiser. Brutus 2.0 will continue to be tweaked for improved performance ahead of an end of year production window, but has already managed a zero to 60 mph (96.56 km/h) test run in just 4.74 seconds - despite tipping the scales at 535 pounds (242kg) - and is claimed to have a top speed in excess of 100 mph (160.93 km/h), and a range of at least 100 miles (160.93 km) between charges. The new version has been treated to a new drive train, upgraded braking, new bodywork, new electronics and new controls.
While it's true that last year's Brutus electric motorcycle was quite the stunner, the tasty bodywork changes made to Bell's chain-driven 2012 model - Brutus 2.0 - are simply mouthwatering. There have been quite a few performance improvements, too, starting with the batteries. The new model sees 153 volt/4.9kWh Lithium Polymer battery packs that replace the earlier sealed lead acid outing, and that are designed to last up to 50,000 miles with minimal maintenance (if any). The batteries are recharged using a household mains outlet (110 V), and it's said to take just three hours to reach full charge.
Bell says that it's better for riders to know the minimum range because different riding styles will yield different maximums. Brutus 2.0 is claimed, therefore, to offer aggressive riders an effective range of 100 miles between charges.
The D&D Systems brushed DC electric motor has 88 or 96 volts running to it, depending on whether the rider chooses the eco or performance program. Bell explained that the liquid-cooled, owner programmable Manzanita Zilla 1k motor controller manages pack voltage at 153 volts but only lets 88/96 volts through to the motor, allowing for "virtually no sag in amps or volts during hard acceleration and puts less stress on the pack as a whole."
Working with the clutchless five speed transmission, this set up is said to offer more range and better performance in all riding conditions.
New to the front of Brutus 2.0 is full HID and LED lighting, with the headlight area gaining a small fairing. The digital display is also a Manzanita unit, the LighTech carbon fiber rear view mirrors have been shifted to above the grips, and there are 50mm, inverted, 3-way, 14-point, adjustable front forks. The gas tank is not just there for show, it's hinged to allow keyed access to the batteries and a small storage area - big enough to hold a pair of gloves and some tools.
All of the bodywork was hand-made in steel by Bell in his Las Vegas shop. The specs quote a 31-inch (78.74 cm) seat height, although the Link Type 3-Way 22-Point Adjustable Rear Shock caters for three-position ride height adjustment.
With that impressive top speed, stopping power is of obvious importance. Brutus 2.0 has twin 6 piston dual Galfer rotor brakes at the front and dual piston caliper single Galfer rotor brake at the rear.
"The rear calipers are independently controlled," Bell told us. "One by a standard foot brake and the other by a hand brake on the left side where the clutch lever normally is."
Bell revealed that the next three Brutus prototypes are currently in pieces in his shop, waiting to be built. He also told us that he's currently working with Nevada law enforcement on a version of the electric sport cruiser with better acceleration and bodywork, and features geared more toward the useable office requirements of motor patrol officers.
"If I can get a fast track through all the federal red tape, the end of the year will see models available to the public," said Bell. "As I move forward with meeting federal standards I am working with industry leaders to identify any potential issues and address those issues before they become a problem to gaining all the necessary approvals."
"I really hate to put a price out right now because it will end up being less by the time we get to production but I can say with confidence it will be less than US$35,000," he said, when asked about the cost to future Brutus riders. "With rebates and incentives that price will drop quite a bit. As for the international market, I would love to make Brutus available and plan on it. Only time and demand will tell, for now I will focus my efforts in America but I will always consider special orders for international buyers."
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning