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The Exodus, by Suprine: A recumbent motorcycle powered by BMW

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July 22, 2013

The Suprine Exodus recumbent motorcycle

The Suprine Exodus recumbent motorcycle

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The Exodus recumbent motorcycle, by US company Suprine, is a 130-horsepower lay-back motorbike with a roll cage and a perspex windscreen. It's a radical design with a street-legal prototype already in action, and its remarkable form factor allows it to make a fantastic 80-plus miles per gallon on the highway, while looking like something out of a Japanese anime movie.

I think we'll file this under "nice execution of an odd idea." We see a lot of strange motorcycle concepts here at Gizmag, many of which never make it past the CGI stage. This is often for good reason. Motorcycles don't appear to be evolving particularly quickly at this point, so it's tempting to propose wild new designs, but at the end of the day the standard motorbike as we know it seems to still have an edge over competing ideas when it comes to real-world use and practicality.

One design that has made it through to a working prototype stage is this one, the Suprine Exodus. Built in Baltimore in the United States, the Exodus is a naked, recumbent motorcycle with a large windshield and a tubular steel spaceframe with a protective roll-cage.

The Suprine Exodus recumbent motorcycle

Built around a 1200-cc four-cylinder BMW engine, presumably out of the K1200LT tourer, the Exodus also incorporates the BMW's shaft drive and paralever rear suspension. Front suspension is a pair of raked-out telescopic forks and the gearbox is a five-speed with reverse – which I can imagine would come in very handy.

The cockpit features an aluminum racing bucket seat that puts the rider's backside just 7 inches off the ground. Initially, the Exodus is conceived as a bare-bones, naked celebration of engineering, but you can easily envisage it becoming an enclosed riding cabin in future releases.

The rider's feet are free to touch the ground and hold the bike upright at the lights, although the seating position looks like it'd make this a bit of a challenge. When it's moving, you pop your feet up onto a set of cruiser-style forward controls and off you go. Parking the bike requires an electrically operated centrestand (there's no side stand) so you've clearly got to pick a good flat spot.

The Suprine Exodus recumbent motorcycle

Benefits of the recumbent motorcycle design

The Exodus has been built to achieve rider comfort, aerodynamic efficiency, high gas mileage, enhanced rider safety and a low centre of mass. Probably its most impressive achievement is its claimed 80mpg (less than 3 litres per 100km) gas mileage - that's roughly twice the bang for buck I get out of my 2002 FZS1000, even when I'm being good.

The gas mileage is mainly a function of aerodynamics - with the rider sitting low in the frame and behind a smooth clear windshield, the Exodus has roughly 50% less frontal area than a regular motorbike, and its bullet-shaped profile no doubt helps it slip through the air even easier.

The Suprine Exodus recumbent motorcycle

Drawbacks of the recumbent motorcycle design

While the aerodynamics look really handy for extended freeway riding, drag racing and land speed record runs, to me the Exodus looks wildly impractical for day to day use.

For starters, the wheelbase looks to be well over 2 m (6.6 ft) long. Combined with the extreme rake of the forks, I'd expect the Exodus to execute a u-turn in roughly the same distance as a nuclear icebreaker. It's also big and heavy, weighing in at 680 lb (308 kg). Granted, it's lighter than the 761-lb K1200LT donor bike, but then, in your recumbent position, you really only have your calf muscles to hold it up with.

The Suprine Exodus recumbent motorcycle

Then there's the safety element. It's open to debate whether a rider is safer crashing in an enclosed metal frame or separating from the vehicle and doing the old Superman impersonation in a collision. But in terms of passive safety, one of the motorcyclist's key advantages is sitting higher than most car drivers, allowing you to see over the cars in front of you and read traffic two or three cars forward in the line. The Exodus puts you at tailpipe level even if you're following a compact sedan. With less information to work with, you'll need to leave a significantly bigger gap in front of you to maintain the same level of safety.

Overall impressions

As with all non-standard vehicle designs, the proof will be in the pudding, but the Suprine team can rightly be proud to have reached the street-legal prototype stage. The bike's engineering looks sturdy and the finish looks tough and futuristic, with a function-over-form approach that I always appreciate.

I'd certainly be game to take the Exodus out for a test ride as it'd be fascinating to see how such a thing would handle. But for now I'll keep my imaginary US$55,000 in my pocket and see how it develops.

You can see a video of the Exodus on the racetrack below.

More information at the Suprine website.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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23 Comments

I like this a lot. Bringing up so many hoon emotions from the old days. Being a big fan of the Akira bike, and having seen a few designs this looks to be the most practical and safest.

One thing:

" Parking the bike requires an electrically operated center stand (there's no side stand) so you've clearly got to pick a good flat spot."

Its begging for gyro stabilization, so give it what it needs.

A flywheel powered from the main drive can continue to keep the bike steady for a minute or so while the driver dismounts or lowers the mechanical supports.

Gyro stabilization might offer the second benefit of being able to control a drift if things go pear shaped.

Also, I know the theme is economy, and nothing has to deviate from this. But placing the driver in front begs for the mother of all engines.

Maybe something rotary with a turbo, or a alcohol fed gas turbine.

I'll be honest, the only thing I'd ever want to do sitting in this position is test the grip and upper speed limit.

Nairda
22nd July, 2013 @ 07:01 am PDT

It's a neat concept. Reminds me of the Tron light cycles a bit. Or the Akira bike.

It really seems like it should be a couple feet shorter, though. They seem to have kept the donor powertrain intact, and that makes it much longer than it should be.

Jon A.
22nd July, 2013 @ 08:40 am PDT

Nice! Reminds me of a more polished "MotoLuge":

http://tulberg.com/motoluge.html

Or a non-gyro version of the Lit Motors vehicle:

http://litmotors.com/

Very cool.

Milton
22nd July, 2013 @ 09:27 am PDT

Wait, this doesn't get as good millage as the elio? If that is the case I guess it being not fully enclosed creates some(i.e. a lot of) drag. Back in high school we had a class where we build an electric car and competed against other schools. Near our school we had a factory that produced single engine planes and they made a plastic coated fabric skin for the smaller planes to keep them light. I have no idea what it was called but they made us one for our car and it would go quite a bit farther on the same charge with it even though it added 35 lbs. We won every year because of this.

I really think a serious vehicle needs to be fully enclosed. This is fine for a street legal version of a snow machine or a 4 wheeler, basically something to play around on, but not to use every day or long distances.

exodous
22nd July, 2013 @ 06:09 pm PDT

I agree about the huge length, why not run gearbox/shaft drive along side the motor? Would not need a huge offset with the right engineering. As for parking, why not something like the several versions of locking dual front forks/wheels available on some (carving?) machines already? With separated front wheels, should be enough to keep it upright while climbing out.

The Skud
22nd July, 2013 @ 07:49 pm PDT

80mpg is hardly "fantastic" or "impressive." Another recumbent motorcycle, the Quasar, was said to have similar fuel economy, and that was made over 30 years ago.

Gadgeteer
23rd July, 2013 @ 12:43 am PDT

That is just so cool. I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time in urban areas but on the open highway it would be great. Two bad you cant pick up hitchhikers though.

Slowburn
23rd July, 2013 @ 04:33 am PDT

What about the voyager made by Royce Creasy in the U.K.? a much better concept.

Sandy Hewlett
23rd July, 2013 @ 04:52 am PDT

I think this is way cool. I think one could travel long distances since - basically - one is sitting down like in a car and not straddling it. I think side doors would make it even more aerodynamic.

BigWarpGuy
23rd July, 2013 @ 06:00 am PDT

Nothing new here and not a good example either.

I drive a low seat, low CG EV MC with just a 1' stretch so a passenger could sit low too for 78'' wheelbase IIRC, and it's just not smart go over a few '' longer than that as impossible to turn in close in normal spaces, roads. Just try to park it in many spots ;^p

His problem is picking the wrong too long motor/trans and it being in the rear forced the length. The only place for this is the freeway or a drag strip. Outside of those it's just a pain.

jerryd
23rd July, 2013 @ 11:10 am PDT

The highway mileage may be up there in the Elio range (projected) but the price is 6 or 7-fold. This is just an expensive toy.

Bruce H. Anderson
23rd July, 2013 @ 11:19 am PDT

Peraves Ecomobile has been around for +20 years already, http://www.webroad.ch/monotracer/

Andrej Radoš
23rd July, 2013 @ 12:42 pm PDT

This looks dangerous as hell. I've owned cruiser style motorcycles and recumbent bikes and enjoy riding them. But, as anybody who has ridden these things knows, when your legs are in an extreme feet-forward position, going over bumps and potholes can shake your feet loose from the controls/pedals. On a recumbent or a cruiser you can move your leg to the side when this happens and regain your position on the control/pedal without too much drama. I'm looking at that roll cage on the Exodus and one thought makes me cringe. Should your feet become dislodged from the forward controls it would only be too easy for them to come straight back, passing beneath you and becoming trapped under the frame. This happened to friend of mine who was test driving a go kart without floor panels. Both of his feet came off the controls when he hit a bump and his feet got folded up underneath him and the cart. It broke both of his ankles... badly. The Exodus is heavier than that kart and it looks like your feet, thanks to the roll cage, would have nowhere to go but straight back under the bike should they fall off the controls. Ouch!

Bassmandan
23rd July, 2013 @ 09:52 pm PDT

Grips need to be lower than shoulders. At the angle shown, hands would be slow to perfuse.

It's a great first step! As stated few ideas get off the drawing board.

Phileaux
23rd July, 2013 @ 10:26 pm PDT

I've been thinking of building something similar but with a Honda Goldwing drive train and two wheels in front placedabout where the drivers knees are to achieve a workable wheelbase.

Mike Kling
24th July, 2013 @ 05:23 am PDT

Malcolm Newell's rear-engined GPz1100-powered Slug was a much more advanced, and more practical machine, built in his workshop 30 years ago.

(It was fitted with Bob Tait's hub centre steering system).

http://bikeweb.com/node/403#comment-21

As others have pointed out, both Royce Creasey's SCL Voyagers and the Peraves Ecomobiles and Monotracers have far better packaging,enabling 2 people to be carried in much more practical, and much safer, Feet First vehicles.

http://bikeweb.com/node/2471

PNB

paulblez
24th July, 2013 @ 05:26 am PDT

The Peraves MonoTracer, and similar enclosed motorcycles have been exploring this idea since the 70's, and getting similar or better mileage. I don't know what the innovation is here, except for a more recumbent position.

Michaelc
24th July, 2013 @ 07:11 am PDT

Poor frame design, nothing triangulated to pass the loads along without bending. As others have pointed out, many, many other better engineered recumbents out there. This is Orange County Cycles level stuff. I give it a 4 for the attempt and a 2 for execution.

Lsaguy
24th July, 2013 @ 09:04 am PDT

re; Bassmandan

The is the matter of the suspension, if you're peddling, the type of shoes you're wearing, how fast you're going, and the surface you're on.

Slowburn
24th July, 2013 @ 09:08 am PDT

Oh dear. What a waste of effort.

I'll just add a video of a couple of 20-something year old Voyagers riding about in the rain in the UK.



Mine is the white one, I get @75mpg (@62mpg US) from it - had it for the past 10 years. Read more about them here.

http://www.voyager03.co.uk/

Voyager03
24th July, 2013 @ 09:57 am PDT

sooner or later some will see the writing on the wall .A super efficient enclosed motorcycle or narrow vehicle need not be uncomfortable,hard to enter or exit.You can build a vehicle with a aerodynamic body[this is not a very aerodynamic body]that is as comfortable as your lexus,has a conventional or gull wing type door for entry and gets 100 mpg USA 2 liter per 100 Km or better.A narrow tilter with 4 wheels,could be the solution,as far as safety,twice the contact patch,twice the braking,stands up by itself and can be packaged in a narrow body chassis,not much wider than a Monotracer,Lit Motors C-1 etc so you do end up with the best of the best.Sooner or later someone will deliver a commuter vehicle that people will embrace,people really have no choices.A big car or truck,a smaller car or truck,motor cycles are fun,but they are not aerodynamic and their is no protection.Their a a few promising designs in Europe,so we may see a break though vehicle that saves money and brings back the joy of driving.

Thomas Lewis
24th July, 2013 @ 12:43 pm PDT

I am not an engineer but am curious about potential instability with such a low center of mass on two inline wheels with no gyroscopic or otherwise, stabilizers. Is the lateral rotational acceleration not an issue?, also once stability is interrupted, most of the weight shifting ability (moving your body around on the bike), is not available.

B.
25th July, 2013 @ 09:47 am PDT

I think its great that people are pushing the design of motorcycles,small vehicles.Little is being done in the car and motorcycle industries,god forbid their profit margins come in a little lower.Its really sad,with the incredible technology available,we don't have a single manufacture building a production enclosed motorcycle or very narrow tilter, etc.When is the last time a CEO of a large manufacture of vehicles had to commute in a large city like LA or NY.The traffic is filled with large and small cars and trucks,most have but one person on board,moving at 10 -20 mph.A small vehicle like Lit Motors C-1 ,Monotracer by Peraves,etc could be built to be as comfortable as a large sedan,go 100,200,300 miles on a gallon of gas,diesel or a single charge,but take up half the space.You can keep your car for the weekends,your truck for work,but use a commuter vehicle to commute,simple and effective,less space,fast commutes,less fuel,cleaner air and a little fun put back into driving.Who will be the first to start a revolution,Honda?GM,BMW?LitMotors ?Peraves?

Thomas Lewis
2nd October, 2013 @ 10:20 am PDT
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