TRIUMPH Motorcycles has today officially pulled the covers off its first electric motorcycle project in the form of the TE-1 prototype electric bike.
The ambitious project is being touted as providing a step-change in electric motorcycle design, performance, and dynamics. But this kind of quantum leap in ability doesn’t come easily, and to help make it happen Triumph has called upon some of the biggest names in the business to add their own sizable weight of knowledge and expertise to the project.
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What is the Triumph TE-1 project?
First and foremost, it’s important to get some idea of what the TE-1 actually is. Obviously, it is Triumph’s first electric motorcycle, but what does that actually mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that the bike you see in the pictures here will necessarily be the bike you can walk into a dealership and buy in years to come. The TE-1 is a prototype motorcycle, providing proof of concept for the whole idea and a rolling testbed for future development.
But it’s also more than that, as Triumph and the other stakeholders in the project are looking to create a breeding ground of expertise and knowledge within the UK workforce, creating jobs and enhancing the UK’s reputation in the field of electrification.
Who is involved?
Obviously, Triumph is the major player here, the TE-1 is a motorcycle after all, and it’s the British firm’s sizable knowledge of the global market that is supercharging the venture. Backing them up is Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), which is bringing a wealth of knowledge gained in the cauldron of electric motorsports to the table. WAE specialise in lightweight battery design, integration, and management systems.
Putting the power to the road so to speak is another British concern in the form of Integral Powertrain’s E-Drive division. They are also a firm deeply rooted in the electric motorsport sector, being part of the team that helped the Volkswagen ID-R electric Pikes Peak car to its record-breaking victory at the historic hill climb.
The third team involved is WMG at the University of Warwick, who are providing electrification expertise to the endeavour. They will help with the R&D and commercial impact of the bike through modelling and simulation based on future market needs.
The final piece of the TE-1 puzzle is the UK Government’s Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles (OZEV), delivered by Innovate UK. OZEV will be helping with funding the project, as well as supporting charging point infrastructure throughout the UK – something without which no electric project can become viable in the real world.
What kind of bike could the TE-1 become?
As you can see from the images, the TE-1 is at this stage the core of an electric motorcycle with some obvious nods to the legendary Speed Triple in its frame design and overall shape. As we mentioned above, that’s not to say that the final motorcycle will be an electrically powered Speed Triple, although as anyone who has ridden one will know, it’s not a bad starting point!
One of the key points of focus for all involved seems to be in creating an electric motorcycle that immediately has the feel and dynamics of a conventional petrol-powered motorcycle. Because of that, the bike has the look of a bike with acutely centralised mass, with no wasted space within the frame. The battery, management systems, and motor are all placed in such a way that the silhouette of the finished product is instantly recognisable as a Triumph, with none of the outlandish angles of some electric machines.
The unveiling of the battery and powertrain of the machine signifies the completion of Phase 2 of the project, in that some high-level performance results have been obtained, and the final design sketches of the bike have been completed.
What’s next for the Triumph TE-1?
Now that the engineers from Triumph, Integral Powertrain, and Williams have gathered their high-level data, the next phase will see the bike actually being created, and then it gets really exciting.
By autumn this year, we should have seen the bike in its final form and hopefully will even get to see the thing running. Then in Spring 2022, Triumph has stated that a production model will be available and with any luck, they might send a unit over to Singapore for hot-weather testing and we'll definitely be bugging Mah Pte Ltd to test the new machine and ride the bike for ourselves.