There are two types of EV fans in the world: those who know who Martin Eberhard is, and those who don’t.
If you’re among the former, you’ll know that ten years ago Eberhard co-founded Silicon Valley’s first automotive company, a tiny startup known as Tesla Motors. Along with his co-founder Marc Tarpenning, Eberhard helped breathe life into the car now known as the Tesla Roadster. Despite leaving Tesla back in 2008 after a boardroom battle between himself and Tesla’s current CEO Elon Musk, Tesla’s first CEO is now back in the EV world after joining the advisory board of BRD Motorcycles.
Like Tesla, BRD Motorcycles is a Silicon-Valley EV firm. But instead of building super-sexy four-wheelers, BRD — which was founded in 2010 — makes ultra-lightweight electric motorcycles.
Currently, the firm produces two different models: the off-road oriented RedShift MX and the road-going RedShift SM. From a distance, both bikes bear a striking resemblance to previous generations of the Zero MX and Zero S electric motorcycles from Santa-Cruz-based Zero Motorcycles. But that’s where the similarities end.
Range is a little down on other rivals in the EV marketplace: The yet-to-launch duo of $14,995 RedShift MX and $15,495 Redshift SX bikes have a range of around 50 miles from their on-board 5.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. That might seem a tad small, but to all intents and purposes, the RedShift family of electric motorcycles are built for performance first and range second: weighing 250lb and 265lb (that’s 113kg and 120kg respectively) the two bikes are built to wring every last bit of performance from their 40 kilowatt motors.
The result? Two motorcycles which produce 33 foot-pounds (44 Newton-meters) of torque, sprinting from 0-60 mph in just 3.3 seconds. If the publicity video below of the BRD RedShift SM tooling around San Francisco is anything to go by, that results in a whole lot of fun. (The last motorbike I rode around San Francisco was the 2010 Brammo Enertia, and it certainly didn’t take San Francisco’s notoriously steep hills with that much ease.)
Essentially then, the RedShift range of electric motorcycles from BRD are as fast as a Tesla Roadster. While the company is still very much in its early stages and has just 11 employees, it wants to become “the Porsche” of motorcycles, says The Wall Street Journal. Last year, the company raised $850,000 in seed funding to help it refine its prototypes, and more recently managed a $1 million funding round to help it bring those motorcycles to market.
Eberhard’s involvement, says Wired magazine, is to help the company develop its battery technology.
“They are not trying to cobble together parts or buy their tech from Chinese or Italian motor suppliers,” Eberhard said. “They have a world-class battery, and it’s one of the best I’ve seen. And they treat safety as a religion.”
Moreover, unlike rival companies, which use the same pouch-style, flat-pack battery cell technology to produce their battery packs, BRD wants to follow Tesla’s lead, building incredibly power-dense, extremely versatile battery packs from chains of small-capacity small format cells connected together.
A Tesla-fast electric motorcycle? We can’t wait, although we’d like to see a BRD model which looks a little less like a motocross bike and a little more like a street fighter or perhaps even tourer.
Are you excited about Eberhard’s latest position? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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