Triumph’s first fully electric sportsbike will never see a production line, but it may go a long way in changing public perception of alternatively powered motorcycles ahead of more affordable, real-world-practical models of the future.

Last week, Triumph Motorcycles unveiled its finished TE-1 prototype – an electric sportsbike reminiscent of its petrol-powered Speed Triple naked bike – to preview the technological and performance capabilities of its first all-electric platform.

Triumph TE-1: Electric motorcycles Australia
The Triumph TE-1 prototype is fitted with high-end Ohlins suspension and big Brembo brakes.

While never tested in road conditions, it manages to demonstrate convincing results. Critically, the Triumph TE-1 can be charged from zero to 80 per cent in just 20 minutes (charge speed tapers above 80%) and is capable of a riding range of 161 kilometres.

On the performance front, the Triumph TE-1 uses a 130kW and 109Nm electric motor that can launch the 220kg bike from zero-to-100km/h in just 3.6 seconds – numbers not far off Triumph’s flagship petrol offerings. For reference, the Speed Triple 1200 RS tips the scales at 198kg and generates 134kW/125Nm from its 1160cc triple-cylinder engine.

Triumph TE-1: Electric motorcycles Australia
“I got to peg this thing all the way from 0-100% throttle and it’s unbelievably quick. It pulls like crazy,” said rider Brandon Paasch.

The prototype model, of which two are known to exist, are tuned for on-track performance with an aggressive throttle and power delivery map. It is easy to imagine that softer, more road-oriented versions built on the platform would be capable of much more riding range.

As a compromise for the loss of sound inherent in switching from petrol- to electric-power, Triumph engineers have made a particular effort to develop a unique note from the electric motor that is mechanical, rather than synthesised. Only time will tell if motorcyclists grow to appreciate this new kind of soundtrack. Hear the TE-1 at full noise in the below video…

With electric bike performance and charging times seemingly improving exponentially, the next challenge is to make them affordable and practical, as well as to build the infrastructure to match.

INFO MOTO spoke to Australian Electric Motor Company founder Tobin Page to get a better understanding of how electric bike technology is likely improve, and how the Australian Government can aid the transition.

“The biggest advances coming to electric motorcycles in the next couple of years are two way charging, more dense battery packs/solid state batteries and the number of new players entering the market,” Mr Page told INFO MOTO.

“Solid state batteries are coming and look like they are much more dense than the current lithium-ion or lithium-phosphate cells. So for motorcycles that means much bigger range from the same size battery packs.

LiveWire S2 Del Mar electric motorcycle
Harley-Davidson spin-off brand LiveWire recently revealed its S2 Del Mar, but there are no plans to bring it to Australia.

“My prediction is in the next five years electric motorcycles will have a bigger range than the average petrol motorcycle. Some of the premium models are already pretty much there – but once all electric motorcycles are comfortably getting over 300 kilometres of highway range from a single charge – they’ll be on par with petrol.

“The number of new electric motorcycles being developed by both established motorcycle manufacturers and startups means the speed of evolution of motorcycles has never been as rapid as it currently is. All of these factors are lowering the ‘barriers’ to electric motorcycle adoption.

“Price is a longer term problem but we’ll see that dropping slowly too.”

2023 Energica Experia electric adventure bike
The Energica Experia is capable of 420km of riding range in urban areas or 246km in long-distance conditions.

Electric vehicles are a particularly difficult sell in Australia due to its size and the distance between major cities compared to other developed countries.

For instance, the distance between Melbourne and Sydney is 878km, while the distance between the capitals of New York State (Albany) and adjacent New Jersey (Trenton) is approximately 330km.

This means that public fast chargers must be abundant and convenient in Australia if motorcyclists are to adopt electric bikes en masse.

As of January of this year, there are 293 fast charging locations across Australia, with an additional 700 committed by the Federal Government to be built in the next five years (Source: Savvy).

EV Fast chargers in Australia
Australia is building its fast charger network as EVs grow in popularity.

Mr Page pointed out that rising fuel costs are motivating the transition from petrol to electric vehicles.

“Rising fuel costs are driving people to electric cars and motorcycles. We’re seeing a lot of people that weren’t thinking about electric motorcycles previously – now contacting us,” he said.

“Realistically we need battery prices to halve for electric motorcycles to come in line with new petrol bikes in terms of purchase price. However, if you also factor in resale value (electric motorcycles have a much higher resale value because of lack of supply and their longevity from way less servicing being required) a lot of electric motorcycles are cheaper to own per year than petrol bikes.

“Once petrol prices go over $3 per litre – we’d expect to see a lot more people riding electric motorcycles and driving EVs.”

“The new government is investing a lot into public fast charging which is going to help improve where electric motorcycles can go and how fast they can charge. NSW State government is offering grants or free fast charging installations to businesses to grow the network in that State. We need to see other States doing the same.”

Triumph TE-1: Electric motorcycles Australia
Petrol prices may advance electric bike take-up.

“With all this talk of energy prices surging and emergency supply being required – there should be incentives to install solar on residential and commercial properties to increase the amount of renewable energy in the grid. Longer term the grid needs a lot of upgrading to handle this new power mix – possibly some nuclear energy. That may be the only long term sustainable way to transition to clean energy that can handle power peaks in hours when the sun is not shining.”

Unlike in other countries, there are no financial incentives for consumers to buy electric motorcycles in Australia.

“The [Australian] government should replicate what has worked well in other countries for EV adoption,” said Mr Page.

“The UK made electric motorcycle/scooter sales rise to 6% of all motorcycle/scooter sales in 2021. This was through a combination of incentives like the plug-in vehicle grant which gave you up to £3,000 that you could claim back on the price of a new electric motorcycle.

“Free parking for EVs in metered areas, free use of bus and pool lanes for EVs, no stamp duty and lower registration fees.

“The biggest driver of EV adoption in other countries though has been the carbon credit system where manufacturers have to buy credits for selling petrol vehicles from EV makers.”

Electric Norton
Norton Motorcycles is currently developing its first fully electric model.

At the reveal of the Triumph TE-1 prototype, the British bikemaker confirmed that it plans to build a new range of electric motorcycles though it has given no indication as to when these bikes will materialise, and in what shape they might take.

A smaller electric naked bike equivalent seems likely to be the first cab off the ranks as the cost of a fully fledged hero model would simply be too high.

Last month, Triumph announced its acquisition of electric off-road motorcycle company OSET bikes suggesting that Triumph-branded electric dirt bikes may sit alongside electrified road bikes in the not-too-distant future.

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