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Erik Buell enters electric bike arena

VanguardSpark is the pioneer’s latest venture

Erik Buell’s eponymous companies might have gone the way of the dodo but he’s still got an enviable record for innovation in motorcycling. So when we heard he’s behind a new venture making electric bikes, our ears pricked up.

The new company is called VanguardSpark. Buell is just one of three founding pillars of the firm. The others are F-X Terny, who’s also behind innovative bike firm Vanguard Motorcycles, and Frédéric Vasseur, founder of Spark Racing Technology, which is the company that makes Formula-E electric racing cars.

That’s a pretty impressive line-up of innovators and engineers, so whatever bikes VanguardSpark comes up with should be interesting to see.

Initially there will be two models. At the moment, the firm has only revealed sketches that show the ‘design direction’ of the bikes, rather than accurate representations of them.

One is a pedal-assisted electric bicycle, dubbed ‘SpeedBike’ and claimed to be “a healthy and classy alternative to mopeds and small scooters.”

But it’s still more bicycle than motorcycle, so it’s the second model – called simply ‘Commuter’ – that interests us. VanguardSpark calls it “a nimble and practical two-wheeler perfectly adapted to urban environments and capable of 150+kms before recharging.”

The drawing of the bike shows what appears to be a carbon-fibre monocoque shell, presumably housing the batteries, and what looks like a hub-mounted electric motor driving the rear wheel. It’s clearly not a high-performance machine, but breaking down the barriers to electric bike acceptance will be as much to do with attractive styling and practicality as pure speed.

VanguardSpark says it has four patent applications waiting in the wings, so there’s clearly some innovation going on under the skin. We’d expect nothing less from a company drawing on Erik Buell’s knowledge. Prototypes are set to appear this summer, so it’s a project worth keeping an eye on.

 

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