Kymco presents SuperNEX electric superbike in Milan

Taiwan firm shows off ambitious SuperNEX electric superbike project


KYMCO IS a very serious firm - it builds hundreds of thousands of scooters, which get people from A to B with no fuss, all over the world. It partners with Kawasaki and BMW to make engines and share technology. And earlier this year, it showed off a whole new infrastructure to support the next wave of electric scooters globally - the IoNEX system of removable batteries and ubiquitous charging infrastructure.

And in Milan last night, the firm showed us this - the new SuperNEX concept electric superbike. Like Kymco, it looks very serious - there's top-spec chassis components from Brembo and Ohlins, Oz wheels, alloy frame and Metzeler Racetec rubber. It looks fabulous. It's also got a couple of unique features - including a six-speed gearbox and a tunable audio system, so you can customise the sound your 'leccy bike makes.

The six-speed box is novel indeed - most electric bike makers eschew different transmission ratios. That's because electric motors have a very wide range of operation - you can make them spin very slowly or very quickly, simply by varying the electrical power going through them. Kymco, though, says that changing gears is such a vital part of riding a bike, especially a big one, that they've added a six-speed box to their machine. It's unclear how this helps the acceleration - although at a claimed 0-125mph in 7.5 seconds, it's clearly quite nippy. Clutchless shifting is obviously factored in - having total control of the torque output as you can with an electric motor should make this simple enough. As should advanced traction control.

The sound is an obvious point, for safety of course, but also for the riding experience. To be fair, high-performance electric vehicles aren't silent: the Alta Motors Redshift we rode last month made a fairly audible whiney-rort at speed, and stuff like tyres, chain and gears all still add plenty of sound. But Kymco has dubbed the SuperNEX powerplant an Active Acoustic Motor, which makes a unique sound when running, and can also be tuned by the owner. Mad.

So - it's very quick, changes gears, makes a mad noise, and has awesome chassis kit. The SuperNEX also looks great, like a very talented 10-year-old has drawn a 'bike of the future', but without going mad and adding wings or rocket launchers. Maybe for 2020, eh Kymco?

What we're a bit short on is anything concrete about the SuperNEX. No word on power output, charging functions, battery capacity, mass, price, or availability. We're hoping that the answers to all those questions come fairly soon - we can't wait to get a spin on the first SuperNEX prototype - seriously...