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Curtiss Motorcycles reveals 170hp electric cruiser concept

11th May 2018 9:00 am

New bike features tech from Zero Motorcycles and is engineered by the company previously known as Confederate Motorcycles.

Labelled the Curtiss Zeus, this is the first brand-new machine from Curtiss Motorcycles since it was rebranded from Confederate Motorcycles in 2017.

Confederate was never a brand known for making sensible, practical and mainstream motorcycles. That ethos seems to have filtered through to Curtiss, as well. 'Outlandish' and 'unconventional' would be the best words to describe the design of this new motorcycle. Even if you took the old Confederate models into consideration, the Zeus certainly looks like nothing that you can spot on the street today.

The Curtiss Zeus has a lot of bare, machined aluminium on display. Also, while regular combustion-engined cruisers have to be designed around their large engines and fuel tanks, the Zeus' electric drivetrain allows it to breaks free of these shackles to take on this alien appearance.

Its parts are far from standard, as well. The wheels take on the form of solid carbon-fibre discs rather than the traditional spoked units. The front suspension is of the double-wishbone girder fork kind, while the rear suspension sports a more conventional monoshock and double-sided (albeit steeply inclined) swingarm. The mass of the motorcycle is concentrated in the belly region (engine bay?), where its large battery pack is housed. Clear panels have been implemented in some areas to provide a peek into the drivetrain components.

In the pictures alone, it doesn’t seem like the long, flat and narrow bench-style ‘seat’ (and I use the term 'seat' loosely, here) will be very comfortable, and the riding position will feature a long reach to the low, steeply-inclined handlebars. Foot pegs seem to be vertically below the rider's seat, resulting in what appears to be a very committed rider triangle. Surprisingly, the Curtiss misses out on all instrumentation and instead chooses to feature an iPad dock, placed where the fuel tank would be. The tail-lamp is formed by a thin and smart-looking horizontal LED strip, while the headlight is a round and minimalistic aluminium-rimmed LED unit.

The drive comes from two electric motors, courtesy of Zero Motorcycles. These give a combined output of 170hp and a scarcely believable 393Nm of torque being sent to the massive rear sprocket. The prototype on display featured a 14.4kWh battery pack – though this figure is expected to grow before the bike goes into production. Despite this expectation, we don’t expect the bike's range to be very large, owing to its immensely powerful electric motor system. Then again, we don’t expect this motorcycle to be taken on long rides either, even if it is being labelled a cruiser.

Curtiss says that production is slated to begin in 2019, with the Zeus being made available to the public as a 2020 model. There has been no word on pricing yet and we are not sure how many design elements will be carried over to the production motorcycle. However, if Confederate’s history is anything to go by, we’re sure the production version will still be a wild-looking machine.

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