Triumph announced its TE-1 EV bike on Tuesday, in a manner of speaking. This announcement is exciting news, to be sure. A big bike maker talking moto EVs is great, but I was disappointed because instead of showing an actual EV bike, Triumph showed something more like its plan for an EV bike, which we may or may not see later this year.
The bike maker plans a late 2021 debut for the TE-1, but so far, Triumph has only shown us a frame and design sketches of what the final production bike will look like.
Here’s a good introduction to Triumph’s plan:
The frame it unveiled features tech from a couple of other companies that have joined Triumph for this project. You might recognize at least one of the partner companies because they’re heavy-hitters:
- Williams Advanced Engineering
- Integral Powertrain Ltd.’s e-Drive Division
- Warwick Manufacturing Group, at the University of Warwick
Williams, of Williams F1 fame, is providing the battery and handling the battery’s integration into the TE-1's drivetrain. Integral Powertrain is providing the electric motor. And WMG is handling the modeling and simulation of how the TE-1's components fit together, to help dial in how these work in tandem.
And the motor that Integral is developing for Triumph is pretty neat. There’s no word on its final figures yet, but the TE-1's motor will be a high-output, compact motor that is liquid-cooled! Cycle World’s Kevin Cameron explained why liquid-cooled motors are better adapted to high-performance applications, like bikes:
As an electric motor operates, resistive losses in its windings appear as heat. In many electric vehicle projects, when motor temperature rises high enough to threaten the integrity of wire insulation, power is automatically reduced until the motor cools.
A better solution is to use the circulation of liquid coolant to remove resistive heat as it is produced. In this way, temperature can be controlled without requiring power reduction. This is accomplished by having motor windings stationary, allowing them to be easily liquid-cooled, while a permanent-magnet rotor spins.
Oh, and in case you were wondering what Triumph is in charge of, well, it’s developing the chassis and will handle manufacturing at scale.
Overall, Triumph is quarterbacking this scrimmage line, which struck me as odd the first time I looked at the TE-1 because the bike doesn’t look like a committee design. It looks like — pardon the expression — a Triumph! It just looks like an EV Speed Triple!
But that’s not to diminish what Triumph is doing here; rather, it’s a compliment. The TE-1 concept looks good. From the fairing, to the not-a-gas-tank, to the headlight. My favorite thing of all is its fantastic single-sided swing-arm. Yes, I will definitely miss good looking exhausts, though I won’t miss their emissions.
In the sketches, the TE-1's mass looks well-centered and the frame densely packed. I feel like this is one bike that ought to handle incredibly. It reminds me a little of the Buell Firebolt, which was often described as having good balance and a low center-of-gravity.
Funny enough, the Firebolt’s handling was due to its frame doubling as a fuel tank and its low-slung exhaust. That wonderfully complex internal combustion system has now given way to another complex, clever system like the one planned for the TE-1.
And the future of two-wheel travel is looking all the better for it.