Dechaves Garage DCH Project – a Naked Electric Motorcycle

Dechaves Garage DCH Project, a naked electric motorcycle by Pablo de Chaves

Dechaves Garage DCH Project, a naked electric motorcycle by Pablo de Chaves

Pablo de Chaves wanted us to know about his latest work, something off in a different direction from previous efforts, he's gone over to the electric side and designed a naked bike with a very exposed mechanical and minimalist look. If the name Pablo de Chaves doesn't ring a bell immediately, you can look back at his other projects on The Kneeslider, the D1200R and the 599BL Moto2. Both of those use conventional internal combustion power, but with the DCH project it's all batteries and controllers.

The DCH Project embraces the electric power behind the design

The DCH Project embraces the electric power behind the design

At first glance, the look is totally different, but then you have to think, what is a naked electric bike supposed to look like? We're getting used to seeing electrics from MotoCzysz or Mission Motors and if there's anything we've learned it's that without an internal combustion engine and gas tank to design around, you have a lot of leeway once you get the basics of two wheels and a seat, everything else is pretty flexible.

CAD drawings evolved from pencil sketches

CAD drawings evolved from pencil sketches

The idea started as some pencil sketches, then reworked in Photoshop, turned into CAD drawings and finally into a real motorcycle.

Pablo designed the bike to be easy to manufacture and he also wanted the fact that's it's electric to be out there for the world to see, no plastic fairings hiding anything. He certainly accomplished that making the central battery box, which also holds all of the electrical control circuitry, about as obvious as it could be, but different as the look is, I like it.

The work of building up the electrical system

Building up the electrical system on the bench to see if it works. This photo also gives you a good idea of all of the things stuffed inside the "battery" box. There's quite a lot going on in there and no place else to hide it without bodywork.

There's also another feature about this bike that really hits me right, Pablo not only designed it, he built it, too, learning to TIG weld steel and aluminum along the way and also learning all about electronics and the necessary wiring that goes with it.

It looks like he learned how to weld pretty well

It looks like he learned TIG welding pretty well

Should an electric motorcycle blend in and try to pass itself off as an ICE bike or should it get out there and shout ELECTRIC without apology? We can see what Pablo thinks and he's made a strong statement to back up that view. As I said earlier, I like this bike. It may not be everyone's idea of beauty, but it's well designed and well built. Nice work!

Link: DechavesMotion
Link: Flickr set

Pablo de Chaves and his DCH project

Pablo de Chaves and his DCH project

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Comments

  1. says

    Good concept, as far as standing out is concerned, but hardly suitable for a mass market. Chevy Volt, Tesla’s cars and most other electric vehicles look much like conventional ones, in part because those designs work well (proven production methods, aerodynamics etc.), and in part because consumer taste doesn’t exactly change at lightning speed.

    Much as I like innovation and daring designs, a bike like this – and I do like it – will appeal to an extremely limited number of riders, no matter what type of energy it runs on.

    If the battery part was made this way to be quickly exchanged with a freshly charged unit, it really would make more sense. But then that would require that the controller etc. stayed with the bike.

    • Paul Crowe says

      He’s also been involved in a more conventional looking electric project for Tohqi Europa, it’s an electric scooter that looks much like a Vespa or Lambretta. The DCH was a learning project for Pablo himself, with an eye for what could possibly be manufactured, but that wasn’t the primary aim.

    • DWolvin says

      Is there any real reason teh controller couldn’t be built into the battery pack? I think there are fairly legitimate thoughts either way, it’s most important that it be swappable in the first place.

      Interesting bike, I’d live to see specs!

    • says

      Hi Kim. As Paul have said, this bike wasn’t designed for a mass market. It is a prototype and it will stay as a prototype. It has been a project to take a step into electric motorcycles.
      You are right when you say that people prefer electric vehicles that look much like conventional ones. That is why when Tohqi Europa asked me to design an electric scooter I moved away from “futuristic” designs and I designed something that the european market is used to:
      http://www.dechavesgarage.com/projects/tohqiproto.php?tp=3

      • says

        Hey Pablo. I know you never thought of this as a mass market vehicle; my comments were only in regards to the questions Paul asked about what future electric motorcycles should look like. In any case, if motorcycles were designed purely the way I personally think exciting motorcycles should like like, all mc manufacturers would be out of business within 6 months.

        I checked out your electric scooter: It is one of the nicest retro design I have ever seen, with its design nods to Lambretta as well as to Vespa. Anyone else reading this should check out Pablo’s site.

  2. Leston says

    Very neat build and a step into the right direction. This thing would be siginifcantly more viable as an electric with an introduction of aerodynamic panels to the body. Perhaps a rounding of the electric cabinet and a front fender. Eliminating drag would contribute to the overall range of this bike, which is one of the largest challenges to electric vehicles. Range and charging times.

    • says

      Hi Leston. In this motorcycle I wanted to avoid using body panels/fairing. I wanted to design a motorcycle with as few parts as possible. Only the indispensable components. Also because this motorcycle is mainly for urban riding , drag won’t be a problem.

  3. says

    Cool project and I like the look of the frame in combination with the batery pack alot but I don’t understand why he stopped designing when he needed a seat and jut put a bicycle seat on it?
    He spend a lot of time making all these parts and than he didn’t take the time to finish it off with a nice seat..?
    And it would have been nice if the rear wheel matched the front

    • says

      Hi lennardschuurmans. I didn’t design a seat because money and time was starting to be a problem and I wanted to finish the project. I hate to leave a project halfway… Anyway the bicycle seat has some advantages. It is adjustable up and down, and front and rear. Also it is much more comfortable than it looks I swear :)

  4. Mark L. says

    Hi guys, I like the design. It looks like it would be fun to ride.
    The front wheel does match the rear in as much as it can, given that it is a hub motor that actually makes up the rear wheel. For fair weather, (non-raining) this would probably be a lot of fun and have a mor than adequate range.

    Keep up the fun work!

    Mark L.

  5. NDAna says

    Not really my cup of tea but a clean build and a good effort for sure. the only thing concerning me is the frame looks VERY weak with no triangulation- unless there is a support that goes through the battery box.

    • says

      Hi NDAna, the chassis is actually very stiff. The battery box belongs to the chassis. It is rigidly attached to the main frame in five points and it is made from 3mm aluminium panels. The design is a mix of a monocoque chassis and a trellis chassis.

  6. Mark in Sydney says

    A lovely build but I suspect that frame-flex might be a bit of a problem. Given the huge battery box, I would think that this design would cry out for a FFE, making the battery box load bearing. Just a thought.

    • says

      Hi Mark. As I told to NDAna, the chassis is very stiff but I am agree that a FFE like the Hossack system would be a better choice (We saw it on the Amarok electric racing motorcycle). I started this project with a Hossack front suspension system but I wanted to move fast so I changed it for a telescopic fork…

  7. blackbird says

    Nice clean effort as a study piece. As already stated that frame won’t cut it in the real world but could be up to the job with only a day’s work. Plastic body panels could do a lot for the look and aero without straying too far from a naked bike. It hurts to look at the seat. Ouch!

  8. FREEMAN says

    I think this bike looks great. I like naked bikes and love looking at all the bits and pieces that make them work. I understand this is a study piece so screw mileage and consumer opinion. I think it would look cool if we could see inside the battery box too. A great effort and I applaud your work.

  9. says

    I like a lot the bike. I am not very interested in mass production vehicles, I find much more interesting prototypes, designs that explore new concepts and ideas, or bikes that are more focused on a minority instead of being mainstream.
    The design has a strong personality and, in my opinion, it makes it look interesting and cool.
    And also very important, Pablo designed and built it. It takes a lot of focus, effort and commitment to accomplish a project like this. My hats off to him!

    • says

      Hola David! Thanks for the support! Because it was a personal project I wanted to try new solutions and ideas. I know that it is not a design for everybody but sometimes I think it is interesting to do something out of the ordinary.
      And yes, as you know it takes a lot of commitment to finish a project like this!

  10. fred says

    Clean and functional. Give me some specs, I always look for that when checkin’ bikes out. Great build, thanks for the post!

  11. Dano says

    Fred is right, “clean and functional”. A great pit bike, around towner and a hit at the weekly bike meet of cafe bikes.

    With the rear hub being a hub drive can one be placed in the front also? Having two regenerative hub drives would extend the range somewhat.

    We are getting more and more charging stations for hybrid cars and being able to tap into one of these would be real nice. Is there an industry standard for the plug style they use?

    • says

      Hi Dano. The Enertrac hub motor is very heavy so it is not a good idea to place one in the front. The steering would be very poor.
      About the plug style, I have used an Anderson connector between the bike and the charger, and a normal European plug between the charger and the wall.

  12. Clive Makinson-Sanders says

    I love this bike. I bet with the battery being a stressed member that the frame is more than sturdy enough for daily use.

    And that license plate isnt going ANYWHERE.

    clive

  13. gregjet says

    I love the whole electric powered bike concept. As any knowledgeable cyclist will tell you, the limit to speed is drag. Wind resistance is THE power consumer. Yet electric bike after electric bike is unfaired. The key to range is fairing, not just bigger, more efficient batteries and engines.
    As mentioned, I also agree that if you have hub motors , powering both wheels would be a big step forward. On a 2 wheeled vehicle, 2 wheel drive markedly improves the handling especially if the rotating part of the motor can be made light and it can be used better as a more effective brake on the front as well.
    I have said for years that motorcycle seats should ALL be adjustable forward/rearward and up and down and the bike seat used would allow this. However a bicycle seat is that shape to allow the thighs room to move either side of the nose. This is unnecessary on a motorcycle ( moped maybe?) and the front sides of the seat helps with loading the bike when countersteering and leaning. As is the “tank” on ordinary motorcycles. This was bought home to me forceably when racing my honda rs125 framed motorcycle which has a tiny thin tank and it is rubber mounted. It moved sideways when cornering until I figured how to load the frame instead ( frame is below but level with the tank). I think the battery box may be better if at least the sides were higher for your knees/thighs. Doesn’t have to be as wide, just solid enough to side load.
    Rising rate linkage front and rear would be fun as well but I am getting picky.

  14. says

    Hi Mark. I am glad you like it! The motorcycle is very fun. I am used to ride electric scooters but I had never ridden an electric motorcycle with so much power and as little noise as this one before. It is a fun experience. I have ridden some Zero motorcycles and some Quantyas but they were much noisier because of the chain.

  15. Dr Robert Harms says

    As an owner and rider I can assure you that any and all electric bikes are worthless if they do not have the ability to carry their charging aparatus en situ with them at all times to facilitate charging on the road. Without this their range (whatever it might be) is effactively 1/2 of the stated distance. Perhaps in the future at some time sufficient infrastructure may exist to ameliorate this stricture but it ain’t here today. Attempts like Brammo’s over the shoulder bag are ridiculous.

  16. asdf says

    The little brace above the tank is not designed to handle torque from steering changes. Approaching a left hand bend, the rider turns right to swing their weight down, at the appropriate angle they counter-steer to maintain the lean into the corner. Both of these actions, and the later action to rise out of the lean, cause the frame to experience large amounts of torque. Torque this little bracket can’t cope with.

    Controllers are typically packaged separate from the battery pack because they are not perfectly efficient and this inefficiency results in heat, not something the battery pack benefits from.

    Although still a novelty, I can’t wait to own a ‘real’ electric bike. The three I have owned previously were sore disappointments considering the cost, battery lifespan and real world performance.

  17. says

    I absolutely love it! Sparse and utilitarian and gorgeous. I want one—it would be perfect for my commute. I’d throw the biggest Brooks spring seat on there, but that’s just personal preference. Also, I can’t help but think of the battery box as a giant canvas. Imagine all the fun you could have designing wild graphics for it, or commissioning pieces from designers and artists… Fantastic.

  18. says

    Hi Dustin. I also thought about a Brooks seat. With some engraved leather on the sides of the battery box and some other details it would have an interesting vintage/futuristic look!

Let us know what you think