Wahnsinn Alternative Power Concept by Motorepublic

Wahnsinn concept motorcycle by Motorepublic

Once you begin looking at the future of motorcycle design, new ideas come flying at you pretty fast. Jiro Arborgh, Design Manager for Motorepublic, a design studio in Goteborg, Sweden, thought we might like to see what they've been up to. The concept shown here is called Wahnsinn. It's not powered by an internal combustion engine and the powerplant isn't specified, though, a fuel cell scooter concept elsewhere on their site suggests they may be thinking along those lines and the rear hub area looks like an electric motor might be in there, the front hub, too, now that I look at it.

While Wahnsinn is shown with a BMW tag, and they have a note on their site that BMW is one of their clients, there may be no relation here except as a design exercise, then again, this may show potential future thinking for the German firm.

Whatever the case, this particular design focuses on centralized mass and an upright riding style. If this is to be a fuel cell powered motorcycle, it brings a style that would make it appealing to a lot of bikers. Alternative powered designs, if they are going to be accepted by riders looking for something new, should have an attention grabbing appeal, something a few alternative power concepts have been lacking in my opinion, the original ENV hydrogen fuel cell concept for instance.

This looks to be is in the design and model stage, nothing that actually moves but I like it. They have a number of other interesting design studies on their site, too.

Wahnsinn concept motorcycle by Motorepublic

Link: Motorepublic



  1. says

    The project Wahnsinn is a degree project made 2003, with tutoring from BMW Motorrad. The bike is packed with new technology, challenging new shapes for the bike culture. Fuel cell, rear electric hub engine, springed rims (for low friction tires), composite leaf springs, stear/drive by wire. Rough optimistical calculation aimed for effect around 50kW. Fuel tank (helium in metal foam capsule) also funtions as a part of the frame (seat supported by fuel tank).

    A very exciting project running right now is “Beta” targeting a new race class, with electric engined bikes, racing indoors or on central locations in cities. The Beta bike features a new chassi/frame construction for low weight and maximum stiffness. The Beta project is in development phase, the goal is to build a functional prototype. At the moment, we just finished clay modeling, in cooperation with a modeling student, Pelle Johansson, now in the company. The clay model will stand as reference for next step, frame construction. As an open project, we will show the process as much as possible on the homepage, http://www.motorepublic.com.


  2. Walt says

    And it would save water too. With no fenders you’d be soaked by every puddle, so no need for a shower after the ride.

  3. Bryan says

    I like the idea of a composite leaf spring for the rear suspension. It should be much lighter than a metal spring. This is something I haven’t seen before on a bike, although cars have had them for years.

  4. says

    He he, yes, they definately need fenders. A long term plan includes a prototype of this bike, which will include a lot of legislational & functional add-ons, such as fenders, lights etc. This concept was only brought to 1/3 scale model, all in all in 20 weeks, including cad surface modeling, milling, rapid prototyping and hours of hand craft. The model held about 120 pieces of hard foam.

    Will probably start a fund raising, for prototype development together with related industry groups (batteries, fuel cell, nanoflex steel, öhlins, etc.)

  5. Renegade_Azzy says

    Heck, I woulndt mind even seeing this in a hybrid of sorts…. gas engine, electric motor, that sort of thing.

    Set in some super capacitors for short term energy storage.. and you may hve yourself a nice interesting ride.

  6. says

    This looks awesome. I ride a big gas guzzling machine where the amount of fuel that catches fire is directly proportional to the bikes horsepower but I’m coming around slowly. This is a good thing because even though I’ve never really thought that taking my gas guzzler bike to work was helping the environment (my 1.3l car has better mileage) I did however think that when overtaking all the small capacity bikes and scooters on the way that at least they were doing their bit? Turns out (according to LA Times) that may not be the case… http://www.latimes.com/classified/automotive/highway1/la-hy-throttle11-2008jun11,0,3268856.story

  7. GenWaylaid says

    I sure hope you meant hydrogen fuel. The only way to get energy from helium is through nuclear fusion. That would truly be the most awesome bike ever built, but a tad too futuristic for me.

  8. says

    Non-feet forward Bikes with minimal tail sections look off when the rider is on them.

    See left-profile sketch above or anyone taller than 5’9″ on a Buell XB or Speed Triple

  9. says

    Wooops, yes, shouldn’t be helium, but hydrogen absolutely, my mistake!

    About the tail section and proportions in general, I guess ther’ll probably be a lot of adjusting when blowing this one up to full-scale.

    Thanks for the comments!


  10. Azzy says

    GenWaylaid – That would be one HOT bike! Never run out of power for accessories though.

    David… its the LA times, so I’ll take it with a bit of salt. My 50+mpg is better than most of the cagers out there by at least double.

  11. C.P.T.L. says

    Congrats to Motorepublic. Wahnsinn is beautiful and inspiring.

    I’d love to see how the steer-by-wire system is worked out… suspension, balance, materials… the whole front end for that matter. It would likely have favorable anti-dive qualities, it matches the rear arm… very nice. To insure no fault or failure of a steer-by-wire system what level of construction, what amount of redundancy is considered enough?

    As for fenders, I say match them to the tires as closely as possible – camouflage them by wrapping the fender around the tire with material that looks like the tire itself; make it look like it has no fenders. And as for functional add-ons, fight to keep the clean lines and future look, the uniqueness of the thing, it’s worth it.

  12. todd says

    Turn signals could just glow through the bodywork. mirrors could be tiny cameras, fenders can be designed so that they look better than bare tires.

    This is really a nice concept, however, other than the development of an alternative power plant everything else is just fluff. How is steer-by-wire better? How is it safer? What problem is it solving? I understand that it helps the design for design’s sake. What we call this in the industry is “design m@sturbation”.

    Motorcyclists tend to follow the mantra of “form follows function”, in no other consumer product (other than fire arms) has this been so prevalent. The majority of consumers desire simplicity and tend to trust structure and components that they can touch and feel. We may be rearing up more of a tech generation so designs like these very well might be viable in the not so distant future.

    What the industry needs are some “missing links”. We’re slowly adopting electric motorcycles, next step is single sided front suspension. After that it’s hybrid or fuel cell tech and steer by wire. To have everything lumped together in one step is just a design exercise, not a productive product study. Sure, Jay Leno will buy one but onesie-twosie is not a viable business strategy – no matter how cool the idea is.

    Good work though, I’d love to work for a company like this.


  13. David says

    Todd… it’s not just me then steer-by-wire scare you? I want to know how much road feel is lost?

  14. says

    @Brian: look for US Patent 5816356; it’s from Yamaha (1996) and I think it came from engineers from Öhlins. It uses a leaf spring inside the swingarm…very interesting.
    Nice concept this bike but I think it needs some kind of backsupport otherwise during acceleration you will meet the rear tire pretty quickly 😉