Several months ago, Lit Motors was just showing off their concept and explaining their dream of a gyro stabilized, fully enclosed motorcycle. Just a few days ago, their very early stage prototype, took its first, hesitant test drive under power. The production model, will have two, counter rotating gyroscopes mounted in the frame, spinning at 12,000 rpm, though this first run was made with only one gyro in place so speeds are quite slow. Slow or not, however, it shows the idea has merit.
Daniel Kim, founder and CEO of Lit Motors, projects a 120 mph top speed, a 220 mile range and a price of $24,000 when the C1 arrives in the first quarter of 2014. Watching Kim sitting motionless and then backing up slowly from a parking spot while the C1 balances itself on 2 wheels is fascinating. As he begins to drive forward and then stops at an intersection, you begin to think they may be on to something.
Susan Carpenter of the LA Times, also interviewed Kim and took a short drive. Her video shows the team rocking the prototype while it maintains balance and Kim explained the C1's fly by wire system could, theoretically, be programmed to allow a driver to perform a lot of advanced maneuvers such as a stoppie or drifting into a parallel parking space, dramatically expanding the performance envelope of a novice 2 wheeler. Hey, there's an app for that. While it sounds pretty optimistic, I could imagine that happening and as soon as they demonstrated a C1 actually doing it, I see a lot of people quickly placing deposits.
Of course, the C1 is still a very long way from those dreams, but it's also no longer just a computer model, it's moving and balancing under its own power and that shows promise.
If there is anything the conventional motorcycle community should take away from this, it's that these new concepts seem to be where the action is. We're not looking at some bold new graphics or shiny chrome pieces, this is really new, really different and there are a lot of smart people working very hard to make it happen. It's also encouraging, and for the current manufacturers potentially a bit scary, to see all of this coming from companies we've never heard of.
As I've noted many times, electric motorcycles have a big hurdle to clear in terms of range and recharge time, but these concepts are definitely very interesting. Honda, Harley and all the rest should pay attention.