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RedShift: An Electric Motorcycle That Breaks Rules (And Speed Limits)

How do you sell riders on electric motorcycles? Just sell riders on a faster motorcycle.

When most consumers think “electric car,” they’ve been conditioned to think green, to think “Prius” and “limited range” and “braking efficiency.” But electric’s greatest advantage isn’t necessary an environmental one; it’s that an electric motor isn’t limited by the physics of combustion. Rather, just like an electric screwdriver, an electric car can go full throttle, instantly, without switching gears. Smart designers can take advantage of that. “We didn’t set out to build a bike for the masses,” says Marc Fenigstein, CEO of motorcycle startup BRD. “We set out to build a bike for a very specific format where we knew electric was the best option.”

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BRD developed a groundbreaking electric motocross bike called the RedShift. “It looks familiar because in function it is the same as gas motocross bikes,” Fenigstein tells Co.Design. “It looks different because it doesn’t need an exhaust or gas tank anymore.” Some may see the bike as green. Others may recognize its economic savings–despite the relatively high $15,000 price tag–as an electric bike pays for itself by sidestepping oil changes and constant engine rebuilds. But instead of using these features as a marketing crutch, BRD designed and sold for speed.

“The major breakthrough is simply the approach,” Fenigstein writes. “BRD doesn’t assume that anyone needs electric. Gas bikes kick ass, and none of us would trade our gas bikes for anything that is slower, uglier, or less fun. We set out to build a bike that was prettier, faster, and more fun than what was in our garages.”

Note the subtle owl motif.

By using gas performance as their design standard rather than some arbitrary engineering metric, BRD created a bike that was 100lbs (or 30%) lighter than competing electrics in their class and a bike that one-ups gas competition by putting out peak horsepower at will and requiring no shifting. It’s also just a beautiful vehicle to look at, with a surprisingly unique, almost anime color scheme in a field filled with eye-punishing chroma.

“The motorcycle market has very strong brand associations for the primary and secondary colors (Red = Honda and Ducati, Green = Kawasaki, Yellow = Yamaha and Suzuki, Blue = Yamaha, Orange = KTM) so we had to find something off the beaten path,” Fenigstein writes. “We drew from some of our favorite racing liveries and played around until we found something that stood out for its subtlety, rather than competing for ‘OMG LOOK AT ME AAAAAAHHHH.'”

I’m not sure that you can call anything about the RedShift subtle, but it is a gorgeous bike that’s hiding at least one awesome feature that your eyes can’t see: It sounds like a Star Wars podracer in action.

[Hat tip: Core77]

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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