Brooklyn Motorized’s Electric “Cafe Racer”

I know I’m supposed to support stuff like this, and it’s probably as well-intentioned as the FIDO, which I like (more on that from Brooke soon), and café racers are all the rage (OMG POCPhil’s podcast is amazing, more on that later, too) but this Brooklyn Motorized electric café racer thingy just looks like a Portlandia punchline. It’s like vegetarian “bacon,” I don’t have anything against alternative proteins at all, but why disguise them as bacon? it doesn’t look like bacon, it doesn’t taste like bacon, nobody’s going to be fooled, and it just makes you look like you’re desperate for validation from the mainstream carnivores. Make an attractive alternative to meat and sell it on its own strengths, and I’m there, shoving it in my bulgur hole.

I’m probably being too harsh, the performance (60mph) is compelling, and there are some neat engineering decisions going on (the briefcase powerpacks are nice). And other cafe-racer fans like Scooterism like it, so maybe I’m wrong. If the price was right it could be a winner, but I’m betting on premium hipster pricing.

I’m really interested to hear what you guys think about this, and I can’t wait until it comes up on Cleveland Moto.

Update: Brooklyn Motorized’s Wes Cox sent a worthy response:

I was searching “Brooklyn Motorized” to see what people thought, since today’s NYT wheels post was the first bit of press that we’ve released. I stumbled onto your post.

I completely get what you’re saying, it has been a weird trip designing this thing. Your write-up sounded like our team playing devil’s advocate with each other- You say vegan bacon, but for two years now I’ve been thinking of it as: “sugar free ice cream.” My first machine was a P200E, and last year, after a year on the electric motorcycle project, I had to buy a ’74 RD350. I take deep sniffs of the two stroke smoke, as do most of the team here- most all they guys are either into 2 stroke mopeds, and some of the guys are into bigger 4 strokes, SV’s and stuff like that. Well, we are entering an amazing era: The performance and range of electric motorcycles is going to increase at a pace many people are not expecting.

We thought our bike should draw on old street bike looks, but it definitely should not be too retro or too cafe- this was the first prototype, built a year ago.

I think once we get to production we’ll find the sweet spot. And we’ll all have to decide what the hell these machines should look like. We just dont want ours to look like an electronic transportation appliance.

It comes down to the ride too- the torque on these things is plain fun- the future is full of fun small electric bikes, and 2 stroke smoke will be a precious and rare smell.

Oh, and the price for our machine will be $5999, $5399 after the tax rebate. We priced it to land in Vespa price range, and it has been tough to keep the price down like that. It looks like we’ll be able to deliver at that price point.

2 thoughts on “Brooklyn Motorized’s Electric “Cafe Racer””

  1. I am amazed at how little thought people put into this whole electric vehicle thing. It’s become very clear that most Americans truly believe that electricity appears by magic at the nearest outlet, so it wouldn’t do any good to try to tell them that the vast majority of electricity generation in the U.S. is powered by fossil fuels (even the wind turbines, which are powered by natural gas when there’s no wind). Your electric scooter may not emit any pollutants, but the coal-fired power plants in Boardman, Oregon and Longview, Wash. sure as hell do.

    The electric utilities are very nervous about large-scale adoption of electric vehicles. Adding the Level 2 charger to your house, they say, is like adding another house if the electric vehicle it charges gets used to the same extent as most Americans use ICE vehicles. The widespread adoption of air conditioning in the late 1950s spiked electricity demand enormously, and having 1% of the 250 million motor vehicles in the U.S. become electric would do at least as much. Except we’ve got pretty much the same electric grid now as we did then. Hello, rolling blackouts.

    But that won’t matter. People who buy electric scooters are SAVING THE PLANET, just like they do with their canvas grocery bags. Except they can’t be bothered to throw the damn things in the wash once in a while, so they do their part to spread foodborne pathogens.

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but I keep hoping someone might get the message…

  2. Many of us put a great deal of thought into this whole electric vehicle thing. For roughly the amount of the tax rebate mentioned in the BMC response, the average user could have a small solar electric or wind system that would take the bike truly off grid.

    I would like to see companies like BMC (and Brammo, Zero, Fido,etc.) make systems like this available as part of the purchase package or at least an add-on option. If the motivation exists to provide (or purchase) non-polluting transportation, then the education and resources need to be made available to make it a true non-polluting vehicle. Companies like BMC are at least pioneering a step in the right direction. If we can reduce both petroleum and coal consumption, we will truly be making progress.

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