The project is the brainchild of serial inventor Dezso Molnar, creator of the GT flying motorcycle and the upcoming Streetwing flying car. Molnar collaborated on the design and execution of the Surfcycle with Craig Calfee of Calfee Design, another West Coast innovator known for his beautiful custom bikes and other carbon fiber creations. The two also collaborated on Streetwing, among many other projects.
“I spent a lot of time developing flying cars,” Molnar told us, “but people objected that nobody wanted them until they could fly themselves. There was a training hiccup there, where you had to learn how to fly. At the same time, I Watching 11-year-old girls hop on electric scooters and look super confident on the street.”
So where do you go from there? Motorcycles were bigger, heavier and more intimidating, so Molnar set out to design a middle step. Features the upright riding position, narrow profile and low-speed agility of an electric scooter, with enough power for highway driving, and motorcycle-grade safety considerations.
The resulting machine is an absolute eye-opener: a standing step that you can step off in no time. The Surfcycle uses the relatively standard front end of a Piaggio scooter, with 12-inch (41-cm) rims, 19-inch-diameter tires, and a suspension fork. Between the wheels there’s a 12″ wide (30cm) wooden board you can stand on, and a small retractable bike seat if you want to sit down. The rear wheel is another 16-inch scooter wheel suspended on twin shock absorbers beneath a meaty luggage rack, with about 5 inches (13 cm) of ground clearance below the deck.
“It’s the exact same physiology, the same confidence, the same center of balance, the same muscle groups as a typical electric rental scooter,” Molnar said. “It seems obvious to me, but no one else is cutting the wedding cake and saying, ‘Let’s empower these things to drive on any road.'” And I want them to be safe. The wheels on those little electric scooters are so small, they’re scary. We put a proper motorcycle front end on our car with weight distribution so that if you hit a bump or pothole, the front wheel goes right over it. “
The drive system is very simple—an 8-kilowatt hub motor at the rear wheel is powered by a battery and controller mounted low on the prototype’s frame. By production, the battery will sit on the riser, making the center of mass lower – but even without this extra step, the prototype is already the easiest motorcycle imaginable to pick up when it falls.
It is currently using battery bricks from the Zero FX electric motorcycle, which the team has found to reliably provide a range of about 80 miles (129 kilometers) and a top speed of about 80 mph (129 km/h).
“By default, I ride with one foot very forward,” says Craig Calfee. “We only have one front brake right now, but it’s very powerful, so you have to anticipate stopping. But in an emergency, the cool thing is that it’s easy to step on. We’ll get rear regenerative braking working this week. .”
Calfee says the luggage system on the back may look like it’s for couriers, but it’s actually inspired by airport luggage trolleys.
“Part of the idea was to be able to separate lanes to the airport with all the luggage,” he told us. “Because Dezso, as you know, goes to the airport a lot, and he hates sitting in traffic. So we wanted to design it to carry suitcases. So We designed it like one of those Smarte Cartes, in stainless steel, and to fit a little whimsy, we kept the little round bumpers around the corners and put the turn signals on them. The production version probably won’t do that. But a company that makes Smarte Cartes in the US would be a great option to make these things for us!”
The next key element: making sure the Surfcycle is narrow enough to be the next level of lane divider in urban traffic disruption.
“When I’m driving between two cars in a Honda CBR, I’m always worried that my hand will hit someone’s mirror,” Molnar said. “In this thing, you’re standing and the crossbar is angled down so your shoulders can be the widest part of the vehicle. This is to give you the opportunity to keep going when everyone else is stopping.
“They’re 24″ wide handlebars,” adds Calfee. (To get an idea of how narrow this is, look at the ridiculously thin These 22″ “lane dividers” Just look at Harley. ) “But at high speeds, it really doesn’t matter, it’s more about shifting your weight than forcing the front wheel to turn. It’s a motorcycle concept with foot steer, but taken to the extreme. If riding a mountain bike is like riding a motorcycle Cars, it’s like surfing. If you’ve surfed, skateboarded, or ridden an electric scooter, you’ve got the skill. If you haven’t, you’ve ridden a motorcycle, “you’ll pick it up pretty quickly. But the main factor is that it’s very entertaining. Motorcycling is fun, surfing is fun, it’s the same thing in both. It’s more like a good thing. “
EV battery genius and all-around lovable loose-fit Luke Workman agrees, he’s got a chance to ride a Surfcycle.
“With dual motor two-wheel drive scooters that can go over 60 mph (96.5 km/h+), (wife) Erica and I love driving them together on the beach. You can run them on the sand, kick up Habitat and they’re pretty awesome. So we’ve had good experiences with performance scooters. The Surfcycle is basically the same feel, except instead of trying to knock your teeth out on every bump, and your feet really go from The scooter decks on everything you hit at high speed, which swallows up every imperfection in the road like motorcycles tend to do.
“In some ways,” he continued, “it feels like you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing, like standing on the seat of a motorcycle – as long as it’s well controlled. Not that there’s anything wrong with standing anyway. Sit in your seat, which I do sometimes. But it’s a neat, smooth feeling. It’s a weird treat. After a while, it’s pretty normal for a motorcycle experience because it goes from 0 to 50 is as fast as a normal bike (80 km/h) in street traffic. But like a high-powered scooter, when you step on the gas, you have to be ready to stick.”
There’s a small bike-style saddle behind the rider, but both Calfee and Molnar say they prefer standing at speeds below 40 mph (65 km/h), both because of the board-like feel and because You have extra visibility in traffic when you’re high above. At high speeds, it’s more practical and efficient to sit down, in fact, Molnar says he occasionally kneels on the footpegs to keep himself as aerodynamic as possible on the highway.
“It’s designed for a city like Los Angeles,” Calfee said, “where the streets have a lot of traffic, but you also have freeways that go from one area to another—of course, those cities have a lot of traffic. And in places like For places like that, it’s definitely the fastest thing on the road between point A and point B. I had a stint as a bike delivery guy in NYC and this would be the ultimate delivery vehicle for urgent deliveries.”
Molnar will be riding and demonstrating the Surfcycle at The Quail this weekend, hoping to gauge interest in the concept. From there, they’re working out how to market, certify and mass-produce it. Calfee has the facilities to manufacture the first 50 or so production units, but beyond that, they are looking for partners and investment.
“We haven’t quite decided how to start,” Molnar said. “We might do a Kickstarter. But it’s not just an experiment, our goal is to get these vehicles out on the market. We’re going to do what’s necessary based on the certification requirements, our mission is just to tick every checkmark and execute this Operation. Our target price point is $9,996 and we want to be significantly cheaper than the average electric motorcycle. We want to design and build to make sure people can take advantage of any federal subsidies available for electric vehicles. We want to contribute to the motorcycle world, And create an alternative to the car.”
You can see the Surfcycle in action in the video below.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhBD5Myagb4 (/embed)
Source: Molnar Calfee Motorcycles