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The PES Dispenser: A Yamaha eBike May be in your Future

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Last year, at the Tokyo Motor Show, Yamaha showed off a bevy of concepts, including a few e-motorcycles. There was a scooter and an electric motocrosser, but what was really eye-catching was the svelte, futuristic PES1 concept.

Aside from being the best-looking street-oriented electric motorcycle I’ve seen from a major manufacturer, it’s a runner — Yamaha released video of the bike undergoing racetrack testing. And now it’s going to be available in Yamaha dealerships: “We are working to create new value with EV sports motorcycles, which we aim to launch in two years,” writes Yamaha in its annual report, “with the development of the small, on-road sports PES1, as well as the PED1…” (the PED1 is the off-road model).

Sure, Yamaha, but how fast is the PES1? What kind of range? How much? And will we get it here? Yamaha ain’t talking, but we can make some guesses.

Both models (the motocrosser and the PES1 street) share a common engine and use a removable battery pack called a Yamaha Smart Power Module. Since the PES1 (that stands for “Passion Electric Street” if you’re wondering, as opposed to “Passion Electric Dirt” for the PED1) weighs under 223 pounds (at least, in its concept phase), with current (catch the pun?) battery technology we’d expect very limited range. The chassis and drive unit must weigh at least half the claimed 100 kilogram curb weight—and you’d need about 150 pounds of battery to see 50-70 miles of 65 mph travel by my very rough and not fully informed estimates.

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So does Yamaha have something up its corporate sleeve it’s not telling us? I’d say it must. Given such a light basic design, with existing technology Yamaha could build a 400-pound e-moto that would go 150 miles or more on a single charge at freeway speeds. If the revolution in battery prices happens, it might even be priced like a 600cc sportbike, as Yamaha is a volume manufacturer.

But could that happen in two years? I don’t know the legality of making such promises to shareholders and then not fulfilling them, but I’ll bet someone, somewhere has been sued for doing exactly that. So I expect something like the PES1 and PED1 to appear in Yamaha dealers somewhere in the world by the end of 2016.

The question will be if it’s an unaffordable compliance-car kind of thing that’s not really intended as a mainstream product or a real, affordable, fun and practical street motorcycle. Let’s hope it’s the latter.

Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of City Bike Magazine, and a frequent freelance contributor to MotorcycleDaily.com.

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56 Comments

  1. Mars says:

    Something to consider for potential buyers, albeit a small thing – in the State of Washington they levy a special “Electric Vehicle Tax” on cars (and one would assume motorcycles) that do not use gasoline. Their premise/excuse is the failure to pay the gas tax and the whole “fair-share” thing with road usage. The premise is bogus, but the tax is real.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I always knew that kind of thing would happen with EV growth. Just curious, what is the tax basis: flat tax, do you have to report your odometer usage, etc.?

    • Scottie says:

      I can see NY State adding on yet another tax, but Washington?

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I just read that Oregon already has a pilot mileage tax going and that nearly all states are considering similar options. Apparently average fuel economy increases in conjunction with no inflation index for fuel taxes has state governments in a bit of a fuss.

  2. Larry says:

    Nope Nope Nope not gonna happen.
    Electric motor – GOOD
    battery’s – STUPID
    Fuel Cell – GOOD

    Call me when the REAL future gets here. Because rechargeable battery’s that last for less than a day are ludicrousness.

    • Scottie says:

      Agree. Batteries are not the solution. I live in Manhattan. My co-op board gets twisted about almost anything, let alone a power cord hanging out the window.

      Someone displayed to me a fuel cell prototype for phones in 1999, and I have yet to see it on the market.

    • Dave says:

      Batteries are already very viable for urban transportation applications. For every user that needs 150+ mile range per tank of gas there are 1000′s that could easily make do with 50 miles of range per charge. The real obstacle to success (in the US) is how few choose to use 2-wheel vehicles in the first place, regardless of what powers them (legs, motors, or engines).

  3. Nate says:

    Electric Vehicles should be labeled what they actually are. Coal Powered.

  4. Mark says:

    I’m very frustrated waiting for an electric woods motorcycle.
    There’s not many years left off-road for these joints of mine, and I
    really hope the day makes it before I pack it in that I can afford an electric woods bike with all day range.
    Oh to ride quietly up and down hills, through the woods, coming across animals that now run way before I arrive on my 250.
    Oh I hope.

    • Provologna says:

      Very likely my two wheeled vehicle all time high point: Circa 2010 riding my mountain bike N bound on my favorite trail, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail between Providence Canyon and Dry Canyon, Cache Valley, Utah. The trail runs immediately E and parallel to the N-S “wildlife fence.” There was a hole in the fence, likely through which six elk roamed from the E (mountain side) of the fence to the W side (populated area down the hill).

      On the trail section with softly rolling grades I saw the herd 100 yards W of the trail and the fence. I stopped to stare at them. One by one they saw me, and instinctively started galloping NW toward the fence hole, coming closer and closer to me on the trail.

      I raced, paralleling the elk as they accelerated. Failing to get in front of me, they gave up and slowly galloped NW back down the hill.

      I won’t soon forget the exhilaration, the earth shaking, and tremendous sound of that experience. Never happening on an internal combustion vehicle.

      • Mark says:

        I hear ya!
        Think about the hectares of wilderness that could open up to these “green machines”.

  5. Tim says:

    To reduce the cost of commuting 29.4 miles round trip to work, and pay off the house faster, my vehicle went from a car, to a moto, to a bicycle. After four years of commuting through the city on a bicycle, I am ready for something faster than my 16 mph average commute speed which includes waiting for red lights. However, hauling around hundreds of pounds of metal just to transport my body to work seems so inefficient. On windy or rainy days I wish there was a small electric motorcycle that costs the same as a 250 Ninja back in the 90′s – $3000. For a commuter vehicle you do not want to have to fill the gas tank very often which is why the 4.8 gallon tank on the 250 Ninja makes it such a great commuter vehicle. An electric vehicle that was recharged in the garage at the end of each work day would be very convenient. However, the difference in price between a used 250 Ninja and a new electric motorcycle is way over $12,000. In my case, it would take perhaps two decades of commuting on an electric motorcycle before its higher initial cost would made its lower operating costs worthwhile – assuming it is reliable. Something like this electric Yamaha sure looks useful, efficient and fun. It is also a lot better looking than the currently available electric motorcycles. If it costs less than $10,000 it would almost make sense economically – if it is reliable. The price of currently available electric motorcycles makes them a social or a fashion statement, they are not economically sensible. Price is the determining factor.
    Yamaha, sell one for half of what the other guys are asking and I will be interested.

    • motowarrior says:

      One word: Grom. The Honda Grom costs about $3000, gets 100+ mpg on regular gas and is a blast to ride. It’s not fast, but it is nearly 4 times faster than your pedal bike. It is also small enough to park almost anywhere without anyone taking offense. You will have to change your view of how things are supposed to be, but that’s half the fun of it.

    • Gabe says:

      Well, Vectrix made the VX-2 scooter and it fit your needs EXACTLY. It was $4400 ($3000 in 1998 dollars, adjusted for CPI), went 30 miles on a charge, could do 40-plus mph and was fun to ride.

      http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/22/12398/Motorcycle-Article/2012-Vectrix-VX-2-Electric-Scooter-Review.aspx

      But both Zero and Brammo make motorcycles with 30 miles or more of range for under $10,000 and there are incentives in many states that bring the price under $8000.

    • Motorhead says:

      Way to go, Tim! Keep pedaling. I used to commute 10 miles each way on a bicycle, when I was in my early 40′s. Best condition I’ve ever been in, and the costs were fabulous. If we can convince every cage-driver to quit calling and texting on cell phones I would go back to commuting, simply for health and financial benefits. A $3000 electric racing bicycle is the way to go.

    • Dave says:

      Nice going Tim, stay with the pedals. They’ll keep you young. As for the days when you need a motor, Pick up a 87 Honda Elite 150 for <$1k and get everything the Grom offers, plus a top-speed worthy of short highway hops. If you want to spend a few more shekels, get that Ninja or the PCX150.

  6. kjazz says:

    On an electric bike…..everyone can hear you fart.

  7. Gronde says:

    Much better than anything offered by ZERO or Brammo. Also, they need to bring the price in line with the performance offered.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “they need to bring the price in line with the performance offered.”

      for you…? $20 grand.

    • Gary says:

      Don’t know how you could tell that since I doubt most here have not ridden a Brammo, Zero or especially this Yamaha. Personally, I think the Brammo Empulse- not the Enertia is a real good looking bike, and at this point would probably lay waste to this diminutive Yamaha, but the prices are in my opinion what is holding the EV’s back mostly from more universal acceptance.

  8. Don E. says:

    Whatever happened to rear fenders? Have designers ever ridden on wet or dirt roads? Technically, these bikes would be illegal in my state because of a lack of rear fenders.

    • Curly says:

      These are the Tokyo Motor Show bikes. Production models are usually different and I suspect these will grow some more parts before the public gets a shot at them.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Whatever happened to rear fenders?”

      same as the MX front fender… vestigial.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      That is a pre-production prototype. Heck, the one in the video might be running on gasoline for all we know. It will have fenders if it shows up in your dealership.

  9. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    A staple-gun on two wheels never looked so good

  10. Gary says:

    I love the clean sheet design. It will be interesting to learn more.

  11. Hair says:

    The see through gas tank makes a statement. Nice looking bike.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      It would make a better statement to me if it were used as a lockable storage space or something else useful.

      • motowarrior says:

        I hear you, but the split window on the “63 Corvette wasn’t practical, but it was a great design statement.

  12. Stratkat says:

    im just not into the electric thing, not yet anyway. but i have to say Yamaha is doing some pretty cool stuff, very edgy, the design appeals to me even if they dont have a machine yet that im ready to put my money down on. but…. they are much, muuuuuccchhhh more appealing than anything Honda has offered lately. Honda has put so much emphasis on beginners machines that they are lost on me.

  13. Jeremy in TX says:

    I am glad to see Yamaha decided to put these into production. Now, like the author, I wonder if this is intended to be a novelty product or an actual attempt at assaulting the electric motorcycle market. I don’t have much use for an electric street bike yet, but I am very interested to know what the price of the PED1 dirt bike will be.

  14. Gronde says:

    Now that’s more like it! There is hope for the electric motorcycle.

  15. Gary says:

    The looks are pretty good and different than what is being offered currently by Brammo or Zero. Let’s hope though, that the seat on this Yammie will NOT be as pictured, and I’m guessing the bars will be more like standard bars when the bike is released. Brammo showed low clip-ons with their Empulse up until shortly before release, then standard bars were affixed. Most of the EV bikes are looking good at this time style wise, except, in my opinion, the Brammo Enertia which needs a styling update in the worst way.

  16. dave says:

    It should be a two stroke!

  17. Tommy D says:

    Yamaha stylist have been hitting the bulls eye across their model range. I believe as soon as a manufacture comes out with the two wheeled equivalent of a Tesla I’ll buy one. That is a beautiful EV and it works in real life.

  18. Lenz says:

    I love the spirit of innovation driving these electric bikes.

    My understanding is hydrogen can be readily used as a fuel for conventional internal combustion engines – Mazda has invested significant research into hydrogen fueled, conventional IC engines. BMW is in there too I believe.

    Battery technology / energy storage / unit mass seems to be a primary limitation for battery electric based vehicles. Be interesting to know if hydrogen fueled power cells have the potential to shift the current focus on battery based power. Hydrogen production is an interesting overload / safety valve / base load power product for the mass renewable energy industry.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “an interesting overload / safety valve / base load power product for the mass renewable energy industry.”

      wait, is this a euphemism for “problematic”…?

    • Bryan Whitton says:

      It really can’t. Hydrogen doesn’t have the energy content as a gas to be used as a fuel directly. It does work as an electric vehicle with a fuel cell. Can you say $50K.

  19. Nick says:

    Even if it only made it to 60mph in the video, it still looks like a lot of fun.

  20. billy says:

    The bike is on slicks?????

  21. Ed Chambers says:

    Well they’ve managed to break the ugly barrier but how does it run?And by 150 mi at freeway speeds do they mean 65mph or real world freeway speeds?

  22. Hot Dog says:

    Well, boys and girls, pull up your old dog panties cuz we’re getting old. I thought the only thing electric I’d ride is a wheelchair but there’s hope on the horizon. Pretty cool stuff!

  23. Tom says:

    If you flip up the fake gas tank does candy come out?

  24. Dargo says:

    they just need a few carbon nano tubes and they’ll have all the range they need

  25. xlayn says:

    You can get a power estimate on the tire size, I would say 20-30 hp, close to a 250.