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Curtiss Zeus Unveiled at Quail Motorcycle Gathering

After revealing its Warhawk, which picks up from designs originated by Confederate Motorcycles (a brand identity abandoned for obvious reasons), Curtiss Motorcycles unveiled at the recent Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel a monstrously powerful concept called the Zeus.  Powered by twin electric motors, the Zeus claims to make in the neighborhood of 170 hp and 290 foot/pounds of torque!

Attempting to “redesign the American motorcycle”, Curtiss felt free to design the Zeus from scratch with no preconceptions of what a motorcycle should look like. The machined billet chassis incorporates unusual suspension along with the massively powerful electric motors.

Curtiss says that its founder, Glenn Curtiss, invented the v-twin motorcycle in 1903. The Zeus concept is expected to reach production in 2019 (as a 2020 model), and is purportedly one of several Curtiss models currently under development.

At the Carmel event, the Zeus was awarded the “Most Innovative Motorcycle” prize from a panel of judges that included industry icon Craig Vetter. Let us know what you think of the Zeus.


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103 Comments

  1. Frank says:

    This bike is just a prototype, a concept…hopefully. Weight will be an issue. Those batteries are heavy. Design is interesting. It looks nice just standing there, but in the final version include a seat so someone can ride it. Will be priced for the deep of pocket.

    • tuskerdu says:

      Nice???

    • todd says:

      It looks unrideable as is. That swing arm won’t work, regardless of how uncomfortable the seat is.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        And why won’t the swingarm work?

        • todd says:

          Did you not notice the angle of the swing arm? At 30 degrees or so, half of the power goes to lifting the rear end and the other half goes to pushing it forward. Any application of throttle will try to shorten the wheelbase, lifting the rear and tucking the wheel under the bike. This is basic motorcycle design. There is a little force counteracting this with the angle of the top run of the chain but this design plain just won’t work.

          • Bill in CA says:

            Isn’t that assuming the swingarm will rotate to the underside of the bike without resistance? Perhaps that rotation could be compensated for at the pivot point of the swingarm. I am clearly not a motorcycle designer, although I design other stuff.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I don’t know at which point the swingarm angle becomes too extreme to be workable, but the chain run angle seems mild enough and would maybe help to combat extending the suspension too much under acceleration?

            I find it hard to believe they would ignore something so elementary as making a workable swingarm. But then it is a concept, so who knows.

  2. Dan Kurtzweil says:

    ROKON Baby!!..Rock ON!!!..

  3. Grumpc says:

    Surely the motor/generators should be part of the wheels, direct drive is surely the essence of future motivation. Do we still have to have that remnant of the ‘Industrial Revolution’, the chain, adorning the motorcycle of the future?

    Grumps

  4. MrD says:

    I must say people, a lot of your comments are simply gold. Descriptions such as “ toaster”, ”sunbeam”, ”Lego”, ”hideous oozing pretentious dystopian poop prop nightmare”, with a cool headlight. All pretty accurate and good for a snicker! I am amused! I must say though, picture it with a saddle seat and a couple tractor tires, it kinda looks like a Rokon.

  5. paul246 says:

    If Schwarzenegger had ridden this in Terminator 2 it would have been cool and they would have sold tons of them.

  6. bill in ca says:

    I think 99% of you are sort of missing the point. I saw it at the Carmel show last weekend and as a concept piece it was very impressive. You have to get peoples’ attention, and it did that. From an industrial design and craftsmanship point of view it was stunning, and certainly not intended to be out on the road as a daily driver (and there were daily drivers there that I wouldn’t ride very far). At the show the history of motorcycling was on full display, and thankfully there seems to be plenty of room for every imaginable approach to these machines.

  7. redbirds says:

    Curtiss is rolling in his grave.

  8. Mick says:

    This guy peaked with the first Wraith. He’s been going down hill ever since. With this bike, he entered a time warp that fast forwarded him to a future time when he was much much further down the hill.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a toaster with wheels.. A huge monstrosity of a toaster that only toasts two slices of bread at a time.

    Guess we’ll all be eating crow if the thing has a 500 mile range, but I doubt that’s the case.

  10. Skif says:

    I like the headlight. Not the bracket holding it in place, or the rest of the bike, but the headlight is just fine.

  11. Tank says:

    Obviously “innovative” doesn’t mean good looking or practical.

  12. viktor92 says:

    It’s very hard to imagine an ugliest ¿bike? than this, not to mention the ergonomics…

  13. todd says:

    Terribly ugly and poor handling. I doubt you can use much throttle without the swing arm tucking the rear wheel under the bike and lifting the rider into the air. Maybe they should look at some basic engineering principles first.

    That said, it looks like they styled it after an R32, loosely. This is a defamation of Glenn Curtiss’ name.

    How much do you want to bet there is no motor or batteries in this bike, other than the tiny 12v unit powering the lights.

  14. Motowarrior says:

    I see that Craig Vetter was on the panel that voted it “most innovative motorcycle.” Craig was and is a first rate designer, but I don’t think his vote was based on this dubious style. He is a big advocate of reducing fossil fuel consumption, so I imagine he supported this motorcycle based on its electric power. I can’t imagine any other reason to vote for it.

  15. Kurt says:

    What is it for?

    • montana says:

      It’s for Jay Leno’s collection of weird one-offs parked in the back of his museum.

  16. ROXX says:

    I didn’t realize Boston Dynamics were building motorcycles now?

  17. ChrisRR says:

    What a gross example of form over function. Practically nothing on that machine looks designed with the rider in mind, while nearly everything seems built for aesthetics. Does the designer even ride?

  18. ABQ says:

    It looks like it would be used for drag racing. But at the end of the quarter mile you will have to recharge it. Electric vehicles have no range. That is why Americans don’t buy them. Put a butt stop on the seat so you won’t slide off the backside when the light turns green.

  19. stan says:

    What a way to waste investment and product development capital. Better solution: convert the money into greenbacks and just drive down the freeway and throw it out the window.

  20. mechanicus says:

    Uhhhh…. No. Just… no.

  21. andy says:

    I’d buy one.

  22. Chase says:

    Hideous dystopian nightmare!! Can a bike get any uglier? Hard to imagine.This is what trying to appeal to liberal elites gets you.

  23. Venator390 says:

    What do I think of this? Not much.

  24. ATBScott says:

    12 Monkeys called – they want their prop back…
    WHAT exactly was so special and innovative about this monstrosity?

    • WSHart says:

      LOL! Excellent!

      Perhaps more like they want back the poop they flung at the farteest responsible for this pile. Did Yoko Ono have anything to do with this turdling?

  25. WSHart says:

    Another “custom” motorcycle that unless it’s moving will be covered in flies within minutes.

    Think about it…

  26. bmbktmracer says:

    “Most Innovative Motorcycle.” Sort of like Himmler getting an award for most innovative way to murder.

  27. sherm says:

    Good candidate for the first rider-less, passenger-less, robot motorcycle. Rather than having to be seen on this monstrosity, the owner simply simply sends a text order to it. Example:” Hey Zeus, rundown to the quick-stop and get me a six pack.”

  28. Onto says:

    The angle of the swingarm would probably give it weird handling. Accelerate hard and it would jack-up the rear. Use the back brake and the rear of the bike would squat. This may be desirable in small amounts, but this looks like it has too much angle.

  29. Sean says:

    This thing oozes…pretentiousness. You could walk pirates off that seat. 😄

  30. Curly says:

    Gee that looks like a comfy long distance ride and no way would your pants leg ever get caught in that drive chain. S/

  31. DP says:

    This is a prank, right?

  32. KyleKlintok says:

    On my computer right now is an ad in the sidebar; “What to do after a car wreck…”. Why do engineering exercises completely ignore aesthetics? Wouldn’t you start your marketing campaign from the very first sight of the prototype? Why be polarizing? Put some mass appeal in there. I know they’re proud of themselves, but jeeesh….

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Wouldn’t make much sense to try to create mass appeal for something the masses can’t afford, now would it? Probably best to try to create something off the wall if you want to appeal to a hundred or so well-off buyers. Which is what they did. I like it personally.

  33. Tank says:

    As stated in previous article- “What’s the point?”

  34. Jim says:

    If I made a motorcycle out of LEGOs, what would it look like.

  35. CrazyJoe says:

    Looks vaguely like a boxer. I thought they were into V-twins.

  36. turnergande says:

    Enclose the chain. Better yet use belt or gear drive. Lose a few hundred pounds. Create a proper seat. Add rear pegs & passenger seating. Start the dang motor with kick start as well as push button. Storage for gear & helmet? A long way to go yet before real production.

  37. The Count says:

    MY NUTS!!

  38. Crackerrider says:

    Star Wars – Version XXII

    Rokon, I’m your Father

    • KyleKlintok says:

      If I squint my eyes enough I can see the word “Sunbeam” on the motor case.

      • Joe says:

        Yeah, Sunbeam circa 1956 !
        Hilarious !
        I kinda hate to say it but it’s too much fun ripping this thing !
        Maybe Matt Chambers has a clever angle to exploit a niche in the market but it reminds me of the post-modern artist.
        The viewer is pressured to convince themselves they’re beholding “high art” that requires a sophisticated artistic sensitivity to appreciate. Never mind your feelings of horror, disgust and confusion , it’s art !
        Sorry Matt, ya missed.

  39. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    And I thought my stock seat was uncomfortable…. If there is a robot riding it, I suppose that works

  40. Kevin says:

    What connection does Matthew Chambers have to Glenn Curtiss, the “founder” of this company? Is Chambers a descendant? Glenn Curtiss died in 1930, and Confederate Motors wasn’t founded until 1991. Maybe “inspiration” would be a more apt term than “founder.”

  41. Velo de Guzzi says:

    Barf

  42. Lou Ranger says:

    Like others, I’m highly skeptical about cost and practicality. It must also weigh more than any bike ought to. Jay Leno might not be concerned about that chain drive spinning just inches from his butt, but I would be.

  43. Chris says:

    I freely admit that opinions about beauty or lack of are subjective and personal. Regardless, in the third picture down, the man second from the right appears to be pulling down his zipper. I’d be in line behind him. I’d even drink an extra beer to assure a complete dousing. A bike doesn’t have to be ugly to be electric, nor does a bike have to be electric to be ugly. This one just happens to cover both bases very well, to my eyes.

  44. Ricardo says:

    Super ugly and most likely not affordable (except for Jay Leno), bring in the Harley Livewire….

  45. Falcodoug says:

    “With no preconceptions of what a motorcycle should look like”

  46. jabe says:

    About as pretty as a farm implement.

    • dt 175 says:

      farm implements are designed/styled to be practical/useful/efficient. to do what their styling says, and, after looking at ’em, not make you ask what they do. I like farm implements…

      • Tom K. says:

        Right on, dt. Go back to the “primitive” roots of farming, and you’ll see real beauty in the progression of the equipment that increased man’s ability to work the ground, plant seeds, and harvest crops. The guys that invented that stuff (McCormick, Deere, Case, and those that came before them), were flipping geniuses – simplicity, functionality, efficiency.

  47. Brinskee says:

    What’s the range? I agree, the looks are polarizing and certainly not for me. I doubt they would resonate with a younger generation either. And is 290 ft/lbs even practical? How much does this thing weigh?

    I just don’t see it being successful. I’m sure Jay Leno will stuff one into his garage, but the common people’s bike? Not so much…

    • todd says:

      This is similar, if not less, power than many super bikes today. Practicality has nothing to do with it. Thigh I’d much rather have a Super Duke or BMW 1000 over this ugly, uncomfortable, bad handling short range bike any day.

  48. wsg says:

    What do I think about it? Honestly, I hate everything about it. Motorcycles are about “feel” and emotion, right? In that case…it makes me “feel” like kicking it over. I hope they are not pinning their financial future on this art deco clothing iron.

  49. steveinsandiego says:

    who wants to sit on a 2×6, or whatever size that plank is? ugh.

    zero bikes lead the pack imho.

  50. LordBeal says:

    Very cool concept bike — the production model MUST have quick swap batteries. Not having no-tool exchangeable batteries is a total deal breaker no matter how cool the bike is. That would be like having a 1/4 inch filler neck on your gas bike.