New Zealand native Matthew Waddick knows a thing or two about retro-inspired electric motorcycles. In 2018, we covered his work developing and bringing to market an electric conversion kit for the classic Honda Cub moped as part of Shanghai Customs. In addition to Shanghai Customs, which mostly focuses on custom electric motorcycles and moped builds, he’s back with another new electric motorcycle company, Switch Motorcycles, which has just unveiled a decidedly impressive electric motorcycle known as the eSCRAMBLER.
Matthew founded Switch Motorcycles to produce larger electric motorcycles with higher-performance specs, which describes the eSCRAMBLER well.
But before we dive into the tech specs, let’s check out how it was designed.
Matthew partnered with ex-Yamaha Advanced Labs industrial designer and former Danish Flat Track racing champion Michel Riis to develop the eSCRAMBLER’s design.
The design brief was simple: It had to be a mid-sized motorcycle with a powerful belt-driven mid-mounted motor and be production ready. That meant tooling, CNC’d welding jigs, parts designed to be molded, the works. This wasn’t going to be vaporware — this was a bike designed from the outset for production.
And of course it had to have real-world specs that riders demanded.
That resulted in performance that is quite impressive for a mid-sized electric motorcycle. The eSCRAMBLER has a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph), 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 3.2 seconds, and a real-world range of 150 km (93 miles). The bike is powered by a 50kW (67hp) electric motor.
Michel worked on the design in tandem with Michael’s engineering team, as the company described:
Having such a talented designer like Michel on the team, who also has the ‘hands on’ custom and practical skills, meant we could design the bike from the inside out, rather than wasting time on over the top sketches and building down trying to make them work. Michel started off with some basic dimensions and proportion layouts which were loosely based on the concept eTRACKER, before sketching and adding in the CAD over the top. It was then a process of back and forth — cad — sketching — cad — sketching on each component until it was ready to prototype.
We started with the core structure, box and frame, as opposed to more stylistic items such as the ‘tank’. This meant we could understand the bike more and how it would actually work and fit together. It was all very practical with Matthew’s engineering team building in tandem on the ground. This greatly simplified the process and made assembly of the bike easier and cheaper for mass production.
The battery box came with its own interesting engineering challenges and designs.
Michael further explained the process for developing the battery box:
Michel began with basic box sketch designs and built the frame around this. Working in collaboration with the engineering team, myself, Sam Dekok and Hector Alvarez, we developed the initial pack size and unique internal (proprietary) design with a power of 11kWh (going up to 13 kWh), which is very big for a midsize motorcycle (the same as the Zero SR). The cells are cooled using aluminum and copper heat transfer plates inside the box which dissipate the heat out through the box, covers and cooling fins.
The faux “tank” also does double duty. Not only does it help retain the classic motorcycle heritage while still creating a modern twist (and provide the rider somewhere to grip with his or her knees — an important aspect for motorcycle riding regardless of gas vs electric power), but it also neatly hides away much of the electronic wiring to create the clean look of the bike.
Stuffed into the “tank” are the 12V electronics, the throttle box, DC-DC converter, battery wires, and routing for the controller wires (which is hidden under the seat).
Another interesting engineering and design consideration that is almost hidden from view is the way the motor and rear swingarm are designed to be coaxially mounted. This greatly simplifies the Gates belt drive system and constantly maintains proper belt tension, but is a unique design challenge often saved for more premium bikes such as the Zero SR/F and Zero SR/S.
In addition to the mechanical side of the bike, there’s also some interesting technology built into the eSCRAMBLER. Live Wi-Fi monitoring is included in the bike, which the team has already used to monitor Michel’s Denmark-based test rack circuits in real time in Shanghai, where they can view stats and then make adjustments to the bike, all in real time from across the world.
The bike is also equipped with GPS tracking, a sleek digital display, three speed modes, cruise control, regenerative braking, USB phone charging, and “all the other gadgets that you would expect from a high end electric motorcycle.” The team is also working on including a DC fast charging system as well.
Switch Motorcycles also focused on outfitting the bike with quality parts like JJuan brakes (the same company that supplies Zero), Panasonic battery cells, Bosch ABS, etc.
The team still has a bit of work left to do before they are ready to begin selling the bike. Homologation testing is underway and some final design details are still being finalized, such as the inclusion of a glove box in the faux “tank” area.
As the company described it, the homologation process has been “painstaking” as each component has to be thoroughly tested. Subsystems such as the ABS brakes have been particularly time-consuming, though Bosch has reportedly been quite helpful in this area.
The current timeline is for sales to begin in 2022, meaning there’s at least a year and change before you or I can get our hands on the eSCRAMBLER.
But that doesn’t mean the bike won’t get put through its paces. As the company explained:
The good news is that we don’t need homologation and ABS for the track and will begin really putting the bike through its paces this year on the Scandinavian flat track racing circuit with some world champions already lining up to have a thrash.
We’ll be sure to update when we have more details such as pricing and a more finalized timeline once they are available. Until then, let’s hear what you think of the eSCRAMBLER in the comments below!
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