“We want to get people excited about electric motorcycles.”
Love them or hate them, electric motorcycles are going to be part of the two-wheeled future. Kawasaki has announced plans to go all-electric by 2035 in some markets, introducing ten new models over the next three years, and the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) has announced a new all-electric off-road series called the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup beginning in 2022 — a complement to the FIM MotoE World Cup that’s currently running at select MotoGP events.
Despite all that on-track excitement, most of us can’t claim we’ve been all that excited by the street-legal offerings on the market, but there’s a new company trying to change that. Recently, we talked with Tom Gilroy of Australia’s well-known custom workshop Purpose Built Moto, who’s now the cofounder of GRID Cycles, a company whose mission is to make electric motorcycles more appealing.
“Tech and classic bike building have been fused together to create a company that makes top end electric bikes with classic motorcycle styling. The genesis of GRID was simple — get more riders excited about electric motorcycles.”
For this build, they landed a 2016 Zero SR as the donor.
“When you mention Electric motorcycles, no brand is as prolific today as Zero. They’ve been a leader in the game for a long time. Producing a range of high performance and commuter E-bikes that suit a range of riding styles. The one that landed in the Purpose Built Moto Garage was the 2016 Zero SR. A sports commuter bike, with a range of 260KM and a blistering 144nm of torque. This thing hit 100km/h in 3.3 seconds.” –Tom Gilroy, GRID/PBM
Upon Tom’s first ride on the bike, the torque and acceleration came as a surprise. He says he hit 130 km/h (80 mph) before he knew it.
“Granted, you don’t have the noise or the enjoyment of shifting through the gears, but the effortless and unbelievable acceleration got the blood pumping just the same as any petrol-powered machine would.”
At the design meeting for GRID Cycles, they got too deep into the discussion of parts, colors, styles, going in circles until they got back to the central issue:
“What do we want to do with GRID Cycles?” was a far more important question. This would inform the build more than any colour spec, or parts list. The answer – “We want to get people excited about electric motorcycles.”
The idea was to inject some emotion into their custom electric bikes, so that people will start to see and understand the potential of the machines.
“I could be told about the benefits and performance specs all day, it wouldn’t get me excited. The thing that excited me about motorcycles is the way they feel, the way they look and the memories I’ve made on them. There’s only a very small percentage that go and buy a bike because it has the absolute highest horsepower, or the faster 0-100 time. That’s not us though is it? Motorcycles are a statement for us, we ride them because that’s our style, and whatever bike we choose has to stir that something inside us, we have more fun that way.”
Though the Zero SR is a great machine on paper, Tom admits that the styling is “a little clinical and commuter-esque.” So they set out to simplify the styling, keep the bike functional as a commuter, and create some nostalgia around the bike, styling it as a street tracker.
The Zero frame is cast aluminum with several wild angles, but they succeeded in trimming the rear area enough to allow them to begin shaping a tracker tail section with integrated 3-in-1 LED lighting.
Next up was the tank, which is more of a glovebox on a Zero, since there’s no need for fuel. Tom landed on a slim and boxy tank that complements the tracker tail and has a lockable storage hatch:
“To give you an idea you’d probably fit a 6-pack of bottles and maybe 2 cans of beer in there. A measurement of volume I know you’ll all understand.”
Up front, they swapped in a set of titanium-gray Pro Taper bars with a custom bracket to mount the original Zero digital dashboard. The headlight is a PBM 5.75” flashpoint model with Hollowtip turn signals, mounted on a custom stainless bracket with a sleek aluminium headlight shroud.
As for rolling stock, the Zero mag wheels were swapped for a set of lightweight aftermarket hubs laced to Excel rims in motard sizes: 17 x 3.5 inch front, 17 x 4.25 inch rear. The spoked wheelset kept the tracker style while the 17-inch sizing ensured they could run a set of Pirellis that could handle the bike’s torque output.
Next up was something we hadn’t yet seen before — an chain conversion:
“Not a simple task on this electric bike, but worthwhile for the style I was chasing. I’ve seen a lot of Zero owners doing the same thing, as the thin belts used from factory tend to cause issues if you decide to get adventurous down some dirt roads. The huge custom sprocket also looks pretty bad ass!!”
We love the blood-orange and red striping on the bespoke bodywork, which hits the 70’s tracker nostalgia dead on.
“Rolling off the bench this bike had a lot less of a checklist than usual. No tuning, not heat cycles, just a torque check, chain tension, charge, turn the key and go!”
This is the the company’s first custom Zero to hit the street, and they’re looking forward to re-imagining the new models.
“If the electric bikes are spurring your interest, get in touch with us at GRID Cycles and lets talk about electrifying your ride!”
The GRID Street Tracker is available to order (5 build spots available to reserve in January with new 2021 model Zero Motorcycles). For more information, visit: www.gridcycles.com/grid-street-tracker
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