It has passed its first test on the test bench with flying colours. The electric MX machine from ELEO (previously known as SPIKE) and Dohms, supported by Yamaha Europe N.V. and the Royal Dutch Motorcycle Association (KNMV) is on course to go up against the competition with the current 250cc 4-stroke machines.
‘Our expectations in terms of power output have been far exceeded,’ explain initiator Elmar Dohms and ELEO engineer Laurens Kusters. In March of last year, the pair started their development of the EMX machine at the drafting table. The machine was drawn and built at lighting speed, with no references. ‘This motorcycle has an impressive level of torque. From stationary, it is faster than an MX machine with a petrol engine.’
Always the right gear
ELEO and Dohms are constructing a fully electric powertrain in an existing Yamaha YZ250F chassis. In terms of appearance, it’s a familiar MX motorcycle, but with the characteristics of an electric machine. The position of the seat and the weight balance are no different to those on existing MX motorcycles. Riding it, however, is a new experience. The presence of the electric motor means there’s no requirement for a gearbox, and that there’s plenty of torque across a wide speed range. This allows it to be used differently to a motorcycle with a combustion engine.
‘You have the feeling of always being in the right gear. The power is always there, from stationary to top speed,’ explains Kusters. ‘The kick from riding is still just as great, but there is one less thing you need to do. You no longer need to shift gears to be able to use the power from the engine. That means that you can focus more on finding the right lines. The massive low speed torque means that riding short lines is easier, and yet more challenging at the same time.’
They deliberately opted for a machine that could take on the competition with a 250cc four-stroke engine, which is the most common engine type on Dutch motocross tracks, used by youngsters through to seasoned riders.
‘One of the biggest advantages of the EMX machine is that the power is computer-controlled. This makes it easy to tune the power down to the level of an 85cc or 125cc machine,’ explains Dohms. ‘It turns the EMX into a dirt bike on large wheels that’s suitable for a wide group of riders. Youngsters who have never been on a bike before can start to ride safely, with less power and reduced speed. Then later, the power delivery can be raised up to the level used by professional riders.
Another advantage is in the maintenance, which is considerably reduced. ‘This machine doesn’t have a filter, conrod, or piston requiring maintenance. Typical for an electric motorcycle. With the EMX, all you need to do is change the transmission oil every so often.’
ELEO has developed a special battery pack for the EMX that is suitable for the frame of a Yamaha YZ250F. But the technology beyond the electric powertrain is universal. ‘Motocross is one of the toughest sports there is. The g forces and the knocks that the material must be able to withstand are not something you’ll come across in many other sports. When the electric powertrain endures in motocross, it could also be used in other similarly tough sports,’ explains Dohms.
The EMX machine will undergo further development in the coming months. ‘We’ve had to adjust our plans a little because of the coronavirus crisis, we haven't been able yet to take part in international circuit tests operated by the KNMV for example,’ explains Kusters, truthfully. Yet, he remains positive. ‘We’ve still been able to do a lot of development on the motorcycle. We’ll be carrying out the first tests on a sand track very soon.’