Rock West Composites is a Utah company that deals in composite products like carbon fiber tubes and prepregs. When they sell tubing to a bicycle manufacturer, they have a pretty good idea of what the finished product will look like. Why? Because they know that bike frames all share a similar design regardless of the materials they are made with.
You would assume the same for motorcycles, wouldn’t you? We all would. But then comes along a company like NOVUS, a company that decides to disrupt what we all think we know. They design an electric motorcycle that doesn’t look like one. In fact, it is hard to tell what this thing looks like.
The 2019 NOVUS motorcycle made its debut at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. That in itself is strange, given that motorcycles are not generally considered consumer electronics. But perhaps this one made the grade because it’s electric. Nonetheless, the $39,500 vehicle looks like something out of a science fiction movie. It’s Tron, Easy Rider, and the Tour de France all wrapped into one.
The Carbon Fiber Choice
Rock West Composites confirms that carbon fiber was the obvious choice for the motorcycle’s frame. After all, the NOVUS is an electric bike that needs to be as light as possible to maximize range. It also has to be strong enough to withstand the punishment of the open road. Carbon fiber offers both.
What makes the NOVUS so fascinating is that its body is also its skeleton. Its designers created something that is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. By contrast, conventional motorcycles made with steel and aluminum utilize separate components for structure and anesthetics. Take away the painted gas tanks and the shiny chrome and you’re left with a hunk of metal housing an engine two wheels.
The NOVUS body exists as a strong exoskeleton that looks absolutely striking. How they actually made it is anyone’s guess but laying up carbon fiber prepregs in a custom tool seems most likely.
Aesthetic beauty aside, the NOVUS has little appeal if it doesn’t perform. But no worries. If the company ever decides to take the bike into mass production, buyers will be pleased. It features a rear-mounted electric motor with an impressive 200 Nm of torque. The bike can reach 60 mph from a dead stop in just over 2 seconds, and with a 60-mile range, driving it around town shouldn’t be an issue.
What’s the bike’s top speed? An impressive 60 mph. However, that’s where we raise the red flag. One look at this thing and you have to seriously question whether it would be safe at that speed. As tough and rugged as carbon fiber is, you might climb on this bike and feel like you don’t have anything underneath you. Moreover, the tires are no bigger than bicycle tires! Would you go 60 miles an hour on a bicycle if you could?
The lesson here is that designers are pushing the limits of carbon fiber and other composites. Although it is unlikely the NOVUS will ever make it to full-scale production, the mere fact that its designers succeeded in creating such a tremendous machine is a testament to their understanding of composites.
What they have learned from this bike will serve them well as they move forward in designing production models. The company will undoubtedly come up with a street model at some point, a bike with an impressive range powered by electricity. And it is likely to look pretty cool as well.