Most folks have a bit more downtime these days. Offices are closed, remote working is becoming the norm, and thumbs are being twiddled.
So it's good to see inspiring projects pop up as people switch gears to stay busy, and the guys at Katalis Company in Indonesia fall into this category. Based in a design studio south of Jakarta, they've spent the past few weeks designing and building a custom motorcycle.
As commercial design work dried up in Jakarta, several agency bods focused their attention on a concept based on the Selis Garuda ---a 90 kg (200 pound) 'city bike' with a 500W motor and a 35 km range. At the equivalent of US$650, it costs less than an iPhone 11.
These bikes are ideal for zipping around the congested streets of Indonesia's capital, but visually they're plasticky, bland and hardly aspirational.
The goal was to display the EV.500 at the Indonesia International Motorshow in April, which was cancelled. So Katalis have launched the machine online, and revealed plans for limited production too.
The design work was carried out in-house and it's very striking, with shades of Urban Motor's steampunk-style custom Jawa from four years ago. And that's impressive considering the donor machine looks like every other sub-U$1,000 moped around.
But the EV.500 looks more like a prop from a science fiction or manga film, with sleek modern lines offset by traditional riveted panels.
Julian Palapa is the Principal Designer of Katalis, and his background is in architecture. But he obviously has a knack for multidisciplinary stuff.
He's replaced the frame and swing-arm with new components made of 6061 aluminum, and shrouded them with bodywork that blends "nostalgic military design, Japanese visual elements, and the future technology of the electric vehicle."
"We think it is quite rare to have an electric motorcycle design with a metal body or 'shield'," Julian says. The rider is also treated to retro-style instrument panels that are fully functional, whether it's an analog voltmeter or a light switch.
For the physical build, Katalis enlisted the help of local customizer and paint shop Frontwheel, and the race team Garuda Motorsports. (Despite the name, they have no connection to the Selis Garuda donor bike.)
There's a new custom-made aluminum triple tree, and Katalis have swapped out the feeble stock rear shocks with Honda items. They've also replaced the front mag wheel with a spoked item, which now has an aluminum disc cover for added effect.
Range and speed are the main limitations of the standard Selis Garuda: the battery is a 48-volt, 12 Ah unit hooked up to a 500W motor. That's a long way off the spec offered by makers such as Zero , but then again, the bottom end of the market in SE Asia is another world entirely.
Katalis are planning a limited production for the EV.500, and will offer the option of a 1000W upgrade for riders who like to feel the wind (rather than a simple breeze) in their hair.
But the main selling point is fun, and environmental responsibility. "Mobility is not just moving from one point to another," says Katalis strategist Joseph Sinaga. "The journey must be a happy one. The EV.500 also offers a pollution-free riding experience, and helps protect the environment."
We're used to seeing electric bikes with an uneasy mix of conventional motorcycle design and 'something different.' So it's refreshing to see someone start with the proverbial clean sheet of paper. And it's not too hard to like, is it?
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