Following the presentation of Phase 2 of their electric motorcycle programme 18 months ago, and almost three years after development of the project began, Triumph has unveiled Phase 4 in the form of their final prototype - the TE-1.
Officially unveiled on 12 July, the electric Triumph prototype bears a strong resemblance to a Speed Triple, but Triumph says the production examples may not take this form.
The TE-1 is the product of a collaboration between Triumph and experts in their respective fields that include Williams Advanced Engineering, Integral Powertrain Ltd and WMG at the University of Warwick, with funding supplied by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles in the UK.
Development and assessment of the TE-1 prototype, regarded as Phase 4 of the EV project, started in February this year, with rolling road testing, then track testing at Oulton Park in the UK, with two-time Daytona 200 winner Brandon Paasch in the saddle.
Based on input from potential customers, targets were set in four key areas, namely power, weight, range and charge time. According to Triumph, all those targets were met and the prototype demonstrator exceeded expectations.
The Measures – Range
In a presentation previewing the TE-1, Triumph’s Chief Product Officer, Steve Sargent, revealed that achieving maximum range was the most challenging element of Phase 4. In order to exceed the “real-world” range of other equivalent electric motorcycles, a goal of 100 miles (160km) of range was set and that goal was achieved.
Importantly, that range remains achievable “while riding the bike as a Speed Triple” thanks to the battery developed by Williams. More aggressive riding will shorten that range, with the Oulton Park testing showing that range can be reduced significantly during very aggressive riding.
To augment battery capacity and range, regenerative braking has been incorporated into the TE-1, with scope for further optimisation, according to Triumph. Additionally, further development of the motor generator unit and transmission could also improve range for future Triumph electric models.
The Measures – Performance
With a listed maximum output of 130kW (175bhp), performance of the TE-1 is comparable to that of the current Speed Triple 1200 RS, which produces 132.4kW. In terms of torque, the TE-1 is a little further behind, with a maximum of 109Nm compared to 125Nm from the Speed Triple 1200 RS.
Where the TE-1 excels is in acceleration, with 0-100km/h achieved in 3.7 seconds and a limited top speed of 217km/h. With further refinement of the electronics, including the traction control system and front wheel lift control, Triumph believes that performance could be enhanced further, harnessing the full torque potential to enable even quicker standing start acceleration.
Test rider Paasch, who’s used to fast bikes, described the performance thus: “The throttle response on the TE-1 is kind of incredible. It’s very torquey, and when you first touch the throttle, it’s instant power, which is obviously what I love as a motorcycle racer.
“I love when it’s super-torquey and picks up right away, so for me it was a really great experience.”
The Measures - Weight
Although the TE-1 prototype tips the scales at 220kg – more than 20kg heavier than a Speed Triple 1200 – it’s still lighter than equivalent electric motorcycles by 25 per cent, according to Triumph, so the power-to-weight ratio exceeds its EV rivals.
Of that total weight, 106kg is in the battery, which is integral to the bike and not a slot-in unit, as is the case with some EV scooters and smaller commuter motorcycles.
Triumph describe the TE-1 as combining the physical size and scale of a 900cc Street Triple with the ergonomics, geometry and weight distribution of a 1200cc Speed Triple.
“That acceleration in this chassis, and how it corners – wow!” Paasch added. “I think this would be a really nice motorcycle to ride on the street, just based on how nimble and agile it is, and how light it feels.”
The Measures – Charging
For this fourth metric, Triumph credit the advances in battery and charging technologies that have been developed by Williams Advanced Engineering. The result is a recharge time from 0 to 80 per cent capacity of just 20 minutes (with a fast charger), which was a target set out by Innovate UK, the British government’s research and innovation agency.
The battery is made up of 900 cells in eight modules of different sizes, arranged around the bike to optimise weight distribution. While more range and faster charging may have been achievable with changes to this configuration, Triumph had to balance this against performance and weight - too much of one would compromise the other.
The “Triumph Feel”
To ensure the TE-1 rode and handled like a Triumph, the throttle action and torque delivery were said to be engineered directly off the Speed Triple 1200 RS. Weight distribution was optimised to ensure a level of handling that matched their current internal combustion engine performance naked bikes (ie. Street Triple and Speed Triple) as well.
Triumph says the TE-1 delivers the brand’s signature feel and world-renowned handling for a predictable ride that is agile, nimble, great in corners and with a level of controllable power that “guarantees fun”.
The sound of electric motorcycles is something of a contentious issue and Triumph’s won’t satisfy everyone, but the sound is more jet engine whine than electric appliance buzz, which should be more palatable to riders raised on bikes where the aural experience is part of the thrill of riding.
A consideration here was mandated noise standards, specifically the R41 homologation tests, which the TE-1 met across urban, cruising and wide-open throttle assessment.
Triumph Style and other Features
At the media preview of the TE-1, Triumph were at pains to point out that the bike shown here would not be what their production electric motorcycle would look like.
Although a production model in the style of the Speed Triple seems obvious, Triumph were cagey about exactly what the final versions of the TE-1 will look like. They did concede, however, that an electric bike in the style of their Modern Classics (ie. Bonnevilles) is highly unlikely, as the engine in those models is so integral to the styling and would be pointless to try and replicate in electric form.
That being said, Triumph did say the battery shape and design in the TE-1 could be adjusted to suit future development.
Beyond its electric powertrain and bespoke chassis, conventional cycle parts on the TE-1 included a belt final drive, Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, Pirelli tyres on alloy wheels, LED lights and – for the most part – familiar switchgear, pedals and levers.
Four selectable riding modes is also conventional stuff, but peculiarities on the TE-1 include a ‘reverse’ and ‘walk’ mode that deliver a small amount of electrical power to make for easier manoeuvring at low speeds, like when parking, for example.
Despite being involved in racing at the Moto2 level and in the FIM World Supersport Championship, Triumph say they have no immediate plans to enter the MotoE arena. Steve Sargent did say they have looked at the bike Ducati are developing for the electric racing series and believe the TE-1 is competitive against that.
Like the final form of the production TE-1, when it will be available has yet to be confirmed, although Triumph have already received a lot of interest.
“We’ve already seen an incredibly positive reaction to the TE-1 prototype from motorcyclists all around the world, where many people are telling us that, for the first time, they are seeing an electric motorcycle as desirable, and something that they would genuinely want to own,” Sargent said.
“Being the first step in our journey towards developing our future approach to electric powertrain technology, the TE-1 prototype – and the incredible results it has achieved in its intensive testing programme – has provided crucial insights and capabilities that will ultimately guide our future development.
“Of course, the final production motorcycle will not be exactly what you see here, but rest assured, the models we do develop will encompass all of its learnings and its exciting dynamic spirit.”