Monday, May 19, 2014

Bultaco reborn to make electric motorbikes

Bultaco Rapitan

Motorbike riders looking for something with a little Latin flair have had plenty of choices on their hands, but most of them come from Italy: marques like Ducati, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi. But what if you wanted something more Spanish than Italian? That's where Bultaco comes in. Or came in, we should say, because the Barcelona-based motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1958 closed in 1983, but now it's staging a comeback.

Instead of returning to the market with internal-combustion motorbikes like it made for decades, the new Bultaco is working on a line of motorcycles with electric propulsion. The revival effort has stemmed out of LGN Tech Design SL, a Spanish startup established that, among other activities, competed in electric motorcycle racing and has now grown into the rebirth of the Bultaco brand.

The company has several electric motorcycles under development, but is starting with the Rapitán (pictured above) and Rapitán Sport, powered by a brushless electric motor with 54 horsepower and 92 pound-feet of torque on tap, a 90-mile-per-hour top speed and regenerative braking to keep the lithium-ion battery topped off. The on-board charger will fill the battery from empty in three and a half to five hours for a combined SAE range of 87 miles, and without a gas tank between the rider and the handlebars, will even store a full-face helmet on board.

The team behind the revival, having benefited from the guidance of the late former BMW, Rolls-Royce and Maserati executive Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, aims to bring its first vehicles to market sometime this year, initially to be distributed in select markets across Europe.
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