For Indian, 2012 represents 110 years since the first motorcycle bearing the namesake rolled off whatever sufficed for production line at the Hendee Co. in 1901. To celebrate, Polaris Industries, owner of the Indian brand since April of this year, is celebrating the occasion with special badging on all 2012 models. The twenty-twelve bikes will be […]
The BMW-Powered Recumbent Motorcycle
As a lover of two wheels, I like to pedal my bicycle to stay in shape when I’m not riding a motorcycle. And in the bicycle world, much like the motorcycle world, there’s a subset of riders who often get snarky looks from the rest of us. Few are more polarizing than those riding recumbent bicycles — you know, the ones where you’re practically laying down while pedaling. Well, it appears Suprine, a Washington D.C.-based company with fabrication facilities in Maryland, is bringing the recumbent scene to motorcycling with its latest creation, the Exodus.
As you can see in the photo above, the Exodus mixes both car and motorcycle elements together as one. The rider sits in an aluminum bucket seat, surrounded by a tubular steel exoskeleton with its windscreen set at a steep angle. Controls are all motorcycle, with the rider operating handlebars and foot controls like a normal motorcycle.
Power and the rest of the running gear comes from a BMW K1200LT, meaning the same 1172cc Flat-Four engine is plucked right from the bike to the Exodus, as is the rear Paralever suspension and drive shaft. Suprine had to ditch the stock Telelever front suspension and used a conventional fork at what appears to be a rather extreme rake angle. Wheels and brakes are all BMW. The Exodus uses a five-speed gearbox with a reverse gear, which surely comes in handy when trying to maneuver this 680-pound, 12.5-foot long prototype.
Suprine claims the Exodus can hit 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds, reach a top speed of over 150 mph, and thanks to the aerodynamic profile of the bike (at least compared to a conventional motorcycle), can return over 80 mpg at 55 mph.
The next obvious question becomes, “so how do you ride it?” When the Exodus is parked, it relies on an electric centerstand to keep it from tipping over. You then crouch into the bucket seat, which is only seven inches from the ground and place your feet inside, either on the cruiser-like pegs or directly on the ground — the frame is empty below the footwell area to allow the rider to place their feet on the ground while stopped. After that, the Exodus operates like a traditional motorcycle —a long, low motorcycle with compromised ground clearance.
So what’s the purpose of the Exodus? Suprine calls it a SPV (single person vehicle), “designed to transport one person, and only one person, to a destination as quickly, efficiently, safely, and comfortably as possible.” Suprine claims a recumbent cycle is “the perfect foundation for an SPV, as two inline wheels produce less aerodynamic drag and less rolling resistance than three or four wheels, the rider’s recumbent position decreases frontal area even more and lowers the center of gravity for better handling, and the rider is more comfortable because of the elimination of lateral forces in turns.”
While technically accurate, there are some potential concerns I have with the design. First, the extremely long wheelbase will make slow-speed maneuvers very difficult. The low ground clearance poses a hazard if a turn is taken with too much lean angle and the frame contacts the ground, potentially leading to a crash. And if a crash were to occur, the debate is ongoing whether the rider is safer in the confines of an exoskeleton or ejected completely.
Perhaps the biggest safety concern is the ability to see through/past vehicles around you and their ability to see you. Without the tall, commanding riding position of a traditional motorcycle, the rider becomes more vulnerable — he/she can’t assess traffic as accurately and certain vehicles (tall trucks for example) may have a harder time noticing you.
Surely these are concerns being addressed by Suprine as development continues past the prototype stage. We’ll be paying attention to their progress, but for now, check out the video below to see the Exodus in action.