The notion of an electric superbike has been thought of, ridiculed and ignored for ages now. A handful of enthusiasts though, could see the potential of an electric motor that could deliver Goliathan torque right from the word ‘Go’. Meet Mr. Jean Pierre Legris, a Mechanical Engineer from Montreal who is one such enthusiast.
Having worked for Honda in Japan for over 2 years on the design of a V6 engine, and then moving to France working on panoramic sliding glass roofs for Peugeot-Citroën, Legris has a good understanding of the process of development of an automobile. He started out by gathering a team of reputed experts competent in their specialization. Legris also understood the need to present to the consumer an electric superbike, with styling as one of its biggest priorities. Taking design cues from bobbers and cafe racers, Martin Aubé , President, The Creative Unit, penned the lines for this motorcycle. This first step in the right direction has worked well for LITO, with orders pouring in from all over the world. This was also helped the SORA stand out from the other electric superbikes that were available off the shelf, some of them with victories at the TTXGP under their belt.
As easy as it would have been for the team behind the SORA to build a more generic product like a scooter, or a commuter motorcycle, Legris knew that with the kind of expertise the team had, they would be better off targeting a niche market like that of the electric superbike.
When detailing the specs of the SORA, Jean-Pierre Legris realized the need to ensure the components be chosen so that homologation, a formidable task for any small manufacturer, would be as smooth in various parts of the world specifically the US, Canada and Europe.
The SORA has a number of firsts to its credit. We will delve into each of these.
First electric motorcycle with CVT transmission
Most automobiles using electric propulsion have either the motors integrated in the wheels themselves or have a single speed transmission setup. The SORA stakes claim to being the first electric motorcycle to have CVT. This means efficient utilization of the power generated by the motor.
Having a CVT means a top speed of 200 km/h without compromising the bike’s 0-100 km/h time of 4 seconds.
Integrated Touchscreen GPS & Power Management System
The SORA has a touchscreen GPS system mounted up front, a world’s first on a motorcycle LITO claims. What sets this GPS apart from the crowd is that, it is also connected to the SORA’s power control unit which optimizes power delivery from the motor to ensure you have enough juice in the battery to reach the destination set in the GPS system. This is LITO Green Motion’s patented Safe Range System™.
First motorcycle with electrically adjustable seats
The guys at LITO Green Motion suggest you raise the seat, electrically of course, while riding in the city for the ‘street-fighter’ feel and better maneouverability and lower the seat while riding on the highways for the relaxed riding position.
Pretty cool that the technical specifications of the bike detail seat height as “750 to 850mm”.
First “Keyless” motorcycle
I have never been excited by key less entry, a concept that always leaves me befuddled. How can you trade in the the comfort of the physical action of slotting in the key and twisting it to ignition and hearing all the electronics going ‘whirrr’ before thumbing the starter, for the minimal convenience of key less starting?
I imagine though, others would disagree and would simply love the idea of getting on the bike, thumbing the starter, the SORA then detects if they key is in proximity and then she roars, er.. whistles to life!
Battery, Charging Duration & Range
The SORA uses 12 kWh lithium-polymer battery modules with integrated Battery Management System housed up front and covered by the carbon fibre fairing.
On an external fast charge system, it should take around two hours to charge it fully, and using the onboard charger it should take 8 hours. Another patent LITO scored here is an email notification system that lets you know once your motorcycle is fully charged.
The SORA has a specified range of 300km on a single charge, with the usual disclaimer that its valid only when ridden at ‘urban speed’. The faster you go, which you are probably bound to considering the tempting 200kph top speed, the sooner you’re going to have to end your ride.
The SORA features a USB port inside the storage compartment, allowing you to choose different riding profiles (acceleration curves, regenerative braking, etc.).
The SORA makes good use of LITO’s advanced software that controls power output of the motor. There are also 3 control modes : performance, eco, safe range.
The SORA also has regenerative braking, as every energy efficient automobile should. Under braking, the kinetic energy of the SORA, instead of being lost as heat is fed back into the motor via the transmission belt, the motor acts as a generator at this moment and produces electricity that is used to charge the battery.
The SORA is also engineered with the high quality suspension and braking, without the benefit of a test ride yet, we can only hope all the engineering makes it as good a handling machine as its combustion engine counterparts.
Jean-Pierre Legris has also tried to source all the components on the SORA locally. Nearly 90% of the components on the bike come from suppliers in Quebec. Legris seems to have achieved what he set out to do : “Be the first Canadian company to develop and market an electrically powered motorcycle without compromising performance”.
Where does this leave us, the enthusiasts? Would you shell out close to 42,399 Canadian Dollars for an electric superbike when you get some wild Italian exotics for much less? What happens though, when a couple of years down the lane, petrol (ah, gasoline) becomes so expensive that it will no more be affordable for the common man? Wouldn’t the enthusiast who bet on the SORA have the last laugh? More so when you consider Legris assures us that this motorcycle has been built to last, maintenance free for at least thirty years?