It’s not everyday that a new automotive company is launched in India, especially one that sounds more fantasy than reality. A new company built completely from scratch by a common man, with a vision to build a revolutionary motorcycle with almost all components manufactured by themselves. A company which developed and perfected its technology on racetracks around the world.
Who am I talking about? Soichiro Honda? MV Agusta? Not really. What, if I told you it was an electric motorcycle? Has Tesla made a motorcycle? No. What if I told you it was an Indian company? Surprised? Say hello to Tork Motorcycles from Pune.
Tork Motorcycles was the brain child of Kapil Shelke, a young mechanical engineer. It started off as a college project in 2009 which blew up into a highly ambitious undertaking of trying to build the world’s fastest electric motorcycle. After building many amazing electric race bikes which reached podiums in international races and honing their electric technology for seven years, they are now virtually ready to launch their first road bike – the T6X.
History of Tork Motorcycles –
Their first prototype, the TX 01, was a race bike purpose built for the Isle of Man TTXGP. Tork Motorcycles built their own trellis frame chassis from scratch which was powered by an electric motor producing 30 Nm of torque and 40 HP of peak power. The bike soared to the podium on its maiden outing in the TTXGP championship in 2009.
The next bike was the TX 02 which participated in the TTXGP UK/EU championship in 2010. The TX 02 had a parallel twin electric motor, doubling the torque to 60 Nm and power to 80 HP with a top speed of 214 kmph. It used a Yamaha R15 frame which was lighter and was tuned for hard core track racing. The TX 02 won the opening race of the championship at the Snetterton Race Track.
The third prototype, the TX 03 was built around a Suzuki GSXR 750 frame and had a twin electric motor (in series) producing 70Nm of torque and top speed of 240 kmph. This bike entered the Isle of Man TT Zero in 2012.
The fourth prototype, the TX 04 was built for something closer to home, to change the perception of Indians towards electric two-wheelers and to showcase their technology in a very recognizable package. They took a Yamaha FZ-16 and replaced the stock drive train with their own bolt on electric motor and battery pack. It had an output of 30 Nm and 40 HP. The Tork FZ cracked 0-100 kmph in an astonishing 8.7 seconds and whizzed on to a top speed of 127 kmph. They did a demo run at the Valley Run Drag racing event as well as gave the bike for review to many automotive magazines and online portals. A commercial conversion kit for the FZ-16 was also launched.
Their next prototype was the characterful TX 05 which was an economical commuter built to showcase their advanced battery management system which resulted in an astonishing range of 200 km on each charge. The retro-modern scrambler-esque design packed advanced electronic features like multiple riding modes along with upside-down forks, LED lights and had a peak power of 12 HP with a top speed of 80 kmph.
Now finally, after all those amazing prototypes, their production ready electric motorcycle is on the verge of breaking cover. The T6X has been completely designed in-house, the motor, the chassis and most of the components are even manufactured in-house, which is a huge deal for a new manufacturer.
The T6X is a commuter which will compete in the competitive 125-150 cc segment, but is expected to have some fun factor from the instant torque delivery of the electric motor as well as entertaining dynamics derived from all their racing experience. The top speed will be limited to 95 kmph, which is great considering current electric scooters available in India are limited to just 45 kmph. The T6X looks quite handsome in my opinion and also packs quite a lot of ‘never seen before’ technology – full digital display, navigation and cloud connectivity.
The T6X is expected to have a range of 100 km on a single charge. The modern lithium-ion batteries, which will be imported, even have a fast-charging option. The battery is expected to last 80,000 to 1,00,000 km before need of replacement, which is commendable. Tork Motorcycles will also launch dedicated charging stations – as many as 100 per city – before the launch of the bike to counter the range anxiety of their customers.
But for me the most important feature is that it will look like a conventional motorcycle. Electric vehicles typically, all over the world, look very funky, weird and impractical. The average consumer is turned right off by this.
When you serve futuristic technology in very unassuming clothing it immediately becomes more acceptable. This is where the genius lies.”
Building a great electric bike ground up is a huge feat in itself. But making it as practical, fun and approachable as any other bike is what will surely turn the conservative Indian consumer towards the Tork T6X. And of course, the answer to our favourite question – “Kitna deti hai?” is quite astonishing too. Tork suggest that it will cost just about 10 paise per kilometer to run and maintain, which is extremely cheap compared to even economical commuter bikes. As electric motors do not require any oil change or recurring replacement of mechanical parts, the maintenance cost is almost negligible.
But more than anything, the T6X speaks to me on a deeper level. I was never a big fan of electric vehicles, but this bike has generated tremendous curiosity in me and a longing to own it. The dream, the story, the success in racing (the Isle of Man TT for God’s sake!) as well as the sheer determination and passion oozing out of this young 20-something design and manufacturing team has got me hooked.
This probably is the future of transportation whether we like it or not. It’s still nascent in its development so we cannot call electric vehicles the ultimate do-it-all automobile today, but Tork T6X is a definite stepping stone. This may be a very ambitious analogy, but Tork Motorcycles could be the Tesla of India and may propel Indian electric technology to the International stage.
For more information visit – Tork Motorcycles
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