It's hideously expensive, underpowered and doesn't go very far on a charge, and yet there's a lot to like about this German electric motorcycle, starting out with its obsessively engineered good looks, its incredibly light weight, and the way it blurs the line between ebike and motorcycle.
The Novus is a very tidy and interesting little bike, a lightweight, narrow, hollow-bodied city commuter with thin tires and ultra-modern styling. Weighing a ludicrous 85 lbs (38.5 kg), with a 14-peak-kilowatt (18.7 horsepower) rear hub drive putting out a claimed 200 Nm (147.5 lb-ft) of torque, it should zip around fairly quickly up to its top speed of 60 mph (98 km/h). Mind you, that power rating is peak, not nominal. The nominal power is 6.2 kilowatts, or 8.3 horses. So we ain't talking about a powerhouse here.
With a range around 60 miles (98 km) of urban riding, and a charge time around an hour for a 0-80 percent top-up, it makes for a seriously stylish and ultra-lightweight commuter that would suit most people's needs for the daily traffic dodge perfectly. It would sell like hotcakes if it cost US$7000.
Unfortunately it really, really doesn't. Novus is asking US$39,500. And unlike most electric motorcycles, the Novus can't point to its battery pack as the key culprit. The range is just too limited. Perhaps it's the construction; much of the frame, the headstock, the forks, the swingarm and even the handlebars are complex shapes hand-made in carbon fiber. Then again, there's plenty of cheap carbon stuff coming out of China, maybe the rent in Braunschweig is driving the price up.
Either way, as a transport option it makes no sense at this price. Maybe it's best looked at as a piece of modern art – and there are certainly plenty of design details to appreciate on that level, from the custom brake discs up to the single post fork, the phone-as-dash idea, the neatly integrated headlight and tidy suspension mounting.
The overall proportions of the bike are very pleasant to look at, even if we wouldn't mind thicker tires. It's not going to be legal though, not without indicators, mirrors, license plates, probably a better headlight and a bunch of other things that will clutter things up visually. I guess we'll wait and see what the production bike looks like.
Source: Novus/New Atlas.