Last November at the EICMA show, Kawasaki showed a quick look at its new electric sportbike, and for the last two months it has been loading little teaser clips of it ripping around a closed circuit to its YouTube channel. The bright green moto manufacturer has been careful to not unveil much about the project it’s calling “EV Endeavour” in the videos. We don’t know how quick it is, or how long it takes to charge, or how much power its electric motor makes, but we do know a few things about it. Perhaps most importantly, it has a 4-speed foot-shifted gearbox.
Most EVs on the market, be they cars or motorcycles, feature a single-speed gear reduction box. Porsche recently adapted a two-speed box to the rear motor of its Taycan, allowing quick acceleration as well as a higher top speed. That’s certainly not the first time a multi-speed transmission has been fitted to an EV, but it’s a prominent recent example from a major manufacturer.
EVs with a single speed gear reduction are making a compromise between acceleration and outright top speed. Because EV motors rev out to very high RPM, it’s not nearly as big an issue as it would be with an internal combustion engine, but it’s still a trade off. Electric motorcycles like the Harley-Davidson LiveWire or the Zero SR/F top out around 161 kilometres per hour, but that’s not good enough for Kawasaki. Its own H2R supercharged quasi-race bike is quoted to top out at 386 kilometres per hour, for example.
By fitting four forward gears to its EV motorcycle, Kawasaki is able to engineer in the quick acceleration EVs are known for as well as the mega speeds that Kawasakis are known for. Much like the enthusiast argument against automatic transmissions in cars, single-speed EV motorcycles have been derided as being non-engaging to ride without the need to shift gears. Kawasaki says the manual transmission “not only allows a greater speed range, it also allows the rider to have greater input.”
In addition to the manual transmission, Kawasaki is also developing an interesting thumb-controlled regenerative braking control. This would add back in another level of complexity to riding this electric motorcycle that other EV bikes lack. Rather than simply setting a regen level through the bike’s screen, it looks like it can be adjusted on the fly with a press of your thumb.
While Kawasaki hasn’t officially released any stats or specs, or even a name, for the bike, it’s already got my attention. It should be mentioned that the good folks at RideApart don’t think it’ll be named Endeavour, and Kawi would be foolish to name its sport bike anything but Ninja. I look forward to whatever electric speed demon Team Green is cooking up, no matter what it is named. Based on these short videos, it looks like it’ll be a fun ride.