Lit Motors: A Puzzlement

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Yeah, OK, I’ve been torn about this vehicle.  It’s from Lit Motors, and it’s the latest wonderchild of all the tech sites who feel that we need to at least look like we’re living in the 21st Century, even if there’s no real good reason for it.  Still, this thing is cool.  Maybe I like it just because of the xOoterpod, who knows?

First, it has two wheels.  None of this three-wheel foolishness, so that’s a plus.  Second, it has respectable specs:

The C-1 will have a top speed of 100+ mph (160+ kph), 0-60 mph (0-100 kph) in <6 seconds, and a range of 200 miles (320 km) per charge. Dimensions: 800 lbs. (360 kg) curb weight, 112″ (2.8 m) long, 55″ (1.4 m) tall, 40″ (1 m) wide. As we are not yet at production, all figures are best estimates.

…except for that “will have” bit.  Yeah, as far as concept vehicles goes, can you tell I’m a little jaded?  Third, yeah, it does have a pretty cool solution to the “It’s cold/windy/raining out and I don’t want to get wet so I’ll drive my car” problem with motorcycles.

I have this thing about design, engineering and physics.  Motorcycles, like hammers and frisbees, are almost magically perfect designs.  Evolving from bicycles, they somehow balance under power.  They’re remarkably efficient.  They bring something to the experience of operating them that is hard to even identify, much less figure out the why and wherefore.  So why do people (designers and engineers) keep thinking there’s something about them that needs to be improved?

Oh, yeah.  They’re saying that all this powerful tech will sell for a mere $24,000.  Seriously.  That seems impossibly low.

Here are some more shots:

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So here’s the thing.  Watch this video:

Right?  See the last part, where they yank the wheels with a truck?  The simulation of it getting hit?  The gyro not only keeps it upright when you’re at a stop, but you get the added bonus of riding what might only be described as a bubble in a pool of water – it always stays at the top.  Not one of my better analogies, but what can I say?  Here’s the thing.  What with a respectable top speed, and two wheels, what must this thing be like to ride at some serious cornering speed?  Does the gyro enhance, or screw up the natural geometry and cornering of the motorcycle?  The 800lb motorcycle, by the way…

This is the Question I must have the Answer to!

There are lots of stories about it, and it’s been around for a few years now so Google may be your best friend for finding out more about it.  Here’s the story that got me going on it again, on 7×7.  Their Facebook page has more information in an easier to digest form than their website, check that out here.  (Why the hell are companies making sites harder, not easier to navigate, in 2013?)

Anyway, this is third in line for my 21st Century Bucket List, after Space Flight and the Jet Pack.

Oh, I almost forgot.  Then, there’s this, also from Lit Motors.

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Just what the hell am i suppost to think of that?  Oh dear…

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7 responses to “Lit Motors: A Puzzlement

  1. I am really excited about the C-1.

    Not because I think it will be especially exciting to drive. Certainly it will be less fun than a motorcycle. Maybe less so than a Tesla Model S. Mostly, I like it because it can attract car people and put them in a vehicle that requires a lot less space and a lot less energy to take them from A to B. It’s a novel design with an innate amount of “pull.”

    I also like, technically, how it solves the stability issue and hope the gyroscopic forces are as transparent, in the final version, as they need to be to make this an enjoyable ride. As well, I like the way it looks, but that’s pretty subjective.

    I think that we probably shouldn’t look at it as a motorcycle, though. It does, obviously, have the same two-wheel arrangement, but the way it separates you from the environment makes it seem more car-like. It lacks the visceral involvement, the sense of “freedom” (and I use that word somewhat loosely to also cover immediate connection to wind, insects and noise as well as sense of mortality that the bike experience endows).

    If successful, the lean that it borrows from motorcycles should add to its fun-to-drive factor and make it much more desirable than most commuter vehicles. It might also have an impact, if the in-line configuration proves popular, on traffic congestion and pollution, and I find that just as exciting as the fancy tech it uses to accomplish that.

    • Very interesting perspective. I’m stuck on the gyro and the lean effect, and I’m wondering if they have some way to “disconnect” the gyro at speed… but that’s my tech geek talkin.

      As far as striking a chord with non-motorcycle types, I will say this. I rode the ELF around the neighborhood – only a few blocks. https://evmc2.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/elf-by-organic-transit-repairs-and-service/

      I got way… WAY more attention, and all favorable, than I’ve ever had with my electric motorcycle. It definitely resonates, and I can’t quite get my head around why. From what I’ve seen of the Lit, it’s the same thing.

      • You should see people react to the Monotracer. This has the same appeal. Cabin bikes say, “We are in the 21st century now!”

        And you don’t have to know how to balance, a huge plus for the majority of distracted drivers.

        I think it looks gorgeous. I just hope they can get it to actually work.

  2. I am very skeptical. They have been at it for several years, and still don’t have a prototype that can go faster than a walking pace. Also, with the challenges that EVs already face, for price and range, adding the complexity of self-balancing reminds me of the Segway, which was technically brilliant, but didn’t accomplish as much as a bicycle, at a fraction of the cost.

    • huh. Walking pace? That would maybe be because what I’m wondering about has some validity… that the gyro fights with the natural leaning of the bike… hmmmm.

  3. Wake me up when they can ride from 0 to 60mph, go round a roundabout back to the start and down to 0. Before “Leader of the pack” finishes on the jukebox.

    Till then, this is just a lot of expensive hand waving.

  4. Pingback: Lit Motors kubo | The Electric Chronicles·

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