Along with all the major moto-manufacturer releases at EICMA this week, there’s also plenty of smaller, niche manufacturers showing off their wares. One of those manufacturers is China-based Caofen, with the new F80 electric dual sport, offering an emissions-free alternative for offroad fun.
Details on the new F80 (or is it the F8? marketeers have it both ways) are still a bit slim. Currently, Caofen is trying to sign up distributors and dealers worldwide, and its main Internet presence seems to be this Facebook page. Sifting through the adverts on that page, here’s what we can infer:
- Caofen claims you can ride all day on a two-hour charging session. Just guessing, that means there’s a quickcharger involved. Range is said to be 150 kilometers (just under 100 miles), so an “all-day ride” doesn’t mean highway cruising.
- It appears the one-piece frame has no welds: “To ensure that every place can be perfectly presented, the body is designed with zero welding. The rigidity of body increased by 30%, just as adding another layer of protection. The motorcycle body will remain intact even drop parallel to the height of 3 meters with 50KM/h speed.“
- The 8,000-watt electric motor is supposed to push this motorcycle to 85 km/h (just over 50 mph).
- It sure doesn’t look like there’s any linkage setup on that rear monoshock, and there’s no mention of progressive damping …
- It seems there are F80B and F80L sub-models coming soon.
All in all, the information is a bit jumbled, which is almost always the case when you’re getting details from these Chinese manufacturers. However, it does look like there’s a bit of actual effort put into designing and marketing this bike, unlike some of the more embarrassing knock-offs coming out of China. It certainly follows the same basic mechanical layout of other electric dual sports we’ve seen, but there’s nothing wrong with that; you may have noticed that all internal combustion-powered motorcycles also follow the same mechanical layout.
There’s still some work to do, though, if that rear shock doesn’t have some sort of progressive damping setup. Simple details really ruined the reputation of Chinese motorycles on their first go-round in North America (does anyone remember the horrible Lifan shock linkages, that worked backwards to reduce shock travel?). If this bike and other made-in-China counterparts don’t get the basics right, nobody will want them.
It seems unlikely that Caofen will become an electric moto powerhouse on the basis of this EICMA visit, but it is an important first step for this brands and others, and could possibly set the stage for disruption in the electric motorcycle scene. For a long time, electric motorcycles have been prohibitively expensive for many buyers. If Chinese factories can make a safe, reliable and affordable battery bike, they’ll find customers. If their products turn out to be crap, then these new electric motorcycles will be abject failures in western markets, like the Honda knock-offs they produced a decade back.