One of the most beloved of the long-defunct Euro bike makers, Bultaco, appears to be on the brink of a comeback. And instead of rehashing a classic design filled with modern tech, the reborn concern has decided to skip the retro rage and dive right into fully electric motoring.
The new bike, a fully modern naked -style machine called the Rapitán, sports 54 ponies from a brushless, air-cooled electric motor and 92 pound-feet of torque, which puts it on a performance par with ebike maker Brammo’s popular Empulse. Top speed is pegged at 90 mph with about an 80 mile range. Battery specifics, save for the fact it’s of the Lithium-Ion variety, were not detailed in a company press release. The transmission has just one forward gear, an approach becoming more common in electric bikes.
A Sport version of the bike is said to be in the pipeline as well and photos of that model show it with wirespoke wheels, hidden headlights and a more supermoto stance. It should be an eyeful in motion as the wheels also sport alternating yellow-black sections on the rims. A small LCD panel rides where the fuel filler would be located. Charging for both bikes is controlled onboard.
Other features include storage for a helmet where the gas tank would be, a tubular steel frame a la Ducati, what appears to be belt drive, and decidedly aggressive urban-naked styling – in yellow. The front fork appears to be unconventional, with what resembles a linkage system and single shock similar to BMW’s Telelever system. Interestingly, Bultaco says the bike’s power system incorporates large capacitors as well as battery storage. Capacitor discharge would give the bike a boost off the line and could be quickly “refueled” by regenerative braking through the back wheel, saving precious battery capacity for extending cruising range.
Bultaco also suggests the rear regenerative brake has a built-in anti-lock braking feature that maximizes energy recapture, a feature still being kicked around by several other bike makers. A large single disc brake slows the front wheel on both models.
The new ‘Taco has grown out of work by Spanish firm LGN Tech Design SL, which has experience in racing electric motorcycles and now appears to be caretaker of the storied brand. Bultaco was most famous in the past for their nimble and innovative dirtbikes of the 1960s and 1970s, although they were also involved in road racing and produced capable mass-market road bikes. The doors shut on the factory in 1983, the same year Triumph drew its last breath, but the brand has maintained a solid following to this day.
Unlike the “new” Triumph, which is now a powerful force in the industry with a slate of technically cutting-edge bikes along with some capable tribute-to-the-past machines, there are exactly zero classic styling cues in the new Bultaco save an updated logo and color choice. Clearly, the company has its eye on the future.
The Bultaco press release indicates the bikes could be ready this year with later models featuring an “in-house” propulsion system and more models coming down the road, perhaps as soon as next year.
Welcome back, Bultaco, and thumbs up!
(Images © Bultaco Motorcycles)