Antique 4 Speed El Moto
One night while doing some endless research I came across a prototype 4 speed electric motorcycle built in 1978. The name Brooks Stevens and Harley Davidson were attached to this machine. It is listed in Wiki as a 1978 Harley Davidson MK2 built by Transitron in the section for electric motorcycle history. At first glance it says nothing about a 4 speed or Brooks Stevens but seeing that a Harley Davidson might have been converted to an el moto back in 1978 stuck out like a blinking sign.
I found an ad from a cycle trader dated in 2006. It had a few pictures and a small story about the history of how this MK2 prototype came to be built. Apparently the Transitron MK2 was built using a 1971 Harley Davidson Sportster chassis. This el moto was built in Hawaii at the hands of Steve Fehr from Transitron. The single prototype was built at a cost of $70,000 in 1977-78. It boasted 24 volts, 2.5 horsepower and weighed in at 608lbs. A Baldor 66vdc motor and 4 speed automatic transmission gave it a claimed top speed of 50mph and a run time of 5 to 6 hrs. The experimental transmission was clutchless, had no pump and full lock-up in all four gears. The primary was belt driven and the final drive was done with a chain. Most of the 360 test miles were put on the MK2 by Brooks Stevens himself at a track where his team raced cars in Wisconsin.
By 2006 the bike had come into the hands of a private owner and was on display at an antique motorcycle show in Iowa where Buzz Walneck found it and took these pictures. Buzz wrote the original article to which I credit all the information on the MK2 that I have reported so far. Buzz listed the owner and address info in the article and at this point I had to find out what happened to the MK2 since 2006.
Shortly after that show the owner decided to put it on loan to a motorcycle museum called Wheels Through Time in North Carolina and after a few attempts to contact them I got a hold of a man named Dale and found out it has a home in their museum and is in original un-restored condition. I asked him if he ever tried to get it running and he said that he hadnít messed with it much since they got a hold of it in 2006. Through our conversation I found out Harley Davidson had no real ties to this prototype and Transitron was a company looking of funding. They used the MK2 as a tool to sell stock in their company and had plans to convert a Lotus Elite 504 to electric power. In 1978 the idea of an electric motorcycle or car for that matter wasnít very popular and Transitron failed to get necessary funding to move forward with the MK2. Dale sent me a copy of some documents that accompanied the MK2 when he got it and a few current pictures of the bike now on display at Wheels Through Time.
Pretty cool Brutus. Nice find.
VERY cool! Thanks! This made me go back and look for my post on the Corbin Electric Motorcycle, mostly because of the time frame. The Corbin was ca '75... Here's my info on it:
“Mikes (Corbin) first project was to build two electric racing motorcycles that ran on electricity and visit the Salt Flats in Utah at the annual Bonneville Nations. Mike went on to set the Electric Motorcycle Land Speed Record of 101 mph. The second bike set a record at 99 mph. Mike proved that electric vehicles can go fast and he became the fastest man in the world on a two wheeled electric vehicle at 101 mph.”
Oh, and a '78 being an antique? Watch that stuff...