The NAWA Racer is a gorgeous retro-styled electric motorcycle

19th December 2019
Bob Murray

Electric motorcycles are nothing new but this one is, and not just in its stunning 21st century take on café racer style. Its secret lies in its innovative battery system, one that saves as much as 25 per cent weight over a conventional electric two-wheeler. You might just be looking at the future of motorcycling…


The NAWA Racer concept, to make its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on 7th January 2020, is described as a hybrid but there’s no combustion engine here, just two different sorts of batteries.

Ultracapacitors – “supercaps” – have long been the electric vehicle holy grail, a carbon-based battery that compared to the widely used lithium-ion batteries is compact, lightweight, able to charge and discharge much faster and keep on keeping on, to borrow a phrase, over a much longer period without degradation. The problem is supercaps are expensive.

The solution that NAWA Technologies – a French carbon energy specialist based in Aix-en-Provence – has come up with is to combine a small (0.1kWh) supercap with a conventional (9kWh) lithium-ion battery in a hybrid best-of-both-worlds combo. The supercap is where the fuel tank would be, the bulkier and heavier lithium-ion battery set lower in the all-carbon bike frame where you’d normally see the engine.


And the result is? Impressive, judging from the figures. The hub-less rim motor produces 100PS (99bhp), powering the NAWA Racer from rest to 62mph in under three seconds and on to a top speed of 100mph-plus. Because the ultracapacitor means the lithium battery can be so much smaller, the bike weighs in at 150kg, 25 per cent less than conventional electric sports bikes according to NAWA.

The clincher could be range: 93 miles on a mixed cycle but double that in purely urban riding where NAWA says the hybrid battery system really shines. This is thanks to the supercap’s unrivalled ability to capture energy from stop-start riding; the company says it can re-use 80 per cent of the energy from regenerative braking compared to lithium-ion’s 30 per cent.

NAWA says the ultracapacitor recharges in just two minutes while the entire battery can be charged to 80 per cent in one hour from a home supply. A neat idea is that unlike lithium batteries, the NAWACap battery can be removed and swapped for different levels of performance, allowing riders to tune their bike’s characteristics.


Design of the concept, which was entrusted to Coventry-based design and engineering firm Envisage, blends the bike’s hi-tech with appealing 1960s-stye café racer style. The frame is carbon and the panels are composite, painted aluminium and copper. LED lighting, anodised matt black suspension forks and a nubuck leather saddle all feature.

All pretty cool, but still very much a concept though NAWA says once a production facility for the hybrid battery is established in Aix-en-Provence, it will be able to produce more than 300,000 cells per month.

That’s a lot of electric bikes… But maybe electric cars, too. The French firm says its hybrid battery system is fully scale-able and can be applied to any EV, including cars. NAWA says its hybrid system could reduce the size (and weight) of an electric car’s lithium-ion battery by up to half – or keep the same battery and double the range.

“The NAWA Racer is our vision for the electric motorbike of tomorrow but it is also lays down a blueprint for the future,” said NAWA Technologies CEO Ulrik Grape. “Our next-gen ultracapacitors have unleashed the potential of the hybrid battery system, and this technology could go into production in the very near future.”

Fine by us, as long as that cool café racer style stays!

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