Published on March 1st, 2023 | by Boris1
SAVIC MOTORCYCLES C-SERIES PRE-PRODUCTION RIDE – RIDING THE LIGHTNING
IMAGES BY SAM CARTER/SAVIC MOTORCYCLES
Stuff like this never really happens in my world. The chances of someone not attached to a factory riding a pre-production model of its new bike just doesn’t happen.
But then it did to me.
A few weeks ago (from the time of writing), Dennis Savic contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in riding the prototype of his C-Series (C stands for “café”).
Heh. As if that’s a question that has more than one answer.
I was at the airport the following day and in Melbourne shortly after. I was picked up by Adrian Vinovrski, the project’s Chief Technology Officer and lead engineer – a quiet, gentle, and very committed soul – and taken to Savic Motorcycles HQ in Melbourne.
Savic Motorcycles, as you probably know, is Australia’s own and only high-performance electric motorcycle manufacturer. At the moment, and after six years of titanic effort, it only makes one model – the C-Series. But there are others in the works and already at an advanced stage of design. So once the C-Series bikes are sent to their owners later this year – and there are 240 of those owners who’ve bought the bike sans test-ride – there are other two-wheeled electric wonders slated to appear in the next year or so, including a series of LAM iterations.
This has all been made possible by the company’s most recent successful capital raise of 1.8-million bucks – and Dennis’s unwavering commitment to making this work for the medium and long-term. He’s talking a production target of 1000 bikes in 2025 and beyond.
I’ve seen the drawings. And Dennis and I have chatted on many occasions in the last few years. It’s impossible not to be impressed by this quiet, laser-focussed bloke, and the vision he has actually succeeded in creating.
Our relationship began when I wrote a piece stating riding electric bikes was like riding tinnitus, and for me, such a thing was not ever going to be a thing. And it won’t be.
The kind of riding I do simply doesn’t gel with electric bikes – which, at this stage in their development are not suited for long-distance touring. Their hunting ground is purely urban. But as battery technology changes, and our EV infrastructure improves, that will change. Electric vehicles are not coming. They are here.
So while I’m not a potential customer, and my laments about how alien riding an electric bike feels for someone like me still hold true, I am certainly able to appreciate and admire what Dennis and his team have created. But I’m not sure the Australian motorcycle community does.
But it should and it must.
Because the creation is astonishing. And brilliant. And quite a hoot to ride, to be perfectly honest. I have ridden Harley’s Livewire, and the Savic Motorcycles C-Series is better in every way that a bike should be better.
Does it have issues? Yes, it does, and I will come to them shortly.
So my first ride of the C-Series happened in Melbourne on the famous Kew Boulevard. I was sworn to secrecy about the ride. Dennis and his team wanted some feedback from someone not involved with the project, and there was a press launch coming up, so no thunder stealing, as it were.
I’m good with that. I keep secrets well.
Adrian, Adam Wilson (the tech who assembles the bikes), Sam Carter (the in-house photographer), and I beat the storm clouds out there, and I managed a few zesty passes before rain called a halt to proceedings. I’m over asking Melbourne to explain why it’s 12 degrees and pouring with freezing rain in January.
My first impression of the C-Series surprised me. I came armed with a few preconceptions, and no great desire for electric bikes. But I was very keen to try this one for all sorts of reasons.
Was I about to ride something a man had spent six years of his life creating, only to discover it was crap and he would have been better off using that money to play the stock market? This is literally a bike built in a shed – albeit a pretty nice shed. There is no giant motorcycle company funding this and supplying all the engineers, build facilities, and resources needed to – and I can’t overstate this – produce a brand-new never-made-before motorcycle, created from the ground up.
Think on that for a sec. Imagine the mountain Dennis has had to climb to get to where he is. I may not be an EV fan-boy – I’m far too far down the dinosaur road for that to change – but I am certainly a Savic fan-boy just for the sheer balls and brains it takes to do what he has done.
But – and this is a big but – if what he’d made was shit, I’d tell him that. I’d have to. At the end of the day, the C-Series is a motorcycle. And it has to be a proper motorcycle. Its motive power aside, it has to be viable in that regard.
And it cannot and must not look like it was built in a shed. You’ll be pleased to know it doesn’t. I sure was. It’s legit.
The prototype C-Series has some weight to it. It’s 300kg. But it’s not physically large. Like, it’s the size of a 1000cc naked. But it carries its weight so well, you’d swear it’s not that heavy. Heaving a Royal Enfield off its side-stand is harder than levering the C-Series upright.
Another good tell that will quickly let you know about balance and weight is to get on the bike, ride 20 metres and do a feet-up U-turn. See how that goes on a poorly-balanced heavy bike.
I did just that on the C-Series ten seconds after riding off. I was stunned. It was effortless.
Sure, there’s the whole “WHERE’S THE ENGINE-NOISE?” thing, because all you’re suddenly hearing is the suspension and brakes at work, but this was certainly a motorcycle – and pretty good one, at that. I have ridden far worse-handling bikes from major factories.
Here’s the thing – I cannot compare it to anything you’d be familiar with. It’s not like anything else. You ride it the same way as you would a normal bike and all the same laws of physics apply. But there’s no clutch, lots of instant torque which is seamlessly constant, and on the prototype, no regenerative engine braking. On the production bike, you’ll be able to dial up the amount of engine-braking you’d like.
It’s a bit of a head-fuck when you first set off and encounter your first corner. I was a bit wide-eyed approaching one of the Boulevarde’s finest bends. I don’t want to be the first person to trowel a C-Series, but I also need to see what happens when I’d fold it into a bend.
Cue another surprise. It is carrying a fair bit of inertia, unmitigated by any engine braking, but its front Brembos are well up to pulling you up. So I set up for the bend, and felt I might need to apply a bit of manliness to the corner, then instantly realised the bike was more than happy to turn in, and then it held the line beautifully. Stable, and sure-footed, and the line I chose was the line it held.
Pushing a little harder, I found the suspension was underdone. It was at its limit, and despite development-rider Jed Metcher’s (you’d know Jed from his ASBK glory) best efforts, the suspension on the prototype bike was not up to its job.
This was compounded by the unsprung weight, and a fork-length that needed to be changed to give the bike more trail. When I started explain my thoughts to Adrian and Adam, they nodded knowingly. They were well aware of the issues. And busily implementing the fixes for the production version.
So longer forks with better springs (there’s the extra trail), much lighter wheels and swingarm (which would see a 20-plus kg wight-saving on the production model – 10kg on the unsprung side and 10kg more on the sprung stuff), were all the go.
“The dash is…um, kind of invisible,” I said, when they asked me what else could be improved.
“Yes, we know,” Adrian smiled. “We have already ordered a new dash which is twice as bright and coated with non-reflective material, and if that doesn’t solve the issue, we are working on a design update.” Currently, the dash sits pretty flat, which is part of the problem.
I also felt the side-stand could be longer. But now I was just nit-picking. The ergos were spot-on. I’m six-feet tall and…um, solidly built, and I found the handlebar-seat-pegs dynamic pretty spot-on.
The seat was firm and not suited to long miles – but then it’s not a touring bike, so that’s not a problem. And neither is the starting procedure. At the moment it has a fob. The production version will be started by an app on your phone (settle down, dinosaurs. Hush. This is not our world anymore). So press the fob, the bike wakes up. Press the red button on the right-hand handlebar, and the bike is on. Press the button again, and it’s now in “gear” and ready to roll. Press it again, and you can have a reverse gear to help you if you’ve parked awkwardly and are weak and frail. Simple.
Three weeks later, I was invited to try the bike again. This time up and down the Old Pacific Highway, along with three other motorcycle media types. The bike had been fitted with its lighter production wheels, and I was now very much looking forward to lashing it a little harder along a road I know well.
The lighter wheels made a huge difference. The C-series steered much better, but that threw up a new issue. On right-handers taken with enthusiasm, the front of the carbon-fibre belly-pan would lightly kiss the tarmac.
This scared the shit out of me when it happened. You expect the footpegs to touch first, but this was the belly-pan. Sure, it was an enthusiastic entry, but I was not there to have sex with spiders, right?
Obviously, this was relayed to Dennis and his team, and they’re already working on a solution with the new suspension and some tweaks to the belly-pan. And I have no doubt it will make a difference. You see, one of the reasons it’s taken so long to get the bike out to the public is Dennis’s insistence that it be “right” – and more than right.
And it has to be. There’s a lot at stake.
I’m of the view that Dennis and his team have nailed it. And I’m a little in awe of that. This small team of committed designers and engineers have created Australia’s first and only performance electric bike. It works and its viable and it has integrity. It does nothing weird, and behaves like a bike – although it requires you to ride it bearing in mind you have no clutch and no engine-braking – again something the production version will have in the form of regenerative engine-braking which you’ll be able to dial up or down. No, you still won’t get a clutch. You get that, right?
And of course it goes. The current prototype is a somewhat down on power from what the production version will offer, but turn that throttle and it picks up its pretty carbon skirts and honks on with aplomb. It’s no Panigale, but I’m no Peco Bagnaia either. You will be pleasantly surprised and not a little thrilled, I’m betting. Why? 200-plus Nm is 200-plus Nm, baby.
Aesthetics are always so subjective, but I am a fan. The designer has produced a classically-shaped café racer, albeit with some modern touches, like the headlights and their bracket. I think that’s the only place it looks a little awkward. I really love the rest of it. The big tank, the cool tail-piece, and the resultant stance is spot-on. It’s right, to my eye. And it’s won a bunch of design awards, so I’m not an island.
I guess this is where I stand up and applaud Dennis and his team. The C-Series is an amazing achievement, and they deserve to be congratulated for what they have made. Yes, it’s strange seeing a bike ride off in total silence. But I’m a big boy. I can deal with new things without whining about how something is “shit” just because it’s unfamiliar. I remember people making the same noises when two-strokes were removed. I will bet they made the same noises when electric starters and disc brakes were introduced.
The world is constantly evolving. You may decry that fact, but that evolution will continue, because life’s only constant is change. You can yell at clouds all you like. They’re just gonna cloud.
When I ride the C-Series I am fighting decades of hard-wired motorcycle expectations and preconceptions. My programming, as it were. But this in no way stops me from appreciating an amazing engineering achievement, and enjoying the ride it offers. Why would it? The C-Series is a bloody motorcycle. And I happen to love bloody motorcycles.
I am looking forward to spending some time on the production version when one becomes available. And I am very, very much looking forward to what else Savic Motorcycles will produce. If this is the prototype of its first offering, I’m pretty sure what’s coming will be even more special.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
So there are two iterations of the C-Series – the Alpha and the Delta. The Alpha is the more powerful one.
What’s the range?
Alpha – 200+ km combined (City/Highway), or 150km highway
Delta – 150+ km combined (City/Highway), or 100km highway
What’s the charging time?
- 5hrs – Level 2 (15amp/3.3kW)
- 8+hrs – Level 1 (Standard wall plug)
- 4hrs – Level 2 (15amp/3.3kW)
- 7+hrs – Level 1 (Standard wall plug)
Where can I charge it?
Anywhere you can charge your phone, you can technically charge your motorcycle. The bike will come with a standard Type 2 (iec 62196) charger with a 10amp plug.
Most customers will charge at home or work, but the Savic Motorcycles App will also have Level 2 chargers listed for customers looking for public charging stations.
Can I just plug it into a wall socket at home?
Hell to the yes. The C-Series does not require any special charging equipment, so you can charge it off any standard wall socket at home. If you have a 15amp outlet at home, you will be able to charge your motorcycle at an increased rate.
How much is it?
Alpha – $26,990 Ride Away
Delta – $19,990 Ride Away
|Price*||From $26,990 Ride Away*||From $19,990 Ride Away*|
|Price Disclaimer||*Prices listed are Ride Away prices. Options are available at an additional cost. Ride Away price includes Registration, Duties and CTP insurance where applicable. Savic Motorcycles reserves the right to vary colours, specifications and pricing at any time. $100 Pre-Order Build Slot Purchases are fully refundable.||*Prices listed are Ride Away prices. Options are available at an additional cost. Ride Away price includes Registration, Duties and CTP insurance where applicable. Savic Motorcycles reserves the right to vary colours, specifications and pricing at any time. Pre-Order Build Slot Purchases are fully refundable.|
|Torque||200+ Nm||140+ Nm|
|Performance (0-100km/h)||3.5 sec||4.5 sec|
|Horsepower||80 HP||54 HP|
|Estimated Range**||200 km+ combined city||150 km+ combined city|
|Range Disclaimer||**Actual range achieved will vary according to factors such as terrain, weight of rider, riding conditions and riding style.||**Actual range achieved will vary according to factors such as terrain, weight of rider, riding conditions and riding style.|
|Estimated Charge Time
Level 2 – 15 amp/3.3kW
|Estimated Charge Time
Level 1 – 10amp/240v
|8+ hrs||7+ hrs|
|Battery Capacity||16.3 kWh||13.4 kWh|
|Motor||SM1 3-Phase AC IPM||SM1 3-Phase AC IPM|
|Final Drive||Optibelt Delta Chain Synchronous Timing Belt, 8MDC, 8mm Pitch, 36mm Width||Optibelt Delta Chain Synchronous Timing Belt, 8MDC, 8mm Pitch, 36mm Width|
|Frame||Cast Backbone||Cast Backbone|
|Swingarm||Cast Single-Sided||Cast Single-Sided|
|Seating Configuration||Primary & Pillion||Primary & Pillion|
|Front/Rear suspension||Telescopic forks / mono shock||Telescopic forks / mono shock|
|Front Brakes||Dual Brembo M4 Monoblock||Dual Brembo M4 Monoblock|
|Rear Brakes||Brembo Rear Calliper||Brembo Rear Calliper|
|Front Tyres||Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
120/70ZR17M/CTL (58W) DR3-F
|Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
120/70ZR17M/CTL (58W) DR3-F
|Rear Tyres||Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
180/55ZR17M/CTL (73W) DR3-R
|Pirelli Diablo Rosso III
180/55ZR17M/CTL (73W) DR3-R
|Screen||7” Capacitive Touchscreen||7” Capacitive Touchscreen|
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