When most people think of cruisers, they think of motorcycles that are long, low, and loud—most likely a Harley-Davidson with its distinctive V-twin rumble. But at the American International Motorcycle Expo this year, Italian manufacturer Tacita revealed the T-Cruise, an unusual take on the American cruiser powered not by gasoline, but electricity.
Some say loud pipes save lives, but there are no pipes at all on the T-Cruise. The frame is long, and though it doesn't have the seemingly required V-twin engine, the covers for the electric motor vaguely evoke a V-shape. The actual motor generates 30 kilowatts (40 horsepower) at 8,000 rpm and 70 Newton-meters (52 pound-feet) of torque.
That may not seem like much power, but a five-speed transmission should help the T-Cruise make the best use of it. A gearshift is unusual for an electric motorcycle. The Energica Ego your writer once rode has no clutch or gearshift at all—just one continuous gear that covered all speeds remarkably well, much as in most electric cars. But the Ego also makes 136 horsepower, nearly 100 more than the T-Cruise.
The motorcycles are also designed for very different purposes: The Ego is made to go fast, while the T-Cruise is made to glide along comfortably. Like the Ego, the T-Cruise features multiple power modes favoring economy or performance, plus a reverse gear that most gasoline-powered motorcycles don't have.
Tacita seems to have taken comfort quite seriously. The hand-stitched leather saddle looks quite cozy, and the footpegs can be placed in three different positions for the best rider fit. The suspension is fairly traditional, with hydraulic telescopic 41-millimeter front forks and twin rear shock absorbers with preload and 65 millimeters of travel. The brakes are from Brembo, linked front and rear, with regenerative braking available to help recharge the battery as you slow down.
Of course, as with any electric vehicle, the elephant in the room is the range. Three battery options are available, all with vastly different prices. The entry-level T-Cruise has a 7.5 kilowatt-hour battery good for 50 miles for $10,999. The 15 kilowatt-hour version, with a range of 93 miles, will sell for $14,999. The biggest battery option is 27.5 kilowatt-hours, providing a range of 168 miles, for a whopping $27,999.
But 168 miles is farther than some gas-powered cruisers, with tiny gas tanks to improve their looks, will get you. Charging options for all battery sizes support standard 110- and 220-volt outlets, as well as a proprietary fast charger.
Tacita also makes a few dual-sport models—but the reveal of the T-Cruise in America, with prices given in American dollars, leave no doubt about where they intend to sell these bikes. They certainly got the styling right, but will American riders accept a cruiser that whines instead of rumbles? The price of the large battery may also be higher than many can or want to afford, and the limited range of the more affordable models may keep their riders from attending the local charity rides. Only time will tell if an electric cruiser is an idea ahead of its time...or a technological dead end.