In-Wheel Electric Engine. Next For Your Motorcycle?

During the Mondial Auto Show, the Venturi Voltage was shown equipped with an electric engine incorporated in the wheel. Is the Michelin “Active wheel” tomorrow’s wheel and can it be adapted to a motorcycle? At first glance it looks like a regular wheel with its mounted tire, but inside a small engine is fed by batteries hidden in the vehicle (2 to 4).  The motorization comes only from the wheels with the advantage of a lot of space saved inside the car. Regarding performance, autonomy is from 80 to 250 miles at a maximum speed of 75 mph. In addition to 0 gas emission, of course no clutch and no differential are necessary. Now it’s up to Michelin to convince manufacturers


17 Responses to “In-Wheel Electric Engine. Next For Your Motorcycle?”

  1. 1 customfghterer Oct 27th, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Interesting. . . love to see some real pics of it. Electric motors generate instant torque, so if properly done this could be very fun!

  2. 2 Fausto Simoes Oct 27th, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I’ve been driving around all summer on a electric bicycle I made myself using a electric hub motor. I wanted to see how reliable the hardware was and I don’t have any complaints so far.

    There’s a limit on the motor wattage to be able to drive an electric bike on street without having to get a plate or insurance but no one is really checking and you will only get stopped if you go too fast in the wrong place and get spotted by the police. If it looks like a bicycle then no one bothers you. You can go on bike paths and pretty much anywhere where a bicycle is allowed.

    Though I still love driving a motorcycle, the electric bike is great-Driving around on one is actually a lot of fun, everyone who has tried mine out loves it and this includes some bikers and custom builders.

    I figure it costs me about the same to run this thing as it costs to have a clock radio plugged in.

    There is no gas, no oil, and no noise. Only grease is used for the bearings.

    The hub motor is brushless so there isn’t any friction caused by the brushes,
    The controller shifts phases in the windings to make it turn.

    You can still pedal if you want, but you don’t have to.

    I would imagine these types of vehicles might be a future trend as we can constantly generate electricity by various means but oil is a finite source of energy
    and will one day (certainly not today!) be too expensive to use to move humans around.

  3. 3 GTLover Oct 27th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    This gets me really excited – this is the way we ought to be doing hybrids! Don’t bother with a transmission, just build an electromotive drive with a battery pack and put hub drives in the wheels. Like a diesel locomotive. Or a Caterpillar.

    And somebody already did think of this application for motorcycles, about 25 years ago. If you haven’t already seen it, check out the movie “Akira”. Not only a worthy contender for the list of ‘must see’ motorcycle flicks, it’s also an ideal intro to the anime genre.

  4. 4 Nicker Oct 28th, 2008 at 1:01 am

    “…, but inside [the wheel] a small engine …”

    So much for reducing unsprung weight.


  5. 5 Fausto Simoes Oct 28th, 2008 at 6:40 am


    The engine is an electric hub motor and you would be surprised how well these operate. The added weight of the wheel does not seem to affect handling in any way.

    As for unsprung weight a lot of people seem to enjoy building and driving rigids which have a considerable amount of “unsprung weight”. Unsprung weight does not seem to be a big concern for most people that like custom motorcycles.

    By added this extra unsprung weight you can now reduce the amount of components in the drive system, a clutch, transmission, pulleys/sprockets, drive belt/chain are no longer needed.

    I know nothing is perfect and there are always trade-offs in any design but just the sheer simplicity of this type of system makes it a viable alternative for future vehicle designs.

  6. 6 saorijohn Oct 28th, 2008 at 7:55 am

    You can already buy this technology

    was launched at this years British Motor Show

  7. 7 saorijohn Oct 28th, 2008 at 7:56 am
  8. 8 Nicker Oct 31st, 2008 at 11:44 pm


    that was sarcasm…………. 🙂

    Actually i could give a rat’s ass about unsprung weight.
    (or electric hubs for that matter)


  9. 9 Fausto Simoes Nov 1st, 2008 at 7:50 am


    Wish I knew that before!

  10. 10 rusty coones Nov 2nd, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    We built an electric motorcycle for an aerospace engineer around an Aprilia chassis. It will use a wheel motor in the rear wheel that produces 368 ft lb’s of torque. To see it go to our website at

  11. 11 rusty coones Nov 2nd, 2008 at 3:16 pm to see electric bike. click “electric bike” on navigation tab to page left

  12. 12 Mick Chadwick- Custom Nov 3rd, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    This technology is huge in Holland and Europe for pedal bikes- they have chopper styled old shopping basket types and lots tricylcles etc too- ideal in flat countries! and very cost effective to run in big cities like rotterdam- Hartung bikes is big seller in Ede I have an electric scooter and custom chopper style bike too- from them- -Mike

  13. 13 Jim Gianatsis Nov 3rd, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    There is an electrical motorcycle manufacturer now in the USA, named Zero Motorcycles in Palo Alto, CA, which is selling bikes. Their first bike is an off-road dirt bike (which might be converted to the street with the addition of lights) because they are a small startup company and can’t afford to deal with Federal and State regulations yet.

    KTM is also testing and electric enduro bike with off-road lighting that is very well designed and could go into production immediately. And it could be converted / evolve into a street bike.

    At present these are all lightweight 150 lb off-road bikes with limited range. If you are looking for a big, heavy, long range road bike the battery technology needs to continue to evolve. Current compact production electric cars like the Tesla need large battery packs weighing in around 1,000 pounds. So a full size road bike to carry 2 people might need 200-400 lbs in battery packs to go 250 miles at highway speeds..

  14. 14 Luke Nov 6th, 2008 at 3:13 am

    Wheel hub motors are not a new idea. There is a company in Holland that has been making them for city buses that run on a hybrid diesel system. You would be amazed at how much tourque these wheel motors can make, they refer to them as ‘traction motors’. The company is e Traction and the buses they make are called Whisper Lites if you want to google it.

    Wheel motors eliminate alot of the energry robbing friction involved in a traditional transmission/driveshaft/axle system. Yes, the heavy wheel motors will screw up your unsprung wieght figures, but you are also moving the engine and drive-train wieght to the lowest and widest centers of gravity. This will completely change the physics of driving.

    As for electric motorycles and even more so for cars, the big problem is still the batteries!

  15. 15 burnout Nov 15th, 2008 at 11:57 am

    I think the batteries will be a problem for quite some time but this is still the coolest electric idea I have seen. Anyone know the cost of such a wheel hub motor? peace

  16. 16 motorcycle batteries Nov 25th, 2008 at 5:59 am

    I think batteries will be a problem for a long time – in terms of weight and efficiency (energy to size ratio) but the technology is definitely improving. And this is such a cool idea.

  17. 17 Wheel Bearing May 9th, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    This gets me really excited – this is the way we ought to be doing hybrids! Don’t bother with a transmission, just build an electromotive drive with a battery pack and put hub drives in the wheels. Like a diesel locomotive. Or a Caterpillar.

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