Combustion out, electric drive in: E-Core plug-and-play for mopeds
Anyone who is worried about whether they will be allowed to drive their small combustion engine motorcycle in cities in the future will probably be pleased with Ben Surain’s idea. With the E-Core, the Belgian has designed an electric drive as a plug-in. What would still be unthinkable here is already reality in the two most populous countries in the world, China and India: Many major Chinese cities are already banning motorcycles and scooters with combustion engines in the city, and in India from April 2025, motorcycles with a displacement of up to 150 cm3 will no longer be allowed be allowed.
But a large proportion of the 16 million motorcycles sold in India last year alone fall into this displacement class. Should the affected owners scrap their small and light motorcycles or scooters and buy an expensive electrically powered successor? The E-Core concept is based on this problem.
Tinkering since 2009
Ben Surain is a motorcycle obsessive. Even as a teenager he was enthusiastic about motorized two-wheelers and learned from a mechanic who used to prepare the Ducati superbike for world champion Carl Fogarty. Surain studied design after his apprenticeship, worked for Panasonic and even worked as a professor of design for three years. He recognized early on what was possible with an electric drive in two-wheelers and founded his brand “Surain Elektrocycles” in 2009. He tinkered a lot and, in his own words, used “tons of batteries, controllers and motors”. But with every prototype he learned from his mistakes and constantly improved his electric bikes. Over time, awards for his designs were added.
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In the future, the E-Core could power many small motorcycles and scooters. The image is a photomontage with the 50cc version of the Honda Dax and Surain’s electric powertrain.
E-Core for millions of little bikes
Surain always began to sketch his new ideas the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper. He always worked alone, so he didn’t have to make any compromises. He designed interesting one-off products, but he was aware that they were very expensive and therefore only suitable for a very limited group of customers. Unless you built small electric motors in large numbers. That’s when Surain recognized “his” gap in the market.
In view of the EU’s “Green Deal” and the increasing demand for electric motorcycles in Asia, he began to design a compact battery-motor unit. The E-Core is intended to power small two-wheelers such as the legendary Honda Dax, Monkey and Cub, millions of which are used worldwide for urban mobility. They are powered by air-cooled single-cylinder engines with – depending on the market – 50, 70, 100 and 125 cm3. In fact, the Honda Super Cub is the world’s most-produced motor vehicle. The abbreviation “Cub” in their name stands for “Cheap Urban Bike”, an apparently successful concept: well over 100 million units have been sold since 1958.
Above all, Surain had these globally almost unimaginably widespread models in mind when he started development. Its E-Core corresponds to the plug-and-play principle: remove the engine and the components that have become superfluous, such as the tank and exhaust, attach the E-Core, wire the “throttle” handle and display, put on the chain and off you go. The E-Core is said to have a nominal output of 2 to 3 kW. Surain also wants to build a road-legal E-Core version soon, which will deliver up to 8 kW.
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The superimposed drawings demonstrate that Surain has managed to build the E-Core very compact.
There is no precise information about the battery size, it should be adapted to the area of application. The battery slides into the E-Core from the side, allowing for quick battery replacement if the owner doesn’t want to wait for charging. This model is also ideal for delivery services or rental mopeds. Of course, the battery should not be too big and correspondingly heavy. Many moped manufacturers, including Piaggio, Honda, Yamaha and KTM, hope that something like this will work. In order to increase the chances, they have agreed on a common standard for the replacement batteries.
Large series planned
In the meantime, Surain has received an inquiry from APEX-Bikes from Gräfelfing near Munich, which specializes in pit bikes. They want to give their customers the opportunity to train indoors in winter, but for this they need an emission-free drive. For APEX, Surain is developing a more powerful E-Core version with a peak power of 15 kW. The prototype is already promising, but Surain makes sure that the price remains reasonable.
Surain needs money for larger series production and distribution and together with electric motorcycle enthusiast Guy Salens founded the platform “On #pushthebutton” to look for sponsors. His goal is to produce the E-Core in large numbers so that owners of combustion motorcycles can continue to drive with zero local emissions in the future.
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