1,500 kilometres north of San Francisco, one Canadian company is doing what many Silicon Valley startups fail to do — go from concept to production. On October 5th, EV Motorcycle manufacturer Damon broke ground on their new factory in Surrey, B.C. When the company’s HyperSport motorcycle comes to market, with deliveries projected for next year, one of the most advanced motorcycles on the road will come with a Made In Canada sticker on it.
Any vehicle company choosing to begin manufacturing in Canada is good news, but then, Damon is something of a Canadian success story. Founded in Vancouver by CEO Jay Giraud and COO Dominic Kwong, the company made headlines early last year when it won a Best Innovation Award at the Consumer Electronics Show.
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Giraud and Kwong’s central plan for the HyperSport revolved around trying to make a better, safer bike than the market currently offers. Instead of merely fitting a motorcycle with an electric powertrain, the idea was to create something more focused on being innovative rather than alternative.
The HyperSport is the long-awaited fruit of the labourers at Damon, and it is a seriously impressive machine. Built around a structural battery pack that saves weight versus a conventional motorcycle-frame-with-battery-pack layout, the HyperSport clocks in under 200kg. This is roughly equal to combustion-engine rivals like the Ducati Panigale V4, and Damon claims a similar 200 hp output, with torque that far outmuscles the Italian. Maximum range on a full charge is estimated at 320 kms.
The HyperSport is about far more than its powertrain. It also incorporates a suite of rider assists called CoPilot, which include blind-spot monitoring, collision alerts, and a wide-angle rear camera. The onboard technology is designed to give a rider an extra second of reaction time, enough to avoid a collision.
Along with radar and cameras, the HyperSport also monitors positional data, tire temperature, and even has a microphone to listen for a wet road. Peak torque is 200 lb-ft, but depending on application, the motorcycle can limit output to prevent an overeager rider from reaching for too much throttle and ending up on the pavement.
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Just as a copilot is not an autopilot, this technology is meant to assist a rider, not turn them into a passenger. The system can also track rider behaviour – everything from weight transfer to pressure on the handlebars – and provide feedback to help riders improve their skills.
There are other features that more experienced riders will appreciate too, such as the ability to daisy-chain charge so that up to three HyperSport-riding friends can charge simultaneously from a single chargepoint. Perhaps even more impressive, the HyperSport features electrically-shifting rider position: go from hunched over the bike to a more commuter-friendly upright position at the touch of a button.
The new 110,000 square-foot Surrey, B.C. facility is projected to create as many as 300 local manufacturing jobs. Damon will also expand its R&D and software offices at the site. The company’s future plans include expanding beyond the sport bike market into adventure and commuter bikes.
A whole line of electric vehicles is an ambitious goal for any company, and many EV startups have fallen by the wayside. However, to get from a concept to breaking ground on the factory that will actually build your company’s products is a big step. Here’s looking forward to seeing part of the future made right here in Canada.
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