The Electric Motorcycle of Enrico De Haas
Text + Photos: Mike Blanchard
Spotlight | Enrico “Ricky” De Haas brought arguably the most unique motorcycle to the One Moto show this year. Tough to do given that most of what was in the show was unique and one of a kind. De Haas who hails from Germany brought an electric motorcycle made by his company Wannabe-Choppers.
Most builders of E-motorcycles have chosen to explore modernist and space age themes in design when laying out their bikes. In complete contrast, De Haas’ motorcycle is made to look like a vintage bike.
Related: One Moto Show
Electric motorcycles are going to make a huge impact on the motorcycle market in the not too distant future. China is already discouraging gasoline powered motorcycles and there is a huge surge in electric. This will have the effect of pushing the technology forward rapidly as markets of scale seek to improve the technology. But as we have seen, vintage motorcycles are going to have a strong appeal to collectors and riders who can afford them.
With this bike De Haas has taken the future and wrapped it in the past. As a dedicated chopper guy you might think that he would not be interested in the electric revolution. But De Haas acknowledges that electric is coming and thinks it will be a good thing for the general public. “For somebody that wants something to ride, an E-Bike is good. It is not that bad that it is going that way. People want new things.”
“It was just something that I had in my mind, Said De Haas. “I just had to do it.”
Sitting in the hall with a group of choppers and Harley customs you could almost mistake the bike for an unfinished project. It has strong presence.
The thing that distinguishes the bike is the level of craftsmanship. The engine, trans, wheels, were all patterned and cast in-house.
Located in the town of Huettenberg, Wannabe-Choppers is a boutique builder of aluminum alloy parts for custom motorcycles. They have their own line of hard parts and apparel and do casting and machining for brands all over the world.
De Haas started Wannabe 14 years ago when he was 15 to make motorcycle parts and it has grown to employ 5 people at the moment.
The level of engineering oversight that German companies have to comply with is amazing. Any part for a motorcycle has to approved by the government with drawings, stress analysis, breakage testing and ongoing quality inspections all being required. These guys look like long hair chopper guys but their level of technical ability is very high.
De Haass has been in the states for a few weeks showing the bike, “I don’t like traveling or leaving my wife,” he says. “We are meeting with dealers and the guys from Born Free. We put a lot of effort into the American and Japanese market.”
We talked with Ricky at the Builders Brunch Saturday at One Moto. On his trip to southern California De Haas was kind enough to answer some follow up questions about his electric motorcycle and his company Wannabe.
How old are you?
29 years old. In my opinion way too old.
What inspired you to do an electric motorcycle that looks like a vintage bike?
The look was defined already before we made the decision to build it as an electric bike. We would have built everything exact the same way if it would have a combustion engine. The idea for a hidden electric bike is in my head now for about 10 years and it was about time to get rid of it, so the only way was to actually build it.
Where do you think the future of motorcycling is going?
I really don't know, but I hope that there will always be crazy enthusiasts who take a bike (either if it will be petrol or electric) and build something from their own imagination of it. But in general I try to focus on our own way at Wannabe-Choppers and not to worry about the rest of the world.
Talk about the pattern making and casting process. What engine was your inspiration?
The pattern making was definitely the most work of the 1400 hours in the bike. The engine dummy is actually a mock up of our own combustion engine we are working on for a couple of years now. It is definitely inspired by an ironhead, but also by old JAP engines. Hopefully we will be able to build a runner from it in the next 2 years...
What is the performance of the bike?
It drives on 55V/60A max and has a top speed of about 60mph. Though the bike is not meant to be the fastest, strongest or in any way technical best electric bike. The new thing about is is just that it is probably the first decent looking electric bike
What type of batteries and controller are you using?
The battery and the controller are modified and assembled in house. The battery cells are lithium iron cells.
Do you ride it?
Yes. So far mainly in the US. About 100 miles and a bit on El Mirage. Though it is more a piece of art than a daily rider.