INTERMOT Bike Show in Cologne, Germany, one of Motorcycle USA’s favorite exhibits was the Innovation Café. Featuring alternative two-wheeled designs, electric motorcycles and scooters were prominent. Yet there was one electric design that stood out in our minds, the Honda Oree. A naked street bike concept, the diminutive scale model size of the Oree doesn’t diminish its big ideas. The creation of two German design college students, Nike Albertus and Andre Look, the intention of the Oree “was to create a concept bike for dynamic road riding.” Creating the model only days before the INTERMOT show, Albertus and Look sourced their interest in motorcycles and honed their talent at the Academy of Art and Design in Offenbach am Main.
“One of our first fundamentals was to create a concept bike which is made by riders for riders,” explains Look, “with the ambition of innovation and also the idea of making the technique and the concept work.” The minimalist design is fashioned around an electric motor, with radial battery packs placed around the circular edge of the powerplant – including the recharge plug. Citing the performance benefits of an electric motor, including high torque at low revs and quick acceleration, Look notes his design also does without a CVT gearbox or clutch. Instead power is transmitted directly via belt drive. The ambitious student design anticipates a motor producing 90-plus horsepower, 125 lb-ft of torque and top speed near 120 mph. Weight would be in the range of 290-375 lbs with a range of between 80-190 miles, depending on the number of batteries used. Of course, this is all speculative, as no such batteries or motor now exists (remember it’s a design college project!).
The main point of our design was to let the rider feel the action happening in and around the motorcycle,” says Look on the unique lines of the Oree.
Albertus and Look wanted the rider to see the suspension working, so the rear shock is visible though the frame in front of the seat. Claiming inspiration from popular European naked bikes like the Kawasaki ER-6, the bare styling of the Oree sports a less-is-more gestalt (that’s German for design). Odd-shaped hand controls include hanging mirrors. A circular control display is located in a more conventional position, above the fork – the front houses the headlight assembly. Taillights are tucked under the scant seat.
Chassis design features a single pivot point around the motor for the single-sided swingarm and final drive. Looking down in their stance, a rider will see the shock in action, as it’s placed between the frame’s backbone spars.
“The major aspect of the suspension is to expose functions and attitude – in standstill for every viewer and also while riding,” explains Look. “At first the direct effects of the road can be recognized through the fork and swingarm movement - further the motion of the suspension shocks between the frame halves can be realized.”
Not an official Honda development, Look assures the two students “requested Honda R&D to backup our knowledge of motorcycles with their professional experience.”
Readers may remember the big Honda news at the 2008 INTERMOT Bike Show in Cologne was the unveiling of its V-Four concept bike. More akin to a sculpture than a functional ride, the wild-looking V-Four concept got top billing. Sure, the Oree is a scale model, but it looks like a more finished product and in pure creativity, the college kids may have bested Big Red at INTERMOT.
It will most likely never move beyond miniature model stage, but the Oree is still a design with big ideas. The Oree was met with enthusiasm in the Innovation Café. “The response at the Intermot Cologne was stunning,” confirms Look, “even a lot of Ducati riders were zealous about the look of the bike and the idea behind it.”
As for the Oree’s non-scale-model future?
Although Honda CEO Takeo Fukui did announce the manufacturer plans to introduce an electric design in about two year’s time, don’t expect to see the Oree at your Honda dealership anytime soon. For now it remains an independent creative experiment, with Look saying, “how the project will continue is currently still open.”