“We want to challenge the trope of nostalgic and aesthetically led custom motorcycles by encouraging others to experiment with the awesome possibilities offered by electric powertrains.” says Damien Tanner. “As well as building our own creations for clients, we also supply electric vehicle components and know-how to other niche vehicle builders.”
The Phaser Type 1 is the first custom build to be completed in house at Union Motion. The Type 1 started out life as a 1998 version of Yamaha’s 600cc Fazer that came to the workshop as a rolling chassis. The Fazers empty double loop frame presented the team with the perfect blank canvas in which to integrate their custom, battery powered drive train. With the frame stripped clean and redundant tabs removed, several different engine mounting options were experimented with. To minimise the need to re-engineer things it was decided to mount the electric motor in a similar location to the original unit allowing them to mimic the final drive output of the original bike.
As with every electric vehicle its the batteries add the most bulk so the 6KwH pack fills the remainder of the frame. Weighing 50kg the battery is by far the heaviest part of the Type 1 so careful attention was paid to ensuring it was positioned in such a way that the centre of gravity remained low for handling benefits. Batteries are also the most frequently serviced part of electric vehicles so the pack sits on a set of rails that allow their removal and replacement in under 5 minutes. This also allows the rider to keep a second pack handy at home for a quick swap and extended riding time.
The Type 1’s new bodywork was constructed using CNC machined aluminium and has been left raw or painted satin black to create its rather stealthy appearance. The custom made, hollow tank houses the engines controller unit and miscellaneous electrical components and the trimmed rear sub frame supports its sleek solo seat and tail unit. The bike retains the original brake system, suspension and controls of the Fazer, but appears simplified due to the elimination of the clutch lever and conversion to a digital dash that’s been mounted to the original top clamp. The original front wheel still sits up front, but in the rear the team have taken inspiration from Japanese anime Akira, dressing the wheel with solid alloy dishes.
When it comes to performance the Phaser Type 1 tops out a touch over the ton at 110mph. The bike weighs 160kg and generates a modest 32kw (42bhp), but as with all electric vehicles there’s plenty of torque on tap with 120Nm available at the twist of your wrist. The only drawback of the conversion is that the automotive spec lithium ion batteries are only good for 60 miles (96km), which is where having a second battery at home comes in handy. Thankfully charging time is a super quick 2 hours and since battery technology is improving day by day these numbers will only improve with time.
While all of the major car manufacturers have adopted electric motors, motorcycle manufacturers seem to be dragging their heels. Despite there being a global push towards zero emission vehicles and racing events like the Isle of Mann TT offering classes especially for electric bikes (TT Zero), the transition to hybrid or 100% electric motorcycles is taking a rather long time to happen. Recognising the necessity and the demand for cleaner forms of transport, Brighton (UK) based custom workshop Union Motion are taking matters into their own hands. Union team members Dom, Damien and William are offering their customers the chance to own a one of a kind electric motorcycle constructed using the chassis, bodywork and suspension systems found on combustion powered motorcycles.