Radical Radial Zeus V8 Is Here And Almost Ready To Roll

Curtiss Motorcycles’ wildest electric yet is set to be available in 2020.

Radical Radial V8
Is Curtiss Motorcycles’ latest electric prototype really in production? Depends who you ask.Curtiss Motorcycles

It’s semi-official—the Curtiss Zeus Radial V8 is in production. Almost.

Radial V8
Curtiss unveiled its latest Zeus incarnation, the Radial V8, at The Quail Motorsports Gathering over the weekend.Curtiss Motorcycles

Last Friday marked a significant step in that direction, anyway, with Curtiss Motorcycles and Fast Radius announcing their partnership to create the futuristically styled and innovative Zeus V8 electric motorcycle. The design is eye-popping, highlighted by a sweeping aluminum monocoque frame holding eight banks of cylindrical battery packs flaring out from a central terminal in the middle, arranged in a vee. Curtiss designer Jordan Cornille explained the reasoning behind the electric “V8” powertrain, saying, “With the battery cells packaged inside eight cylindrical towers configured in a flaring radial ‘V’ pattern, we’re…able to achieve maximum battery cooling efficiency.”

Zeus prototype
The new Zeus prototype arranges its battery cells as eight splayed cylindrical units, primarily for cooling efficiency but also because it looks cool that way.Curtiss Motorcycles

The swooping chassis consists of 1.75-inch titanium/chrome-moly tubular and 6061 aluminum, giving that unique battery arrangement structural support but also keeping weight down to a claimed 460 pounds. Wheelbase is stated at a cruiser-y 63.5 inches, and a double-wishbone parallelogram fork with machined aluminum girders is fitted with a fully adjustable Race Tech monoshock with 6 inches of travel.

While Curtiss says the Zeus Radial V8 powertrain is still being optimized, it estimates a power output of 217 hp and 147 pound-feet of torque, flowing through a proprietary controller and axial motor package. Curtiss projects battery capacity to be a hefty 16.8 kWh at 399 volts, but there's no mention of range or any charging specs. Regardless, this sculpture rolling on 18-inch BST carbon fiber wheels will easily stand out as a unique entry in an increasingly crowded e-market.

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in 2018
Last year’s Zeus Concept Prototype won the Most Innovative Motorcycle award at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in 2018, but the design has come a long way since then.Curtiss Motorcycles

At last year's The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, Leeds, Alabama-based Curtiss showed its Zeus Concept Prototype, which used a 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to power the world's first E-twin powerplant—a set of two high-output electric motors driving a common output shaft. That vision won the show's prestigious Most Innovative Motorcycle award.

Fast Radius
Curtiss ran into some production issues on the V8 prototype and enlisted the help of Fast Radius for troubleshooting and manufacturing solutions.Curtiss Motorcycles

The latest redesign goes in another direction entirely, referencing the powertrain from Glenn Curtiss’ record-setting 1907 V-8 motorcycle and utilizing a more skeletal attitude. The Zeus 8 prototype was shown for the first time publicly at the 2019 Quail Motorcycle Gathering on August 16, and a major launch event was planned, but according to Fast Radius, “…ran into challenges sourcing parts for the prototype.”

The complex components on the motorcycle proved difficult to manufacture, with CNC suppliers quoting long lead times and difficulty with quality requirements. The Zeus 8 launch was fast approaching, so Curtiss turned to Fast Radius, a leading manufacturing service provider, to evaluate the requirements. The end result was a hybrid solution that comprised three separate production processes and produced more than 60 parts and components for the electric hot rod.

Both companies say the Zeus is now on track for commercial availability in 2020, and may integrate other innovative processes along the way, like designing and engineering the seat and grips with industrial-grade 3-D printing technology. Although the Fast Radius release states that they are “…already in production on the first 100 Zeus 8 bikes,” designer Jordan Cornille sounded a more cautionary tone. “We have some validation work to complete before final production begins. Deliveries are expected to begin late spring 2020,” he told us.

The Curtiss Zeus Radial V8 will sell for $75,000 and, according to the website, will serve as the brand's first entry into the so-called "hyper-luxury motorcycle space." (See more details at Curtiss' website.

The latest addition to Curtiss’ electric motorcycle lineup is the $75,000 Hades, revealed in July and penned by legendary Confederate Wraith and Hellcat designer JT Nesbitt.Curtiss Motorcycles

If Curtiss is aiming to “create sustainable, desirable, intergenerational, mean, clean, and green future-proof hot-rod motorcycles,” the new Zeus certainly embodies the last part of that phrase. It's also just one of several designs (or divisions) in the company, with the new Hades taking on a bullet-like battery/motor structure, while the lower priced Eros and Psyche offer less brawny specs at a lower buy-in. The latter is also closest to production, and it’s also the model Curtiss has nakedly stated is meant to compete with the Harley LiveWire (and is priced similarly).

The Psyche and Eros models are positioned at a lower price point and carry smaller spec numbers; the 46–96 hp Psyche is confirmed for production and priced at $30,000. It’s directly aimed at the Harley LiveWire, says Curtiss.Curtiss Motorcycles

Fast Radius goes on to say, “Both companies expect to collaborate on future iterations of the Zeus, as well as Curtiss’ upcoming models including Hades, Psyche, and Eros.” If turnaround is as quick and efficient as the Zeus Radial V8, we may just see those bikes sooner than we think.

The Hera model, revealed in December, also offers an electric twist on V-8 architecture with an eight-piece battery pack arranged in a modified V formation powering an E-twin motor.Curtiss Motorcycles
Glenn Curtiss
The inspiration behind the latest models is Glenn Curtiss’ 1907 record-setting V-8 motorcycle.Curtiss Motorcycles

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