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Two Wheel Drive Commuter Bike

Two-wheel-drive motorcycles have been tried before, with cumbersome, complicated chains or hydraulics transmitting torque to the front wheel as well as the rear. Electric motors of course, make this a potentially simpler process, and the UBCO 2×2 utility bike has been offered for a few years, aimed at farmers, land managers and the like.

Now French brothers Henri and Olivier Rabatel have entered the fray with a two-wheel-drive commuter motorcycle, the Motowatt W1X. The two motors – one in each wheel – offer a total of 34bhp, though Motowatt’s publicity refers to the bike as rideable on an A1 licence, for which it would need to be restricted to 11Kw, though that’s easy enough to do. It certainly looks practical for commuting with a claimed range of ‘up to’ 81 miles and carrying capacity in the false fuel tank, which sits on top of the battery. Another distinctive feature is the use of a single-sided swinging arm and monoshock both front and rear.

No word on price yet, though Motowatt does have a factory in France and is promising a delivery scooter as the follow-up product. Does anyone need two-wheel drive for commuting? Maybe not, but a 2×2 electric ride-to-work machine is no less mad than a two-tonne 4×4, and probably a lot less.

Jim Freeman, BMF Chair, was interested in the Motowatt, but struggled to see the point…. “As an off-road machine, or on unsurfaced roads, it sounds interesting. As a commuter? Why would one bother, when a simple electric scooter or bike would do the job for a lot less money?”

Written by Peter Henshaw

All images courtesy of Motowatt