Kawasaki Endeavor electric track motorcycle with manual transmission

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Kawasaki confirmed its upcoming entry into the blossoming electric motorcycle segment will offer a manual transmission. Called Endeavor, the model is being developed with track use in mind, so engagement is key.

The Japanese company is in the process of teasing the battery-powered model on its official YouTube channel. The latest installment in the 10-episode series shows a prototype bike whirring away on a race track as the rider uses the foot-operated lever to go through the gears. “The manual transmission not only allows a greater speed range, it also allows the rider to have greater input when operating the bike,” the company said.

Kawasaki announced plans to go electric in 2019, but full technical specifications about the Endeavor remain under wraps for the time being. Enthusiast website Visor Down learned the bike’s motor will deliver approximately 26 horsepower and a generous amount of instant torque by drawing electricity from a lithium-ion battery pack that fills the space normally occupied by the engine. It will spin the chain-driven rear wheel via a four-speed manual transmission, a feature which will make the Endeavor highly unusual in a segment dominated by automatic bikes.

Weight hasn’t been released, but Kawasaki pledged the model will fall in line with its rider-first approach to making motorcycles. It will be “light, fun, and responsive.” The emphasis on track use is interesting, because developing a circuit-capable electric car is something automakers continue to struggle with. The Endeavor’s battery pack is much smaller than a car’s, so it can presumably be quick-charged in a relatively short amount of time, which eliminates one of the biggest hurdles standing in the way of an electric car from, say, McLaren.

Drivetrain aside, the Endeavor looks like a fairly conventional sports bike. Visor Down added that it’s a blend of Z400 and Z650 parts clad with fairing inspired by members of Kawasaki’s Ninja range. It’s too early to tell when the Endeavor will make its full debut, but it’s not unreasonable to expect we’ll see it by the end of 2020.

The electric motorcycle sector will expand in the early 2020s. Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire is the best-known entrant in this nascent segment, and it recently broke a long-distance record, but Ducati and Triumph are also developing battery-powered two-wheelers. Start-up Zero is hoping to keep its lead by adding more range to the SR/S, Harley-Davidson wants to enter other segments, and even Segway is ready to tussle for a piece of the pie. Piaggio has you covered if it’s an electric scooter you’re after. Kawasaki’s manual transmission should help the Endeavor stand out in the crowd.

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Saurabh Shukla

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