What does the BMW C evolution look like on the inside? Krautmotors owner Rolf Reick wants to find out. So he takes apart the electric maxi scooter and turns it into the E-LisaBad dragster. The custom shop owner plans to drag-race his creation. It might not make much noise, but it will definitely cause a stir.
He created a custom electric motorcycle and christened it E-LisaBad. "My granny's name was Elisabeth", says Rolf Reick. "It fits somehow, even though my granny wasn't as fast or as heavy". He laughs. In fact, he laughs most of the time as he tells the story of how E-LisaBad came to be. The story begins in May 2017. The donor bike BMW C evolution arrives at the Krautmotors workshop in Heidelberg. It's the first electric motorcycle to see the inner sanctum of the custom shop.
Rolf has been excited about converting the electric scooter ever since he test-rode the C evolution. "Designers always want to be revolutionary. They want to break out of the box, cause a stir or attract attention. I think this project does all that. It will inspire many more new ideas". Rolf wants to do more than just build a stylish custom bike. He also wants to drag-race it. He wants to see his electric dragster take on the petrol-powered motorcycles of this world.
Just weld away
But Mr. Krautmotors has a lot of work to do until then. Rolf goes to BMW Motorrad and takes a course in electrical systems, where he also learns about the parts of the bike he probably shouldn't touch. After all, high voltage is completely uncharted territory for the experienced custom bike builder. After that, he's ready to start customising, or to be more exact, disassembling the bike. As a product designer, he usually designs a bike by making sketches and creating a 3D model on the computer, but he approaches this project like a custom bike artist. "I work intuitively. I make a few really rough sketches, and then I exercise my artistic freedom. I just start welding away. I want the bike to emerge during the process; I don't want to know where the journey will take me before I start out. It's so much fun!", he says – laughing as always.
Above all, Rolf needs one thing when he works: a good atmosphere. His workshop resembles a living room. The armchairs and stools are classic design pieces. He painted the chairs and his workbench white. In contrast, the walls are black and the cupboards are striped. "I did that on a whim. Sometimes I get tired of the colour after six months, so I just repaint everything". Rolf not only works in his "living room", he also listens to music there. As a bassist, he finds the mix of motorcycles and music at the Pure&Crafted Festival "totally awesome". Not surprisingly, he plans to showcase the bike at the festival. The bike will be unveiled on the main stage before the Interpol show on Saturday night.
Test run for the dragstrip
The main thing that has to happen before he unveils E-LisaBad: a test run. After all, design isn't the only thing that matters. Rolf's creation has to be ridable and fulfil a purpose. Rolf doesn't need any fairing or a seat for the trial run. He lowers the C evolution before testing it on a remote track outside of Mannheim. He puts a slick on the back and removes the shock absorber. Rolf is known for his rigid frame bikes. And rigid frames will be competing alongside E-LisaBad. His test run is about to start. Burnout. Rolf sits there in a cloud of burnt rubber smoke and laughs.
At the starting line, he positions his long legs on the newly installed foot pegs. They're so far back that he sits on the bike like a jockey on a racehorse. Indeed, the machine turns out to be a worthy opponent on the race track. The C evolution takes off like a rocket and overtakes the other riders in the first few metres. The electric advantage: pure acceleration. But for Rolf it definitely takes some getting used to. "You look over at your opponent, you want to rev up the engine really loud and of course nothing happens". Naturally, he and his E-LisaBad want to be taken seriously. It's no laughing matter at some level. "But a little humour can't hurt either. This is a feel-good bike", says Rolf. "I've become very fond of it."
A futuristic bike with a retro look
The weeks fly by and Rolf works on the fairing. He wants it to be old-school, but with new, modern structures. A futuristic bike with a retro look. And he wants his unique style to shine through: rough, crude and unfinished. A typical Reick bike. "I'm not someone who polishes bikes. Mine always look a little old and unpolished. A little rough-and-ready". Then the day finally comes. The big debut at the Pure&Crafted Festival. Right before Interpol takes the main stage, Rolf steers the dragster toward the stage. Up the steep ramp and into the limelight. E-LisaBad, the Pure&Crafted Signature Bike 2017, gleams in the evening sun as if it arrived from another planet.
The custom electric bike's angular, dark fairing is reminiscent of a science fiction film from the sixties. "The design was inspired by the landscapes and decor on Star Trek", says Rolf. "Furthermore, my granny had a polygon coffee set from the 1920s, and that also played into the design". Rolf deliberately packaged the futuristic technology of the C evolution in a shell from the past. "It's easier for people to get to grips with something completely new if it has well-known, familiar elements". After the debut, Rolf hangs out at the bonfire for hours, engrossed in the discussions that he hoped his custom build would inspire.
Electricity on the 1/8 mile
He doesn't feel self-conscious as he steers his futuristic Batmobile through the crowds of petrol-powered bikes, many of which have components dating back to the early days of motorcycle history. He's already used to his E-LisaBad. Now she has to prove herself. Glemseck. Dragstrip. She's the first motorcycle of her kind on this track. Coolly and quietly, Rolf makes his way toward the starting line. StarrWars Sprint, the toughest race in the universe. Hot-rodded dragsters with long con-rods and no shock absorbers are about to compete on the former straightaway of the Solitude racetrack near Stuttgart. None of the bikes can really negotiate turns anymore. They're all designed exclusively for riding straight ahead at full speed. E-LisaBad is no exception.
On the other side of the hay bales separating the rivals from each other is one of those "motorcycle-crazed grease monkeys from the StarrWars race", as Rolf calls them. All at once, they start their burnouts. One bike growls, the other squeals. Laughter all around. Rolf laughs too. Then he opens the throttle. It's a tight race almost to the end of the dragstrip. Rolf falls behind before the finish line. "Scooter technology", he shrugs, "You max out at 120". E-LisaBad takes her leave, but still ends up leaving her mark on the race. After years of being steeped in the past, a healthy dose of the future has come to the Solitude track. "Electric vehicles are here to stay", says Rolf. "The day will soon arrive when you go to buy a café racer and the salesman will ask: electric or petrol?"