Estputnik II is an electric racing bike that will take you on a journey
We don’t know if the inspiration for this build had anything to do with Sputnik II, the Soviet spacecraft launched in 1957 carrying a dog named Laika. But if we launched it into space, it could act as a satellite. And such a unique design comes from a custom workshop called Bizarro Corp (no surprise there) in Spain. The crew’s online store offers a t-shirt that reads: “Café racer is dead”. It’s a strong statement, but then they indulge in bike designs that are far from conventional. The Esputnik II is essentially an electric drag racer built with Zero and Suzuki parts. It’s also a whole canvas of kinetic art, painted by contemporary artist Felipe Pantone. It was first shown at the Glemseck 101 racing festival.
How it all started with Bizarro’s Espoutnik I
The drag racer is a second generation of the Esputnik I that Bizarro Corp built three years ago when the crew decided to focus on electric motorcycles. It had a Zero DSR’s brushless electric motor that produces 115.8 lb-ft of torque. The motor was bolted to a custom-built steel frame, along with a battery salvaged from an electric car.
Bizarro’s Esputnik I was featured at Wheels and Waves that year and also finished fourth at the Punk’s Peak race. The pandemic gave the team plenty of time to think more about Esputnik I and introduce Esputnik II. After a digital render of the second generation, Bizarro stripped down the bodywork of the first bike and started over.
Evolve in the Esputnik II
The crew began work on the front end with a wireframe on which a new hand-formed aluminum fairing is mounted. The fairing, in fact, bears a resemblance to the old-school dustbin fairing, but less curvy. Where you’d expect the fuel tank to sit on a sleek cover atop the frame spine. Towards the tail, things get rather skimmed and modern like today’s hyper bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja H2.
The original chassis remained largely unchanged under the new bodywork. It was designed specifically to work well at straight-line speeds with an extended steel case with a stiff rear end. A chain guard covers the left side of the rear triangle and for the footpegs, just weld pieces of tubing to the frame. The Esputnik II forks and wheels come from a Suzuki GS500 MY2000. It only gets one brake, a Brembo up front. But the bike also benefits from regenerative engine braking that helps slow it down.
The transmission was modified for the Esputnik II and the original motor was retained, but the battery was replaced with one from Zero. Additionally, the gearing has been modified to improve the bike’s sprint racing character. These changes actually reduced the top speed from 122mph to 103mph, but the bike then goes from 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds, putting it on par with the Zero SR/S and Yamaha R1.
Espoutnik II received a Domino throttle, clip-on bars, brake lever, no switches, no speedometer, and very little happens in the cockpit except for three toggle switches jet fighter style – one that ignites the bike, second is the starter and the third is used to get the bike going. It gets a bespoke battery-mounted control box and a small charge indicator.
Besides the equipment and the fast liter-class speed it can do, the other highlight of the Esputnik II is the disruptive artwork by Felipe Pantone. Bizarro gave Pantone no brief, giving him the freedom to don the construction in his signature style. The team then took the bike to Glemseck for action against other e-racing bikes. Espoutnik II finished second, only losing to a 171 hp Energica.
But Bizarro is not done yet. The Esputnik II is actually a rolling prototype with much more development planned. Thanks to the simplicity of electric drives with no moving parts and their modular nature. So there are endless ways to make cycling faster. And faster is the goal; the team plans to tackle the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, with a target of 262 mph.
There’s no stopping the inevitable e-bikes
Whether you like them or not, electric motorcycles are fast becoming a reality. From commuters to sport bikes to custom shops that actually build electric racing bikes and Espoutnik II is a solid example. But you can buy straight from a showroom and if you want a really fast one there’s the Lightning LS-218 which develops 200hp and does 218mph. A similar horsepower figure comes with the Damon Hyperfighter, but it has a top speed of “only” 170 mph. Speaking of fast e-bikes, you can’t leave out the Energica Ego+ with 170hp and 150mph.