The sound of roaring motorcycles may always be around in some form, but a deceptively quiet electric motorcycle being funded by the U.S. military — dubbed the SilentHawk — is causing two-wheeled enthusiasts to make a lot noise.
SilentHawk offers everything the military could ask for in a stealth motorcycle: Fast, quiet, all-terrain, and adaptable. But you don’t have to enlist or wait on the military to finish a final version — the civilian electric motorcycle the SilentHawk is based on is just as impressive, and you can preorder it today for $15,495.
SilentHawk is being made by defense contractor Logos Technologies. The company recently showed off a prototype SilentHawk at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is supplying the cash flow, but it is still in prototype and the military hasn’t decided if it wants to continue funding.
If DARPA does follow through with SilentHawk, it will have a hybrid bike that can hit 80 miles per hour, hum at a low 55 decibels (around the noise level made by an electric toothbrush) when electric, and burn through any type of fuel put in it.
“With a skilled rider you can get basically anywhere on the planet,” Alex Dzwill, lead engineer for SilentHawk, told the Washington Post.
But if you just like to ride motorcycles, you don’t necessarily need all that. Enter San Francisco-based Alta Motors, the company that builds the electric motorcycle on which the SilentHawk is based.
Alta Motors is developing an electric street bike called the RedShift SM, and an off-road bike called the RedShift MX. The street-legal SM can hit 80 mph, has a 50-mile range, and, according to Engadget, uses the same battery cells as Tesla.
The RedShift models are all electric rather than hybrid, and they are built for speed. There’s no worry about shifting gears because there’s no transmission, but all the torque. The line of thought that electric engines can’t put out the same way that gas engines can has long been discredited — just take a look at the video of a Tesla Model S racing a Boeing 737, or the video of a Model X drag racing an Alfa Romeo 4C while towing an Alfa Romeo 4C. Like Tesla, Alta Motors is making bikes that can compete against gas models.
The DARPA-funded SilentHawk has renewed interest and put government money into the development of quiet, environmentally friendly motorcycles. But why leave all the environmentally friendly fun to the military? It doesn’t come cheap, but electric is the direction the world is heading. Alta Motors is proving that you don’t need to sacrifice style or power in the switch from gas.