Staying streets ahead

by Andy Bryenton

They used to call it the ‘total performance’ philosophy when Ford was at the forefront of racing in the middle of the 20th century. Win on Saturday, sell cars on Monday was the mantra of a generation of marketers and engineers.

To a greater or lesser extent, it worked. Take a look at many of the big names in roadgoing cars, and you’ll find that the more everyday models are often backed up by a super powerful and sometimes even legendary ‘halo’ model. Would so many four-door, naturally aspirated Nissan Skylines have been sold were it not for the monster GT-R version, which demolished lap times worldwide? How about the classic race pedigree of Alfa Romeo, Bentley or Ferrari? This kind of relationship between the track and the road builds reputations.

The reason for this is twofold, but one of the big arguments is that it takes great engineers to make a winning vehicle. Those same bright minds are also employed, making the more usual fare, which comes down the production line, so you know it’s been developed by the best and sharpest.

This concept is being put to a brand new test right now, as Kymco, the world’s biggest producer of quads, bikes and scooters, drop a bombshell on the world of superbikes. Will it transfer to a boost for their on-farm sales of quads and side-by-sides?

Certainly, the brains trust behind the SuperNEX electric sports bike has done an impeccable job of wringing speed from voltage.

From 0–250 km/h in just above 10 seconds, for starters. They have deliberately done away with a single speed electric motor approach, which delivers maximum performance in the middle of the powerband. Instead, a six-speed gearbox delivers the kind of precision shifts that are a joy to execute when using a sports bike to its full potential. It’s a study in modern design, a simple idea well executed, and a machine of extreme power all in one.

That is a fine reflection on the Kymco brand in general, of course. One must assume, as the Taiwanese brand unleashes a supercar-fast electric two-wheeler, that their engineering for models like the MXU400 ATV
and the UXV700i must be similarly top notch.