The fellow who designed Confederate's jaw-dropping Wraith and Hellcat, J.T. Nesbitt, is back with what he calls "the ultimate expression of two-wheeled minimalism." We're not sure we agree, but the Hades certainly slaps some new ideas down on the table.
Designed around the idea of using as many parts as possible for more than one purpose, the Hades packs a 16.8-kWh battery into a bullet-like underslung cylinder. Running at 399 volts, it's expected to make a monstrous 217 hp (162 kW) and an absurd 147 lb-ft (200 Nm) of instantly-available torque.
Those would be fearsome figures even on a bike with a giant bump-stop for your butt, which the Hades does not have. Indeed, its mildly scoopy single seat unit has but a slight upward tilt at the rear to hold you onto this weapon of a thing as it accelerates. The brake lights are also built into the undersides of the buttock-rests, giving you the glowing red bum cheeks of a baboon if you're into that sort of thing.
Open space pervades the design, most notably with the almost sacrilegious gap between the battery box and the backbone of the frame, which is partially filled in by a flat-laid rear shock sitting further forward than on any bike we can remember, with a linkage back to the top of the rear wheel. It just looks completely, shockingly wrong to anyone who's enjoyed looking at motorcycles for the last hundred years. An excellent and controversial touch.
As for the front end, well, Curtiss and its former incarnation Confederate have always enjoyed using what we'd call "statement" front suspension, and the Hades is another fine example. It's a girder-style setup with wicked carbon fangs holding the front axle. Lascivious gaps in the girder shapes help reduce material use and weight, and suspension is handled by a single monoshock beneath the headlight.
Those hollowed-out fang shapes are echoed at the rear of the bike in the swingarm, which appears to pivot directly around the central axis of the motor – a nice touch that ensures the belt tension will remain constant whatever the suspension is doing.
It's hard to call this a minimalist design, given how geometrically busy the whole thing is, but Nesbitt's work certainly has something to say about how electric motors can be designed to actually look good instead of being big, fat boxes of sadness around which designers must try to salvage some sense of style.
Take a look at the company's other "Radial V8" concept for its Zeus cruiser for another stellar example of a truly awesome-looking electric powerplant. Yes, it trades capacity and range for style, but holy moly, what style – and hopefully, one day, range will cease to be the issue it is today.
The Hades will go on sale in 2020 for the princely sum of US$75,000, which makes us feel a little silly about complaining that Harley-Davidson's 30-grand Livewire costs too much. What's more, Curtiss is asking interested parties to buy a chunk of stock on on WeFunder to help shunt development along and get the Hades from the CAD stage into the flesh.
The Hades doesn't appear in the video below, but we reckon it's still worth watching to get a sense of what these Curtiss folks are all about. CEO Matt Chambers certainly has a way with words.