MotoE: the art of weight control

MotoE: the art of weight control
An engine component of the MotoE ducati with weight indicated
Ducati MotoE prototype shows the exact weight written on many components. In the photo a part of the engine with 8,114 kg indicated on it (Photo: Ducati)

When it comes to electric motorcycles, reducing weight means losing power and battery capacity but at the same time it means gaining handling and agility. Finding the right balance is not a simple technique, but almost an art.

When talking about electric motorbikes, the first question that comes up is: "But, how much does it weigh?" Weight is a parameter that is easy to understand and, at the same time, very indicative: it can tell us a lot about performance in terms of power and range.
In an electric motorbike, the higher the weight, the greater the capacity of the battery; hence, the energy that can be stored in it. In the event of an accident, then, a heavier motorbike transfers more energy to the objects it hits, including the rider. Weight therefore, along with speed, plays a primary role in track safety.
From this brief introduction, it is clear how significant the weight of an electric motorbike is, so it is not surprising that work has been done to reduce it.

Ducati MotoE for the World Cup 2023
Ducati MotoE for the World Cup 2023 (Photo: Ducati)

The first MotoE model, the 2019 Energica Ego Corsa, weighed around 260 kg, which is very high for a racing bike. Energica's MotoE is a production derivative and inherits the design and powertrain architecture from the road model, including a very heavy battery designed to ensure good performance in terms of power and range. The MotoE 2022 already weighs 15 kg less than the first version, thanks to the development Energica has conducted mainly on the engine (which alone weighs 10 kg less than the previous model). Ducati's MotoE 2023, in turn, will see a further weight reduction, dropping to 225 kg. But in which components was the Borgo Panigale manufacturer able to save an additional 20 kg?
The first intervention concerned the battery, which is the heart of an electric motorbike. On the Energica model, this component weighs 120 kg including the protective metal casing and has a capacity of just over 20 kWh. Ducati's MotoE has a battery with a lower capacity (18 kWh), therefore with fewer internal components to store energy and a carbon fibre casing, all weighing 110 kg.

Ducati infographics MotoE: weights and performance

In the battery cooling system, however, Ducati's MotoE is heavier than Energica's. Energica's battery is air-cooled and only needs a carbon duct and a filter to convey the outside air to the inside, directly onto the cell contacts. The battery of the Ducati prototype, on the other hand, is water-cooled; it therefore needs a radiator (similar to that of a Panigale), cooling plates for the cells and a certain amount of water, for a total weight of around 5 kg.
At this point we are 5 kg lighter for the Ducati prototype, so where did the other 15 kg come from?
From the engine: 21kg compared to around 30kg for Energica's 2022 model. The technology adopted for the Ducati engine has not been stated, but the construction is clearly of a racing nature, with very small dimensions and a high rotation speed (18000 rpm). We know of Energica's model that it is of the reluctance synchronous type, while the 2019-2021 version was of the PMSM (Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor) type and weighed 40 kg. Energica's current MotoE engine is not only heavier than the Ducati's, it is also larger and reaches 11 rpm.

Infographic Energica MotoE: weights and performance

The remaining 6 kg of savings are achieved through extensive use of composite materials and light alloys, and through the design of the frame. On the Energica MotoE we find a classic steel tubular trellis frame that starts at the steering headstock, extends to either side of the battery and closes at the height of the swingarm.
On the Ducati, the battery pack casing is made of carbon fibre. This component also serves as the stressed part of the chassis, similar to the engine on the Ducati Panigale V4, with an aluminium front monocoque frame weighing 3,7 kg. The rear end consists of an aluminium swingarm weighing 4,8 kg with geometry very similar to that of the Ducati Desmosedici used in MotoGP. The rear frame, which integrates the tail and rider seat, is made of carbon fibre.
Weight is and will remain one of the key parameters in the design of electric motorbikes, both on the track and on the road. In four years, MotoE has seen its weight drop by 15%, from 260 kg to 225 kg, an improvement that could be repeated in the coming years thanks to the evolution of batteries.
Because, as Mauro Sanchini, former rider and current Sky Sport commentator for MotoGP, said in our last interview: 'On a bike, when you take kilos off it, it's a whole different thing.”

The galley of the Ducati MotoE

The galley of the MotoE by Energica

Over the next days we will publish more analysis posts of the MotoE of Ducati and of Energica.

Photos: Ducati

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