Inspired by cafe racers and electric violins, the Arc Vector promises a truly unique experience for motorcycle enthusiasts looking for a premium all-electric ride. DEVELOP3D went behind the scenes to hear about the bike’s design from Arc Vehicles CEO Mark Truman
It takes a very special bike to impress former British Superbike runner-up and MotoGP rider James Ellison. In the Arc Vector, it looks like he found this bike.
Over the summer of 2022, Ellison worked with the team at Arc Vehicles, a spin-off of automotive company Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), to fine-tune the final spring and damper settings on the suspension system. innovation of the Vector.
He certainly enjoyed the experience. “The way the machine cuts corners is incredible. Vector is definitely big on the ‘smile factor,’” he says. “It’s so different from anything you’ll be riding. I was really amazed at the agility. The bike changes direction like a much smaller bike due to the steep steering angle it can execute This means the bike can be moved from side to side with little effort.
This glowing praise is all the more striking when you consider that the Arc Vector is the world’s first all-electric neo-café racer. And the team that designed it, led by Arc CEO Mark Truman, is no less infatuated with their creation.
Truman, an avowed motorcycle fanatic, regularly releases the bike himself and jumps at the chance to ride alongside Ellison, fine-tuning the final settings before the Vector goes into production. “Driving the Vector alongside James has been fantastic,” he says. “His perception and feeling for the slightest change in parameters is unrivaled and his experience goes without saying.”
Cafe racers and electric violins
Arc Vehicles was spun off from JLR in 2017. Truman, who previously led JLR’s White Space innovation team, developed a prototype electric motorcycle while there. Management was so excited about the idea that they gladly lent their support to the spin-out and Truman’s ambition to build a market leader in electric recreational vehicles.
What Truman and his team also have is the freedom to work from first principles. “We are very fortunate in that our products are more premium in the market, which means we are able to deliver a vehicle from scratch every time and develop innovative products that really break the mold. , rather than working from scratch on content from previous vehicles to save time and money,” he says.
“So we can go back to basics: ‘What are the use cases here? What would be the perfect product to fit these use cases? From there, we try to work as loosely as possible, taking that concept through to production so that the end product is really a representation of the idea we had from the start of the project.
So what was this idea for the Arc Vector? The answer is twofold. First, the team wanted to create a very futuristic motorcycle, with retro flourishes. “We were thinking what a cafe racer would look like, if the term ‘cafe racer’ was coined for the first time in ten years,” says Truman.
Second, they were inspired by the appearance of electric violins. “We found great photos of instruments that had everything in place to sound great, but where everything that wasn’t necessary had been removed. We thought they were stunning and that seemed like a really good philosophy for our product, as well as other products from us in the future.
To turn these eclectic concepts into a production-ready product, the initial ideation process at Arc is very manual, but quickly transitions to PTC Creo for 3D CAD. Arc has used PTC Creo since day one, backed by Cambridge-based Root Solutions, part of the global PDSVision group and PTC’s longest serving Platinum Partner in the UK.
Initial ideation involves lots of “whiteboards, chalkboards, Post-it notes, and mind maps,” says Truman, and then 2D sketches, Illustrator, Photoshop, and more. Many 3D prints are also underway in an effort to move away from the traditional clay modeling processes typically associated with designing this type of product. Rapid prototyping using 3D printing, says Truman, makes it easier for designers and engineers to work together.
But work at Creo starts early, he says. “We’ll have designers working on surfacing in Creo and engineers using it to work on parts pretty early on, determining how the parts will attach to the product, how we’re going to get that good quality, the right spacing, and so on. We want to think about all this as soon and as soon as possible. »
He and his team wanted to avoid a situation where designers create something and throw it over the fence to engineers, who then have to try to make it work.
“It often results in a very argumentative process. The designer recovers engineering that is not quite the same as what he designed. Or engineers get stuck trying to figure out something that just isn’t possible or will cost too much to achieve.
Creo’s collaboration tools support this process, helping designers and engineers easily share ideas and keep all relevant, up-to-date information in one software package. The Arc team is also increasingly using Creo’s generative design and design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) capabilities, he says. They gave the team the ability to think more creatively and evaluate manufacturing methods based on different attributes such as cost or weight, he says.
“We do a lot of reverse engineering on our first prototypes, to decide how we could best create individual parts. When you’re starting out, you’re probably not as concerned about cost, but when you get to the end of the process, you can really start to understand how much things might cost and then make changes,” he explains.
“So at this point there’s a lot of scanning of those initial parts and then reverse-engineering the CAD that we’ve created, with reference to generative design, which informs us of improvements we could make. It’s fantastic to have this ability to revisit and refine with a high degree of precision.
As around 50% of Arc Vector manufacturing is outsourced to specialists, these collaborative features also help in working with suppliers. “Obviously we don’t really share the complete bike with anyone in the outside world, but Creo helps us share relevant information and 3D CAD drawings with the companies we work with.
Arc Vector // Accelerate innovation
All of this led to a final design that can boast some truly innovative features. The Arc Vector uses a carbon front swingarm and hub center steering, resulting in a bike that looks like one that uses front forks, but offers increased stiffness and the ability to run on steeper steering angles. . With center hub steering, for example, the Vector runs a 20-degree bevel angle.
The company is also seeking excellent feedback from 10 customers who will participate in a development assistance program for the Arc’s human-machine interface (HMI) system. Each entrant will receive a Vector Angel Edition (AE) motorcycle and engage in a test program to try out prototype versions of the HMI system on tracks in the UK and USA. Their direct feedback will feed into the system until it’s ready for the road. According to Truman, this is not only the “ultimate peek behind the curtain” for participants, but also a way to create a system that will increase the enjoyment and safety of the product for future owners.
And because it’s a premium product, these owners have plenty of opportunities to customize their Vector, resulting in a truly bespoke vehicle. Invited to Arc’s commissioning suite at its Coventry headquarters, they can choose from a wide range of finishes and additional features.
On top of that, an augmented reality (AR) experience will let them ‘see’ their Vector, parked in their own garage or on their front-wheel drive, both before and after these bespoke touches are added. This AR app was developed for Arc by Root Solutions.
“We put all our creative thinking into ensuring that buying, owning and driving an Arc Vector will be a truly unique experience for owners – something very special indeed,” promises Truman.