A fresh spark in motorcycle design
Mark Truman isn’t Elon Musk. But he is about to set the motorcycling world into a spin, in the same way as Tesla has done for Electric performance cars. 25 years ago, Mark was studying vehicle and suspension dynamics at university and conceived some motorcycle suspension design ideas that could, should and, prophetically, would be ground breaking.
As a club level motorcycle racer Mark understood the difference a well-designed chassis makes to lap times when flat out. His University designs became full bike designs, and the seeds were sown. Meantime, the Elon Musk, Tesla effect took hold and the world began seriously talking about EV’s. Mark’s suspension and chassis theories and designs, wouldn’t be fossil fuel powered, but electric.
Mark Founded ARC Vehicles and the seeds of his designs grew into the ARC Vector. A one hundred per cent British designed and built, electric powered superbike. But not just a slick looking, powerful motorbike with an electric powertrain, but a completely new take on motorcycle geometry, suspension, and rider fit. ‘Built without compromise, designed to standing the industry on its head’ is how Mark puts it, with zero sense of conceit. He’s totally serious. And so are his backers…
Enter stage left, global car making superpower Jaguar Landrover. In the late 20 teens, Jaguar Landrover were looking for someone to head up a project looking at personal urban mobility. Mark got the job and the ARC Vehicles Vector story came with him. Jaguar Landrover were impressed enough to back the ARC Vector with significant investment and practical engineering assistance.
Mark is blunt about the relationship. ‘Really Jaguar Landrover are amazing, we couldn’t do it without them. From the testing and prototyping facilities at our disposal, to the ability for us to access battery technologies that other bike brands just can’t get – and use Jaguar Landrover’s buying power to get it, at a far reduced cost is, literally, invaluable.’
A test mule was quickly developed, to prove the designs were more than just pretty sketches. ‘The test mule is a sight to behold, rough and ready, but effective and it proved my designs were right – when we move to our new factory, I’m putting the mule in the lobby for all to see, I’m really proud of it.’
At about this point, another essential investor came in, to bolster the Jaguar Landrover investment and fill out the economics. As quickly as the private investor arrived, so their promises of cash evaporated.
‘I was gutted’ Mark freely admits. ‘For two weeks I was physically and mentally numb. We thought we were across the line, and just had the engineering to do. But when the added investment left, even with Jaguar Landrover standing firm, ARC Vehicle and Vector was back to being a dream.’ Clearly Mark has a deep passion for this project, it’s more than just a job. So, what was it like to shelve it?
‘I switched on my laptop the week after the project had stopped and there, on my screen as my background image was the rendering of the bike – The ARC Vector. My two four-year-old daughters saw it and said ‘hey daddy, isn’t that your bike?’ I got a bit dry mouthed at that, it was, is, the ARC Vector - MY BIKE.
I knew I had to refocus. I had to get back to making the ARC Vector a reality, not a render.Mark Truman
A long story short, ARC Motorcycles became financially self-sustainable, via some Harry Potter level magic – with no further outside investment required to see the project completed through to production status.
Right now, there are twenty-two personnel working at ARC Vehicle on the Vector. Fifteen are engineers, the rest are in all the normal key roles you’d expect. ‘By the end of the year, this number will exceed thirty, and we’re already looking for larger premises to support the roll out of the impending production models and to meet future demand.’ says Mark.
And what of demand? Totally hand built, custom fitted and customised ARC Vector builds aren’t cheap, so you would be forgiven to wonder where the demand for ARC Vector’s is going to come from? As it turns out, the USA wants the ARC Vector, a lot. ‘The number of serious enquires from the United States alone, is incredible. Mostly from LA, New York and Florida to be more precise’.
Ten ARC Vectors are currently going through international validation and homologation tests, so that the design and build can be signed off and the production run of fifty Vectors can begin in earnest.
There is something else too… Mark didn’t come from money. He knows what it’s like to be ordinary, ‘just a guy’ and also be fascinated by incredible bikes costing more than he could ever have afforded to spend. ‘I’m going to give one of the first ten ARC Vectors away. To someone ordinary, a rider who will really appreciate the opportunity to ride the most technologically advanced electric motorcycle in the world’.
That sounds like hype, but it’s true, in fact all ARC Vector owners will become part of the ARC Motorcycle company too, providing a living, active, riding tool to help ARC further improve and hone the product and tune the riding and ownership experience, so that the company becomes an ideas engine for further ARC Motorcycles innovation in the future.
Mark Truman is a man who is about to see his long-held dream come true. Possibly the fastest, sexiest two wheeled dream ever to take to the road. To witness the dream yourself, go www.arcvehicle.com