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May 22, 2023May 22, 2023

There's much debate around the aesthetics of electric motorcycles. Should they follow traditional motorcycle design norms, or should they take advantage of their radically different drivetrains to tread new ground? This sharp prototype from NUEN MOTO in Vietnam does both, and we’re here for it.

NUEN MOTO is an electrical motorcycle startup with its roots firmly in the world of design. Co-founder Gia Nguyen first launched NUEN as a design studio, then added an apparel label and a custom motorcycle business. Now, they’re looking to release their first production electric bike.

You’re looking at their first prototype, the NU-E. But it's not quite the same bike as the one that they’ll eventually be taking to market. The NU-E was built as a proof of concept, and as a test bed to gather rider feedback and make improvements.

"We’re focused on designing and building the sleekest and most innovative electric motorcycles for the Vietnamese and Asian market," says Gia. "We’re a team of true motorcycle enthusiasts, experienced builders and engineers from Vietnam, Sweden and the USA. We’re really passionate about building a bike that we’d love to ride and be proud of."

The biggest custom piece on the NU-E, and the focal point of its design, is its modular aluminum chassis. It cuts a svelte silhouette while providing enough structural bulk to negate the need for additional bodywork. Its upper line mimics the shape of a fuel tank, but it's not pretending to be something its not.

Gia reports that the initial design came together in less than a month—but then the real work began. The team's sketches formed the basis for a full CAD rendering, which was used to 3D-print a mockup of the chassis. Once it was refined, the final pieces were CNC-machined in aviation-grade aluminum, then assembled.

Complementing the bespoke frame is a smorgasbord of top shelf parts. Custom yokes hold a set of race-spec forks from K-Tech Suspension up front, matched to the 17" wheel from a Triumph Trident 660. A modified Yamaha R1 swingarm does duty at the back, connected to a EMC shock via custom linkages.

NUEN picked Swedish-made ISR braking components for the build. The set includes twin six-piston calipers up front, a four-piston caliper at the back, and ISR master cylinders all-round.

NUEN also fabricated a set of covers to encapsulate the central area of the bike, which is where the battery and controller are housed. The only other real bodywork is a modified BMW S1000R front fender, and a tidy tail bump behind the full-length leather bench seat. Oh, and a stunning set of rear wheel covers, inspired by the turbofan rally rims of the 80s.

The team added new clip-ons, fitted with push button controls and Hookie Co. grips, plus a Quad Lock phone mount, so that you can use your smartphone as a dashboard. Finishing touches include a clear number board, a small rear wheel hugger, custom-made foot controls, and an LED taillight that's Frenched into the tail.

As for its drivetrain, the NU-E uses a rear hub motor with a rated output of 6 kW (nominal) and 10 kW (peak), good for a maximum speed of 150 km/h [93 miles]. Its battery is good for a minimum range of 100 km [62 miles] of highway riding. But NUEN estimates that it could manage 200 to 300 km [124 to 186 miles] in the city.

Those numbers don't mean too much though, because NUEN are already working on the next prototype—which is likely to feature a vastly different drivetrain.

Gia picked this particular hub motor because it served the minimalistic design that he wanted. And since this build isn't street legal, he's only been testing it on the race track. So the rear wheel weight penalty that might be a hinderance on rougher roads, hasn't been that noticeable on the groomed track surface.

It also helps that the bike weighs just 160 kilos [353 lbs]. Regardless, NUEN are planning to install a mid-mounted motor on the next NU-E, with a higher power output.

If they can pull that off without ruining the NU-E's neo-futuristic Scandinavian vibe—and add some lights to it—they might just have a winner on their hands.

NUEN MOTO | Instagram | Photos by NUEN and Rafik Duy at Revons Studios