Electric Motorbike Inc.
Home of the Lectra electric motorcycle
EMB was started by Scott Cronk and Rick Whisman in 1995, in Santa Rosa, California.
Rick left after a few months to focus on a new family. Peter Bryant helped a little after that, but it was mainly Tom Healey and David Lloyd (and George) who worked side-by-side with Scott to develop the first prototype, affectionately called Thunderchild (after HG Well's War of the Worlds).
Thunderchild was based off of a Mustang Stallion running chassis (12" wheels and hard-tail frame with a sprung seat), coupled with a series wound DC motor, a helical gear box (the "Rock Box") and VRLA batteries in a 48vdc, 38AHr configuration. An innovative fabric body covered Thunderchild. This custom fabric body was streched over tensioned fiberglass rods, mounted to the frame. The "e-meter" was mounted in the headlight .... the e-meter kept track of power and energy levels, to provide basic engineering data.
In 1996, Che Voight, Volker Scholze, and Ralf Wohl joined Scott to develop the VR24 drive system, and the Lectra electric motorbike.
The VR24 was a "variable reluctance" motor and controller -- a technology desired for its high efficiency, robustness, good power density, and low manufactured cost (in volume). The VR24 offered regenerative, anti-lock braking, and a very unique "growling" sound.
Several other people helped EMB, including Liza Meyers-Healey (our trusted administrator), Sarah Schilke (a very talented marketing manager), Lloyd Cook (production manager), John Zie and Josh Zermeno (who did most of the building) and a host of student interns (Elladio Lorente, Frederic Chaillou, Lucia Paninni). David Lloyd ("Big Dave") stayed the course.
The Lectra's styling was completed by Roger Gutierrez (San Francisco).
The Lectra used 4 Optima (VRLA) batteries is a 24 vdc configuration. All lights and the horn ran directly off of the 24vdc battery power.
About 4-6 prototype Lectra were produced using the first generation VR24 motor and controller. These early models can be recognized by their billet aluminum gearboxes, large motor controllers, and poor turning radius and handling! The swing arms also used sliding chain tensioners, instead of the eccentric system used on later models. These early prototypes had hand-laid fiberglass bodies, many with carbon-fiber inlays. These bodies and the fitted seats were made from hand molded forms. And, sported the classic Mustang style headlight -- these early Lectra had small chromed headlamps mounted on the top triple clamp, as is typical with scooters.
The team then built about 12 "engineering build" Lectra. These had a new frame geometry that provided good handling and a tight turning radius. The triple clamps were cast aluminum (on most of these 12), but most importantly, the motor controllers were version 2, which was significantly smaller, and more powerful than the earlier prototype Lectra. These later versions also had plastic molded bodies and fitted seats made from 3-D CAD models. The head lamp was relocated to fit between the triple clamps, directly in front of the head tube.
These 12 "engineering build" Lectra were part of an extensive engineering and consumer test program that EMB undertook to finalize the Lectra prior to regular production.
The differences between these early engineering builds and the later production models are not obvious to a casual observer. However, under the body work, the EMB team had made several enhancements to improve reliability, performance and manufacturability of the Lectra.
(In December of 1999, EMB was acquired by ZAPWORLD.COM)
At about the same time, EMB/ZAP introduced a custom seat made by Corbin, and changed the tires (to K488) and added a new rear drum brake (cast aluminum vs the previous milled steel drum). Some later models also used a new handlebar (made by Magura) and aluminum footpegs (verse the chrome footpegs used earlier).
All Lectra had on-board chargers that are fully automatic.
Lectra were sold to customers in Europe, Costa Rica, and the USA.
EMB was blessed with a wonderful Board of Directors and Investors. Especially helpful were Nikola Marincic, Jim and Susan Henderson, Gene Straube, Ray Nowakowski, John Dabels, John Dunning, Douglas Rice, and more than 30 other shareholders.
To all the folks that bought our products or provided guidance or support .... THANKS!
Electric Motorbike (EMB) Incorporated, built about 100 Lectra electric motorbikes between 1996 and 1999.
Each original Lectra had a 17 digit vehicle identification number (VIN) that began with "4ZMRAE" and ended with a serial number between 00001 and 00101.
ZAP built and sold a few Lectra. Those have a VIN labels that begin with "1Z9" and end with 139001 - 139005.
The VIN label is located on the head tube.
If you would like to verify the authenticity of any Lectra, or gain information on its ownership history, please contact Scott Cronk, founder of EMB, by sending an email to Scott Cronk at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Plug In To The Future