Seeking to Change the Motorcycle Industry
Damon Motorcycles revealed its new electric motorcycle, the Damon Hypersport, at CES. The model caused quite a stir, and rightfully so. It’s a vehicle that is not only one of the most impressive electric vehicles created this far, but the Shift system and Co-Pilot safety system are unlike any other motorcycle that’s been created.
I reported on the bike and spoke with the CEO Jay Giraud when the motorcycle was revealed. I knew it would be the subject of a lot of attention, but now Damon reports the company has secured hundreds of pre-sales, and many of those are from the elusive Millenial demographic.
Because of the positive reaction from the initial reveal and the subsequent interest, Damon has revealed two new special limited-number Premier versions of the motorcycle: Arctic Sun and Midnight Sun. These bikes are available now for pre-order for $39,995. That’s a lot of money, but the standard model that the company will sell is a more reasonable $25,000.
The company also announced the recent acquisition of the IP portfolio of Mission Motors, which develops some of the highest-density EV powertrains out there. This acquisition gives Damon has proven, cutting-edge technology and access to some of the brightest people out there.
Together, these moves show that Damon Motorcycles is a key player in the electric bike space and in the motorcycle industry. I had a chance to talk with Giraud again about the new developments.
The Arctic Sun and Midnight Sun
The new versions of the Hypersport, the Arctic Sun and Midnight Sun came after the Founder’s Edition Hypersport Premier motorcycles were offered at CES. The Founder’s Edition bikes were 25 motorcycles offered with wholly unique paint schemes.
Giraud said these bikes have not been manufactured yet, and the whole pre-sale campaign was designed to gauge customer interest and evaluate market viability. Those Founder’s Edition bikes sold out in four days. So, there’s interest.
“There’s actually been quite a backlog of people who still want the Hypersport Premier instead of the HF,” said Giraud. “They want a more unique paint scheme, they want the single-sided swingarm, they want the upgraded Brembo brakes, and the upgraded suspension.”
It’s this backlog that caused Damon to decide to release the Arctic Sun and Midnight Sun in limited quantities. When I asked Giraud just how limited the quantities would be, he didn’t provide me with an exact answer. He said the company doesn’t have one yet, but it will be in the low hundreds or maybe a hundred.
It’s important to reiterate that these are not new bikes in terms of content. They are Hypersport Premier motorcycles—the bike that everyone loved at CES, but the only true difference is that they feature unique paint jobs.
Where each one of the 25 Founder’s Edition motorcycles was unique in terms of color and special Founder’s Edition badging, the Arctic Sun and Midnight Sun will be a limited run of two different color schemes for the Hypersport Premier motorcycle. So, they’re special, but not a whole new bike.
Connecting With a Millennial Market
It’s no secret that motorcycle manufacturers are trying hard to appeal to Millennial buyers. Giraud said that his company has managed to capture that important demographic, and it’s done so by having a product that Millennial buyers actually want.
“What’s really interesting in the data of people ordering is that half of them are Millennials,” Giraud said.
He went on to say that he doesn’t think Millennials want small-displacement, super affordable bikes. He thinks that there’s an issue with most motorcycle companies trying to build something they think Millennials want to buy rather than building a bike that Millennials actually want.
Damon has designed an technologically advanced bike that’s expensive and features impressive performance. It’s essentially the opposite of what most other manufacturers are doing to try to attract Millennials, but it does it in a different way, and Giraud said that he thinks Damon’s bike addresses something that these potential customers were looking for.
“There’s a formula here that needed to be understood and tested,” he said. “It’s about electrification. It’s about comfort and usability. I don’t think there’s an industry atrophy problem. I think there’s a product-market fit problem.”
The Aquisition of Mission Motors
Damon didn’t just announce some new motorcycles, it also recently acquired Mission Motors. This move will help guide the company in the right direction for future development and for developing extremely high-density EV powertrains.
He also said that Damon has scooped up a few of the great minds from Alta Motors, another ill-fated but impressive electric bike company.
Giraud said he’s happy that Damon can work with Mission Motors in the future to further develop the company’s technology.
“Damon has these radical innovations and we’re willing to break convention, and we’re taking these radical innovations and marrying them to the great talent that was at Alta and the DNA of Mission,” he said. “I think these three pieces are part of a really exciting equation for the future of motorcycling.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Mission Motors, the company shattered the AMA electric land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats and set records at Laguna Seca, Sonoma Raceway and the Isle of Man TT Zero race. The company certainly knows what it’s doing, and Damon was smart to snatch up Mission.
Preorders and Investors
With the new bikes available for pre-order and the acquisition of Mission Motors things look pretty bright for Damon Motorcycles. Giraud said he knows the company still has to deliver on its promises.
He made a point of saying that the low deposits on the bike are purposeful. It’s not about building the bikes with the deposit money. That’s just to gauge interest. The company still needs investor money to build those bikes and develop future technologies.
I brought up the fact that some of our readers made a Skully comparison after my last article about Damon. Giraud pushed back on that saying that the low deposit keeps Damon from being like other technology companies like Skully, though he did note he understands why people would be wary.
“The size of the deposit can’t possibly suggest we’re going to scam the public,” he said. “But there’s been a lot of that, and not just in motorcycling but in startups in general. We do it to get validation so we can move forward with a product before we get too deep into building a product nobody wants.”
Giraud said there is a graveyard of electric vehicle companies out there, and he understands the skepticism coming from some people. The low deposit should put people’s minds at ease because it’s not like customers had to put down $10,000 on a bike they have to wait two years for. Also, Damon has a lot of momentum behind it right now.
He said that since the CES reveal of the bike investors have come to the company in good numbers. “A lot of investors just came out of the woodwork, people that I didn’t even know existed,” said Giraud. “And they said I want to get in on the next Tesla. We’re not running around saying such things, it just seems to be how we’re being perceived, which is awesome.”
Giraud said that Damon is far from its last bit of fundraising and that the company will be seeking investors as things move forward.
The Future of Damon
Speaking of moving forward and what’s next for the company, Giraud and I also discussed briefly where things are going. Damon has smartly packaged its motorcycle as a modular system. While it’s not modular in the traditional sense, the use of the battery and motor as stressed members of the chassis allow the company to pretty easily develop future models around the same technology.
“This allows us to scale to different designs and different motorcycles at different price points,” Giraud said. “And that’s what I think this Mission, Alta, Damon combination of technology and people is going to deliver.”
Giraud said that they’re working on some future designs, but that the company is not ready to share anything yet. “We’re a few months away from sharing any actual designs,” he said.
In the meantime, it’s all about raising money and getting the pre-ordered bikes built and out to the customers. Giraud said that it will still be some time before the production actually begins. “They will begin production at the end of next year,” he said. “Q4 of next year is targeted for when we will get the 25 founder editions out.”
It will be interesting to see where things go from here with Damon Motorcycles. Right now, things look pretty bright. I’ll make sure to keep in touch with Giraud and the rest of the Damon team, and hopefully, in the future, we’ll be able to test ride one of these innovative bikes.