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Future motorcycles made from hemp?

Be.e electric scooter made with a hemp frame
Be.e electric scooter made with a hemp frame

As motorcycle manufacturers look for “greener” and lighter weight materials to build their bikes, could hemp play a role?

Be.e electric scooter made with a hemp frameElectric scooter Be.e uses a combination of 90% non-woven hemp fibre and 10% woven flax fibre infused with a bio-based resin to make their monocoque frame. Meanwhile, Audi is now making its car springs out of lightweight fibreglass reinforced polymer (GFRP) and, as owners of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A., they could make their way on to their motorcycles.

These are just two examples of manufacturers starting to think outside the square when it comes to materials for their motorcycles. Light weight is necessary to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions while “green” natural products will also help their environmental credentials.

Use of bio materials in auto manufacturer is not new. During the 1930s, automobile pioneer Henry Ford began developing soy-based automobile parts, but that was interrupted by the war.

Fast forward to the past couple of decades and now most auto manufacturers include bio materials in their manufacturing process. Most use bio materials in the seats and some mix bio materials into their plastics. However, use is still fairly limited although a 2012 Iowa State University found vast potential in auto manufacture for the use of bio products in switches, electrical shielding, panels, paint, oils, etc.

Be.e electric scooter made with a hemp frameMeanwhile, the odd-looking Be.e scooter is the first product from Dutch firm Van.Ek which is trying to gain kickstarter funding to get their product mass produced. They even have plans to rent it out for greater environmental resource sharing.

The Be.e has a choice of 2.5-kWh and 5-kWh batteries with 55km and 160km range. The battery powers a 4-kW electric rear hub motor that pushes the 95kg two-person scooter to speeds up to around 58km/h.