Damir Šarčević a co-founder of Torp Company, is an avid motorsport and technology fan. After creating a successful software company he decided to live out his childhood dreams and together with Teo Žikić started creating an innovative electric dirt bike, with all the components that go with it. We had sat down with him for a short talk about electric vehicles, new TORP Bike and his plans for the future.
What is so special about electric vehicles?
I like how they perform: electric vehicles always have all the power at their disposal. There are no switching gears and the drive, in general, is far more comfortable compared to the regular vehicles.
Their maintenance is far simpler and cheaper compared to classic vehicles. They contain less moving parts, so there are fewer opportunities for something to break or wear-out.
There are a lot of myths circling around about electric vehicles. What are in your opinion the most common ones?
In my opinion, the biggest myth is regarding the life span of the batteries. Since mobile phones and laptops have relatively short battery-life-span, there persists a notion that it is the same with electric cars, which is not true.
The batteries in electric vehicles have sophisticated thermal management, reserve capacity, they are seldom charged up to 100%… there are loads of different tricks that can drastically prolong the life-span of the Li-Ion battery. With the existing technology, some electric vehicles can already cross 500 000 km, without changing the battery once.
In your free time, you are into motocross and enduro. What do you miss about the motorcycles used in the races? How is TORP Bike better?
To be honest I was riding enduro more often before I started working on the Torp Bike. Before building the first prototype of our e-bike, I was sure there is nothing I really miss in my internal-combustion motorcycles. But working on Torp e-bike was an eye-opener: I realized all the possibilities e-motorcycles have, compared to their classic counterparts. The biggest advantage I see is how fast the bike responds and how it always has all its power at the disposal. When riding a regular dirt-bike I often find myself in a situation when I am in the wrong gear, and thanks to that I can’t cross a certain obstacle. I think that Torp Bike has the potential to start a whole new discipline in biking.
Due to its low weight and how easy it is to control, it is simple to learn new skills with it that can be used on most electric and internal-combustion motorcycles.
The precision of electric motor enabled us to implement a “wheelie control”, a feature that with the help of gyroscope and accelerometer assists with riding on the rear wheel.
The electric motor is also quite silent, so the bike can be ridden in the neighborhood, without bothering the neighbors.
You are also a co-owner of the software developing company. How come you decided to dedicate your time to a completely different segment?
At the beginning of my other company, TerminalWorks, I was responsible for the development of software for our core products. As the company grew, I had less to do with software development and more with leading the company. TerminalWorks is now a well-established company with an experienced team, that handles most of the work independently, so it came the time for me to shift my attention to other projects. I have been interested in electronics since I was a little boy, so at Torp, I am fulfilling my childhood dream.
How does the experience from TerminalWorks intertwine with working at Torp?
At TerminalWorks I gained experience in software development and in company management. As a software developer it was easy for me to enter the world of micro-controllers, but working on electronics turned out to be quite a challenge, that I successfully overcame. Now my main focus at Torp is the development of the electronic components, like BMS and Controller. Working on Torp Bike is really interesting, dynamic and interactive. At our offices each day is exciting: when we manage to tinker all the components and program the software we sit on the bike and try out what we created. It is really a thrill!
How will in your opinion the dirt-bike riders react to the TORP Bike?
I think they will be surprised by its performance and how easy it is to manage. I don’t think they will switch their dirt-bike for Torp Bike though. Torp Bike will be their additional bike.
Theoretically, there might be some problems with the range, but we at Torp had thought of that and developed a really light, portable battery. So you could bring several batteries to a motocross race and ride all day.
What was the biggest challenge when working on TORP Bike?
The biggest challenge was to create a bike that is light, sturdy and can perform. The first version of the bike was light, but it didn’t have enough power and overheated easily. At that moment we realized if we wanted to reach our goal, we must develop most of the components ourselves. And so we did.
Our future challenge is to start mass production of our e-bike and by doing so to lower the price of Torp Bike, so it would be accessible to a wider circle of customers.
What makes Torp Bike different from other electric motorcycles?
Torp Bike stands out for its ratio between weight and power. Our bike weighs only 29 kg, while most other electric motorcycles on the market weigh more than 60 kg, which affects the range and agility of the vehicle. Our team had developed the controller with 18kW of power and efficiency higher than 95%, weighing mere 500 g. This results in a better range. Last but not least, Torp Bike is constantly connected to the Internet, so the user can keep an eye on it through a mobile or desktop App, and change the settings accordingly to their needs.
What is in your opinion the future of electric motorcycles?
When talking about electric motorcycles for cruising, I think current battery technology is developed enough to compete with internal-combustion motorcycles. Off-road motorcycles are a whole different story. In their case, every gram is important, so I think we need some more time for electric dirt bikes to compete with their classic counterparts in range.
What does the future hold for Torp Company?
At the moment we are collecting preorders for our new e-bike and are planning to ship the first 50 bikes to the customers in a year. 2020 is a big year for us since we are also going to release our Battery Management System and Motor Controller. In the future, we wish to create components for an even wider selection of electric vehicles. We are proud to be working on different projects, developing innovative components for electric vehicles for our partners. Through these projects, our whole team grows in experience and knowledge. Really soon we are also moving to new offices, where we will have more room for new team members that will help us to reach our ultimate goal: to be a go-to-company in the world of powertrains for electric vehicles.
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