Start-up STERN is going to prove it: an electric off-road motorcycle that can compete with internal combustion engines
Anne Bulten, coo and co-founder of STERN Motorcycles, together with ceo Tim Veldhuis, lead engineer Thomas Maas and cto Jan Veenhuis, spends every spare minute in STERN’s workshop and office on Hengelosestraat in Enschede. Together, in addition to being a close group of friends, the four form the founding team of STERN Motorcycles.
The spin-off from University of Twente (UT) builds an enduro motorcycle for the non-closed track. A brief lesson in motorsports: where motocross races take place on a closed track, enduro race participants ride a pre-determined route over unpaved roads, arable land and through the woods. In the Netherlands, the sport of enduro is not very big, but in countries where there is more unspoiled nature and less densely populated areas-such as Scandinavia and southern Europe-the sport is wildly popular.
Beautiful and a tad aggressive
It all begins when Tim founds the UT student team Electric Superbike Twente in 2017. There he meets Thomas, and two years later Anne and Jan. The team develops an electric road bike. “Being part of the student team is really cool. You gain an enormous amount of knowledge, but after a year it’s over. We wanted to commercialize all that knowledge.”
Thus, in 2022, STERN Motorcycles is born. The choice of that name is twofold. First of all; the Stern is a very nice long-distance bird. Second; Thomas was once attacked by this bird on a vacation. Anne: “This is what our bike should be like: beautiful, suitable for long distances and a tad aggressive.”
Battery pack in the shape of a banana
Exactly what the bike looks like, Anne cannot show. The start-up is in the middle of a patent process. However, she can tell you what makes their bike so unique: the interchangeable battery pack. This pack is shaped like a banana, which ensures that the bike’s center of gravity is very favorable.
Anne: “The big disadvantage is that batteries are very heavy and often sit high up in the motor. When the motor’s center of gravity is high, it makes steering difficult. We want to be able to compete with non-electric competitors and have designed a battery pack that has a favorable form factor, putting the center of gravity in the middle of the bike.”
To do something about the weight of the battery, the start-up has divided the package into two separate modules that together account for 60 horsepower. The battery can be changed quickly (within 30 seconds) and easily. Due to the ergonomic shape of the battery pack.
Enduro: the ultimate test of battery pack endurance
Enduro races usually consist of three or four rounds of sixty to eighty kilometers on public roads, forest trails and farmland. Along the way there are technical trials where speed is timed. The average internal combustion engine has to refuel about every sixty kilometers. “We took that as a guideline as well. The battery has to last one lap, and as soon as you get back to the refueling stop, the second battery has to be full again. A race easily lasts about six hours. So an enduro race tests both the endurance of the bike and the rider.”
Read STERN’s entire story at: Innovation Origins