Nova Scotia

Electric motorbikes in N.S. high tech contest

Electric motorbikes designed by a Halifax company have made the shortlist in a Crown corporation-funded competition to attract small clean tech companies to Nova Scotia.

Competition sponsored by InnovaCorp

Halifax motorcycle designer Michael Uhlarik is one of 10 finalists in a contest sponsored by InnovaCorp. (CBC)
Electric motorbikes designed by a Halifax company have made the shortlist  in a Crown corporation-funded competition to attract small clean tech companies to Nova Scotia.

Michael Uhlarik, of Amarok Industries, in Halifax — one of the top 10 finalists — is hoping to capture the $100,000 prize that could mean a big break for his young company.

Uhlarik designs high performance racing motorcycles with a difference. His bikes run entirely on batteries, so they have no emissions.  

"It's so quiet. That's the thing. You're used to riding even a modest motorcycle, it makes a certain amount of noise," he said Tuesday.

The need for batteries has made previous electric motorcycle designs too heavy to be good at racing, Uhlarik said.

"It's equivalent to trying to make a sailboat out of a speedboat. You're not starting from the right ingredients," he said. "We start with a blank sheet of paper."

Uhlarik was inspired by old airplane designs.

One of Michael Uhlarik 's drawings for an electic motorcycle. (CBC)
"There's an elegance, there's a grace, to things that fly because it's the ultimate efficiency. You can't have an inefficient flying thing whether it's an insect, a bird or an airplane," he said.

So, Uhlarik designed his bike to be lighter than normal — under 300 pounds. The bike plugs into a normal wall socket, and can go about 120 kilometres on a single charge.

Called the Amarok P1, the bike can reach speeds of up to 220 km/hr. It takes about 90 minutes to charge the bicycle's battery.

Thomas Rankin, who works with the contest organizers, InnovaCorp, helped choose the shortlist of 10 from 65 international entries.

"We were able to boil down which companies really stood out and really have a chance to be big, world changing companies," he said.

Uhlarik said winning the contest would be a big boost for his company. He now has two prototypes and hopes to start production in 2013. He needs money to do that.

Besides $100,000 in prize money, the winner will get office space in the InnovaCorp building. In return, the winner must set up shop in Nova Scotia.

The top 10 finalists will make their pitches next month, and the winner will be chosen in April.

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