I receive a lot of notifications about crowd-funding programs related to motorized recreation looking for a little promotion. Most are easily ignored, but once in a while one catches my attention. Recently I received an email about an off-road electric bike that stood out from the crowd – the Daymak Beast.
As luck would have it, Daymak headquarters is not far from my house in Toronto, so I arranged to take some prototypes out for a brief test ride.
With looks that bring the Honda Ruckus to mind, the Beast is unlike any electric bike we’ve seen. It’s far more bicycle than motorcycle, as Daymak is aiming to make it street legal without a license. This means a top speed of about 20 mph and a set of working pedals. This is standard stuff for electric bikes, but a few things set the Beast apart.
The Beast just looks different than other electric bikes, which tend to resemble scooters. Personally, I owned a Trek bicycle outfitted with an electric motor and battery pack, which I used for commuting to the office for three years. The Beast strikes an altogether different pose. It looks stripped down to the bare essentials and features wide, knobby tires and a fully exposed front fork.
While it can legally be ridden on surface streets (at least in most places), the Beast is intended to be used in gentle off-road environments. The beefy tires and long wheelbase offer a surprisingly sure-footed stance while riding off-road. You won’t be clearing any doubles at your local track, but for rolling across loose gravel or undulating grassy landscapes, the Beast feels capable. However, I found it a little reluctant to climb anything other than modest hills, so its off-road capabilities are quite limited..
Another unique aspect of the Beast is its battery pack, which is covered in solar panels. Mike Chow, Daymak VP of Research and Development, says the solar panels will provide about one kilometer (0.6 miles) of power every hour it sits outside(15W per hour) – even if it’s overcast. If you happen to be using the Beast for commuting, Daymak’s specs indicate a fully drained battery would receive enough energy after eight-hours parked in the sun to get it back home if that rider happens to live within five miles of their office. If you aren’t interested in relying on the sun, the battery packs are removable and can be plugged in to recharge fully. You can also use the battery pack to run your electronic devices through its two USB ports.
On one of the prototype models we noticed that some of the solar panels were cracked. Chow told us the production solar panels will be covered in ¼-inch tempered glass, which should make more durable, and the panels are mostly protected by the bike’s lower frame rail, but it’s another reason to keep the Beast’s off-road adventures tame.
Before we took the Beast off-road, we played around on some paved roads near Daymak HQ. Applying the throttle is very motorcycle-like with a twist of the right grip, while its brakes are applied with handlebar-mounted levers. While the top speed will leave most motorcyclists wanting, the Beast travels at a good cycling pace. Due to the length and weight of the Beast (121-165 pounds, Daymak claims), turning around in tight spaces can be a bit of a chore compared to a bicycle, but the ride is generally comfortable – even with the large 7-inch tires on 10-inch rims.
Off-road, the Beast feels remarkably stable. The suspension and balloon-like tires soaked up much of the trail chop, but the slow speeds may have had something to do with that. My biggest gripe was that it was not very comfortable to stand, which I prefer to do off-road. The pegs are too far forward – almost a cruiser-like stance – to use for standing up. You can stand up on the pedals, but they feel a little too far rearward behind the battery pack. Chow tells us they are working making the battery pack wider and shorter, so the seat and pedals can be moved forward. Moving the pegs a bit farther back is also a possibility. The seat also feels too low for my tallish (6′ 1″) frame, but Chow says the production seat will be higher.
Daymak plans to offer the Beast in three different configurations – Beast Standard ($1,299), Beast Deluxe ($2,299) and Beast Ultimate ($3,499).
The Beast Standard is powered by a 48-volt/12-amp/hour lead-acid battery and a 250-watt (or 500W) brushless motor that supplies a purported 15.5-mile range. The Beast Deluxe features a 60V/12AH lithium battery and a 500W brushless motor, yielding a claimed 21.7-mile range. The Beast Ultimate comes with a 60V/20AH lithium battery and the 500W brushless motor, which supposedly translates into a 30-mile range.
Both the Beast Standard and Beast Deluxe will come with a steel frame and a non-adjustable suspension, while the Beast Deluxe benefits from an aluminum frame and adjustable dampers.
Due to the nature of the Beast (sorry, I couldn’t resist), it’s really not intended for your average city commuter, but you can find plenty of other electric bikes/scooters for that. Instead, Chow says the Beast is targeted for people who live and work in rural areas where paved roads are at a premium. He also sees an interest from landowners or farmers who need to get around the property efficiently. As well, I can only imagine it would be helpful to have a quiet electric bike around easily spooked animals, rather than a noisy gas engine.
Daymak is using a Kickstarter program for pre-orders of the Beast, which you can do at steep discount (as little as $999 for the Beast Standard).