Expedition Unplugged Plans Epic (Electric) Journey

by Ted Dillard

Put this under the category of “unfolding adventure” stories, but we just found out about this caper and started following the progress.  Here’s what it’s about.

Expedition Unplugged is a TV/film/video venture that is planning a monumental trans-continental trip, all on electric motorcycles converted from KTM 950 Adventures.  The route starts in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska through North and South America arriving in Ushuaia, Argentina.  They’re allowing for 7 months for the 25,000 mile trip.

The pitch?

“Expedition Unplugged” is an electrically charged adventure, taking 4 riders on custom-built electric motorcycles to the edge and beyond in search of where people find their passion.

What do you do to reenergize your life? In this series, three men and one woman will take on a never before attempted adventure to find the outlets people use to recharge their lives and live with passion. They will travel over 25,000 miles through 19 countries on custom-built electric motorcycles in an attempt to discover where people among many cultures and geographical locations find their spark: to see what they love about where they live.

Though there’s precious little on the site in the way of information at this point, including nothing on the team (“cast”), sponsors or other details, progress is being made on the bike builds for the expedition.  That’s where we learned our buddy Chris Bell, of Bell Custom Cycles, (remember the Brutus, right?) came into the picture, with this picture:

 

HPEV AC35 motor Expedition Unplugged

Yes.  That’s an HPEV AC35 motor there, something that would be right at home in, oh, say, your family car.  Chris tells us they were concerned with “thermal issues”.  It apparently is headed to Manzanita Micro for the controller tuning.  Couldn’t think of a better place. That package, along with about 18kWh of Nissan LEAF batteries, is going into this:

KTM 950 Adventure bike Expedition Unplugged

…or, to be correct, four of them.  For those who are not familiar with this bike, you look under “off-road insane beast” in the dictionary?  There it is.  Chris said the conversions would weigh in at 630 lbs, vs the original weight of 500 lbs.  What’s particularly interesting is that Bell is working on an open-source, fully enclosed oil-bath reduction gearbox for getting the 6000+ RPM motor into a usable (read: tree-climbing power) range.  We’ll be watching that progress to be sure.

Follow along on the conversion process here, on Bell Custom’s YouTube channel.  For now, the latest update, Part 2:

911

Mercedes 911

The L-series was first produced in Germany in 1959 and was in production for export until 1995, long after domestic German sales had ended.  The L-series was a big export success for Mercedes-Benz and became very popular in the Middle-East, South America and Africa. In Arabia, the L-series in 6×6 sleeper cab configuration (Model ‘LS’) handled heavy road traction almost exclusively.