Ever since firing its CEO Dany Bahar in June 2012 and reporting a near $200 million loss, Lotus has sought to find solid footing. One way the British marque planned to achieve this was by entering the motorcycle business, promising to deliver a Lotus "hyper bike," built by German race team Kodewa and the Holzer Group, by the turn of the year.
And here it is, the Lotus C-01. A true stunner that isn't really a Lotus at all.
The storied sports car maker has become more of a branding company than the automotive innovator it once was, enlisting others to do the heavy lifting while licensing the Lotus name for the sheet metal. This was evident in the 2010 IndyCar season, slapping Lotus logos on the carbon body that covered the Honda powerplant (they did enter an engine in 2012, although I'm not sure Lotus wants to be reminded of that). In Formula One, the Lotus F1 team is powered by Renault, and according to Lotus' most recent press release, the C-01 bike "is not designed, engineered or produced by Group Lotus" at all.
It remains another licensing deal where Lotus plays consultant, with Kodewa producing the bike and Holzer handling development. The glorious retro exterior was designed by Daniel Simon, the man behind the awesome glow-in-the-dark blue "Tron: Legacy" bike. It features carbon-fiber and integrated titanium, along with aerospace-quality steel. Powered by a 2-cylinder, four-stroke V-twin motor delivering 200 hp, weighing a tick under 400 lbs., the C-01 promises to be as racy as the Lotus name depicts.
Only 100 bikes will be produced, and Lotus is yet to reveal pricing. (Translation: Outrageous.) A range of colors will be available, from the John Player Special black and gold from Senna's early years to the legendary British racing green from Jim Clark's latter. The Martini livery looks more Lancia than Lotus (Lotus had a darker background on its Martini F1 car), but it's nonetheless sensational. No word on whether luminous Tron blue will be an option.
Does it matter that it's not technically a Lotus? Well, that depends on your view. What we know for sure is it's about as stunning a motorbike as one could imagine, which isn't surprising given its designer. It may not have the strongest business, but Lotus still knows how to get attention.