Early Production eBike – 1999 EMB Lectra VR24

In America by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

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Post Listing Update: this EMB did not get any interest at the BIN of $2,500.


Originally founded in Northern California in 1995 by Scott Cronk and Rick Whisman, Electric Motorbike Inc — or simply “EMB” – was an early eBike manufacturer. Not long after the company’s inception, Whisman jumped ship, though Cron kept at it and was eventually joined by a handful of additional staffers that helped to develop a proof of concept offering. EMB’s prototype was dubbed the “Thunderchild” (a reference to H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds), and it was followed by a production model in ’96 called the VR24 Lectra.

The bike’s moniker refers to its 24V DC, Variable Reluctance (air-cooled, two-phase brushless) motor which is paired with 104 amp/hour batteries. The Lectra offered a top-speed of 45mph — though there was supposedly an optional 51mph spec — while range was limited to 40 miles on a single charge. Batteries could be recharged via a standard outlet through the VR24’s onboard charger, which needed 4.25 hours to fully juice up. The early eBike also sported a 52” wheelbase and a claimed 340 lb curb weight.

Supposedly. 100 units were produced between 1996 and 1999, at which point EMB was purchased by fellow Santa Rosa-based electric outfit ZAP (short for “Zero Air Pollution”). Changes to the model over its production run including the addition of “custom” Corbin seats, different tires, a switch from milled steel to cast aluminum drum brakes. The final models also featured Magura bars and aluminum foot pegs. In what appears to have been an effort to save some coin without compromising quality, EMB opted to utilize several existing colors from major auto manufacturers instead of having its own enamel mixed, with the VR24 offered in Ford’s “Royal Blue Metallic” (’96-’98), GMC’s “Ultra Silver Metallic” (’92-’97), and Buick’s Black (’84-’99).

Other standard amenities included hydraulic forks capped off with aluminum triple clamps, adjustable dual coil-over shocks, cast aluminum wheels, and floating hydraulic calipers and discs — the latter of which came with regenerative braking and ABS (which were both noteworthy in the mid-’90s). Models were sold in Europe, Costa Rica, and EMB’s native US with an MSRP of $3,995, though examples today are pretty rare. Motorcycle.com actually reviewed one of these back in ’98 and it’s about what you’d expect from an eBike from over twenty years ago.

This particular example — #67 of 100 — is said to only have 3,500 miles on the odo, but the batteries aren’t holding a charge anymore and they will need to be replaced. Apparently, the original cells can be swapped out for Optima car batteries. The tech and specs are pretty unimpressive by today’s standards, however the Lectra really was relatively state-of-the upon its release, which came only one year after the launch of the first production electric two-wheeler with the Peugeot Scoot’Elec in ’95.

You can find this 1999 EMB Lectra VR24 for sale in King County, Washington with a BIN of $2,500 or best offer

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