Futureproof classic: An electric motorcycle conversion for boxers

Electric motorcycle conversion for BMW boxers
Dropping an electric drivetrain into a classic motorcycle is hardly a new concept, but it’s still an endeavor largely reserved for outliers. The automotive electric ‘crate’ motor industry is huge—but in the bike world, options are few and far between, and most electric motorcycle conversions are one-offs.

That’s slowly changing though. A while back, Luuc Muis developed a drop-in electric motor for classic BMW boxers. Now the Parisian custom shop Mototherapy has launched its own electric motorcycle conversion, also targeting the beloved boxer.

Electric motorcycle conversion for BMW boxers
Mototherapy is calling the project ‘Ride Mercury,’ and this is their prototype, the ‘R01.’ It uses a classic BMW R75 as a foundation, with most of the original bike left stock (albeit carefully restored).

“Our primary goal is to breathe new life into motorcycles with character,” says company founder Jean-Marie Raymon. “This focus has led us to place functionality at the center of our considerations. We’re not interested in creating a showroom curiosity; we aim for a conscious and useful enhancement.”

Electric motorcycle conversion for BMW boxers
Taking advantage of the BMW R75’s versatility, the Ride Mercury team has designed a full drivetrain that simply tucks into the chassis where the OEM engine, transmission, and airbox usually sit. It’s pretty much a plug-and-play system, with no frame mods required to make it work.

The motor itself peaks at 20 kW, sending up to 340 Nm of torque and 30 hp to the back wheel. The current maximum range is 150 km [93 miles], with a six-hour charge time via the onboard 1.8 kW charger. (Plans for a fast charging solution are currently in the works.)

Electric motorcycle conversion for BMW boxers
All of the requisite parts are packaged into bespoke aluminum housings, with steel used for structural components. Two of the bike’s four batteries are housed in finned casings that mimic the boxer’s iconic cylinder heads; another two sit further forward. The motor is housed where the transmission used to be, and is connected directly to the BMW’s original driveshaft.

Because everything has been designed in-house, the layout is constantly evolving. Ride Mercury already has a second-gen design that places the ‘cylinder heads’ a little lower and includes more ventilation. Various options for the front engine cover are in the works too.

Electric motorcycle conversion for BMW boxers
The R01 is just a proof of concept—which is why it uses Ride Mercury’s prototype ‘engine block’ design, and why much of the rest of the bike is still original. The goal is to show that an electric drivetrain can be retrofitted to a vintage motorcycle without having to reimagine the whole machine.

The only parts that have been upgraded, apart from the obvious, are the headlight’s internals and the digital dashboard that links to the motor’s controller. Right now, the OEM fuel tank is just an empty shell—but the crew is working on converting it into a storage space, or a place to package an upgraded charging port.

Electric motorcycle conversion for BMW boxers
The whole package won’t be available as a ‘crate’ system quite yet (although the possibility of selling a DIY kit later on hasn’t been ruled out). Instead, Ride Mercury will build you a complete electric BMW R75 for the tidy starting price of €29,500 [around $31,233]. Pre-orders for the R01 open next week, with the first machines expected to ship in the second quarter of next year.

Each build includes a full refurb of the donor bike, plus various custom options. “With all the care we’ve put into the design and development of our module, it was unthinkable that machines bearing the Ride Mercury name wouldn’t receive a full makeover,” says the company’s other co-founder, Cédric De Azevedo. “Our approach to retrofitting goes far beyond a simple engine conversion.”

Electric motorcycle conversion for BMW boxers
But does it make sense to yank a BMW R75’s motor out to electrify it? If that motor is blown (which is admittedly rare for old airheads), then why not?

According to Ride Mercury’s stats, retrofitting a bike or car with an electric powertrain is up to 50% more environmentally friendly than manufacturing a brand new electric vehicle. If you have to go green, this sure is a classy way to do it.

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Electric motorcycle conversion for BMW boxers