Denmark isn’t a nation steeped in motorcycle manufacturing history, but from 1919 to 1960 a lone brand, Nimbus, flew the flag for the country by turning out exotic-looking bikes with inline four-cylinder engines. Now the Nimbus name is being revived for an electric motorcycle project that echoes the appearance of its gas-powered forebears.
The original Nimbus models were spawned in 1919 when Danish vacuum cleaner pioneers Fisker and Nielsen (a company that survives today as industrial cleaner maker Nilfisk) decided to jump into the emerging market for motorcycles. The first model was the 750cc “Stovepipe,” carrying an advanced-for-the-era inline four-cylinder engine longitudinally mounted in its frame, rather like the Excelsior-Henderson four-cylinders that were being made in the States during that era. A redesigned model, the Type C, appeared in 1934 with a new overhead cam engine in the same layout, allied to a telescopic fork, and remained the sole Nimbus offering all the way until 1959, when production came to an end. With a new generation of cheap, mass-made cars replacing motorcycles as the entry-level form of transport in Europe, no follow-up was created.
Nimbus produced the original Type C between 1934 and 1960.
Until now. With a projected production date of 2025 the Nimbus brand is being revived by Claus Clausen, this time as a manufacturer of electric bikes, but retaining the styling of the old Type C in a new model called the Type E. Work started on the project back in 2020, when Clausen secured a license to use the Nimbus name from Nilfisk, and the company has released computer images of the planned motorcycle as well as an e-bicycle that’s due to accompany it into production.
In July, the company launched a share offering to raise funds toward the project, aiming to build a pot of between 8 and 10 million Danish krone ($1.17 to $1.46 million) that will fund getting the e-bicycle into production and the building and testing of a prototype of the motorcycle. That’s scheduled to take place during the summer of 2024, leading up to an official reveal of the bike in late 2024 in preparation for production in the spring of 2025.
These digital images show the front headlight detail.
Technical details have yet to be revealed, but the images show a machine with a chassis that’s designed to look like the hardtail frame of the original Nimbus models, but actually features a hidden swingarm and a rear monoshock underneath the tractor-style saddle. Where the engine would normally sit are a large battery and electronics pack, with a direct-drive motor behind it—its spindle concentric with the swingarm pivot—powering the rear wheel via a final drive belt.
A TFT instrument panel sits on top of an unusual-looking set of broad, low-set bars, giving an overall look that’s an intriguing combination of old and new. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but as electric bikes become more commonplace it’s going to be increasingly difficult for manufacturers to stand out from each other, so a distinctive appearance will be more important than ever.
A view of the cockpit and TFT display.
There will be a vast number of factors deciding whether the Nimbus sinks or swims, including the currently unknown factors like performance and price, but while Denmark’s motorcycle heritage is relatively slim, the country has one of the highest levels of electric vehicle adoption in Europe. Combine that with the fact that the Nimbus Type C is something of an icon in its homeland, and the reborn brand could find itself in a good place.