The TT Zero at the Isle of Man was won quite handily by the Motoczysz team, with their E1PC electric racer. Michael Czysz, illustrating what you get when you combine ample budgets and a very capable engineering team, put together a beautiful, high performance racing motorcycle. This is top shelf all the way. Electric motorcycle advocates are slapping each other on the back and smiling because we’re going to be riding bikes like this very soon, … well maybe not REAL soon but in a year or two, … as long as those dramatically improved batteries appear as promised.
Six months ago I wrote that electric motorcycles seem to be one of those forever in the future technologies, where a real, commercially successful, all around e-bike is still a long way off. I thought about the TT Zero results and wondered what had changed. The Motoczysz team showed everyone what e-Racers could and should look like, however, many writers around the print and web world seem to be making a basic mistake, thinking Michael Czysz’s huge success in this race is a great leap ahead for electric motorcycles in general. Without a doubt, electric racing motorcycles have advanced tremendously in one year and the E1pc is testament to that progress, but this does not translate into a design for a commercially successful street bike and the biggest hurdle to street application is, as many of us keep saying, the battery.
Racing is ideally suited for electric power because of the confined environment, batteries are never more than 1 lap away. Hot swap batteries available in the pits make races of considerable distance possible, but I wonder how successful an electric racing series can be over time, if the main draw is the curiosity factor because there is no street motorcycle equivalent to the bikes on the track.
Even electric car advocates are beginning to think in terms of commuter vehicle more than general purpose car, because, by confining usage to shorter round trips in restricted environs, you’re less likely to get into the dead battery in the middle of nowhere scenario or worries of “range anxiety.” With current batteries, we seem to be stuck with vehicles that cost more and deliver less than conventional internal combustion powered alternatives.
It would be great if battery technology makes the leap to a point where capacity and recharge time ceases to be an issue, but, those issues remain. Electric advocates keep believing what they want to happen is what will happen and, eventually, it may, but the time frame promised keeps slipping. This is one issue where I hope I’m proven wrong and the miracle battery appears tomorrow, but all of those “breakthroughs” have yet to materialize. Chances are, the motorcycle of the foreseeable future will continue to be gas powered