Isle of Man to race electric bikes

This is very cool. And quiet.

When the flag drops on Friday, June 12, though, the TTXGP will be the first zero-emissions grand prix in history. Notoriously tough on both man and machine, “the Island” is the perfect place to test the promise of electric motorcycles. And with 17 international teams lining up to do just that, with the official backing of the world governing body for motorcycle sport, the event will be a genuine trial of performance and stamina.

For the winners, the prize will be motorcyclists’ hearts, minds — and wallets. The manufacturers of these bikes are optimistic that customers will soon be lining up in bike showrooms for electric machines.

They let the reporter have a go.

A wet, greasy kart track is no place to test the prototype’s limits (or mine) but it feels light, flickable and, with no engine braking, it coasts freely like a two-stroke. Running on half its potential battery power, performance feels roughly equivalent to a 125cc or 250cc machine.

Electric bikes are quite interesting to ride for the first time – the lack of engine braking is one thing people don’t expect.

It’s quiet but not silent, thanks to the motor’s whine, tyre and wind noise and miscellaneous running-gear rattles. The rear brake feels severe at low speeds — you would not want to touch it by mistake while cranked over into a corner — but it should provide plenty of stopping power on downhill sections of the TT course.

I’m not a big fan of the infernal combustion engine. Engines are noisy, complicated, and comparatively unreliable.Their biggest adavntage at present is range – electric simply can’t get the 400 odd km you’d get from your average car’s tank of gas.

Then there’s charge time…

But, with races like this, manufacturers should start working on the technology to resolve problems like that. But even without that, you can go out today and purchase a bike (moped) which will do about 50k on a charge. That’s enough to get most people to work.

Categorized as Fun
%d bloggers like this: