Racing development spurs production innovation. This is an accepted fact, particularly true in motorcycles. So why should electric motorcycles be any different? On June 12th, 2009, emerging electric motorcycles will be put to the racing test when the carbon-free 2009 TTXGP runs on the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man TT road course is hallowed ground to the world's road racing fans. Come June 12th the historic street circuit will replace the roar of established sportbike internal combustion (above) with the by hum of futuristic electric motor designs (below).
The stated purpose of the TTXGP (www.ttxgp.com
) is “to bring clean emission transport technologies into the mainstream by demonstrating they can provide exciting, high-speed, high-performance fun.” And what better place to put on a high-speed exhibition than on the famed Isle of Man road course?
Testing the racing application of electric motorcycles in the hallowed TT crucible is perfect. There will be no hiding behind optimistic spec sheet claims, or promised improvements on future production runs (always, it seems, with a nebulous “about two years away” date affixed). Racing is a zero/sum game, there is a winner and there are losers – a clear hierarchical list of them. And come June 12th we will see who stacks up where in the emerging electric motorcycle market.
The TTXGP rules are simple:
1. No carbon-based fuels, no toxic emissions.
2. One lap of the 37.75 Isle of Man mountain course with no pit stops or refueling, with any bike incapable of lapping within 50minutes disqualified.
There will be two classes:
1. Open Class - only for “electrically propelled machines, powered solely by stored electricity (battery/accumulator).” An interesting wrinkle in the Open class is that for 75 minutes after the race, the actual racebikes must be offered for sale at a fixed price of 20,000-pound.
2. Professional Class - includes prototype designs powered by battery, fuel cell, or internal combustion using non-carbon fuel like hydrogen. The Pro Class is also open to hybrid propulsion systems that conform to the zero carbon/zero toxic emissions requirement.
The full TTXGP technical specs are available for download. The TTXGP has also brought in the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to act as official technical advisors.
Can optimistic design concepts transform into viable TT winners? That is the challenge of the TTXGP. (above EVO Design Solutions EVO-RR)
Already the list of competitors is long, with 16 teams from seven nations confirmed, some supporting multiple bike entries. It’s a response that agrees with TTXGP founder Azhar Hussain: “With twenty-three confirmed entries, we are thrilled with the high level of interest the TTXGP has generated globally, and the superb quality of teams that will be involved in our first zero-carbon race.”
The roster of riders is impressive as well, including seven-time TT winner Mick Grant, Northwest 200 winner Olie Linsdell and American roadracers and TT competitors like Tom Montano and Mark Miller.
So far, none of the large-volume motorcycle manufacturers have seen fit to toss in an electric prototype (Honda has promised a production electric motorcycle in the near future). For now it’s ambitious start-ups and college students answering the call. Here are some of the teams planning to compete:
EVO Design Solutions
EVO-R (Open Class) and EVO-RR (Pro Class)
Ollie Linsdell (Pro Class) Mick Grant (Open Class)
The EVO Design Solutions EVO-RR and EVO-R will both race the TTXGP with experienced street racers at the helm.
The EVO Design Solutions squad is a British team based in Grantham, England. It will compete in both the Open Class and Pro Class. Ollie Linsdell, the 2007 Northwest 200 winner, will pilot the EVO-RR in the Pro ranks, with 7-time TT winner Mick Grant turning the important lap aboard the EVO-R. The difference between the two machines is the motor, with the double R sourcing a twin GMS-M1 motor compared to the single powering the R. Both sportbike designs use a carbon monocoque frame, with lithium batteries powering the EVO at the Isle.
One man sold on the electric future of motorcycle racing is rider Linsdell who says of the EVO project: ““By the end of my riding career this is going to be the way to go, so it seemed sensible for me to get involved and help make it work.”
It is a sentiment shared by EVO Design Solutions Director, Rick Sampson, “We are very excited about the opportunity to design a motorcycle for such a prestigious event and that may very well be the forerunner to the way motorsport will be shaped in the future.”
Announced at the British NEC Bike Show in December, the EVO-RR figures to be a strong contender, along with American rival Mission Motors. In fact, EVO is already billing the rivalry with its US opponent as a new “Battle of the Transatlantic.”
Mission Motors will be putting its 150 mph claims to the test at the inaugural running of the TTXGP.
Mission One (Pro Class)
Mission Motors, based out of San Francisco, California (the Mission in its name comes from the Mission Street offices), has generated perhaps the biggest hype heading into the TTXGP. The key number with the Mission One superbike is 150 – as in 150 mph top speed and 150-mile range. The Mission One also benefits from top-line sportbike components, like Ohlins suspension and Brembo brakes. Underneath the bodywork, designed by Fuseproject and Yves Behar, is a tubular steel trellis frame (the original prototype sourced a Ducati superbike). The key to the Mission One power is its AC induction motor juiced by lithium-ion batteries – we imagine a lot of them, if the power claims are true.
Former AMA roadracer and multi-time TT competitor Tom Montano will pilot the Mission One in the Pro Class . “I’m thrilled to be a part of Mission Motors’ team for this history-making event,” said the former AMAM Pro Thunder champ in a recent press release. “We’ve put the Mission One through its paces in testing and I’m confident that we’ll make history on June12th.”
Formed by former Tesla Motors engineer Forrest North, Mission plans on proving its high-performance take on the motorcycling future at the TTXGP and the Mission One appears to be one of the favorites in the inaugural race. Stay tuned for more information on the Mission One TTXGP here at Motorcycle USA.
Brammo Motorsports (US)
Based of the Enertia, Brammo Motorsports' Enertia TTR will be pitted against impressive competition... If the spec sheets are to be believed. But races aren't won or lost on paper.
Enertia TTR (US)
Motorcycle USA is familiar with Brammo, as the Ashland, Oregon firm is located just down the road from our Southern Oregon HQ. We have already tested the Enertia prototype (Check out our 2008 Brammo Enertia First Ride
), upon which designer Brian Wissman is basing the Brammo TTR TTXGP racer.
A brushless DC motor from Perm Motors powered by lithium-ion batteries will get the Enertia TTR in motion. Changes from the prototype Enertia we tested include the use of a new aluminum monocoque frame built by Sapa, Inc. Sources estimate a top speed of 100 mph, considerably more than the 50mph ceiling on our test ride. Brammo has signed TT rider Roy Richardson as TTXGP pilot. Expect more on the Brammo TTXGP effort here at Motorcycle USA.
While it's not turned a lap yet on the TT circuit, the MotoCzysz TTXGP concept may be the best looking of the new electric-powered racers.
MotoCzysz is no stranger to making prototype racers. The American firm, founded by designer Michael Czysz, has been refining an internal combustion four-cylinder sportbike for years. Now Czysz is chasing the electric-powered future. On his website, Czysz has said of the MotoCzysz TTXGP effort “It became apparent to me that I was working to catch up in an era coming to an end – maybe I should set off and try and lead in an era arriving.”
The Portland, Oregon, company will campaign the MotoCzysz TTXGP with former AMA roadracer and TT competitor Mark Miller. The spec sheet includes high-end components like Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension, while the frame is carbon fiber/aluminum and claimed weight for the Czysz is 430 pounds. The drive system is listed as “MotoCzysz PMDC propulsion pack” with “lithium-ion ‘hot swap’ battery packs.” Although not getting as much ink as the Mission and EVO-RR, the Czysz machine may pack the biggest punch if its “150 mph+” claim is to be believed. MotoCzysz actually promises to reach more than 175 mph with a multi-speed gearbox. Stay tuned for more developments of this American entry.
Barefoot Motors is creating a prototype two-wheeled racer based off of its dual electric-drive Model One ATV.
Three out of five American electric motorcycle projects are coming out of Motorcycle USA’s home state of Oregon, with two in our own backyard of the Rouge River Valley! What can we say… Oregon is a green state. Barefoot Motors is actually making its name as an electric-powered ATV firm, building the Model One ATV, which features 50 hp/105 lb-ft power claims and 40-mile range. Barefoot couldn’t pass up the opportunity to race the TTXGP, however, and plans a two-wheeled entry utilizing some of the technology sourced on the dual electric-drive Model One ATV.
Team ManTTx Racing
Anyone familiar with motorcycle racing need not be reminded that the Isle of Man is home to many fast riders, like road racers James Toseland and Neil Hodgson just to name a few. Manx riders are consistently strong on their home course. After all, who else would know the 37-mile route better than the locals? Keith McKay is betting on the home advantage when his Isle of Man-based squad runs its ManTTx X2. Built around a Ducati 748R chassis, the X2 uses Lithium-polymer batteries to operate a dual motor setup.
The Suzuki Hayabusa can claim the title of world's fastest motorycle thanks to its land speed racing accomplishments, but can Imperial College London make the Busa a TT winner as well?
Dan Keen, a three-race winner in the Manx Grand Prix, will ride the X2. As for the motivations for competing in the TTXGP, team leader McKay is blunt: “We're not in this just to save the planet, we're in this to put a winning motorcycle under a winning rider, and win the race.”
The Imperial TTXGP represents one of the entries from a higher education team. Imperial College London is basing their electric design around the Suzuki Hayabusa, not a bad machine to build around speed… Claims say the bike will go 0-60 mph in four seconds, with a range of 150 miles at 40 mph (impressive range for an electric motorcycle). The college website (www.imperial-ttxgp.com
) lists top speed as 100 mph, with weight claims at a hefty 640 lbs.
LifeBatt Populous Green Team
Kingston University is betting the "Firstest" lives up to its moniker at the TTXGP.
Another college entry, the oddly named “Firstest” is the latest two-wheeled racer to emerge from Kingston University London’s Motorsport and Motorcycle Engineering program. Paul Brandon and six students are developing the Firstest, which will be unveiled April 22. For now all we know is the sportbike looks will be powered by a brushless motor sourcing lithium-ion batteries. Top speed listed as 70 mph +. We also know the college team plans to employ the fastest woman to lap the Isle of Man course, Maria Costello, as the official rider.
The Brunel X-Team's entry transforms a Triumph into a TT electric racer.
The third UK university effort is from four Masters of Engineering students at Brunel University. James Owen, Dafydd Broom, Tom Pegg and Jamie McCombe are constructing the BX-09 under the academic supervision of Chris Brown. The BX-09 looks like a regular sportbike: aluminum twin spar frame and swingarm, cast aluminum 17-inch wheels, conventional suspension, Nissin braking components and familiar steering geometry. The difference, of course, comes in the powertrain, with a modified Agni motor using the popular lithium-ion battery cells for power. Rider Steve Harper is a multiple Manx GP and Isle of Man TT competitor.
HTBLuVA TGM – RACING Team
Martin Loicht will campaign a revised version of his decade-old electric prototype racer.
The Austrian TGM racing effort is led by rider Martin Loicht aboard a decade-old racing design. The chain-driven TGM TTXGP entry features a 6-speed gearbox driven by a Lynch 135RAGS DC motor. LiFePO4 battery packs provide the juice to get the 18-inch spoke wheels rolling. Steel-tubed frame and front fork with dual rear shocks comprise the chassis, with triple disc braking configuration. No top-speed performance numbers are specified by TGM, although it does list a 440-lb weight.
HH01 and R01
Rigo Richter and David Madsen-Mygdal
Seen here at the INTERMOT Bike Show in Cologne, the eROCKIT team will be on hand at the TTXGP with two bikes.
We actually caught a glimpse of the eROCKIT while covering the 2008 INTERMOT Bike Show in Cologne, Germany. Based out of Berlin, the eROCKIT squad plans on entering two machines – the HH01 ridden by Rigo Richter and R01 piloted by David Madsen-Mygdal. eROCKIT founder Stefan Gulas has said of his firm’s TT effort: “[With the R01] we are aiming to finish among the first places in the TTXGP.”
The Team Agni entry to the TTXGP is a 2007 Suzuki GSX-R600 fitted with two Agni 95 motors. Lithium-polymer batteries are expected to deliver 40-50 horsepower and a 120 mph top speed. Team Agni’s leader, Cedric Lynch, is no greenhorn to the world of electric racing, having built his first electric racer back in 1981. Agni’s team spokesman, Arvind Rabadia has also raced electric prototypes in various European exhibitions. Agni Motors produces electric DC motors for a variety of applications, from cleaning machines to motor vehicles.
Electric Motorsport Company
GPR-S and R-144
Carolynn Sells and Marie Hodgson
The Oakland-bases Electric Motorsport Company is led by Todd Kollin. The GPR-S model looks like a standard street bike and is powered by a “14.2 kilowatt electric drive system.” Lithium batteries store the juice and the standard GPR-S claims top speed of 60-70 mph with 35-60 mile range. Not much info is available for the R-144 except the entry is a “144volt DC (LFP Batteries)” design. Carolynn Sells and Maries Hodgson are listed as the riders for the Electric Motorsport Company.
For more updates on the TTXGP keep checking back at Motorcycle USA, search TTXGP.