By Chuck Squatriglia
SONOMA COUNTY, California — Seasoned pro Shawn Higbee won North America’s first-ever electric motorcycle grand prix today in a race that was tighter than the finish would suggest.
Ten riders competed in the 25-mile race around Infineon Raceway, but all the action was at the front of the pack. The 11-lap race was a dogfight most of the way as polesitter Higbee (No. 22) and Michael Barnes (No. 80) repeatedly traded the lead. Higbee would take the lead in the turns, only to have Barnes pull away on the straights. Everyone knew the race would come down to battery management, and in the end Higbee did the better job.
“Michael snapped off the line a little quicker than I thought” to start the race, Higbee said. “It made me nervous. It became a strategy race, like an endurance race. I kept an eye on the volt meter to make sure I’d have the range to finish.”
SONOMA COUNTY, California — Team Electra’s entry in the TTXGP electric motorcycle race looks like something from the 1960s.
That’s because it is.
Team Electra is among the 12 teams here at Infineon Raceway to kick off the TTXGP North American electric motorcycle race series this weekend, and it is the only one coming out of the old school.
The heart of the team’s gorgeous café racer is a 1966 Norton Featherbed frame wrapped in a copy of a fairing from the 1972 John Player Special Norton grand prix bike. It is one of the slickest bikes on the grid here at Infineon Raceway, and it stands in stark contrast to the converted superbikes and purpose-built machines like Zero Motorcycles’ impressive racers.
Brian Richardson, who built and owns the bike, says the retro approach makes perfect sense because, for all their high-tech hardware, electric motorcycles don’t put down much more power than the café racers of his youth.
“Anyone can use a Yamaha R6 chassis, and you’d think that would be the way to go,” Richardson said. “But you’ve only got 50 horsepower. Why not start with racing machine that only had 50 horsepower to begin with?”
Electric motorcycle maker Zero Motorcycles is planning an expansion into Santa Cruz, Calif., where it will erect facilities to research, develop and sell its next generation of products.
The Scotts Valley, Calif.-based OEM plans to use $800,000 in grants and loans from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build powertrain research, manufacturing and retail facilities in Santa Cruz, according to John Borofka, manager of strategy at Zero.
However, funds from CEC are being distributed under a new program to foster environmentally friendly vehicles, and there is no guarantee Zero will be named a recipient. Applications for the program are due May 20, and Zero should know by July whether it would receive the money.
To bolster its application, Zero has lined up the equivalent of $800,000 in matching funds for the endeavor; the Santa Cruz city council has pledged the equivalent of $400,000 (in loans, staff and technical assistance), Zero will put up $350,000 of its own capital, and the remaining matching funds will be realized in rent incentives and in-kind support provided by the future facilities’ landowner.
Source: Unleashed Motorsports
by Nik Bristow
Say you’re in the market for an electric motorcycle but you don’t like the modern styling of a Zero S or a Brammo Enertia. Or maybe you do, but some jerk who works in your office already has one. Well, now you can get a modern electric bike that looks like anything but. Check out custom bike designer James Hammarhead’s cafe racer-inspired Volta 102.
Each customized Volta 102 starts life as a 2002-2009 Royal Enfield Bullet. Classic bike enthusiasts know that, in its heyday a half-century ago, Royal Enfield was known for keeping streets and driveways across the British Empire nice and waterproof, earning it the nickname “Royal Oilfield.” The engines of the revived Royal Enfield don’t suffer from the same machining defects of the original, but nonetheless, the gas engine is gone out of the Volta 102 and, in its place, a 6kw EnerTrac MHM 602 electric motor. Power is supplied by a 102-volt lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack (hence the name Volta 102). We have no performance specs, but with those power numbers, it should move pretty good.
Source: Autoblog Green