The inaugural zero-emission motorcycles grand prix – the TTxGP - finished last week with more than its fair share the drama, excitement and breakdowns. As with any new form of motor sport, the rate of attrition was high with only nine of the 20 bikes due to start race making it to the chequered flag. eRockit Pre-prang: eRockit' …
This was a controversial inclusion in the 2 week TT program. Such innovation was excellent to see and respect to those who put in the effort and made it to the island.
I hope that we see this again and look forward to see how the bikes evolve: motors, fuel, away from modified standard bikes, etc..
As one of the teams mentioned, this is the reverse of normal racing where the bulk of the cost is in the motor and much less in the fuel. Here the motor is the chap part and the power source by far the most expensive.
These were perhaps not the most spectacular bit of the TT, but certainly one of the most momentous.
Not so good then
A lot of bikes didn't even start, more broke down and the winner only just managed to beat the record set by a really old 50cc putt putt. Of course the leccy bikes then needed to re-charge, after just one lap, while the 50cc bike could carry on.
I may be that leccy bikes aren't yet ready to replace petrol ones just yet.......
PS. Not really zero emissions when you consider the R&D, transport costs and so on....
Despite the relatively slow speeds, by nature of the technology this was by far the most exciting IoM TT race last week. Looking forward to the next one :D
*NOT* Zero Emission
Can you stop repeating this crap, please? It was not a zero emissions race. It is not physically possible for it be zero emissions. "Oh, but the bikes produce no emissions whilst racing."
Oh, well, lah-de-dah, turn your brain on! These bikes produce emissions during fuelling.
The race was interesting, and the sound of the bikes rather eerie and why whizzed past. Obviously there is still an awful lot of work to do with reliability, not to mention battery life/power. Maybe over the next few years we'll see more exotic power sources without all the toxic chemicals used the batteries.
This is great and Hussain is right when he says this event has compressed 6 months of R&D into just 1 week.
Motorcycle racing is still the most action-packed and exhilarating sport on the planet and this is another exciting facet of the spectacle.
Perhaps when 'leccy bikes have been around as long as IC bikes we may even see lap times getting broken..
Keep 'em coming, I say!
Yes, the performance of these bikes was, perhaps, a little disappointing. But the circuit IS a very demanding one and not typical of the sort of use most electric bikes are likely to be used on. I've ridden the circuit (not raced) many times and it is a test of any machines performance, particularly the climb up the mountain from Ramsey Hairpin onwards.
As the old adage goes; "Competition improves the breed". And events such as this can only serve to encourage development. Perhaps next year we'll have a full works Honda entry?
@ AC re zero emissions
Of course its possible to race a zero emissions machine, just as long as the power used to charge the bikes is generated by a wind farm, tidal barrage or solar panels.
"Of course the leccy bikes then needed to re-charge, after just one lap, while the 50cc bike could carry on"
The Austrian bike that Paul Dobbs rode happily made it around the circuit and was found to have enough charge remaining to have completed another full lap. A 50cc bike would also need refuelling after 2 laps at race speed. The 125 we used to race there (Before they removed the ultra lightweight class) would be almost literally running on fumes after 2 laps.
Now the team has some race data, they are looking at various options for improving on the 62.6mph average(*) speed, which could include using lighter batteries since they found the bike was carrying almost double the charge it needed to finish, or a more powerful motor to take advantage of the extra charge. Its a delicate balancing act between power, weight and air resistance.
(*) Paul was pulling significantly higher top speeds.
By the way, 50cc race bikes are pretty fucking far from a 'putt putt' and I'd like to see you even match the lap record around the TT circuit on a 'proper' road bike.
The comparison of energy density between petrol and batteries and the efficiency of the respective engines is really interesting - batteries have something like 1/10th of the yield of petrol, but the internal combustion engine wastes something mad like 75% of that energy in heat and friction while the electric motor is much more efficient, losing something like 7-15%. (Numbers quoted from an article in this weeks MCN)
@NOT Zero Emmission
The race is billed as zero CARBON, not emission. Take a look at http://www.ttxgp.com, which says -
"TTXGP - World's First Zero Carbon, Clean Emission Grand Prix"
to AC on reply to Matt 21
My comment was a bit tongue in cheek, but thanks for a sensible reply. Yes I do realise that the 50cc bikes weren't quite the same as the ones we lusted after as 16 year olds :-)
I suppose I was struck by the difference between the relative performance of the electric bikes and that of the Tesla and the Elise (Evo did a good comparison). I suppose it comes down to the proportion of vehicle weight made up of engine?
On the zeo carbon thing: Can't really agree there as there was a huge R&D effort to design and produce these bikes. Even for running them, even if the leccy came from wind farms, there were cables laid, construction done, servicing, gas turbines to support them when the wind drops and so on.. It's difficult to get hold of reliable figures but that's another story..........
Look, guys, just think about if for one second. Dust-to-dust (heck, charge-to-charge) it is impossible (i-m-p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e) to be zero emissions. It is equally impossible to be zero carbon.
Wind turbines/solar - where the heck to the turbines and solar panels come from? The magic pixies? They will take carbon and emissions to produce.
I applaud the innovation and I do this this is one way forward. But it is not, in anyway, zero emissions/carbon and it should not be promoted as such.
All these technologies do is shift the pollution some where else. Still, if it's not in your backyard why should you care; eh?
I asked previously how slow they would have to go make the batteries last a lap and now we know.
A bit slower than Freddie Frith's race average on a 500 Norton in 1937.
Here is a picture of him still riding a piece of crap 12 years later....
and it isn't zero emission or zero carbon emission, it is displaced emission.
How the hell does an electric motor sieze??
That's got to be quite the trick. I'd like to know how they did it.
I also find it interesting that none, zip, zero, nada of any of the bike sites have covered this story. Good on you, El Reg.
The historical perspective
"It's worth pointing out that the 50cc TT record average lap speed of 85.66mph was set in 1966 - 43 years ago."
And the TT was first run in 1907.
So the 1st generation electric race bike is *59* years ahead of the 1st generation internal combustion.
Yes, they were able to take advantage of the improvements in materials, suspension, structures, etc.
But the *core* combination of battery + motor on the top performer of this 1st generation design
is 59 years ahead of the 1st gen petrol equivalent.
Any technology which starts with 102 years of continuous improvement will take a *lot* of catching up to.
Jumping 59 years in 1 season sounds a pretty good start.
If the rate of progress halves for next season that would put them at 1988. This would be good for 2 seasons work. The chances of that happening in real life have to be pretty remote but *maybe* not impossible.
I hope there is a 2010 electric TT as it should be quite a sight.
A lot of motor failures
What I'd love to see is a breakdown* of the make/model of the parts that failed.
There were a lot of motor failures, but was that due to a specifically unreliable motor, or poor motor design in general? Or was it lack of ventilation, or...?
@The historical perspective
You've saved me a lot of words. I really think as a practical transport mode or an enviromental move electric is a hell of a long way off of being useful, but to me this race sounds a complete success.
And lets face it, quite a few races that have been going for years still have majors numbers of cars fail....
As for the guy that thinks creating renewable's can only be created by burning fosil fuels...
Well yes you are right but how about the renewables after that, or after that?
I'm sure if everyone spent as much time thinking of solutions to renewable problems as they did slagging them off we'd have so much eco power they'd have to phase out energy saving lightbulbs in favour of energy eating ones.