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Electric Motorcycles Race Towards the Future With FIM Sanction and New Battery Technology on Horizon



Mission One Design


EVO Design

A few months ago we told you about the Isle of Man TTXGP, the “world’s first clean emission carbon-free grand prix,” according to the event’s promoters. Since then, a well-organized publicity team has been travelling and relentlessly getting the word out about the race, scheduled for June 12. This has led to some interesting entries . . . while battery technology has taken a leap that makes battery powered cars and motorcycles all the more practical.

The drumming is starting to bring the teams out of the woodwork. Mission Motors, a new electric-motorcycle startup company in San Francisco, CA, has announced its Yves Behar-designed (Behar designed the One-Laptop-Per-Child Initiative XO Laptop) bike, the Mission One, will race the Isle. The Mission One is notable for a couple of reasons. It offers impressive performance claims: 150 mph and a 150-mile range. It’s also wicked expensive, at $68,995. Other entries include Jozz Bikes, a small workshop that specializes in electric motorcycle conversions, and Kingston University, London’s motorsports team (yes, that’s how cool college is in the U.K.: they have a racing team). The Kingston Motorsports bike, which is still on the drawing board, will be piloted by the fastest woman to ride the Isle of Man, 2004 podium-finisher Maria Costello. Motorcycle design firm EVO has also announced its EV-0 RR, a radical machine with single-sided front suspension and monocoque chassis, will also be on the starting grid. And to give the race the final stamp of legitimacy, the FIM, sanctioning body for MotoGP and World Superbike, has endorsed the race.



Kingston University Design

So the race might actually be a real race, with more than a few bikes entered. Will it mean the dawn of a new era of green motorsports? Well, maybe not: the vehicles still have limited performance and range compared to their dirty older cousins. And there’s that problem of hearing nothing but the quiet hum of electric motors, which removes a dimension from the race-spectating experience (hearing damage?). But battery technology has seen huge developments recently, spurred by demand for batteries in automotive and power-generating applications.

Last week, MIT researchers announced they had developed a battery that uses nanotechnology to increase energy density and allow charging times 100 times faster than standard lithium-ion batteries. This means a cell phone could charge in 10 seconds, and a car in five minutes. These batteries could be ready for production in as little as three years, as the manufacturing process is much the same as standard batteries. That quick charge time and increased energy density takes a lot of the fire out of the traditional anti-electric vehicle arguments.


Isle of Man TT

So the pitstops in the 2020 Daytona 200 might be interesting; the bikes pull in and plug into an outlet while the rider checks his email for a minute or two. And maybe the bikes can mount loudspeakers to play recordings of the fans’ favorite exhaust notes. Honda RC166, please…