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What’s Czysz-ling At Motoczysz?

The motorheads among you may have noticed that not a lot of information has been coming out of MotoCzysz lately. The Portland, Oregon company received plenty of attention in the moto-media a couple of years ago concerning its innovative, “Z-Line” dual-crankshaft, carbon-fiber-chassis C1. The supposed MotoGP racer to be. Several journalists rode the bike and declared it good, and we’ve been bracing for the appearance of the first batch of 50 street-legal bikes. But the website hasn’t been updated much since 2008, and the 990cc engine is no longer legal for MotoGP anyway. So what’s going on?

Not much info was on the web, and there was no response via email, so I called them up, leaving a message on the MotoCzysz answering machine and hoping for the best. Luckily, the well-worn reputation of Motorcycle Daily is enough to get a callback from Michael Czysz (say “sizz”). He told me that investment-capital bucks are hard to come by for transportation systems utilizing internal combustion engines (ICE), so the C1 project has been moved to a lower priority. The firm’s focus is on a joint venture with a large automotive OEM that builds cars and bikes. Czysz wouldn’t give details, but my bet is he was referring to BMW. A European company seems more likely to go outside the box and get design/engineering input from MotoCzysz, although Indian microcar and scooter manufacturer Bajaj would make sense, too.

That project and other consulting work (Michael says MotoCzysz is “an IT company, first and foremost”) would be enough, except one of the guys asked to borrow the frame from the Boss’ Yamaha YZF-R1 (the engine is used to calibrate the dyno) to compete in the upcoming
TTXGP,
an add-on class – open only to electric and zero-emissions racebikes – to the regular program of the June 2009 Isle of Man TT. Rather than modify the R1 chassis, Michael decided it’d be better to design a racebike from the ground up. If he meets the deadline for the event, the new E1PC, which will be raced by American rider Mark Miller, will be an engineering feat. It will weigh about 440 pounds, make 115 hp and be able to make a 37.7-mile lap around the Isle at a race pace: up to 150 mph. The bike is expected to make its first shakedown runs about the time this article appears.

The bike may also be the basis for a modular line of MotoCzysz motorcycles. The basic carbon-fiber frame is a light, narrow shell designed to hold easily removable drivetrain components housed in an aluminum “suitcase” designed for fast replacement. An entry-level model designed for commuters, priced at under $20,000, would have a smaller battery and motor designed to deliver around-town or short highway-commute performance, while a higher-spec, more expensive sportbike could go faster and farther. A top-of-the-line superbike’s “battery power could be the same as a Chevy Volt,” and its performance could “rival a 600cc supersport,” according to Czysz, with a top speed of 150 mph and enough juice for 30-40 minutes at full race pace. Such a machine may be priced in the low $50,000 range, but owners of the commuter bike could conceivably rent the bolt-on, higher-spec components only when they need them, say for a trackday, or filming a sequel to Biker Boyz.

We’ve been hearing this kind of utopian description of futuristic motorcycles and cars for years, but these vehicles are now closer to reality. With billions of dollars being invested around the world in batteries and alternative fuels, it seems like an affordable battery with sufficient energy density (the amount of horsepower stored per pound, which presently for batteries is far less than gasoline) is just a matter of time. The simplicity and modular nature of electric-vehicle design could benefit motorcyclists in a number of ways.

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MD Readers Respond:

  • My thanks to Mr Gabe Ets-Hokin for his well written and informative (as usual)
    article updating the efforts of the folks over at MotoCzysz. Particularly his
    taking the time to let the rest of us know how to pronounce the man’s (and
    his companies) name! I have read every article about the C1 project that I
    could find and no one ever bothers to clue the reader in on how to say the name.
    Although instead of sizz I’ll probably think fizz while hoping the passion at
    MotoCzysz don’t fzysz-le out. (Sorry I had to do it.) Thanks! Kevin

  • You’ve got to be pretty hard up for editorial material to print this
    sort of rubbish. Like all the Italian start ups who were going to be
    in WSB, this load will never get off the screen, much less to the
    IoM! Bruce

  • It hasn’t been four days since I last visited the Motoczysz website, hoping to order a new T-shirt to replace my well worn favorite C-1 shirt. Unfortunately the only sizes left are S and XS.

    There is a special feeling when wearing a shirt that emodies the American spirit of building a worldclass racing bike from the ground up. Michael Czysz has that spirit. Too bad funding put a bug in his program, but it sounds like he is exploring new avenues of design. Good for him, and as soon as he gets the site back up I’ll be placing an order for a new shirt. I only hope that the new bike will be available to the public by the time the next new shirt wears out. Joshua