Electric Bikes, Again?

So, I spent all weekend at Infineon Raceway for AFM’s round 5 or something-or-another. Your typical hodge-podge of petrol powered, 160+ bhp screaming monsters for bikes with loud exhausts, greasy engines, and greenhouse gasses up the wazoo.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of it. :)

A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Electric Bikes: This is it?” It was about my dismay at the progress being made and all the hoopla that seemed to be surrounding the electric bike market.

Lots of talk, very little awesomeness.

I’m really starting to think that may be changing…and it appears as though the “little guys” are paving the way…

Little talk, LOTS of awesomeness!

For starters, Brammo, a small company out of Oregon, was at Thunderhill Raceway yesterday with their Empulse RR race bike. Steve Atlas was at the helm, piloting it around Thunderhill’s 15 corners. I was there taking pictures.

brammo empulse rr thunderhill steve atlas

I was impressed. I really wanted to ride the bike!

The trackday was hosted by Let’s Ride Trackdays; their first time ever hosting a day at Thunderhill. It was the typical 3 group format; A, B, C, 20 minute sessions. The Brammo was on track for nearly every A group session, leading me to believe that it was efficient enough to handle the stresses of a normal trackday. And Steve wasn’t going slow! And it didn’t use a single tank of gas!

The bike looked absolutely bad ass. Very well thought out design and an equally rad paint job. It totally DIDN’T “look like Starscream right after he mouthed off to Megatron and got his face kicked in.”

steve atlas onboard the brammo empulse rr electric race bike

Quick specs on the bike is that it makes around 80hp to the rear, weighs about 470lbs, and everything (chassis, swingarm, bodywork, drivetrain) was all developed in-house at Brammo.

And you can still smoke a kneepuck on it!

brammo empulse rr steve smoking knee puck thunderhill

There’s also this other bike that I’ve been hearing about lately… It’s been dubbed the “Electric Pizza Delivery Bike” by many.

You guys ever seen the french flick Taxi? Remember the intro sequence when homie is on that scooter going absolutely apeshit through the streets of Paris, dragging hard parts, shooting sparks everywhere, and being a general menace to society while delivering pizza? Yeah, I think that’s where the nickname comes from, cause it totally looks like that.

Photo credit: Michael Hill at Pikes Peak
humpback whale looking electric race bike

Chip Yates and his crazy crew have put together, out of their own pockets, their own minds, their own will to do something different, the Swigz Electric Superbike.

Yeah, they built the whole thing by hand, sans the GSXR750 frame that they frankensteined.
swigz electric bike being built by chip yates

Some of you guys may have heard of it…It’s been featured in Wire Magazine, Popular Science, and other geeky magazines that none of us petrol heads read (merely cause most of us don’t understand all the technical jargon—cause afterall, we’re petrol heads, not science teachers). ;)

Chip basically sank a quarter of a million dollars of his own money into this bike…for fun. He’s raced AMA Supersport and World Supersport and blah blah blah…but his real passion is engineering. I know, huh? What the hell? That’s almost like being a Kindergarten teacher by day, and a stripper by night…

He and the Pizza Delivery Bike have been travelling around setting records left and right. The bike weighs around six thousand pounds…err…scratch that, 600 lbs, and has about 240 bhp, top speed of 190mph, and is shaped similarly to that of a Humpback Whale.

He was recently at the Pikes Peak competition where he set the record for being the fastest Electric Motorbike ever to get up the mountain. It must be nice having 241 horse power at sea level…and 241 horse power at 14,000 ft above sea level…

photo credit: Jensen Beeler
chip yates swigz electric superbike pikes peak
photo credit: Jensen Beeler
pikes peak electric bike world record chip yates

I spoke with Chip on the phone a few short hours ago…one thing he told me is that not everyone accepts he and his passion of electric bikes… there’s those guys that say “it doesn’t matter! I still love the smell of race gas!” Well, it’s time to start sniffing glue again, cause this electric bike stuff just might be onto something.

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