Electric Bikes: This is it?

Over the last few years, there’s been lots of talk about electric motorcycles and the TTXGP and “electric racing” and “way of the future,” et cetera…frankly, I’m not yet impressed.

With price tags being as high as $60,000 to buy one of your own, I simply do not see how this is the way of the future. At least, not yet. Even electric and hybrid cars are still not cost efficient. I’ve seen a few electric bikes up close and personal so far. I’ve chatted it up with a few designers, engineers, and riders of these electric bikes.

Most recently was this yellow thing that is to be raced in this years TTXGP. I’m not even sure what it’s called…but “thing” seems to fit the bill quite nicely.

garrett willis electric bike ttxgp

I can’t help but to think that the creators of these e bikes like this had a dream…a big dream! A dream to be #1 in the world of electric motorcycle racing. So they broke open their piggy-banks, checked under all the couch cushions, opened up the lint-trap in the dryer, and rifled through the ashtray in their cars for change. Then they drove to 7-11, picked up a 32oz Corona, and stopped by Home Depot and lured Enrique the Fabricator into the back of their van, drove him to their dungeon…and they came up with this:

electric bike

I mean seriously…I’m all for creating new ideas, new technologies, new facets to the way things are done. I believe in forward motion, and I’m actually pretty “Green” myself…but seriously? I looked over the bike pretty thoroughly, mentally critisizing every flaw I could find in it…like the fact that it weighs over 500 lbs. And that the batteries on the bottom are situated in such a way that anything more than around 30 degrees of lean angle would cause them to deck out on the ground…maybe less when the suspension is under load. Or the fact that the frame looks like it was composed of an old discarded Erector Set simply welded together.

garrett willis electric bike motorcycle thunderhill

That being said, I do believe in function over form. I’d have been pretty stoked on the home-grown look and design of this bike….if it worked. But it didn’t. I mean, it DID complete a few laps around the track, sure. But not without it’s problems. I was actually pretty surprised when I’d heard that an electric bike had an oil leak. Kind of an oxymoron, no?

electric bike

Long and short about the yellow beast: sorry, try again. A for effort though! I love seeing new things being tried out, and I love the fact that someone is willing to kidnap guys like Enrique and force them to slave labor to make something out of nothing. I couldn’t do it! Keep at it and don’t just settle. If it ain’t right the first time, do it again. I look forward to what you guys might have in store. And good luck to the pilot, Garrett Willis. You’re gonna need it! I really hope you prove my presumptions wrong!

Coronas sure are tasty though! Wait..you’re not old enough to drink yet…

I’m not here to bash on electric bikes…hell no! I’ve seen a few that have more serious potential. While they’re still far from perfect, and the price tags are absolutely ridiculous, the designs seemed to have a little more thought behind them. In fact, one in particular, they took a proven chasis and stabbed an electric motor into it. How’s that for ingenuity? If it ain’t broke, fix it until it is! I think it helps to have funding from corporate giants when trying to make something new… and with a name like Brammo, who wouldn’t want to throw lots of money at a project!? You’d have to be crazy not to. It’s like Acme, except, Aron Gobert played the role of Wile E. Coyote in this particular shot.

brammo electric race bike aron gobert

The Brammo seemed to get around the track nicely. It looked good. In fact, didn’t it finish 3rd last year’s Isle of Mann TTXGP? I can’t seem to find any real official results on the race in the 47 seconds I spent trying to google it…I guess not many people really care about such things, eh? I don’t blame them…these bikes don’t even make any noise when they ride by. *yawn*

Maybe that’ll be the next evolutionary step in electric bikes! You know, cause you could have a completely silent electric bike that does a 1/4 mile in 7 seconds flat, or you could have a monsterous supercharged EX500 with no mufflers on it do the same 1/4 mile run in 17 seconds…guess which one is gonna sound faster! Yeah, they need to fit these new-fangled electric contraptions with bull horns that emit engine noises. “Vroom vrooooom!” Or at least supply an optional factory clothes-pin to stick a playing card in the spokes like we used to do with our BMX bikes. Wouldn’t that be great? You’d feel like a kid again!

The last bike I want to mention is the Mission Motorsports One. Of all the electric bikes I’ve seen thus far, I liked this bike. In fact, I even wanted to RIDE this bike. Alas, I never got the chance, but I did get to see it in action up close and personal. Wait a sec…did I just say that I liked this bike? The bike was absolutely HIDEOUS. It looked like Starscream right after he mouthed off to Megatron and got his face kicked in. Kinda like the Motoczysz. But also like the Motoczysz, the guys at Mission built something from the ground up…and made all it’s forms about function.

I genuinely thought this thing had—still has—potential. If you’re a millionaire.

mission one mission motors tom montano infineon electric bike

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  7. Author

    hrm… as a little update…turns out the hunk of junk that i wrote about in this article is KINDA making me eat my own words a lil bit… this past weekend at the first ever TTXGP race, it finished in 2nd. i heard that it even hit some sub 2 min laptimes. and i say KINDA because it DID overheat once, and Mike Barns (the rider of the bike) ended up having to pull over and CTRL+ALT+DELETE the bike to get it to get going again….after waiting literally 1.5 minutes for the reset…still finished 2nd… you see where i’m going with this? *giggle*

  8. I think dreamers of electric bike technology should focus on the first obvious market – the dirt. Forget the street.

    Dirt offers many advantages : the first one being noise. Government regulators are banning dirt bikes from public lands because they are noisy and emit. The electrics have none of these problems, making them far more likely to be accepted.

    Most dirt/trail riders are already cognizant about range – lest being stranded in the wilderness. A lot of people also don’t ride a great distance for the day anyway, making a 30-50 mile range quite practical.

    The street bikes are a crock. Why would I buy something that will only go about 50 miles before needing recharging, and be stuck to an urban center? I’d need a second bike anyway, and last time I checked, it does Green no favor if I have to buy their electric bike, AND then also settle for a conventional one on top.

  9. Since i wrote this I have looked alot on the internet and there is some cool sites about all this stuff if you look around. I am more interested now than I was a few hrs ago… :)

  10. Hey Joe this bike was only at T-hill to check the brakes and delivery of power. (both quite incredable from what I have heard in fact) There was not even a thought of cutting more than a handfull off laps. As the bike was set up previously for a low profile “BONNEVILLE saltflat” set of runs. It will of course be taller and the batteries raised considerably. Me being a fabrication guy (and not seeing up close) from your pics (btw they are nice pics) it did not look nearly as cobby as your story would have led me to believe. I suspect the next time it is out and about it will meet your high standards better. As far as a $60K price tag, your correct that is crazy high priced. But having said that it all starts somewhere and for now the technology is high priced. With each build and leaning more towards PRODUCTION it will come down alot I am sure. Heres to cheaper green machines. And hint hint I want to try one out be a factory electric racer NOW!! Daddy is ready!!

  11. Author

    yeah, 10 grand for a bike in a completely different category than what this article is about that has a range of “up to 50 miles*” *depending on your riding style. haha!

  12. Great pictures.

    I think all electric bikes should come with an optional sound system to terrify passers by!

    Have you come across Zero Electric Motorcycles? They’re a bit more affordable than this.

  13. Author

    yeah, my seppes server (where i hotlink all the pics from) went bonkers for a few. :D

  14. NEver mind, I see they’re loading now…

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