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First North American electric superbike race a (non)roaring success


May 25, 2010

Shawn Higbee on the ZeroAgni bike, followed by Michael Barnes riding for Lightning Motorcycles

Shawn Higbee on the ZeroAgni bike, followed by Michael Barnes riding for Lightning Motorcycles

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The era of electric motorcycle racing which began at the Isle of Man in June last year has grown into a world series road race for 2010. On May 16th, history was made as TTXGP North America Round 1 took place at the Infineon Raceway in California. It was the first-ever electric superbike race to take place in that continent.

The race was dominated by a battle for first place between Shawn Higbee, riding the ZeroAgni bike, and Michael Barnes, riding for Lightning Motorcycles. Higbee’s first place win was assured when Barnes had to stop and cycle his bike through a reboot, although Barnes did still manage to capture second. Michael Hannas of ElectricRacebikes.com took third.

"I think this could turn into something big. It's going to introduce a whole new industry to motorcycling," Higbee said. "The engineers at Zero Motorcycles and Agni Motors are a whole new breed. I'm surprised at how close we are to gas bikes already. The lack of vibration is a new experience and the bike is very agile, you just glide along."

The two lead riders maintained a pace that was 18 seconds per lap off that set by conventional bikes at AMA Superbike events - not bad, for the first time. The fastest recorded speed at the event was 59.9 mph, or 96.4 kmh. Two of the ten competing bikes did not finish, due to mechanical failure.

Round 2 is scheduled for June 4th at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with the worldwide grand final taking place this October in Albacete, Spain.

A full listing of results from Round 1 can be found at the TTXGP site.

Images: Zero Motorcycles.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Just curious about how far they go on say 10Kg of battery vs. 10kg of fuel?

Mr Stiffy

A second comment: I\'d also be really curious as since they are almost silent, as to be hearing what noise their tyres make they are cornering hard......

The \"tone\" of the scrubbing tyres.. so to speak.

When there is NO big engine drowning out all the other sounds, all the other (where is my dictionary) sutilties ????? subtlties ???? come into the fore front.

Mr Stiffy

Can\'t wait for them 2 hit the streets

Matt Winklbauer

Does it not seem likely that without engine braking, the faster these things go, the more fatalities we\'ll see in the short run? How do you get around the engine braking or is it not an issue?


I think, MJRydsFast, that like in many other electric vehicles, closing the throttle (so to speak) would turn the motor into a generator. In this case the momentum of the vehicle IS braked and the energy is given back to the battery. I imagine it would even be possible to adjust (by rider controls) how much braking it caused.

Either way, I find the possibility of producing your own Hydrogen from solar powered units to run internal combustion hydrogen engines a lot more exciting. See BMW\'s hydrogen engine article in Gizmag.


I know this is an ancient thread..... Re engine braking, there is that thing called regeneration.... The electric motor can be programmed to provide more braking torque than engine braking....

If the designer wants active electric braking, they can effectively reverse the torque on the engine, resulting in full power braking... (probably not desirable...as it could lock up the rear wheel..though if it was integrated with the TC system it can be used to max effectiveness..)

Also, re battery weight versus fuel weight, as soon as the battery and power system is heavier than the conventional drive train all benefits are lost, as the best battery only holds around 1/20 of the energy of an equivalent weight of fuel. ie 1kg of fuel is better than 20kg of batteries. Of course the electric drive train is more efficient than the fuel powered IC engine, but the mass / power ratio will still be better than 5 to 1 for fuel compared to batteries..

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