TTXGP, or Time Trials Xtreme Grand Prix, is a 37.75 mile motorcycle race of international competitors set to kick off on June 12th, 2009, on closed public roads on the Isle of Mann, and it’s this type of race that is starting to push the envelope on new, clean, powerful vehicular technology.
Although all of the motorcycles entered in the TTXGP look like normal motorcycles, none of them have an internal combustion engine, exhaust, or fuel tank, and the overall CO2 usage (to charge the batteries) is about 50 percent less than a gas or diesel powered bike.
Let’s look at just a few of the motorcycles that are entered in the TTXGP:
1) Mission One (US)
The Mission One zero-emissions motorcycle is a wicked looking bike out of the United States that can apparently hit 150mph and go for 150 miles on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery configuration.
Mission Motors was started by former Tesla Motors engineer Forrest North and the Mission One motorcycle is going to be ridden former AMA roadracer and multi-time TT competitor Tom Montano
2) EVO-RR (UK)
The EVO-RR motorcycle, designed by Evo Design Solutions out of the UK, is going to be raced by “Young Gun” Olie Linsdell, will use zero carbon fuel, and is using renewable and sustainable materials for the construction of the chassis and bodywork. There isn’t much information regarding the speeds or distances attainable on a single charge for this bike, so we’ll have to look for updates from Evo as we get closer to race time.
3) The eROCKIT (Germany)
It has pedals! Think of it as an update on Moped technology. Sometimes I think this bike/motorcycle looks cool, other times I think it’s one of the silliest looking things I’ve ever seen, but either way, the eRockit is helping to lead us away from carbon-based to electric and renewable fuel solutions. With top speeds of 50 mph, there’s nothing wrong with one of these to scoot around a city, and we’ll get a better idea of what this bike can do when it competes in the TTXGP.
4) Barefoot Motors (US)
Makers of the first all-electric ATV, Barefoot Motors out of Oregon plans to convert their 4-wheeler technology and know-how into a 2-wheeled racing machine. There’s not a lot of information out there about this bike just yet, so we’ll have to wait until we get closer to race time to see what gets leaked.
5) Brammo Enertia TTR (US)
The Brammo Enertia TTR is a sleek bike running a brushless DC motor from Perm Motors and powered by lithium-ion batteries. Put together by Brammo Motorsports, another TTXGP entrant out of Oregon in the United States, the Enertia is expected to reach top speeds of approximately 100mph and is going to be ridden by Roy Richardson.
6) Kingston University Motorcycle (UK)
Designed by six final year engineering students, this motorcycle will run an average 70 mph around the TTXGP course with an estimated top speed of 102 mph, all without loosing a drop of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The bike gets its juice from a custom-built 72-volt battery and is apparently much more efficient in its use of energy when compared to a gasoline powered vehicle. “The bike we have designed,” said Mr. Brandon, Kingston University Faculty of Engineering, “has a whole vehicle efficiency of 90 percent, so we are wasting 10 percent of what we carry. By comparison, a petrol-based vehicle wastes 70 percent of the energy it carries.”
That difference is staggering.
7) MotoCzysz (US)
Saved what I believe to be the best for last. The electric bike from MotoCzysz, based in Portland, Oregon and founded by designer Michael Czysz, looks to be everything you would want from a new-tech bike – stylish and innovative, built from the best high-end components like Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspension, and with a top speed reported to be 150+ mph (175 has been rumored), this bike looks to be at the head of the electric motorcycle pack and should make the TTXGP exciting to watch.
The changing of the guard is coming, and not soon enough. The internal combustion engine is a technology that was not pushed very hard, and for good reason: why make it more fuel efficient when oil companies get filthy rich (and share that wealth with automobile manufacturers) with cars and trucks on the road that get horrible gas mileage? Sure, the internal combustion engine got bigger and faster (much faster), but imagine if that was the way (one-dimensional progress) skyscrapers evolved: imagine if skyscrapers got taller, 5 stories, 10 stories, 100 stories tall, but no more stable, no better equipped to handle the stress of the added weight and height than a 2 story building? It wouldn’t work, obviously, and that is where, in my opinion, the internal combustion engine failed – nobody pushed it to get faster and more fuel efficient at the same time, not because they couldn’t, not because they were unable, there was just no incentive to move in that direction. In fact, there was probably a disincentive in pushing the technology that way.
What the TTXGP and all the entrants are proving is that we do not have to sacrifice anything to move into clean, renewable energy for our transportation needs. We don’t have to give up on power, speed, or looks, and these are, for all intents and purposes, the infants of the movement, the first or second generation vanguards showing us that although these changes absolutely have to happen, they can still be exciting and fun.
Michael Czysz, of MotorCzysz, probably said it best when talking about carbon-based vs. renewable fuel technology: “It became apparent to me that I was working to catch up in an era coming to an end – maybe I should set off and try and lead in an era arriving.”