Electric Motorcycles Send Sparks Flying at Isle of Man TTxGP
For over 100 years, some of the world's fastest and definitely bravest motorcycle riders have converged on the Isle of Man off Britain's east coast for the annual Tourist Trophy competition. The present course winds around 37.7 miles of temporarily-closed public streets and roadways making it the planet's most grueling temporary circuit. While safety concerns have seen the TT transition from being part of the FIM Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship into a pure time-trial event, it remains the ultimate challenge for any true two-wheel fanatic. This year, the competitive set was expanded to include the first-ever appearance of bikes powered purely by electricity.
Skeptics initially wondered who would show up for this seminal TTxGP event and whether any bikes would have the juice to go the distance at speed, but in the end, a meticulously-prepared entry from Team Agni and ridden by Rob Barber rode away victorious over a field of 13 other EV starters. Based on a Suzuki GSX-R600, the Team Agni bike completed its record-setting lap in 25 minutes and 53 seconds at 87.43 mph. While those stats don't - yet -- threaten the existing absolute marks of 17 minutes 21.99 seconds and 130.354 mph set in 2007 by John McGuinness on a gasoline-powered Yamaha R1, Barber's efforts did outpace the next closest EV entry of the XXL Racing Team and Thomas Schoenfelder by over three minutes and nearly 10 mph, and saw him attain a top speed of 102 mph en route to that achievement.
Best-finishing U.S. entry was the Oregon-based Team Brammo Enertia Best Buy. A specially modified version of its production Enertia TTR EV street bike ridden by Mark Buckley turned in a run of 30:02 at 75.35 mph to grab third place. Fourth in the mix was the second American-based operation, a Mission Motors entry derived from its upcoming EV street bike. Despite frying its original race motor, rider Thomas Montana still managed to take the Silicon Valley-based Mission One entry to a very credible 30:33 clocking at 74.09 mph.
Zero-emission motorsport fans can expect even bigger and more promising things from next year's TTxGP. In addition to an even larger field of what will most certainly be faster and more powerful two-wheel EV entries, promoters are reportedly planning to create a new class that will feature high performance electric cars.