March 19, 2009 When the flag drops, the bullsh*t stops, as they say in racing, and few sectors in the auto market have as much to prove as electric motorcycles. The performance potential of electric bikes is almost unbounded, with massive advantages over petrol bikes in so many areas - and battery technology is starting to catch up with the market's needs - but until recently, there's been no international competitive showcase for the top level of electric motorcycles. Just this week, the FIM announced a zero-emissions TT Grand Prix on the Isle of Man in June - and paved the way for electric bikes to compete in the future against top-level petrol bikes. Now, off-road specialists Zero Motorcycles are gearing up for the world's first all-electric 24-hour endurance motocross race in California on April 4. The flag has dropped on electric racing. Time to see who's got the goods, and who's been telling porkies.
World records will be set at San Jose's 408MX Motocross Track on April 4 this year - because this is the world's first ever 24-hour off-road endurance event for battery-powered vehicles. It's being hosted by California's Zero Motorcycles, and anyone can register and enter for free.
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Surely one of the more popular bikes on the grid will be Zero's own 'X' - a 150-pound, 23hp, 50 ft-lbs motocrosser with an advanced lithium battery pack that can deliver up to 2 hours of giggles. The bike itself costs USD$7,750 shipped to your door, and additional battery packs, which charge in less than 2 hours, are just under USD$3,000.
It's a bit more expensive than a regular petrol-powered 250, but then it basically requires no servicing, and can be upgraded with new batteries and software any time they become available. It's virtually silent, which addresses a huge complaint that campers and holidaymakers often have when it comes to dirt bikes, and it looks like a hell of a fun ride - see the video below.
Electric motorcycles have massive potential as a market segment, and although we can probably expect the first couple of all-electric races to demonstrate the infancy of the industry, the only way will be up from here. Bring it on!
If you're interested in entering, details of the Zero Motorcycles 'Electricross' event can be found here, and the company says it will be making all efforts to get bikes to potential competitors.