FIM Announces Electric Motorcycle Racing Series

We at MotoGPMatters.com are very excited about electric motorcycle races, as we wrote just a couple of weeks ago on the subject of the TTXGP. Oil is an incredibly useful resource - almost every object in your home is made using at least some parts made from it - and burning the stuff seems like sacrilege, however satisfying the resulting noise and smell may be. The day is drawing near that oil will become too expensive to burn, and some form of alternative energy supply will have to be found. Racing, in the form of a motorcycle race for electric machines, can help bring that day closer.

Evidently, the FIM agrees. For today, the International Motorcycling Federation announced that they will sanction a race series for electric motorcycles in 2010. The move has been prompted by the success of the TTXGP race which took place during the week of the TT on the Isle of Man, where the winning entry lapped the historic Mountain course at an average of over 87 miles per hour, and three other entries lapped at over 70 miles per hour. 

The advent of a series for electric motorcycles was inevitable, as prototypes are only a few years away from hitting mass production. Once that happens, and if they manage to sell enough units, the subject of homolgation for the World Superbike series would have been raised, and the FIM would have been faced with the problem of working out how to compare them with the existing four-stroke Superbikes. By creating a separate series for electric bikes, that problem is neatly sidestepped. And if the rules are similar to those for the TTXGP, this could be the most open motorcycle racing class currently running, and a real hotbed of innovation.

If you are interested in seeing some of the designs which prompted the FIM to take such a radical step, then the TTXGP website has a gallery of all of the entrants to the race, which you can find here.

The text of the FIM press release follows:

 

The FIM creates a new Series for Electric Motorcycles in 2010

Following the success of the TTXGP race held on the Isle of Man on June 12, the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) has decided to create a FIM Series for electric bikes in 2010. This new FIM Series will be run inside the Road Racing Grand Prix Commission, a great and innovative project led by Mr Azhar Hussain a UK Entrepreneur founder of the TTXGP. The FIM Series for electric bikes will provide an international platform for the development of electric bikes and the technology behind them to be tested in an exciting and challenging way. It aims at driving low-carbon technological innovation forward, to demonstrate that clean-emission transport technologies have matured and can be fun, fast and exciting.

FIM President Vito Ippolito

“I am very happy to with this new Series, the future of the sport depends on our capacity as well as that of the manufacturers to innovate quickly. We are convinced that very shortly the motorcycle World Championships will be accessible to non-polluting engines as far as gas and sound emissions are concerned. Now that this important decision is taken, we have to work on rules and calendar to be ready to compete in 2010”

TTXGP Founder Azhar Hussain

“With the success of the TTXGP on the Isle of Man, we have shown that zero carbon technology is ready to deliver the thrills and passion for both spectators and riders. In partnership with the FIM, we are taking the next step and proud to be pushing new frontiers in motorsports technology both on and off the track. Competition improves the breed, so we hope this new championship will come to be seen as a milestone event in bringing new transportation technology to the world beyond motorcycling. We invite the best and the brightest in the world to join the global championship and be with us at the dawn of the next generation of motorsports”

 

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Comments

This is pretty cool. I wish they had made it a zero emissions series rather than just an electric series.

There's one aspect of this which is very interesting. Under a lot of pressure the ACU relaxed the aerodynamic rules for the TTXGP. Unfortunately a couple of teams that might have taken advantage of this didn't manage to raise the money. The gist is that recumbent FF machines would have been allowed with large tail fairings. This is important for an electric vehicle where efficiency is vital but it's also a crack in the door in the 60 year old ban on real fairings. Let's hope that the FIM-ACU allow this to continue and don't prematurely block off a whole area of development that is long overdue.

Cedric Lynch, the main designer behind the winning TTXGP, Agni entry said they could have done 2 TT laps on one charge if they'd built a fully faired FF. But for the first year, it was a safer option to use a rider used to conventional machines and to use a GSXR as a basis. Just to eliminate problems when they had enough to sort out with the electrics. But there are designers, riders and teams out there quite prepared to push the boundaries with a recumbent.

Fully enclosed machines were a step too far and the TTXGP people and ACU couldn't bring themselves to allow this. Another shame because the Ecomobile-Monotracer people already have an electric, fully enclosed prototype that can lap BRNO as fast as their petrol machines.

Imagine for a moment that we didn't have the fairing rules brought in during the late 50s and things like the NSU Hammock were legal and developed. We might all be riding high speed pod racers in relative comfort now.

All of that is interesting and I am sure there is plenty of development that could have or should be done in aero but it isn't specifically an electric bike or electric bike racing problem. It is an FIM problem.

Jbond, where do you see this eventually leading too? Do you see ebikes going off in their own direction with recumbent FF Hammock style fairings?

If anything is to be learned from recumbent bicycles, they are geek magnets & perhaps represent .00001% of the bicycle market..is this what you envision ebikes to become? Don't you think they should "look" like motorcycles?

I see no future for them in racing. They are slow, quiet & boring. Battery/electric motor technology has had 100+ years to mature, & any future gains will be in extremely small increments.

Once the novelty quickly wears off, what will sustain interest for spectators? Will anyone actually pay to see them quietly wobble around at 100mph (eventually), after watching screaming 200mph+ motorcycles..seriously?

I'm glad to hear this is going to happen! Hopefully with another years-worth of development, we'll see not only some much improved e-bikes that aren't rushing at the last minute to be ready, but also some new participants as well.

Slightly off topic rant: This is nothing new, but I've been thinking lately...what I am really hoping will happen someday soon is that the FIM will push for a complete renovation of MotoGP similar to the ideas put forth by Jamie Turner and Richard Pearson of Lotus, and by Kropotkin himself. That being... a racing series based on a fixed amount of energy, allowing for engine types of many varieties. Most e-bikes may be relatively slow now, as evidenced by the TTXGP. But they will be much faster in the near future. There has also been more talk of clean-running two-strokes as well, making a comeback of sorts with some small manufacturers, and perhaps bigger ones soon. And let's not forget the Norton rotary. All that is needed is a single top-level prototype series where all these technologies...e-bikes, two-strokes, four-strokes and others...can compete against one another, helping to develop any or all of them. Come on MotoGP...be that series!