Preview: World's first all-electric TT race
10th Apr 2009 | 11:52
Isle of Man's TTXGP, plus all the latest 'leccy bike and car news
World's first all-electric TT Race in June
Following the news earlier this week that Tesla is set to open a flagship London store in Knightsbridge this June, selling its Roadster electric sports car, TechRadar is looking forward to a summer filled with electric motorbike racing over on the Isle of Man and the imminent arrival of a number of new 'leccy bikes and cars.
Also in the news this week is the amazing fact that a Tesla Roadster managed to cover an impressive 241 miles on a single charge in the Rallye Monte Carlo d'Energies Alternatives, averaging 90kph (56mph) on the motorways, 60kph (37mph) on trunk roads and 30kph (19mph) on the mountain roads.
Yet while the right-hand-drive Tesla Roadster is sure to be the fashion-conscious eco-warriors sports car of choice to be seen driving around the west end in this summer, the real action is to be seen at the Isle of Man's first ever all-electric TT Races.
The Isle of Man TTxGP, the world's first zero-carbon eGP, is set to host 16 teams fielding a total of 24 e-bikes in its inaugural race on June 12, as part of the traditional TT programme.
TTxGP race teams include Barefoot Motors, Brammo Motors and MotoCzysz from the USA, teams from Mission Motors, Brunel University, Kingston University and Imperial College in the UK alongside teams from Italy, India, Germany and Austria.
"With twenty-four confirmed entries, we are thrilled with the high level of interest the TTXGP has generated globally, and the superb quality of teams that will be involved in our first zero-carbon race," said TTXGP founder, Azhar Hussain.
"Among the competitors are past TT winners and a number of seasoned motor cycle racing pros, all of whom are excited by the challenges and prospect of racing clean machines," adds Hussain.
Riders ready, bikes detailed
US-based Mission Motors claims that its Mission One bike can reach speeds of up to 150mph, while British entrant Rick Simpson, Director of EVO Design Solutions reckons that his teams' EV-0 RR and EV-0 R entries "will highlight the all British design and manufacture aspect of our race team."
TTxGP riders include seven-times winner of the Isle of Man TT, Mick Grant; Olie Linsdell, winner of the 2007 Northwest 200 400cc race; Tom Montano, who has previously raced the fastest MV Agusta in the history of the Isle of Man TT races; Dan Kneen, who made history in the 2008 Manx Grand Prix by being the first person ever to win three races in a week; Paul Owen, one of the stars of the PlayStation2 game 'TT Superbikes Real Road Racing Championship'; and Maria Costello, Guinness World Record holder for fastest female lap of the TT circuit.
TechRadar will be making the pilgrimage to the Isle of Man in June – along with the thousands of other speedfreaks from around the world - to see the world's first zero-emission superbikes race it out in the ultimate 'leccy bikes challenge.
Clever 'leccy tech
Mary Donovan, IET Head of Communications ( the official technical advisor to TTXGP) said of the new TT event: "The technology and innovation we are going to see at the TTXGP is a catalyst for converting all those who care about the world to wake up and realise that technology is the vehicle by which we can achieve the changes we so desperately need.
"With twenty-four entrants going head-to-head in a bid to prove who has developed the greatest clean-emission race machine, nowhere will the products of competitive innovation be more apparent than in the 2009 TTXGP. It's going to be a great motivator for budding engineers and will go a long way to prove that there is real excitement, energy and value in the fields of engineering, technology and science. Let the race begin!"
Some of the new, earth-friendly technology being used in the TTXGPO superbikes includes the use of lithium-ion batteries, regenerative braking and fully recyclable composite materials for the bikes' body work.
More affordable 'leccy options
Meanwhile, if you are considering going electric in the next year or two, yet you feel that superbikes and Tesla roadsters are perhaps a little outside of your budget, then never fear, as a number of the bigger car manufacturers are all currently prepping smaller electric 'urban' cars for commercial release in the next few years.
The latest of these is from Mitsubishi, with the company unveiling its i-MiEV electric vehicle (based on the "i" minicar) at the New York Auto Show this week - set for a commercial release sometime "before 2012."
Mitzi's new EV is set to do around 100 miles on a single charge and should sell for around the $30,000 mark. This could well be the ideal city car we've wanted for so long – sleek, sexy, cheeky, eco-friendly and (almost) affordable.
Tesla itself is also set to launch its Model S sedan in 2011, which is set to be one of the first mass-produced EVs, capable of doing up to 480 kilometers per charge.
The ideal bike for London?
In terms of more affordable electric bikes, the recently announced Zero S electric motorbike looks like it should fit the bill.
It also boasts "an aircraft-grade aluminum body, a custom 'Z-Force' power pack for enhanced accleration, a digital speedometer and our favourite, the 'projector beam' headlight, which sounds as James Bond as it gets."
The Zero S – out this summer for $10,000 (£6,800) - would of course be no good for the TT Races as it only has a top speed of 60mph and a maximum distance of 60 miles per charge, but for city dwellers that is really all you need. (Indeed, the motorcycling fiends and scooter-boys on the TechRadar team rarely get past 50mph until they are well outside of Zone 6!).
As well as being planet-friendly, congestion-charge exempt (and virtually free to run) there are loads more spin-off benefits of investing in an electric bike such as the Zero S.
For example, London mayor Boris Johnson plans to build an infrastructure of 25,000 charging points for electric bikes and cars across the city at an estimated £60 million cost over the next few years. Which, should it ever see the light of day, will mean that you will be able to travel around the city with ease, without worrying too much about roaming outside of your 'charge radius'.
For more on all things electric car related, check out Autobloggreen's World Car of the Year's 'World Green Car' awards.
See you in the Isle of Man in June!