Zero chance

THE MIS­SION: Be the first to fin­ish a TT on an elec­tric pro­duc­tion bike

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature - Byadam Child SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER

Can a stan­dard elec­tric pro­duc­tion bike, one that can be rid­den legally on the road, take on the hard­est race track in the world? We don’t know, but from the show­room to the Moun­tain Course, we are try­ing to be the first team to ever race an elec­tric pro­duc­tion bike at the TT.

We know it sounds crazy, but it might just be pos­si­ble. Back in 2009 Rob Bar­ber won the first all-elec­tric race to be held at the TT, with a win­ning lap time of 25m 53.50s, av­er­ag­ing 87.434mph. The then named TTXGP has now mor­phed into the TT Zero and the lap times have tum­bled, with John Mcguin­ness cur­rently hold­ing the lap record of 18m 58.743s, av­er­ag­ing 119.279mph set in 2015 on a Mu­gen. Top speeds are now ap­proach­ing 160mph with Wil­liam Dun­lop record­ing 159.8mph last year on the Vic­tory RR race bike.

Ja­panese giant Mu­gen spend mil­lions on their TT Zero prepa­ra­tion. Their bikes are the most ex­pen­sive and ad­vanced racing at the Isle of Man and we sim­ply can’t hope to com­pete at that level. But can we get close to the win­ning time of 2009? The late Mark Buck­ley fin­ished third in 2009 with a time of 30m 02.64s, av­er­ag­ing 75.350mph, and there’s a good chance we can match that.

Av­er­ag­ing 75mph around the TT may not sound that chal­leng­ing but, re­mem­ber, our bike will be road le­gal and isn’t a pro­to­type with a throw­away bat­tery – it even has re­verse and, af­ter a 30-minute re-charge, could be rid­den home af­ter the race. We’ll still be ap­proach­ing 140mph through vil­lages and towns, clip­ping kerbs and brush­ing walls on a 258kg road bike!

A cal­cu­lated ap­proach

The Energica Ego has no gears, a twi­stand-go throt­tle and runs in si­lence. It’s so heavy they’ve even fit­ted a re­verse gear. We don’t know how it’s go­ing to cope with the TT course’s no­to­ri­ous bumps and jumps and have no idea what Kirk Michael is go­ing to be like at 150mph. I’m mas­sively out of my com­fort zone.

The Ego has a quoted top speed of 150mph, and a claimed power and torque out­put of 136bhp and 144ftlb. You can walk into deal­ers Mo­tor Corsa, based in Gillingham, hand over £27k and ride away on the same bike we’re racing. It has fully ad­justable sus­pen­sion and Brembo brakes, op­tional power modes and four lev­els of en­gine brak­ing, which also help recharge the bat­tery when you’re off the throt­tle.

With no clutch and no gears and no en­gine noise, test­ing felt dis­tinctly alien (I never re­alised how noisy knee-slid­ers are when they come into con­tact with the track). Ini­tially I rode the Energica like a nor­mal bike, get­ting 100% throt­tle when­ever pos­si­ble, jump­ing the brakes, turn­ing, hit­ting the apex and jump­ing back on the power again. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is seam­less, gear­less and im­pres­sive but hard rid­ing vastly re­duces bat­tery life. Sim­ply put we’ll never com­plete TT Zero’s 37¾-mile dis­tance by rid­ing flat out. I need a more cal­cu­lated, ma­ture ap­proach – to stay tucked in for longer and be as aero­dy­namic as pos­si­ble. The key will be smooth­ness, car­ry­ing cor­ner speed and mo­men­tum.

Bik­ing his­tory

We wanted to keep the Energica Ego as stan­dard as pos­si­ble. As there’s no oil or sump we don’t need to lock­wire the non-ex­is­tant sump plug or fit a catch tank as there aren’t any flu­ids. We need to fit an emer­gency stop but­ton, for safety, and re­place the stan­dard Pirelli Rosso rub­ber with stick­ier Pirelli SC3 tyres, but oth­er­wise it’s stan­dard.

We can ad­just the sus­pen­sion, gear­ing and tyre pres­sures, even try dif­fer­ent com­pounds, but that can only be done once we’ve com­pleted our first prac­tice lap. We don’t know how it’s go­ing to cope with the de­mand­ing track. We don’t know how much the fa­mous moun­tain is go­ing to take out of the bat­tery. We don’t have any pre­vi­ous race data as no­body has ever raced a stan­dard pro­duc­tion elec­tric bike around the TT. We might not even fin­ish a lap. But if ev­ery­thing comes to­gether we’ll make a bit of bik­ing his­tory.

‘The key will be smooth­ness and cor­ner speed’

MCN’S Adam Child tests the Ego he will race at this year’s TT Could this be the first pro­duc­tion elec­tric bike to fin­ish a TT?

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