Zero hero Road bike sixth in TT

A slice of his­tory was made by the En­er­gica Ego and MCN at the TT. Here’s how it hap­pened

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Adam Child SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER

En­er­gica’s UK im­porter, Mo­to­corsa, and MCN wanted to be the first team to race an elec­tric pro­duc­tion bike at the TT. Un­til this year all en­tries for the TT Zero have been pro­to­types; no-one had com­peted on a bike that can be bought for road use. Us­ing a near-stan­dard En­er­gica Ego (price, £26,999) from Mo­to­corsa, our aim was to qual­ify for the TT Zero and then, fin­gers crossed, com­plete the one-lap race it­self. That done, we planned to go to the pub

.

No mat­ter what bike you’re rid­ing, there’s no get­ting away from the dan­gers of the TT. The lamp­posts, stone walls and houses don’t bend or hurt any less just be­cause you’re on an elec­tric bike. And the 120mph en­try into the vil­lage of Kirk Michael still takes ab­so­lute con­cen­tra­tion, es­pe­cially as the En­er­gica Ego weighs 258kg, as much as a BMW R1200GS in full tour­ing spec.

On the start line I see Bruce An­stey, who’ll be chas­ing the first 120mph elec­tric lap on the Mu­gen Shin­den Go, plus Guy Martin on the sis­ter Mu­gen fol­lowed by TT win­ner Dean Har­ri­son on the beau­ti­ful Sarolea. I’m in good com­pany. Ten­sion builds as we inch to the line. There’s no turn­ing back.

As I throw a leg over our near-silent Ego I can hear the crowd and even the com­men­tary. “Go on Chad!” shouts in­jured TT le­gend John Mcguin­ness, who is wav­ing from the side of the road.

Up to the line I’m now just 10 sec­onds away, wait­ing for the fi­nal tap on my shoul­der and to start the plunge down Bray Hill. Oh, my god!

It’s a race against time

Less than a week ago I rode the stan­dard En­er­gica Ego road bike into the TT scru­ti­neer­ing bay and said: “We want to race this, please.” The tech­ni­cians looked a lit­tle be­mused but to their credit ap­plauded our idea, giv­ing tips on how to make the bike race ready.

This left us only a few hours to get the Ego pre­pared for that evening’s prac­tice. It was all hands to the pump as TT pri­va­teer Dave Hew­son and his willing team helped to con­vert the bike into a racer. We re­moved the Ego’s head­lights, mir­rors, num­ber plate, side­stand and in­di­ca­tors. We also needed to make and fit a shark’s fin, which sits just in

front of the rear sprocket, plus a small catch tank. While we fit­ted the catch tank, we also lock­wired a few parts and triple-checked ev­ery­thing.

Our back­ers, En­er­gica im­porters Mo­to­corsa, had al­ready fit­ted an es­sen­tial emer­gency stop but­ton and Met­zeler race rub­ber, and the bike breezed through scru­ti­neer­ing at the first at­tempt. Up on its stands and wear­ing race num­bers, it didn’t look too out of place in the pad­dock – in fact it turned more than a few heads. The or­gan­is­ers came over to in­form us we would start last for first prac­tice, which suited us as we didn’t even know if the Ego would com­plete the 37.73-mile lap.

Rid­ing the TT is hard enough, es­pe­cially the first few miles, as you have to re­cal­i­brate your brain to the sheer speed of it, use both side of the road and con­vince your­self no cars are com­ing the other way. Add the new-to-me near si­lence of an elec­tric bike and the com­pli­ca­tions of hav­ing to mon­i­tor and con­stantly adjust your rid­ing to the bat­tery power avail­able – and the task is even harder.

There’s a clever per­cent­age read­out on the Ego’s full colour dash that in­forms you how much bat­tery is left and al­lowed me to work out how much power I needed to com­plete the lap. I felt like Carol Vor­der­man, fu­ri­ously cal­cu­lat­ing bat­tery per­cent­age against miles com­pleted, while also try­ing to ride a fast lap. I needed 50% bat­tery to get over the Moun­tain, which meant I needed over 60% in the bank at Bal­laugh Bridge and 55% at the end of Sulby Straight. Still with me? Af­ter the 32nd Mile­stone it was all down­hill, which meant I only needed 20% to get down off the Moun­tain to the fin­ish.

Thank­fully, the En­er­gica per­formed ad­mirably. The Brembo brakes were more than strong enough and fade- free; all those 258 ki­los were no­tice­able dur­ing fast di­rec­tion changes but never over­whelm­ing; and sta­bil­ity was per­fect even through the no­to­ri­ously bumpy sec­tion from Gin­ger Hall to Ramsey.

Just com­plet­ing a lap in prac­tice felt good. On the first night I ex­ited Creg-ny-baa with 25% bat­tery left and knew, af­ter weeks of won­der­ing if the Ego could do it, that we’d be home safe. As I crossed the line for the first time my makeshift team cheered from pit wall, which made me a lit­tle emo­tional.

In parc ferme only three bikes had com­pleted a lap: our road-go­ing Ego and the two Mu­gens rid­den by An­stey and Martin. As we all parked up to­gether the TT stars couldn’t re­sist com­ing over for a look. We set a bench­mark of 74.79mph – the first ever lap of the TT course by a pro­duc­tion elec­tric bike. The next night we lapped at 79.63mph and then 80.72mph on the third lap of prac­tice. Our best lap would have

‘The TT stars couldn’t re­sist com­ing over for a look at the Ego’

placed the Ego sec­ond in the first-ever elec­tric race at the TT.

Prac­tice had gone well and now our race lap was com­ing to­gether. I’d al­ready caught Matthew Rees on the Univer­sity of Bath bike early in the lap, but knew I needed re­tire­ments to move up the leader board. Through Gin­ger Hall the Ego sounded ter­ri­ble as the lack of en­gine noise meant I could hear the sus­pen­sion, the chain and sprock­ets, and even the pads on their discs moan­ing and groan­ing. It sounded like the bike was fall­ing apart.

As I ex­ited Par­lia­ment Square I got a pit board from James Hil­lier’s team – po­si­tion 7th plus 14 sec­onds. I knew sev­enth was mine; I just needed to bring her home. With my head in bat­tery con­ser­va­tion mode I was too steady over the Moun­tain when I should have been push­ing for a fast lap time.

On the exit of the Creg I parp’ed the horn and waved to the crowd as I knew I was nearly home. On the exit of the last cor­ner the mar­shals and crowd waved, too. It was a spe­cial mo­ment as I crossed the line with 17% bat­tery left, clock­ing 100.47mph through the speed trap and fin­ish­ing sixth. The Ego and I will prob­a­bly never be winners but we made a lit­tle bit of TT his­tory.

‘It sounded like the bike was fall­ing apart’

Chad pre­pares to make TT his­tory on the En­er­gica

On the warm­ers and plugged in to the charger… Mu­gen boys Martin and An­stey can’t help tak­ing a look

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