The last three (or more) years has seen several electric motorcycle teams competing for the title of worlds fastest electric motorcycle. Several organizations run time trial races on salt flats (dry lake beds) in Utah and elsewhere, such as Speed Week and the BUB Speed Trials. Every year land speed record attempts are made for all kinds of vehicles, with all kinds of fuels, including electric.
In 2009 Mission Motors, hot off having run in the inaugural TTXGP at the Isle of Man, was able to claim the title for fastest production-intent electric motorcycle. Their 151 miles/hr speed was surpassed a few weeks later by Lightning Motorcycles with a 166 miles/hr. Both were beaten that year by Kent Riches, Southern Utah State Univ, with a 176 miles/hr record speed. (see Lightning Motors has second fastest electric motorcycle, ahead of Mission Motors)
In 2010 it was MotoCzysz and Lightning Motorcycles duking it out. A few weeks previously they’d gone head-head at the e-Power race at Laguna Seca where MotoCzysz won by a nose. However at the time trials it was Lightning’s turn to do the trouncing, achieving a 173 miles/hr record to MotoCzysz’s 162 miles/hr. (Lightning Motors strikes with new electric motorcycle land speed record at BUB Speed Trials)
This is a new year, with all new bikes on the scene. These are the teams we’ve heard are heading to the salt to attempt land speed records.
The Lightning Motorcycles team is back on the salt for Speed Week. Unlike prior years where they ran a conversion bike with an EV1 motor and cells from A123 Systems, their 2011 design is completely custom bike. It has a custom designed frame, custom designed motor (from Remy) and an EnerDel battery pack. This bike is their prototype for a high powered street bike they intend to sell to the public. It has seen action on the Isle of Man (did not finish), and the joint TTXGP/e-Power race at Laguna Seca (where they were again beaten by MotoCzysz by a nose and both were beaten by Mission Motors).
Chip Yates (SWIGZ.COM Racing) is a newcomer to electric motorcycle racing and due to a rules flummox has not raced in either TTXGP or e-Power but instead at various gas bike events. He recently announced they would participate in the BUB Speed Trials in two weeks. They’ve extended the bike’s wheel-base, and worked with electric drive train maker UQM to raise power output to well over 250 HP. They recently ran this bike at Pikes Peak setting a record there for electric vehicles, and last winter at the Mojave Mile Shootout they achieved over 190 miles/hr (in a different race format than the time trials).
The KillaCycle racing team is returning to the salt again with the KillaJoule electric motorcycle. This is an enclosed custom designed motorcycle they built last year, brought to the salt during the 2010 BUB Speed Trials, caught salt fever, but did not qualify to run. This year they’ve modified the KillaJoule to have a sidecar which they hope will improve handling.
This year it will be between Lightning and Yates to see who has the fastest electric motorcycle. The KillaJoule, being an enclosed bike with a sidecar, falls into a different classification.
Another definition of “fastest electric motorcycle” is the drag racing format rather than the time trials. Drag racing is done on a 1/4 mile strip, and is won by whoever gets to the finish line first, whereas time trials are the average of two runs each run being several miles long, taking a precise measurement of one mile in the middle of each run. The vehicle built for drag racing has to deliver a short burst of torque/power and only has to make it the 1/4 mile, while vehicles built for time trials have to create sustained speed delivering two runs within a fairly short time period.
The two leaders in electric drag racing motorcycles are the KillaCycle and Shawn Lawless’ Lawless Drag Bike. The KillaCycle has been gaining a lot of attention for several years, but Shawn Lawless recently began beating the KillaCycle. Lawless is the current champ and has achieved 187 miles/hr within a 1/4 mile run using a bike giving 752 horsepower at the rear wheel. They contend that theirs was the fastest electric motorcycle because their 187 miles/hr is faster than last years Lightning record of 173 miles/hr. The two speeds were recorded under different conditions, in different race formats, making it difficult to directly compare these results. In any case now that Lightning has upped the ante to 206 miles/hr Lawless is looking to do the same which he says will require 1006 Horsepower at the rear wheel.
- BREAKING: Lightning Motors sets 205 miles/hr electric motorcycle speed record
- Lightning Motors says electric motorcycles are the future, with 206 mph record