Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Isle of Man - FAQ


Here are some answers to the most common questions we get asked about the bike and the project...

Why the Isle of Man?
- The Isle of Man TT (it stands for Tourist Trophy) is the oldest and probably best-known motorcycle road race in the world. It started in 1907, and exists in large part because the Isle of Man government has written laws to allow road closures every year for the event. Two years ago a zero-emissions division was introduced, now called the TT Zero, which offers an opportunity for electric motorcycles to compete on the same course. So in other words... why not?
More info here.

Who will ride it in the race?
- The TT rules restrict who is eligible to ride in the TT Zero. Not only does our rider have to have an FIM racing license, he also has to complete six laps of the course in practice before our race. The electric bikes only have two practice sesions of one lap each though, so to get those six laps he has to run at least four laps on a gas bike. The organizers of the race put us in touch with Allan Brew, who lives on the island and has ridden in both the TT and the Isle of Man Grand Prix races (held every fall). He's been a huge help so far, settings us up to work in his garage and helping out with logistics.

How fast will it go?
- We've run the bike at 110mph on the dyno, and hit about 80mph during our track day. We're playing with the gearing though, so that number might change.

How far will it go on a charge?
- The TT course is 37.7 miles long, so we designed the bike to go just a bit further than that under race conditions. If you were only cruising at a constant highway speed, though, the bike could easily go 100 miles.

Does it have tons of torque off the line because of the electric motor? Can you do burnouts/wheelies?
- In theory yes, the motor produces maximum torque at low rpms. Speeds on the TT course are very high though, so we've geared the bike more for that top end. That plus the weight of the batteries on the bike means that we won't be doing any wheelies or burnouts. Our bike will still get off the ground though... there are a couple of spots on the TT course that consistently send the bikes flying (as long as they're going fast enough).

How much power does it have?
- Comparing the power of an electric motor to that of a gas engine is always a bit tricky, as the numbers mean different things. Our motors are rated for a continuous output of 16 kW each, and we have two. 32 kW comes out to about 43 HP. We can get more than that for brief stints ("peak power"), but that risks damaging the motors.

How big is your battery pack?
- Ours is a custom-designed pack from A123 Systems with 12kWh capacity at 100V.


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