Fun and easy to ride, cheap to fuel and simple to maintain, electric motorcycles have come on in leaps and bounds in the past ten years.
From underpowered two-wheelers barely able to keep up with traffic to full-blown sports bikes, electric motorcycles are now being taken seriously by hardened bikers and plug-in enthusiasts alike.
But if you want evidence of how far electric motorcycles have come, there’s no better place to look than to watch the video of this year’s Isle of Man TT Zero winner as his weaves his race-prepared Honda Shinden San along the arduous and famous Isle of Man TT mountain course, setting a new lap record in the process.
For those who don’t know, the self-governing British Crown Dependency of the Isle of Man — nestled off the UK’s western coast in the Irish Sea — has long been a mecca for motor sports enthusiasts of all ages and disciplines, most noticeably because of the island’s lack of national speed limit and beautiful roads.
As a consequence, its famous Touring Trophy (TT) motorcycle race — first run in 1907 — is one of motorsports’ most heralded annual events. Riders and spectators attend from all over the world to ride or watch the demanding race through every nail-biting corner, jump and straight, full of high-octane fun and noisy race-tuned engines.
But back in 2010, an all-electric version of the TT debuted called the TT Zero. Attended by a select but dedicated group of enthusiasts and teams, it set out to prove that electric motorcycles had what it took to tackle the demanding mountain course of the TT proper. And with a lap time of 23′ 22.89, the first TT Zero winner, American rider Mark Miller and the MotoCzysz team did just that. Admittedly, the first TT Zero lap record was a good five or six minutes behind the daredevils riding conventional motorcycles in the main TT — but it was a start.
Since then, every year has seen the TT Zero grow in popularity, with more and more fans staying to watch both the TT Zero and the TT. With TT Zero lap times falling dramatically every year and bike specifications improving year on year, we’re not surprised.
This year, just four years after it started, the TT Zero broke new ground, with a lap record falling under 20 minutes for the first time. In fact, not one but two riders — Brittish TT legend John McGuinness and New Zealander Bruce Anstey (both riding for Honda Shiden San/ Mugen) set sub-20 minute lap times.
While winner McGuinness’ lap time of 19′ 17.30 set the new course record for an electric motorcycle at an average speed of 117.36 mph, obliterating last year’s TT Zero lap record of 20′ 38.461, it’s worth noting that this year’s lap record is just over two seconds slower than last year’s TT record.
And if you’re wondering, that was set by McGuinness too — on a race-prepared Honda CBR1000RR TT Superbike.
Electric motorcycles might not quite be as fast as their internal combustion engined brethren on the TT course yet, but we think that the kind of improvement in lap times in the TT Zero’s short history proves it won’t be long before they’re beating anything on two wheels around the famous course.
Don’t you agree?
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