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PHOTO CAPTION: Motoczysz E1pc electric motorcycle

Electric Motorcycles Sparking Innovation at the Track

Motorcycle racing knows few bounds, so is an ideal arena in which to test and perfect a new generation of electric vehicle technologies.

Published: 10-May-2011

It was an unseasonably warm early spring day on the southern tip of the Isle of Man. Seagulls were wheeling overhead; the sun was glinting off the Irish Sea and an American motorcycle racer was making some very strange noises.

’When you’re riding a gasoline bike, it’s all RRRrrrrrrRRRR change down! Rrrrrrrrr change down, change down! Rrrrwoooo round the corner and slam the gas on, RRRRRRRRR!!!’ Mark Miller said, leaning forward across the table and miming his changing grip on a pair of phantom handlebars. ’But when you’re on an electric bike, it’s just eeeeeeeeeeee… all the way around. It’s what I’d imagine being on a magic carpet would be like. It’s like flying. I’ve never experienced anything like it.’

Miller, a cheerful, lanky Californian, is one of very few people to have experienced an electric motorcycle at speed; he’s also among the fastest. Last year, he was the winner of the TTZero race, a time-trial event for electric bikes around the Isle of Man’s famous Tourist Trophy mountain course 38 miles of narrow, twisting, bumpy public roads threading their way through fields and villages, and between hedges and stone walls.

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