Yep, so my little take on this week’s news. BTW, Turns out that internet rumor was that Polaris shut down its ELECTRIC BICYCLE manufacturing, not the motorcycle production.
Every time I even think about writing a blog post these days all that comes forward is negativity. Like grumpy old curmudgeon negativity. I have no reason to still be sore, I’ve moved on and would like to think I’m a bigger man than this, but we all have to acknowledged our limits. So you can imagine the shit storm brewing in my garage when I did a simple search for news on the TT Zero. All Motorcycle.com could muster was to publish a PR spoon fed to them. This is the website that would start matching or trying to match my site’s number of posts intentionally trying to drive readers their way. Pretty much worked too. But now that me and a few other’s aren’t paying attention any more they prove themselves to be the ball dropping hacks I heard they were. All well. At least Hollywood electrics gets them going, which I do think is great.
But I am utterly confused. If you go to the IOMTT site you cannot get a .pdf of the TT Zero practice. But of course every other class is just beging to be dowloaded. After what seemed like a year of acceptance last year, one twitter post referred to the “leccy’s” as “controversial”. Really? Still? On the subject of “seriously?”, you still cannot get enough practice laps in on an elmoto at the TT to be only a TT Zero rider. You must race another class. Yes, in the 7th year of electric bikes racing at the TT, this is still a thing. Back to why do I have to hunt results down, the Electric Racing page on Facebook is full of nothing but Formula E stuff. Really? And then Ben Swing hasn’t followed up his TT preview article, which falsely reported that Mark Miller and Splitlath had a bike to race this year. It took me 5 minutes to get a reply from Mark on his FB page letting me know he wasn’t racing the TT Zero for the first time in how long? That’s a fucking headline, ” Holy shit Mark Miller doesn’t have a TT Zero ride!!!” Just WTF is going on? The only place to really get filled in this year seems to be twitter. I’m not seeing much on FB yet. I mean 16 (made up facetious number) sites wrote a puff piece about Victory’s new TT Zero bike, but seem to feel that’s all they needed to do. Typical.
I only got this photo from Twitter, and there does not seem to have been one from the first practice. Over the years I have learned this is usually due to the practice being canceled and no one reporting that to the fans. Wait . . . yep a quick check on @MUGENSHINDENTT’s feed, the first practice was cancelled. So yet again one lap and then a race for the TT Zero teams and riders. Such utter bull shit.
Well I really do need to settle down and take a breath. As a passive observer this year, it seems like there has been a lot of death, and maybe the folks involved are a little frazzled and hoping to catch a bit of a break by blowing over the TT Zero. And then there was the passing of Michael Czysz. I don’t know.
Then again, maybe I just need to put on my best pissed TT fan accent and tell everyone to pull their heads out of their arse. Either way I’m too pissed off to analyze the numbers. Yeah, those of you who know me know shit just got real. 😉
Back in my early days of elmoto obsession and hanging out on the elmoto.net forum, a debate went round and round. Which was better for electric motorcycle racing, to have a World Championship series that was at major venues racing with other major world series, or to have the series grow naturally from a grass roots effort where the average Joe races these bikes, then when it becomes popular enough it makes it to the national, and international series. Basically is it better to build elmoto racing from the top down using inspiration to drive excitement and wealthy peoples money to do the brunt of development, or is it better to build from the bottom up. Bottom up makes a lot of sense (or did anyway), as this is pretty much how modern motorcycle racing came about. But the times really are quite different, in that media consumption is radically different. You can pretty much follow any infinitesimal sport you want to via Google, or Bing, or whatever browser you choose. And it can even go viral and the next thing you know its on NBC. But in today’s media you needs fans watching and following for that to happen. I know I made an effort at making that happen, scrapping what info I could together to bring something people could look forward to and follow. It didn’t take off. It makes me wonder if Azhar Hussain and the TTXGP took that gamble too, hoping it’d capture people’s imagination enough to ‘go viral’, as it were. I would most certainly not believe this is how the FIM would do things. They would, and kind of did, view it in a slow and steady kind of way.
But the problem is fans. Why? Well because fans = money. And this isn’t another fans are the problem rant. Been there, done that. This is a fan access problem. A problem I didn’t fully appreciate until I recently looked into attending a race. The current eMotoRacing series here in the US is a new class in the American Historical Racing Motorcycle Association, or AHRMA for short. So really, its not a series, its a class. But maybe I’m being too harsh. But then you have to realize that AHRMA is a club racing series. And I have said this time and time again, about the eMR being a club racing series, but the gravity, or maybe just personal panic, of that statement has just now hit me. The first round of the eMR is at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, GA. Its a non-spectator track. Yeah, did you do a double take like I did? I called and got an answering machine, so I have sent an e-mail and still waiting for a reply from the track. Two days ago I posted on eMR’s Facebook page asking for info on how to attend. I an still waiting for a reply, but its only been a few days. So I thought, well, none of this is under the eMR’s control, so I’ll go to AHRMA’s website. Well, I cannot find one info@* email address. All the e-mail addresses are for the people in charge of the various classes, and Board members. Nothing on the web site, that I can find, has any kind of info for someone who just wants to watch some racing. Its all for people who want to race. That is what club racing is about, after all. It’s about people who have enough money and spare time to race motorcycles, and have a whole lot of fun doing it. Which is great! But it puts the electrics racers and bikes in a bit of a bubble. My hope for this series was that the few elmoto fans who want to see this type of racing can finally go see it live as this series goes all over the country. But what keeps these types of series alive is participants, not fans. And what will keep the eMR alive is racers and bikes. But with such a fledgling sport who is going to go race a class they don’t even know about? Well that appears to be fans who hits them up on Facebook Messenger will get good and friendly support. So they don’t have an infor@* e-mail address, but they have someone answering their messages on FB. So there is some hope. Just a heads up a reply on messenger will take about a day.
However, my concern is not about the intent of the people behind AHRMA and the eMR. I truly believe that they have all the best of intentions. My concern is about the real world implications. The closest race to me this year is an 8 hour drive, and it doesn’t seem fan friendly. Actually, “” is #2 on their fact sheet about the track, and all of the Yelp reviews mention how its a non-spectator venue. That is about as non-fan friendly as you can get. How am I supposed to get behind a series that starts its year like this as someone who is hoping to get people in front of these bikes, or simply a fan? I’m a bit nutty so jumping through a few hoops to see what I want is one thing, but what about the average Joe who just runs across some articles and has never visited a race track? Nothing is ambassadoric about any of this (did I just make up a word?). Honestly I don’t even see any eMR content on their site. So people’s only point of contact really is the eMR. Some of the racers are on the electric motorcycle forums, so those folks can connect and get hook ups that way. But it doesn’t change that when you show up everyone assumes you’re a racer, and if you aren’t, its quite possible not everyone is on the same page as to what you can do and where you can go. It just seems like a locked off world for the non racer, and getting the key isn’t easy as the people inside might think it is. I wonder if any of these folks have considered how confusing a track on a club race weekend can be for a simple person off the street. If it was an AMA Superbike weekend, back when those were a thing, there’d be no confusion because of the difference in focus of where they money is coming from. I’ve been to only a few club race weekends in my life time, Loudon, Miller, and Daytona, and I can’t honestly say I’m not overstating things. But, I don’t think its all that easy, and starting the season off at a “
It would be nice if there was an “Are you a fan and want to come see a race?” button on the eMR site somewhere obvious. They input the usual mailing and e-mail addy info and what race they want to see. Then they’d get an email listing all the local places to stay, insider info on how to get away with camping, and even maybe the best spots to watch the race at the track. And in the case of Roebling Road, how to Jedi mind trick your way in. And you know a nice touch might be a cheap eMR badge press pass (with “fan” written on there somewhere) looking thing just to keep the weak-minded from bothering them. Hmm, that’s a bit detailed. 😀
If you want to go to Roebling Road and watch the first race of the year just drop AHRMA a line via messenger on their Facebook page. This way, they will have a better gauge of actual interest. Note I did not ask about the electrics specifically, just about attending the weekend in general.
BTW, someone pointed out that I didn’t mention the European series, MotoE, when I listed series and goings on in an earlier post. Well let me take a moment now. If I catch wind that any fan with the cash in hand to pay entry fees is somehow denied reasonable access to the races, much les the electric ones you will receive a tongue lashing on this site of such of epic proportions that it will make Hussain and Czysz want to hug each other for comfort and safety. Of course since it’ll be on this blog no one will read it, so there’s that. But still, you know better, have been doing it long enough to know better, and I expect better. Have a nice day. 😀
The joy of not having paid attention over the last year that nothing has been going on, is that now that I have waited a year there are enough things to peak my interest. Namely, a LOT of journalists and “journalists” have been talking about how Polaris’ buy out of Brammo’s electric motorcycle production was to get a one up on Harley-Davidson. Sure, I’ll take your word for it Mr. Journalist. But it always bothers me a bit when people say this because Polaris bought something like 3 electric vehicle companies the same time they tried to buy Brammo the first time, and only walked away with 20%. So I always saw it as H-D not trying to get left behind. But now Mission Motors is belly up. But I can’t keep track of if its Mission Motors Motorcycles. Or Mission Motors, or both. Either way, the people who allegedly designed and built the drivetrain’s for H-D’s Live Wire project are gone. Poof! And there’s the H-D fans. Not sure how many changed their tune, but it seemed the forums were ablaze for a moment. A quick visit to the Victory forums and I saw nothing but nice and reasonable people. The new Empulse TT may or may not be their thing, but they seem to feel that’s OK. But with no one to build the drivetrain I assume H-D worked hard on having developed, and a customer base that was luke warm at best (by my limited observations), it’s no wonder they told people it probably won’t be until 2020. Or maybe it was H-D’s decision to hold off that put Mission Motors under. Either way I have to wonder if was due less to public interest, and more to having to find a new partner they can trust and start the design process all over again. What American Company can they get to do that? Definitely not Brammo. Zero? My reaction is “meh”. Lightning? Hehe, ahh I don’t think so, but stranger things have happened. The only ones who might be able to pull something like that off, other than all these companies, would be MotoCzysz. But they turned their lights off a while time ago. Will people buy electric Harley’s with foreign drivetrains? Only time will tell.
But in the meantime, it seems to me Polaris has already won, and handily. But this then begs the question: Will Polaris sit on their laurels having seemingly dominated H-D in the segment before the fight began, and perceiving Zero as a threat either, and just let the Empulse TT ride for the next few years? Similar to the 2002 Honda VFR when they removed the gear driven cams and no one liked the bike anymore? They just keep the model basically unchanged until it finally pays off the tooling cost. Or, well, that’s what it felt like any way. Are Empulse fans in for the same?
Literally earlier today I thought, “gee wouldn’t it be nice to start getting news on who’s showing up to the TT.” Now clearly I haven’t been blogging much, and I am pretty sure I told everyone to take me off their e-mail lists. I don’t think I’ve received a press release from them in two years. Replies to some questions maybe, but not a PR. I’m not the only one, and yet I received it at a little past 3am so says my mail box. Sorry if I’m rambelling, but my mind went poof a minute ago. I was going to practice the piano, but heck no one else seems to have reported this. And I assume the world would like to know. I just get to smirk because you have to hear it from me. Here’s the what I got from Mugen. Make of it what you will. I have a piano to practice. Oh, and I tried like heck to add pics but it didn’t work. Don’t worry, all that is missing are some logos and some pictures of the riders I can’t un-see, and that more is coming in March:
Release on Details of TEAM MUGEN’s Participation in the 2016 Isle of Man TT
Once again MUGEN (M-TEC Co., Ltd., Tomoyuki HASHIMOTO, President) will, as “TEAM MUGEN”, participate in the TT Zero Challenge class *1 at the 2016 Isle of Man TT races, to be held from May, 28th (Sat.) through to June,
10th (Fri.), 2016 on the Isle of Man.
For MUGEN the challenge of participating in the Isle of Man TT races started in 2012 using our original bespoke EV bike, SHINDEN, as a unique project to foster young engineers and conduct developments in a new area of motorsport and experimental powertrain design, and in 2014 and 2015 accomplished consecutive victories with 1-2 finishes in both years.
The 2016 machine, (SHINDEN GO), has been extensively developed using the knowledge and experience gained throughout the past 4 years, resulting in an all-new machine for this year’s challenge.
With SHINDEN GO we will continue with our highly-successful rider line-up of John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey as we strive to win our third consecutive TT Zero title.
John has won a total of 23 Isle of Man TT races, and took his second victory in the TT Zero Challenge class in 2015. He also updated the outright course record for the mountain course with his Superbike lapping at an average speed of 132.701mph(00:17:03.567), while Bruce, who has won at the TT 10 times in total, took victory in the Superbike class last year.
“SHINDEN GO” will be exhibited *2 at the 2016 Tokyo Motorcycle Show, which will be held at Tokyo Big Sight in March, 2016.
█ Team structure
Team name Rider Machine Representative / Director TEAM MUGEN John McGuinness SHINDEN GO Representative: Satoshi Katsumata Bruce Anstey Director: Akihiro Miyata
【ＴＥＡＭ UGE TT Zero Challenge results ２０１２-２０１５】
Year/ achine Ｊｏｈｎ ＭｃＧｕｉｎ ｎｅｓｓ Ｂｒｕｃｅ Ａｎｓｔｅｙ anking Average peed
Time anking Average peed
Time 2012 HI DE 2 102.215 22’08 850 – – – 2013 HI DE I 2 109.527 20’40 133 – – – 2014 HI DE A 1 117.366 19’17 300 2 115.048 19’40 625 2015 HI DE Y 1 119.279 18’58 743 2 118.857 19’02 785
*1 The Isle of Man TT Race (The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race) TT Zero Challenge
The Isle of Man TT race, which started in 1907, is the oldest high-speed motorcycle race that is still currently held. The island, which is located between the United Kingdom and Ireland, is about the same size as the
Awaji-shima island of Japan.
The races are held in a time trial format on a 60 km public street course that includes urban zones, residential areas, and a mountain section. The event was resumed in 1947, after the end of World War II, as part of the
Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship, and was soon an irresistible competitive challenge for the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers to demonstrate their technical abilities, and the riders courage. As a result of their successes in the Isle of Man TT it has served as a foundation for the Japanese motorcycle industry, from which it has made the leap to the pinnacle of world class motorcycle manufacture and competition.
The TT Zero Challenge class is a new category that was started in 2009 in anticipation of the future of the age of clean energy. In this category, machines are required to be equipped with a power plant emitting zero carbon dioxide. Though races for conventional internal-combustion engine classes can range from three to six laps, the race distance for the TT Zero Challenge class is currently one lap (approximately 60 km) in
deference to current technology battery performance and capacity.
◆ＴＴ Zero Challenge chedule
Event ame Date and time :Japan time is ahead 8 hours from the time of the Isle of an(summer time) ualifying 1 Free ractice ualifying 2
Friday 3rd June, 2016 20:40～ （1 A ） aturday 4th June 16:35～ （1 A ） onday 6th June, 2016 16:25～ （1 A ）
Wednesday 8th June, 2016 16:20～ （1 A ）
*2 Release of “SHINDEN GO”
Venue: Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Complex) West Exhibition Hall, Special stage in atrium
3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Date and time: March 25th, 2016 (Friday) 14:45 – 15:15
Date of birth: April 16, 1972 (43 years old)
Began competing in the Isle of Man TT races in 1996, and, with 23 victories to date, he holds the record for the most wins of currently active riders. Since 2012, he has been racing in the TT Zero Challenge class as a rider for TEAM MUGEN. In 2014 and 2015, he took 2 consecutive victories in the TT Zero class. In 2015, he took victory in the Senior TT race, updating the course record at the same time. As well as being the TT Zero lap record holder is also the current outright lap record holder for the TT Mountain course.
2015 TT Race Results
・TT Zero Challenge class 1st place ・Supersport class, Race 2 8th place
・Superbike class 4th place ・Superstock class 8th place
・Supersport class, Race 1 7th place ・Senior class 1st place
Date of birth: August 21, 1969 (46 years old)
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Made his Isle of Man TT debut in 1999 and currently has 10 TT victories to his name. In 2014, set an outright lap record with an average speed of 132.298 mph in the Superbike class . In 2015, won the title in the same class, his first TT win in the Superbike events . Has participated in the TT Zero Challenge class with “SHINDEN” since 2014, earning 2 consecutive 2nd-place podiums for the past two years.
2015 TT Race Results
・TT Zero Challenge class 2nd place
・Superbike class 1st place
・Supersport class, Race 1 . 2nd place
・Supersport class, Race 2 2nd place
・Superstock class 9th place
・Senior class 8th place
無限／株式会社 Ｍ-ＴＥＣ 商品事業部 ＭＳ企画業務課 担当： 川瀬 / 泉 無限／株式会社 Ｍ-ＴＥＣ 商品事業部 ＭＳ企画業務課 担当： 川瀬 / 泉
埼玉県朝霞市膝折町２-１５-１１ 〒３５１-８５８６ TEL.０４８-４６２-３１３１ 埼玉県朝霞市膝折町２-１５-１１ 〒３５１-８５８６ TEL.０４８-４６２-３１３１ FAX.０４８-４６２-３１２１
2-15-11 Hizaori-cho, Asaka City, aitama 351-8586 JAPAN
Oh yeah, and they’re a GEM dealer. If you don’t know what that is, it’s one of the three or four electric vehicle companies Polaris has purchased on the last 4 years or so. They are essentially large golf carts made specifically for moving people or maintenance staff and equipment around campuses. Although “large golf cart” is doing them a large disservice, but I don’t have a better description offer you.
Either way, I recently moved to Bowling Green, KY from Clarksville, TN. The last I checked the closest Zero dealership to me was way the heck down in Georgia, and the closest Brammo dealership was up in south west Pennsylvania. I knew there was a Victory dealership in town, and now that Victory owns and makes the Empulse I thought I’d check it out to see if they had one in. First I stopped by their website and noticed that they were already a Zero dealer, as well as a GEM dealer. I thought maybe they were trying to market themselves as the ultimate electric dealership in KY or something. So, as you can imagine I was really looking forward to visiting the dealership. Well, its not the utopia I was hoping for, but its actually a place I highly recommend based on my experience with the salesmen I talked to. Its actually really funny, they are a Victory and Polaris dealership first and foremost, but they are also most certainly a Zero dealership. They have a new 2016 DSR on the floor, as well as a 2015 SR and FXS, and a 2014 DS Police model, which sounds like their money maker. Or will be when all the grants go through. The salesman said he was pretty sure he could sell 50 of them to departments in the area as soon as the grants go through; and probably will.
Now I mentioned the new Victory Empulse TT, thinking he was free to talk about that too. But he was good at very politely and humbly dismissing it. He just knew it as the Brammo. He said he had been told it had the better electric tech. And then it seemed he was under the impression that Polaris was keeping the Brammo brand, and really the bikes were just Brammo’s. And again the Zeros were most likely better, as any salesman should say in his situation. I told him that they were actually full on Victory’s, and would they have any of those in? He said he was quite certain they wouldn’t as his impression was that it was one of those deals that if you want that model the dealership would have to add on a the equivalent of a new brand. Having worked in the bicycle industry, I knew what he was talking about, and knew it wasn’t bull. I’m just not certain its correct. He offered to ask his boss, but I knew I wasn’t going to drop $20k on a bike, and didn’t need to be wasting anyone’s time, and told his as much.
But I was so impressed by the salesmen. He was pretty up front that he was less knowledgeable than the customers that come in to buy them. But he clearly had done his homework. It seemed he had spent a fair bit of time with the Zero rep at a trade show or two, and paid attention while he was there. He named features I had forgot about, and had his facts straight. Mind you I never once told him that I had blogged and podcasted about these things, and played dumb pretty much from the start, but my “knowledge” and excitement slipped through. The GF very patiently watched me almost go off the deep end and yet catch myself several times, well from her account of the visit. But not once did I find him giving false information. But I do find his dismissiveness of the Empulse, like it was a competitive brand particularly funny, considering the main brands he sells not only owns, but actually makes the bikes now. Ah well, I figure if his manager can’t keep him up to date then its not his fault. He clearly has put a lot of work in. Oh no, wait. He said the extra battery pack was very light and wouldn’t affect the handling, or so he was told. I have read reviews of people who have ridden and/or own said bikes, and I find that to not be completely true. But I think the only people who would notice are racer types, and my impression is its not particularly noticeable to normal folks. If that’s the only quibble I could come away with, the dude deserves salesmen of the year as far as I’m concerned.
First impression of the Zeros on the showroom floor? The 2015 and 2016 bikes look no different to each other, other than a 12.5 vs 13 badges on the battery packs. But they look stout. The switchgear looks nice, the forks are inverted and sizeable, and adjustable. And the rear shock is fully adjustable. The only problem is that the compression and rebound knobs are color matched to the spring. The SR I was looking at had all red knobs? And the DSR all black. Really Zero? Is red for rebound and blue for compression so 2014? In the MTB world if you see rebound and compression knobs that are color matched to the bike then its a good bet the bike came from WalMart or Dick’s. On two of the bikes the knobs were different shapes, which is a help I guess. But it made me wonder just who they were marketing too. And then I remembered MTB’s know exponentially more about suspension than you average motorcyclist, generally the people who buy electric and aren’t motor heads want to believe these EV factories are imbued with some sort of magic that makes the bikes perfect from the factory, and turning a knob would let all the magic out. So, you know, I can’t really fault Zero for that. But I am annoyed, what ever that is worth. Anyway, back at the bike the “tank” area didn’t seem as massively wide this time, unlike the last time I sat on one a year ago in TX. And the bikes are demo models, and the salesman said I could test ride one as soon as I got my permit. So look forward to Youtube video in a few months. I just have to figure out audio, and the best place to mount my Garmin Virb, as it provides telemetry, unlike the GoPro. Well that, and get my permit [ahem].