Class warefare!

Ha!  I bet you think I’m gonna talk about the one percenters, huh?

Well, nope.  It couldn’t be further from the point of this post.  The point of this post is to talk about my complete lack of ideas on how to class electric motorcycles now, in preparing for the near future.  Look at how many things in our lives as motorcyclists, or want to be motorcyclists, are affected by the class, or more specifically the displacement, of your average motorcycle.  In Europe and other places your license limits you from riding certain classes of motorcycles.  How much you get charged for insurance is very much dependent (at least in your youth) on what class of motorcycle you own.  What class you want to race in is also very much dependent on this.  And there are a lot of different classes in motorcycle racing, especially club racing it seems.  So where are the electric bikes going to fit in, at least while the technology is exploding?  For a minute I thought it would be battery pack size, or more specifically how many kWh of energy the pack held.  As we went from 7.5kWh as last year’s ‘plenty big enough’, to the ’12kWh isn’t even enough’ era that was this year in racing that whole concept went right out the window.  Although what CRP and Brannarex can do with 8.9kWh is pretty damn impressive.

As I have said to many people, and I am sure on this blog, it is mind blowing to me how efficient these race bikes are.  And what is equally weird is that a 200hp lightning motor probably loses very little in the way of MPG (really Wh/mile) in normal everyday driving.  It’s like owning a 427 Yenco Camaro in race tune and it getting maybe 2 or 3 MPG less than your neighbors Honda Civic, but also with the same driving manners and accessories.  Why get the civic then?  And motors are going to get nothing but smaller and more powerful.  But only as fast as controller technology can keep up really, which seems to be the bottle neck in power at the moment.  Why would someone buy a 100hp electric bike when they could have the 240hp for probably not much more, practically the same weight (closer even than a GSX-R600 and 1000), and darn near the same mileage?  Really the only reason is registration and insurance costs, and that’s pretty much enough.  But how will they be classed?

I’m not a cruiser guy, so I really only know that in the sportbike world (and using the word know is a bit of a stretch) we got our class definitions from the racing world.  Which is another reason I like the 2 classes in the TTXGP.  You have the wide open ‘it just can’t weigh more than 550lbs’ run what you brung TTXGP class, and the TTX75 class (which for ’12 has been downgraded to an award) which at the moment limits your pack size to 7.5kWh.  I think it should be 7.5 kWh used, but that’s for another time.  This is the equivalent a MotoGP/WSBK and Moto2/WSS.  This could very well be the way future electric bikes, at least electric sport bikes, are classed.

This has ramifications in the electric car industry too.  Look at Tesla’s cars.  That Model S should put any BMW 5 series to shame at the very least in a drag race as much as anything.  And that’s with the motor they started working on a few years ago.  Why do you think the new fancy model Model S’s claimed 0-60 dropped 1.1 seconds?  It’s because the technology is moving that fast, and there is that much power to be had in those small little motors.  Gas guys don’t know it’s coming but they are going to get their balls crushed in the horse power wars.  Electric motorcycle companies are going to be so busy doing battle with each other they are going to blow the gas bikes out of the hp water.  Oh wait, THEY ALREADY HAVE!  Ok, so not all of them . . . yet, not many at all that are close to production, not at a price that anyone can really afford . . . yet, and the range is not there . . . yet.  But they have been mass producing electric motors for industry folk for years.  Really, how long do you think it will be until they are cranking these things out like Christmas candy?  I see a massive horse power war on the horizon in production vehicles because of the two things holding ICE motors back now, great efficiency and drive/ride-ability.

And these things will be soo programmable it’s not even funny.  You will be able to limit or unlock power with the touch of a button, just like now.  Only I don’t see anyone doing that yet.  Granted, at this point these electric beasts are pretty much confined to the track where there is no need, and they won’t really need it but they should have it.  I guess my vagueness come from what I perceive as a lack of cost difference in electric motors.  It’s three parts, and some magic.  If you made a motor that all you could squeeze out was 100hp or less, then the insurance companies would be fine with that I suppose, as far as lower rates are concerned.  But what would the size and cost difference be for the slightly bigger motor that was putting out 250hp and had potential for 400hp?  If there is a significant difference in price, size, and weight then that would be enough to separate the classes as far as the consumer was concerned.  And we could use power to define them and we could bring back the almost old terms Lightweight, Middleweight, and Open class.  This would help the old fogies, and keep the tradition.  I have no idea what the Cruiser guys are going to do.  But I don’t think they are really ready to come on board just yet.  Although I do know a few that are chomping at the bit.

So there we have it.  These bikes will be classed using (well, by me anyway):

Lightweight (Brammo Enertia)

Middleweight (eCRP Energica)

and Open Class (Lightning/MotoCzysz/Mission/Munch).

No need to thank me. 😀

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