Why the 2013 Battle Between MotoCzysz and Mugen Might Not Be Just About the Bikes

As you may very well have seen in the moto blogoshpere MotoCzysz has not only done the expected and announced their 2013 TT Zero run against Mugen, but also announced their intentions of running this year’s FIM eRoadRacing series.  Now the first report came from Asphalt and Rubber and they said, “Also announcing its intention to race in the new 2013 eRoadRacing World Cup, MotoCzysz has enlisted the help of Shane Turpin and Steve Rapp for riding duties at Laguna Seca, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Miller Motorsports Park.”  This was followed by a David Heron story where he said, “The MotoCzysz press release does not commit to anything in the eRoadRacing series other than the Laguna Seca event.  And of course we had to wait until Moto-USA or RoadRacing World put their stories up until we could actually read the press release.  But confused yet?  I certainly was until Susanna Schick of Gas2 went to their offices in Portland, OR and did an interview with the general manager were she says, “Last week they announced their 2013 rider lineup, making it clear that they would like to race the full US season of the eRoadRacing series but for now are targeting IOM TT Zero and the Laguna Seca round of eRoadRacing.”  Ahh, OK, now we know the score.

He’s where the speculation comes in a bit.  If you listened to my interview with Colin Whittamore of Mugen then you know Mugen is a racing company.  They make parts to make your race car or motorcycle go faster.  They see electric technologies as being very much a part of the future and are embarking on this venture now to get a head start on ev technologies and how they apply to racing.  This is very similar to how the GM of MotoCzysz describes the direction they are going in with their company, in his interview with Susanna.  So now the TT Zero is not just the battle ground for who has the best bike around the island, but a battle between two companies vying for business.  One with deep roots in racing but new to ev tech, and the other a young American start-up who has demonstrated their engineering and design prowess by dominating the TT Zero for the past three years.  Last year they may have just been battling for the trophy and bragging rights.  This year it may very well be for business as well.

But why are they now making such an effort for the eRR?  I believe the list of reasons is as long as your arm.  Some of it maybe that they now see they have rivals worthy of comparing themselves too.  And another I am certain is because of the FIM’s backing.  Micheal Czysz (based on my conversation with him in 2011) has never been particularly supportive of the TTXGP.  Never negative mind you, but not what I would call supportive.  Is that wrong or right?  I’ll leave that to you, as I don’t feels it’s my place.  If you have watched the movie “Charge”, you will know the Czysz family has been involved in motorcycle racing at one level or another for a long time and they may very well have insights we are not privy too.  I’m just calling it, “it is what it is.”  Moving on, if they only race Laguna Seca then it really isn’t any more than the same ol’ same ol’ from the company, only with two bikes and two top racers on them.  They show up and people ohh and ahh at their gorgeous bikes, they win or get second, get a some coverage in the press, and go home and back to work.  Basically a press stunt based on some good racing.  I am not convinced these folks are really satisfied with this, but they have budgets and work at the office to do.  However, they have made it very clear they want to race the whole season, even if it turns out they can’t.  Which brings me to another point.  This year is different.  This year MotoCzysz has hired two riders, and will have two bikes out there, and neither of the riders are Micheal Czysz.  And they have announced they will be going.  They never do that accept for the TT Zero.  I always wondered why as it seemed to only ever pissed the few fans off who would have made the extra effort to make the trip had they had know MotoCzysz would be there.  I know when I found out, it was the extra motivation I needed to pull the trigger on the plane ticket to get out to Miller in 2011.  Also there has been more twitter traffic which I feel is good, but who am I?  This year is different is all I can say for now.

But since we’ve dived head first into the rabbit hole, I think Brammo’s actions this year may prove to provide some insight.  They feel confident they are within reach of Lightning and MotoCzysz but are not happy with being within reach.  They want to beat them on the track.  They have two Continental Championships and a World Final.  They have proven they can and will show up and that their bikes are reliable enough to do the business regularly.  Now they want to be faster than everyone else.  And I suspect doing it with less power, as that is not what the riders have been asking for.  They seem happy with the power, even if Parker (their motor supplier) isn’t.  So in order to reach this goal they are racing with gas bikes in the oldest club racing series in the country, the AFM.  While Shelina was busting all of her goals on the the Empulse TTX and Prototype Engage all to pieces, EBoz and Steve-O didn’t reach their lap time goals, but ticked every other box that weekend.  This means they will have 2 full race weekends under their belts before the eRR season starts in July.  I wonder if MotoCzysz isn’t looking to do the something similar by racing the eRR in addition to the TT Zero.  In the UK, Bennett’s Bike Social blog has reported, “The new bike will be run by the Honda Racing team for Mugen out of Honda Racing’s UK headquarters in Louth, and then eventually make it to the Isle of Man TT for the TT Zero first practice on Friday May 31.  Mugen has allegedly spent an alleged £3 million on the Shinden project, hoping that this could be the bike to help John McGuinness on to TT win number 20.”  That’s a lot of money to throw around.  Frankly it’s enough to make all of the other elmoto race programs very jealous.  For a small company like MotoCzysz to compete with a well established company like Mugen, much less with them spending that much money, is a pretty darn big hurdle.  I suspect if everyone has indeed brought the fight to MotoCzysz in the eRR it came at a good time.  It will obviously be too late for the TT Zero, but learning about their opponent there and then going head to head with the best electric prototypes North America has to offer afterwards may just provide a competitive enough environment that will spur development at MotoCzysz to a high enough level to warrant spending the cash to go racing.  In other words, hopefully the racing in the eRR provides enough bang for the small company’s buck, and proves necessary in order to develop their technology to keep up with and/or ahead of Mugen in this field.

MotoCzysz clearly isn’t standing still having developed what sounds like a very exciting “2D” suspension components, and they claimed on twitter that for 2013 they had 20% more energy on board than in 2012, while weighing the same.  Mugen’s bike looks like they may very well have spent 3M pounds on the project as it looks much less like a refrigerator, and more like what we recognize as a motorcycle.  Both teams have claimed they are aiming for 110mph laps.

We will find out how things shake out in 2 more weeks time.

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