Forget everything you know about electric vehicles and take a ride with Victor Fenech on his journey to understand Electric Superbike Racing. This four-part TV series offer's you a glimpse at a racing future where every second counts. A future where there are no predefined rules and no off-the-shelf solutions.
Built by independent privateers on a fledgling budget in workshops across the country, these electric machines are competing at 600cc racing speeds. This amazing accomplishment is backed by the passion and dedication of a small but growing number of electrical engineers whose challenge is to build the ultimate, electric racer.
Watch as Victor follows the teams in an effort to understand the technology that is breaking taboos and lap times on circuits across the world. A technology that challenges the status quo and provides the undeniable evidence that electric racing is not only for the future. It's happening right here, right now.
The first episode of Australian Electric Superbikes will be broadcast on Monday 30th September at 8:30pm on www.tvs.org.au
Get the exclusive full version of the Hunter Valley EV Prize 2012 on this amazing DVD package. Featuring over twenty schools from the Hunter Valley region. Watch as the teams compete with their custom made electric vehicles at Cameron Park Raceway in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Also included is a slideshow of highlights from this amazing event.
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eFXC | TTXGP 2012 Season DVD
Watch all the action from the 2012 Australian electric motorcycle racing season. The winner of this series went on to compete the World finals of the TTXGP at Daytona International Speedway.
Also including the infamous smacktalk videos from Danny Ripperton, Jason Morris and SplinterOz.
Back and forth goes the playhead. Zip, zap. From awesome bikes to smiling faces it skips. Blue skies. Black tarmac. From Hollywood skyline to epic racetrack. I am haunted by memories of airports and hire cars as I wade through the hours of video, filmed on a journey that spanned the globe. As frames of CATAVOLT and Brammo spin by I sit and ponder. What just occurred over two weeks and fifteen thousand kilometres ago? The TTXGP World Championship I hear you say, as you jolt me out of my pondering. Well yes. It was the TTXGP, the amazing electric motorcycle World Championship at Daytona International Speedway. The place where the creme de la creme of electric motorcycle teams came together to compete in a race of electrical supremacy. Hold that thought…
Tech that spans one hundred years
It's difficult not to feel inspired at Daytona. For one, the place is massive. Epic beyond expectations. A holy grail, if you will, of racing. A place where the fastest NASCAR racers entertain the masses. One hundred and sixty seven thousand people if you will. You get the picture. Huge! On the weekend the TTXGP bikes were shacked up with the AHRMA crew. Ironically this is the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association.
So the pits were a crazy, oxymoronic blend of historic loud pipes and futuristic humming electric drive trains. A juxtaposition that spanned almost one hundred years of motorcycle tech, ignoring, oh, the past ten or so of ICE 'development'. For your superbike fix you could get along to the AMA pits for a quick drool over the plentiful R1's and S 1000 RR's lining the paddocks.
This ain't racin'
Of the five bikes that entered the TTXGP, the only open class competition for the Brammo boys was the awesome Muench rocket piloted by none other than the legendary, Matthias Himmelmann. Even with an eager German on their tail, Bos and Atlas had it wrapped up with top speed. At Daytona, speed is king. So with little competition on the track, why the legendary Daytona circuit? Why the driving across the States? Why the plane from Germany or the veritable convoy from Australia? If it's not racing then what the hell is it?
So what is it?
Pausing the playhead, I can't help but reflect upon the atmosphere at the TTXGP. The curiosity in the pits. The EV grin of the would-be passers by who scored a ride on the awesome Enertrac Electric Motorcycle between charges. The camaraderie preceded on social networks, reflected now in tangible conversations of ingenuity and tech savvy discourse. A microcosm of a global industry just waiting to take hold.
It might be a little early to claim the TTXGP Daytona World Championship 2012 as the ultimate catalyst for electric motorcycle development. I might however, go so far as to say that for many it was the harbinger of some great news. The news that electric motorcycles can hold their own with both the fast and the furious at the greatest racing circuits on the globe. That there is a bunch of very clever and passionate individuals working extremely hard to ensure that motorcyclists will still be riding fast and free when gas eventually hits the wall.
In four short years it's still too early to predict the potential for electric drive. How could we? We still can't even explain what electricity is yet. We've only been playing with the 'stuff' for four hundred years. One thing is for certain. I have yet to meet a motorcyclist who has not been impressed by electric drive. It's awesome! Don't believe me? Get on down to your Catavolt, Zero, Brammo or Enertrac dealer and jump onboard to really feel what it's like to ride the lightning.
Well practice actually! With day one of the TTXGP Finals at Daytona it was all action as the Catavolt, Brammo and Munch teams got their first taste of electric motorcycle racing at Daytona International Speedway. The track is so big that Catavolt rider Jason Morris said '…our Wakefield Park Raceway in Australia would fit onto the front carpark of this place". Daytona place is massive! The entire track is awe inspiring.
Both Brammo and Munch saw top speeds in excess of 150mph on the banked track while Catavolt, using only a 6kW battery pack in the TTX75 series, reached an impressive top speed of 110mph over four laps of the track.
Interviews from the TTXGPfan
There was a great atmosphere in the pits today and the interest from the spectators was engaging. Richard Dort, aka TTXGPfan, was kept busy in the pit area interviewing all of the teams. Stay tuned to eSBK.co for the most current and up to date content direct from the track. I have a feeling that some video content will be coming your way shortly…
Electric motorcycles on the grid for the final round of the eFXC | TTXGP 2012
It was a freezing cold weekend for the finals of the eFXC | TTXGP in Australia. What's that I hear you say? Australia. Cold? Well the mercury dived to -6 degrees C at Goulburn on the weekend and the teams had to shelter from 'snow' on more than one occasion during the event. Yes, it does snow in Australia.
For the finals there were still only two bikes on the grid however Tony Castley, AKA @SplinerOz brought along his awesome electric RG250 gamma which created a stir in the pits. There were lots of test rides and needless to say the EV Grin was infecting even the most hardened of skeptics. Not one person came back disappointed. We could not resist fiming another smack talk video to show off his bike building skills. Watch SplinterOz smack talkin' now!
Electric motorcycle racing from another point of view
Long-term electric vehicle aficionado Al Bunzel from www.electriccarconversionblog.com grabbed a mic and headed for the pits where he got some interesting views from the gassers. Al was as enthusiastic as ever and his questioning techniques revealed a somewhat positive view of both the Ripperton and Catavolt motorcycles from the punters. Testament that Jon Eggenhuizen and Danny Ripperton's efforts are affecting more than just lap records at the Australian Circuits. To watch Al's interviews in full you will have to wait until the DVD of the series is released. Teaser coming soon. Stay tuned…
Catavolt competing in the TTXGP Finals at Daytona on October 19th
Forget the rumours, The CATAVOLT team is officially traveling to the TTXGP world finals at Daytona International Speedway on October 19th to compete in the TTX75 class. Team leader Jon Eggenhuizen has been working tirelessly since winning the Australian round of the eFXC | TTXGP at Wakefield Park Raceway in August 2012 to secure the necessary sponsorship funding. The team members who will be traveling to Daytona from Australia will be:
Jon Eggenhuizen - Team leader and electric motorcycle engineer Jason Morris - Rider and media presenter Ken Morris - Electric motorcycle engineer Andy Marsh - Media manager and producer
This amazing opportunity would not have been possible without the fantastic support from our sponsors.
Sponsorship and support
The CATAVOLT team have been lucky enough to secure the funding necessary to make the 15,000km trip to Daytona for the Final round of the TTXGP. Needless to say that there is a lot of excitement from the TTXGP officials as well as the long time supporters of the CATAVOLT team in Australia and abroad. The University of Newcaslte has been an outstanding promoter of the team in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. Dr Gary Ellem has been championing the sponsorship drive in the region to great affect. The CATAVOLT team would like to thank our sponsors as follows:
Round two of the Australian Electric Motorcycle Race series and once again, amid rumor and speculation, only two bikes made it to the grid. For this round both Catavolt and the Ripperton R1 Electric Superbike were carving it up at Queensland raceway, aka 'the paperclip'. While cosmetically unchanged, both Catavolt and Ripperton have undergone some serious heart surgery since the first round at Wakefield Park. Catavolt was sporting a new a123 battery pack and beefier rear wheel while Ripperton was running on some thicker motor windings and an experimental regenerative system. Catavolt was rocket fast off the line thanks to the energetic a123 cells and Danny was loving the knee down action.
Double stack hub motor from EnerTrac
The EnerTrac hub motor is providing an effective challenge to the Ripperton Electric Superbike. Catavolt rider Jason Morris commented that the bike "handles like a superbike" and that the unsprung weight was "not affecting the handling in any significant way". The addition of the new wider rim meant that Jon Eggenhuizen could "stick it with some serious racing rubber". A stronger rear shock was fitted to keep the rear wheel firmly planted on the blacktop.
A catalyst for electric motorcycle development
Considering that these two teams are largely self funded, both Danny Ripperton and Jon Eggenhuizen are inspirational in their approach to the development of their machines. More than privateers, they are electromechanical pioneers.
Through his efforts, Jon Eggenhuizen has provided the proof that the EnerTrac hub motor can last the distance and Danny Ripperton has modified the Motenergy so much that it is mechanically unrecognisable from the original stock design.
Danny Ripperton and the pursuit for electromechanical perfection
Just looking at the intricate engineering detail in the Ripperton machine is enough to humble even the most radical of skeptics. Every component must be optimised before it is added to the bike. Between each round Danny Ripperton discards these optimised parts on his persistent quest for engineering perfection. Five revisions later and his regen handlebar lever is still in 'beta'. Like some deranged electromechanical beast, the Ripperton reptile is constantly shedding it's skin.
Support for Australian electric motorcycle racing
Looking at the machines in the pits and on the track it is difficult to comprehend than only one year of development has taken place since they first hit the track. The pace of development is significant. One can only imagine how quickly this technology might evolve given the right kind of support and financial injection. It is great to see Catavolt gaining the support of their sponsors Solar Power Australia, ImpactAV and The University of Newcastle. The Ripperton machine remains fully self funded.
The final round at Wakefield Park
August is fast approaching and the final round will see the teams back at Wakefield Park in NSW. It is rumored that Danny Ripperton is once again modifying his motor in an effort to take the Championship for 2012. In the interim, Jon Eggenhuizen is busy at work perfecting his 'water misting system' which he promises to be a temporary measure, before the EnetTrac gets some serious 'Liquid Cooling'. Exciting times…
Armed with an entire season of data collection on some of Australia's most rigorous motorcycle racing circuits from 2011, the Electric Motorcycle racing teams were back on the grid for 2012. This time it was at Wakefield Park for the first round of the eFXC | TTXGP Australian Electric Motorcycle Championship.
Now we're faster!
After a foggy start to the day on Friday the first practice session kicked off. Given that the teams had over six months tinker time since the last racing season, it was no surprise that they were faster than last year. The question was, 'how much faster?" The first times were in and Catavolt had gained fifteen seconds on last years race times. It was well noted that the Catavolt machine needed to up the ante on the straights as all bets were on Ripperton for the highest straight line speed.
On first outing it was evident that builder Jon Eggenhuizen had been busy indeed. Catavolt's performance was a lot better than last season. After a couple of practice sessions with the gassers it was evident that Catavolt was posing a major threat to the Ripperton camp. Daniel Sailer was oficially "watching his back".
The first thing to be changed on the machines were tyres. After the practice sessions, Catavolt Rider Jason Morris immediately took the bike to Whites Racing Products where the track side tyre specialist, Craig White, proposed some Sava soft compound racing tyres for the Enertrac rear hub. Craig explained that "the original Catavolt tyre was too large for the rim which had an adverse effect on the profile. It was affecting handling so badly that Jason fought hard to avoid coming off in the corners. He almost highsided the machine on more than one occasion. It took just over one hour to change the tyre on the Enertrac hub. Most of that was removing and replacing the complex rear wheel assembly on the machine. This non-standard setup was engineered to allow more cooling to the electric windings in the motors.
Champion Supermono rider takes Ripperton R1 for a practice session
Meanwhile the top supermono rider Shaun Geronimi took the Ripperton R1 Electric Superbike for some warm up laps to get the feel for an electric machine. His first reaction was that the tyres were completely wrong for the bike. Ripperton too was off to the tyre shed for some more traction. Shaun commented that it was "brilliant fun to race the Electric" and that it was "not what I had expected at all". It was awesome!
No more novelty, this here is racin'
Discussions in the pits had changed from worries about batteries and motors to more competitive 'race talk' concerning tyres, racing lines and tactics. The pressure was on both teams and for the first time since the series began and there was nothing stopping the bikes from racing. All of the lessons learned last season were implemented which made for an enjoyable race meet with lots of friendly rivalry in the pit area.
Poles apart but still close performance
Both Jon Eggenhuizen with the Catavolt machine and Daniel Sailer with the Ripperton R1 have approached their builds using very different technologies. Catavolt with the Enertrac rear hub powered by Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries and Ripperton with an eighty percent customised, liquid cooled, Motenergy AC motor running Lithum Polymer cells. This gives the engineers the unique oppotunity to collect data on how both of these technologies perform under extreme racing conditions. The Catavolt setup is significantly heavier than the Ripperton R1 yet it performs almost on a par with the R1. With a lighter battery setup Catavolt might prove difficult to catch. The extra weight on Catavolt, and the fact that the Daelim frame is not a tried and tested race chassis like the R1, hampers the teams ability to get the most from the setup. When asked about this, Jon mentioned that there was a third iteration of the Catavolt machine "in the works". Brilliant!
Now we're fast and reliable
Reliability was a major factor last season with all of the teams experiencing technical failures at the events. This time was different. The instigation of mandatory battery management systems on the machines meant that there were less battery problems, although Jon Eggenhuizen was seen to be working on some 'spare cells' for a while.
The speeds were certainly up with both bikes clocking over 170kmh on the straights and managing lap times of just shy of 1:15. This is still 15 seconds slower than the gassers however considering the technical challenges in building electric motorcycles to racing spec, and that this is only the second year of development, it's big news!
Both bikes were so evenly matched that there was no way of knowing which would be the winner. It was purely down to rider skill and dare it be said, a little luck.
Pushing the engineering envelope
At the end of the event Daniel was keen to point out that "I have three months of lab time before the next race". A true testament to Daniel's drive and determination. Considering that Daniel Sailer's lab packs some serious cnc engineering horsepower, there is no way of knowing what to expect from the Ripperton R1 for the next round. There is no doubt that Daniel is keen on making good on his claim that the Ripperton R1 Electric Superbike really is bigger, better and faster than last year.
Sponsorship opportunities, get onboard or put a bike on the grid
There is no doubt that this electric motorcycle racing thing is here to stay. In Australia alone, the event gets broadcast coverage with the FX Superbikes on Australia's SBS TV channel and the media department at EVMOTORCYCLE.ORG (aka me), has been working overtime to get the word out about this series. There are some serious media opportunities now available considering the growing interest in this arena. If you want to be part of this exciting event contact email@example.com now!
Next on the agenda
The next outing for the electrics will be 20th-22nd July when they head north to Queensland Raceway near Brisbane QLD. The paperclip awaits!