Riding the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc

Dailies, Galleries -

By

Winning races at the Isle of Man and Laguna Seca and reaching a top speed of 163mph at Bonneville, the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc is the most advanced electric superbike ever made. Equipped with a liquid-cooled motor delivering 120bhp and 250lb/ft of torque, it also promises to be the first capable of performing like the gasoline-powered sportsbikes of today. We took it to Oregon Raceway Park to find out if the future is worth looking forward to.

Following an RC8-mounted Michael Czysz around Oregon Raceway Park, I’m having trouble keeping up. Not because the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc can’t match the KTM through the off-camber corners or blind crests, but because all I can think about is what this one-off prototype costs. “$200 to $300,000,” Czysz told me before I climbed on board. More than ten times the cost of the bike he’s now riding.

My fear of destroying a decent-sized suburban house’s worth of Lithium-Ion batteries, carbon fiber and liquid-cooled motor comes to rapid halt when we suddenly run out of juice. But not with the bike you’d think. After a full afternoon’s fast track riding — an estimated 55 miles’ worth — the KTM has run out of gas. The E1pc? It’s got 15 percent battery life left. After over three hours of hard, but not continuous, riding, the MotoCzysz has only travelled 85 percent of its maximum range, all for just a few cents extra on the track’s electricity bill. Still worried about the range of electric motorcycles?

I’m riding the same bike that soared to victory at the Isle of Man’s TT Zero race in June and won the FIM E-Power race at Laguna Seca in July. This same bike reached 163mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats last month.

Michael has no plans to produce any more E1pcs, but he says that if a well-healed customer really wants one, he could build a second for around $120,00, or about the same price as a Tesla Roadster. He’s not trying to do that though, work has already started on the 2011 model.

With a row of  five exposed batteries highlighted by blue-glowing LEDs running down each side and a tiny tail section designed to allow the rider to slide back into a more aerodynamic riding position, the E1pc looks like no bike before it, but it does look like the future. Aside from the electrical components, including the oil-cooled motor hidden inside the swingarm, the E1pc makes use of other prototype components invented by Czysz. There’s the 6X-Flex forks that allow sideways flex suspension action at extreme lean angles and minimizes unsprung weight and complication with a single Ohlins monoshock mounted in front of the headstock. The “frameless” design includes an abbreviated carbon subframe that attaches the front suspension to the battery suitcase and serves as a duct to flow air from the front, through to the top of the rear wheel to break up the low pressure point there. Rather than the dual rear springs of the gasoline-powered C1, this E1pc uses a centrally-mounted rear monoshock because of that somehow tiny motor being positioned inside the swingarm. That motor makes 120bhp and 250lb/ft at the wheel, but is smaller than a single one of the three Agni motors Czysz ran last year thanks to its oil-cooling, which eliminates the need for significant added metal mass to serve as a heat sink. Oil cooling also allows the motor to operate continuously at a point close to its peak power. Those above figures can be delivered as long as the batteries hold out, not for mere fractions of a second as on air-cooled designs. The whole thing weighs just 525lbs, ready to ride.

To start the E1pc, you have to disable two safeties, switch the kill switch to “on,” then…nothing. No noise, no vibration, just a tiny green LED glowing in the otherwise incomprehensible instrument cluster. Starting needs to be this complex because there’s no other sign that the motor is on, but twisting the throttle now will deliver acceleration.

Accelerate it does, but not right away. Open the throttle, wait a second, and after a brief hesitation the E1pc will carefully pull away. Michael says the program that restricts torque delivery at low speeds needs more work, but that the system is calibrated for road racing anyways, not the stop/start of city riding.

Compact like a supersport 600, Michael’s tailored the riding position for his own 6’ 1” frame (he raced it himself at Laguna). At 6’ 6”, the pegs are impossibly high for me. Add in the very low handlebars and I can barely fit onboard.

Pass 20mph and the onboard computers start to allow more torque. As it actually starts to work, the motor also starts delivering its spaceship whoosh sound. I’ve ridden just about every other electric bike and this one sounds like nothing else on earth. With no vibration, no gearshifts and no clutch, the motor starts moving you forward like a giant invisible hand pushing you along.

At these speeds, the throttle is direct, clear and works without hesitation. The E1pc is, dare I say it, easy to ride; an especially good thing on a track this complex. It’s not until 60mph that the motor is free to deliver its full power and torque. Above that speed, acceleration feels at least as strong as an R6 at full throttle. Very fast, if not liter bike strong. Unlike the R6, there’s no 16,000 rpm scream or the punctuation of gear shifts, but that’s not to say there’s no aural sensations. The motor sounds like the Millennium Falcon kicking into warp drive.

Approaching turn 1, it’s not the futuristic powertrain that catches me out, it’s the race-quality brakes. A brush of the front level pushes the slick front tire into the track and I nearly come to a complete halt. There’s no doubting that this is indeed a racing motorcycle. It’s OK if you screw up the entrance of a turn though, the 250lb/ft allows you to make up time on the exit.

Exploring the limits of the E1pc’s chassis is made difficult both by my size — shifting side to side is particularly difficult, but it feels like the bike should steer reasonably fast — and my knowledge of how much it’d cost me if I make a mistake — but at these speeds I’m reminded most of a Hayabusa. Like that bike, the MotoCzysz carries its weight very low, but the comparison ends there as the wheelbase is much shorter and the forks raked far more steeply.

Unlike other electric bikes, the E1pc is equipped with regenerative braking, which feels just like engine braking as you roll off for a corner, but helps add some range to the batteries as it recovers kinetic energy. I don’t even miss the clutch.

As I pull back into the pits and pull of my helmet to tell Czysz what I think, we both detect the smell of burnt brake pads. My size 13 Sidis had been unintentionally dragging the rear brake all the way around the track. “I swear, it’s a lot faster when you let off the rear brake,” mocks Michael.

“The 2011 model is scheduled for January,” says Michael back at his Portland HQ. “It will be lighter, more powerful and have even more component integration. For example, there’ll be a single cooling system instead of the three it now has.”

“If you compare the 2009 version — the one that failed at the Isle of Man — there were too many wires and too many chances of a problem. And the Lithium Phosphate batteries were wider and heavier. On this 2010 version, there is a single engine delivering the same power and just one controller.”

“We are refining the programming of the regenerative braking to try to stick as closely as possible to an ICE engine brake. The software can be customized based on the tastes and needs of the rider.”

As we talk, Terry Czysz, MotoCzysz mechanic and Michael’s dad, is re-installing the 10 1.25kWh battery packs back on the bike. It only took three hours and 40 minutes to charge them fully on standard 110v/10amp outlets. At his pace, Terry takes, at most, five minutes to reinstall all 10 battery packs.

“See, in race conditions with two guys, one on each side, we can change the batteries in less than a minute,” says Michael. “We are ready for Endurance!”

Specifications:

Chassis
Frame- “Frame-less” Carbon Fiber
Wheelbase- 1455mm (57.3in)
Rake- 22.5 degrees
Trail- adjustable from 87.5mm-100mm (3.5-4in)
Head Angle- 22.5 degrees
Front suspension- Proprietary 6X-Flex custom Ohlins shock
Front wheel travel- 114.3mm (4.5in)
Front wheel- Marchesini 10-spoke magnesium 3.50 x 17
Front Tire- Pirelli Diablo Superbike 120/70 R17
Rear suspension- Concentric swingarm with linked, fully adjustable custom Ohlins TTX monoshock
Rear wheel travel- 127mm (5in)
Rear wheel- Marchesini 10-spoke Magnesium 6.00 x 17
Rear tire- Pirelli Diablo Superbike 190/55 R17
Front brake- 2 x 320mm full-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc calipers 4-piston, 2-pad
Rear brake- 220mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Weight- 238kg (525lbs)
Seat height- 800mm (31.5in)

Batteries
Energy-12.5kWh
Voltage- 330V+

Motor
Type- Proprietary Liquid Cooled, Permanent Magnet, Brushless DC (IPM)
Power- 95+kW / 125+hp
Torque- 338 Nm / 250-lb-ft
Motor Controller- 100kW Liquid Cooled

Transmission
Single Speed Chain Drive

David Folch is the tallest San Francisco-based, French motorcycle journalist in the world. He rode the E1pc at Oregon Raceway Park and took these pictures of Michael riding it at Laguna Seca and in Oregon.

  • designboy

    Is this correct? – “That motor makes 120bhp and 250lb/ft at the wheel”

    This is impressive power, but very low rear wheel torque if that’s what’s being delivered through the gearing…

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      That’s correct and that’s exceptionally high torque.

    • pdx_rr

      Literbikes have peak torque in the high 70′s to high 80′s ft/lb range, depending on the dyno and test conditions.

      The E1pc is putting out 3 TIMES that much torque. To the rear wheel. Yowza!

    • g.r.b

      250 is ” low torque” for a motorcycle?!?!?? you dont know much about bikes do you, that is impressive!, and 120hp is what supersports are doing, that is in no way “impressive power” for a “superbike”, dont know what your thinking… maybe you should learn more about motorbikes, and about what each torque and power deliver in any vehicle, then i think youll find this seems like a pretty interesting proposal, certainly one i would like to try

      • designboy

        Wow. Ok. You got me… I don’t know about bikes. Or… could it be that:

        250 lb-ft IS impressive at the motor, but that’s not what the article said… it said it was “at the wheel”.

        A TZ250 with 40 lb-ft multiplied through a gearbox and final drive is going to be upwards of 500 lb-ft “at the wheel” in first gear and will still be near 250 lb-ft in 4th.

        So… if we assume that the article is indeed wrong and the torque figure is at the motor output shaft, then the real question is – What is the final drive ratio through the reduction and to the rear wheel?

      • SPEKTRE76

        I agree with that first statement!

        Second I can’t imagine having the power of God right under me. Wow, what would 250lb’s of torque feel like. Maybe a Wookie tearing your arms off? I want to see some 0-60mph and 0-100-0mph times.

        • seanslides

          0-60 2.9 seconds.
          0-100, I’m not sure, but probably about the same as a supersport.

          Acceleration on a lot of bikes (especially under 80) is limited by weight distribution, chassis geometry, and wheelbase.

          What I’m saying is this: Try to accelerate faster than that, and you’ll stop making forward progress and instead just lift the front wheel.

          @designboy

          Yeah, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Dyno readings reflect horsepower at the motor, minus driveline losses. Gearing has nothing to do with it. Force applied to the rear wheel is not a number that really needs to be measured; especially not torque. With gearing, you can manipulate that number to be anything you want it to, but it really doesn’t matter. Torque is a static measurement, whereas horsepower is torque over time, which is what were concerned with when it comes to doing things over time, like hauling ass around a track.

          Kapeshe?

          • Ben Purvis

            The problem here is that we’ve been conditioned to understand power and torque figures in terms of petrol engines, which are inevitably used along with gearboxes which act as torque multipliers. The figures we’re used to seeing – say 150bhp and 70lbft from a 1000cc petrol engine are actually fairly meaningless, since we’re only used to experiencing them via a gearbox.
            Since I’m sure the Motoczysz also has reduction gearing between the motor spindle and rear tyre, it’s actual torque at the tyre will also be greater than 250lbft.

            So designboy has a point – at the rear wheel (or more accurately, at the rear tyre) in 1st gear a conventional bike will make many times as much torque as is shown on its dyno graph. And just as many times less power.
            Equally, an electric motor may manage 250lbft of torque, but as its rotational speed increases that torque reduces (unlike a petrol engine, where torque builds towards a peak where the engine is working most efficiently).

            Power is a much more accurate and consistent figure to consider. Put it this way: give me a long enough lever, and I can easily make 250lbft of torque with one hand. But I can’t make 120bhp simply using my own muscles, whatever tools you give me. Power is the speed at which torque can be delivered – work over time – and that’s what gives bikes their performance.

            Electric powertrains have an advantage over gasoline engines in that they are far more efficient in converting the chemical energy stored in their batteries into movement. With a petrol engine, as much as 70 percent of the potential chemical power in the fuel is wasted as noise and heat, with only around 30 percent actually being turned into a rotational force.
            However, electric vehicles are hampered massively by the power density of their batteries compared with the power density of petrol. Even the best modern batteries struggle to have one tenth the power density of petrol. In short, there’s so much power stored in a gallon of petrol that, even when 70 percent is wasted, it can still deliver a massive punch for its size and weight.

            While electricity is wonderful as a way of moving power around, and a fantastically simple to convert into other forms of power – be it kinetic energy, or light, or heat – it’s a nightmare to store. If that problem is ever solved then we won’t miss petrol engines in the slightest, but at the moment, and even looking towards future developments of battery technology, that point is still way over the horizon.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Czysz says that measured with the gearing taken into account, the torque is actually 600-850+lb/ft at the rear wheel depending on the gear ratio.

      • designboy

        Thank you!

  • Pamberjack

    You can tell that the battery technology isn’t there yet – just look at the size of them…

    Until you get them down to something more fuel-tank-sized-and weighted, I don’t really see this technology as realistic or viable for most of us.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      In an electric powertrain, batteries are sort of the engine and fuel tank combined, while the motor is sort of the transmission. Relatively speaking, the sizes aren’t disproportionate.

      What we need is a bit more energy and a bit less cost.

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Fantastic article. That really gives me a better understanding of the bike.

    I can only imagine how weird that would be to ride… like a superbike scooter. But it all sounds good to me – bring on the electric bikes.

  • robotribe

    Regenerative brakes mimicking the feel of ICE engine braking is awesome. That alone has me sold (if I were well-healed and my name began with “Sheik”).

  • Cajun58

    Was it difficult to stay on that ridiculous seat.

  • SPEKTRE76

    Hey Wes ask them if you can ride it around PIR? Then let Grant take the pics. By the way the gallery was so good I posted a link on the other forum I frequent. Great find and I hope to see more of the E1!

  • seanslides

    I don’t really understand the scooter comparisons; scooters flat out suck. All the electric bikes I’ve ridden rode just like bikes, just minus the shifting. I can’t wait to see what this thing can do once Czysz drops the weight a bit, and builds a fairing that doesn’t drag like an 88′ gsxr’s.

  • http://electrovelocity.com/ Ben Branch

    250ft lbs is 50 more than the Tesla Roadster. This bike could pull a semi.

  • pplassm

    Impressive performance.

    So, exactly how far did it go before “lights-out”? Did the RC8 really run it’s entire tank out before the E1pc?

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Awesome. That battery swap time is really impressive. It really freaks me out to think that when you fire up something with that much power, there is nothing but a green LED light letting you know you are okay to race.

  • Random

    Probably the most strange thing in riding an electric bike (just like scooters) is riding without a clutch. At least in scooters you have something for your left hand to do.

    The people here who have already rode an e-bike didn’t miss the clutch while riding in town? If we have something like regenerative braking we should also have a way to disengage it when going down some road (a new clutch-like lever?).

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      You don’t really miss the clutch. There’s beauty in simplicity.

  • JRl

    I want one. Great article! I’d be interested to know more about the regenerative braking system – how effective is it since it’s not integrated into the front brakes?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Regen never uses the actual brakes. In this case, it puts resistance on the motor as the rear wheel spins it while you decelerate. That turns the motor into a generator, creating enough extra juice to extend the range probably 10-ish percent or so. Not huge, but it helps.

      • JRl

        Right. Engage too much resistance and you’ll lock up the rear tire (not much pressure on that wheel under braking).

  • SPEKTRE76

    I’m impressed by the charge times. I remember back in 08 when I first heard of these teh charge times were overnighters. I think in 2020 we’ll see some good things in the eSBK world. I for sure want a Czysz and I’m willing to wait for a polished product that doesn’t cost me 300k.

  • ferrix

    Am I ‘still worried about the range of electric motorcycles’?
    Yes.
    This is 300,000 worth of technology, most of it invested into batteries, and it still can barely manage 60-70 miles of actual riding. Followed not by a pit stop at a gas station, but by a 3-hour layover while batteries recharge… probably a lot longer, if they recharge from a standard wall outlet.
    Of course I’m worried.

    • JRl

      Hence the use of swappable batteries.

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    “tallest San Francisco-based, French motorcycle journalist in the world” You forgot “killer photographer”

    I don’t recall him being as tall as all that. But then, in SF everyone’s tall so 6’6 is nothing. I am beyond jealous. Sounds like it was such a fun bike! You know, I’m only 6′ so I’d have been a much better fit. ;-) Perhaps the next gen lighter bike. I can’t imagine pushing 525lbs around! My 420lb R1 is hard enough to maneuver at high speed.

  • ferrix

    Unless swapping of batteries is supported by infrastructure as common and available as gas stations, it is of no use in the real world. It’s ok when you’re just going round in circles but I’m interested in road riding, not track.

  • http://www.davidfolch.com david folch

    Thanks all.
    @mugget : a Superbike scooter, yes in a way, because there’s no gears. The feel, the power/torque and the handling are indeed far away from a scooter, even the T-Max or the Gilera GP 800. Or… the Vectrix ? (sorry LMAO)
    @Cajun58 : not difficult to stay on this tinny seat. Just hard for my tall frame to find a good position. This is a race bike, made for M.C body. I guess he’s a bit taller than 6f…
    @SPEKTRE76 : thanks for your kind words, Grant is also any amazing photographer.
    @pplassm : I guess the KTM had a full tank when we arrived at the track (bikes were on a truck). Micheal, Terry and another rider did several hot laps with it. RC8 tank is around 16 liters. Of course, the gas bike did more laps than the E1Pc, but the fact that it ran out of juice on the track just when I was following Micheal was interesting. More a writer point of view rather than a technical test here.
    @ferrix : don’t compare apples and potato chips. One day you’ll understand the beauty of never going back to a gas station (even for a quick refill of 5 minutes) but you’ll appreciate to just plug-in your bike (car) to your garage’s outlet (or specific charger like the Tesla) and being ready in the morning to ride (drive) for an entire day. This is available today (not cheap tho) but the battery technology is evolving, we’ll be soon ready to do road-trips with electric vehicles (battery swap or even powered-road… but that’s my sci-fi dream). Quick refills are anyway never part of a nice road-trip. :-)
    @pinkyracer : Thanks !