MotoCzysz has just released specs on its new bike for this year’s Isle of Man, giving us the opportunity to see how it stacks up to the other heavyweight electric contender. While Chip Yates won’t be racing at the TT (he’s doing the Pikes Peak Hillclimb on June 26, instead), he is campaigning the only comparable electric motorcycle. But, with only 200bhp to Yates’ 240, just how comparable is the 2011 MotoCzysz E1pc?
Photo: David Folch (2010 model)
Here’s video of Czysz’s new motor undergoing dyno testing at their Portland, Oregon shop. The team plans to enter two bikes in this year’s TT Zero: the all-new 2011 E1pc, ridden by Michael Rutter, while last year’s winner, Mark Miller, will ride a heavily upgraded 2010 model.
Let’s take a look at the traditional performance yardsticks: power, torque and weight. If acceleration can be expressed as a motorcycle’s ability to overcome weight (friction and aerodynamic resistance are discounted here because they’re too damn complicated), then the amount of work a motor is capable of delivering and how fast it can perform that work, compared to weight, is as accurate an illustration of straight line performance as we’re able to arrive at using a calculator and our rudimentary math skills. While Czysz is packing less power and torque than Yates, he’s managed to pack that power into a drastically lighter package. Currently stated as “under 500lbs” we’re using a weight of 495lbs or 224kg as an estimate for this comparison.
In Pikes Peak race trim, the bike Chip made in his Orange County, CA garage puts out 240bhp, 400lb/ft of torque and weighs a rather hefty 265kg. That gives it a power-to-weight ratio of .905bhp to kilo. Torque to weight is 1.509 pound feet for every kilo.
Czysz hasn’t released a torque figure, just saying that the 2011 bike is up 30 percent over the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc at the rear wheel. That could very well be due to gearing, but for the purposes of simple comparison, we’re going to assume a 30 percent boost on last year’s 250lb/ft: 319lb/ft. The 200bhp figure is official though, giving the estimated 224kg electric racer a power-to-weight ratio of .893bhp to kilogram and a torque-to-weight ratio of 1.424.
Chip guarantees speedy pizza delivery.
So the Chip Yates bike has a clear advantage, right? Well, all other variables being even, maybe in a straight line over limited distance. Because of his drastically smaller budget, Chip is buying in battery packs where MotoCzysz is designing and building their own. Where Chip has had to put a giant Pizza delivery box on the back of his modified GSX-R750 to hold just 11.5kWh, Czysz was able to fit 12.5kWh close to the ideal center of gravity on last year’s bike. Again, this year’s E1pc will pack more, we just don’t know how much. Chip can complete 6-lap WERA club races whereas the E1pc is designed to lap the 36.6-mile TT Mountain Course, likely averaging in excess of 100mph this year.
Just for shits and giggles, let’s compare those electric superbike specs to a traditional ICE superbike. The current Yamaha R1 makes 180bhp, 85lb/ft and weighs 206kg (wet). That gives it a .874 bhp-to-kg ratio and a .412 lb/ft-to-kg. Why is it faster? Well, in a drag race, it’s not. Chip bested many ICE literbikes in his record-breaking 190mph Mojave Mile run. But, that R1 would still hand either electric its ass around a course like the TT’s; the energry density of gasoline is still drastically superior that of even the latest lithium-ion batteries, meaning the the R1 is free to use more of it’s power for much longer.
That energy density disparity is the next big challenge. MotoCzysz claims they’ve made some significant gains this year, while Yates has publicly challenged his team to increase his bike’s efficiency so it will be able to do more with less. His goal is to be able to complete an AMA Pro race distance using batteries only. Czysz is also claiming a 20 percent increase in efficiency at 100mph for the 2011 bike.
TT Zero takes place on June 8th, look for live coverage here. Pikes Peak is on June 26th, I’ll be there.