Chip Yates plans speed record for final electric motorcycle act

Dailies -



As the final act in what’s sure to go down in history as one of the most significant careers in electric motorcycling, Chip Yates plans to set a new land speed record. So far this year, the defense contractor emerged from motorcycling obscurity to achieve performance parity with ICE in WERA racing, outpace liter bikes at the Mojave Mile and successfully race up Pikes Peak. An attempt at the official FIM electric motorcycle land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats late this month is a fitting conclusion for the fastest electric motorcycle ever.

Photo: Grant Ray

“What a whirlwind year we’ve had – with my first electric race in January, 2011 and my last race in September, 2011, it’s been a short run for sure, but seriously punctuated with near-death experiences and record-breaking left and right that sometimes felt like we were achieving the impossible,” Chip told us a few minutes ago. “I always pushed the limits of technology, budget, and my own riding for every event – willing to risk my own safety in the name of progress.  Hopefully people could see that and maybe history will reflect kindly on our efforts one day.  In any event, I’m very proud and I feel like we did alot with very little: three part-time volunteers, some kind sponsors, a wonderful electric motor, and no outside money.  I’ve been very moved by the public interest and media coverage we have been blessed with – at the summit of Pikes Peak I broke down and had a couple tears inside my helmet brought on by some mixed emotions: suffering, sacrifice, risk, achievements, even a little glory, but also the knowledge that the end of this incredible run was in sight.”

Chip’s efforts are especially impressive because he and his all-volunteer team are an independent garage effort with very little in the way of resources. He’s succeeded where relatively well-funded efforts have faltered. Chip only began racing motorcycles of any kind in 2007.

The official land speed record for electric motorcycles stands at 173mph, a speed which Chip has already shattered, hitting 190mph at the Mojave Mile. With refined aerodynamics and more power, he should go even fast at the BUB Speed Trials, which kick off August 27th.

So what’s next? Chip’s lips are sealed, but he tells us that while he’s retiring his electric superbike, he’s by no means retiring himself.

“One can never be sure where I may end up,” jokes Chip. “With my dashing good looks, affable nature, and rapist’s wit, the sky’s the limit.”

  • rohorn

    Uh, shouldn’t that be “, and rapier wit, “?

    • matt

      ugh. yes. Is it unreasonable to ask the moderator to make that adjustment to the article? Clearly that was his intension, despite having poked himself with that rapier.

      • pinkyracer

        he pointed out on Twitter that the mistake was intentional and from a movie.

        • Brian

          That quote was from the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” Exactly.

          • rohorn

            Thank you for enlightening the cinemagraphically challenged…

  • Dr. Gellar

    Truly amazing what Yates and company have managed to do with their electric superbike. I still wish though that TTXGP/FIM e-Power hadn’t more or less outlawed his bike by introducing weight-maximum rules in their series. While I think it is great what these guys have done, I would have loved to see Yates race his machine against Mission, MotoCzysz and the others in front of the MotoGP crowd at Laguna Seca. Heck, his bike would have very likely been the most powerful bike on the track in any class….MotoGP included.

    • Coreyvwc

      I’ve seen that bike in action earlier this year, it could not compete with Mission and probably not Czysz either. The Mission is putting down AMA super sport lap times while I watched Chip’s bike get destroyed by an amateur riding a 70hp air cooled Ducati.

      Chips bike obviously has MUCH MORE power, but power isn’t everything as we all know. I hope he can put together a more refined E-racer with a similar power load. That would be something to see!

      • Dr. Gellar

        Interesting you mention the Yates bike getting destroyed by a 70hp air-cooled Ducati, after all the hype that was generated of them beating 1,000′s at AutoClub Speedway earlier this year (granted, they were mostly 650cc-1,000cc twins). That helps to put things a little better into perspective. Still, I think it would have made the Laguna Seca electric race that more interesting by having them on the grid.

        Like you and some of the others below have mentioned, I’d like to see Yates’ bike refined and taken to the next level next season, especially if an OEM were to end up purchasing the technology he and his team have so far developed. Hopefully drop some weight and make it less pizza-delivery bike and more electric GP racer.

  • pinkyracer

    I really hope him and his team are being scooped up by one of the OEM’s to head their e-bike development. I want e-bikes to go mainstream, dammit.

  • michael uhlarik

    Chip is … finished?

    That really sucks. I had hoped to see a lot more refinement of this basic concept.

  • Will

    He’s finished with the evolution of just this machine, or electric bikes period?

  • Scott-jay

    Break the record, go fast!
    Good on ya’, Chip.

  • Kyle

    Lightning just went 205mph at Bonneville, Chip better step his game up!! Good luck to him

  • T Diver

    So Chip is done with e-bikes? That’s weak. Thanks for ruining my Monday.