This weekend saw us crowning the first Moto E Grand Prix winner, Niki Tuuli. This historic event at the Sachsenring was slightly overshadowed by Marquez winning for the 10th consecutive time and claiming his 10th pole in a row. However, what happened in Moto E is far more significant for the sport. Although the race didn’t go off without a hitch, claiming a major accident and a restart, it was a huge moment for motorcycling. We got a glimpse into the future, because like it or not the world is moving to electric. “Environmentally conscious” people are demanding all electric to be the future, and putting a squeeze on manufacturers with increased regulation. Automakers are complying by pumping out concept after concept on their latest electric technology. Without getting into the blind spot left by these environmentalists calling for this, where this electricity comes from. Electricity is billed as the future of power so I’m sure those issues will be cleaned up after these individuals are made aware of its production. Motorcycles, however, have not seen this massive revolution. They got to skip out on the hybrid tech from cars because good luck finding space on a motorcycle for two separate engines as well as batteries and other tech required for these hybrids. Now that the electric era is becoming more mainstream some bike makers are jumping on board since this is feasible in a Motorcycle platform.
The crucible of Motorsport fixes all issues, as we know. We have seen this with the success of Formula E. This racing series has taken the all electric car to new heights. This season has seen the introduction of the Gen. 2 cars, boasting longer battery life with larger output. They have delivered with no more mid race battery swaps, higher top speed, and better acceleration numbers. This has taken 5 years to achieve with the constant work of Enel and the manufactures of the cars. We should rejoice at this crowning achievement because racing tech usually ends up on the road. We have seen time and again F1 technology in road cars with mixed results, looking at you Ferrari. However, even with the quirky and marmite nature of some of these designs, the technical achievements cannot be denied. F1 has created faster and more efficient cars, especially with the recent use of hybrid tech. Now with Formula E we should see some of these same trends with makers such as BMW, Audi, Nissan, and others using the things they learn in this racing series in their new electric offerings. The main item the manufactures have been able to work on is the inverter that delivers power from the battery to the motor. The efficient use of this procedure and power delivery will be instrumental in the cars performance. This is huge for us as motorists, because unless you’re willing to fork out for a Tesla you won’t be finding many interesting choices.
Enter Moto E. The newest racing series is a blatant copy of the Formula E development of F1. This is huge, showing the motorcyclists refuse to be left behind. As usual the tech has taken a few years to make it to motorcycles after cars but it’s finally here. Now we get to sit back and watch it progress. Moto E is similar to Formula E in that Enel is a large part and the major components of the bikes are all made by the same manufacturer. Energencia has provided two bikes per team with some exceptions. With a similar power output as Moto 2 bikes they are nothing to scoff at. The baseline figures for the bikes are pretty good compared to many consumer bikes in respects to both range and output. I would expect Moto E to create the largest advancements in this technology, pushing the race distance further and further and the bikes faster and faster. Also, importantly for us interested in continuing to ride bikes, the price of these machines should begin to fall as the price of electric cars has begun to. As of now, you can get a more powerful bike in the consumer world, the Lightning LS-218, with a massive 200hp and a top speed of 218mph. So Moto E has a little catching up to do in the power department, however to be able to finish a race they had to sacrifice some power since the bikes will be driven flat out for a large race distance. The gains here will drop the price of a bike with performance similar to the Lightning, which sits well above most bikes at almost $40,000. The end product could be a motorcycle that has over 200hp but a range comparable to internal combustion bikes and hopefully around the same price as the top spec liter bikes, interested now?
Many manufactures have already jumped aboard the electric boat, with Yamaha, BMW, KTM, and even Harley coming out with electric bikes. This competition will drive costs down and force even more innovation. I would love to see many of these manufactures being more involved in the Moto E races. Energencia themselves provides consumer motorcycles, however at a very inflated price point. Bring that price down and making gains in battery tech would be very advantageous for the consumer. The larger companies getting involved, with their large budget for R&D, would also give a huge push. Right now, most electric bikes are produced by boutique manufactures in small quantities and limited models, with Zero being at the front of the line. This shift to electric could see bikes being more efficient than cars. All the same principles apply as they did with internal combustion. Motorcycles have less mass requiring less power, in turn meaning smaller batteries and less charge time. This is the largest hand up for most consumers with electric cars is long charge times with smaller range. This makes room for motorcycles with their smaller batteries to give the environmentalists what they truly desire, a method of transportation that is small, wholly electric, and will not take an hour plus to charge every 100 miles. And as usual us petrol heads will get our models with ridiculous power, but with some of the other benefits of range and charge-ability.
If you have made it this far, thank you! Comment your thoughts; where do you think motorcycle tech will go next?