Volt Motorcycles shows us why perseverance always wins
Inspired by the work of Lightning Motors’ Richard Hatfield, and sponsored by their employer ThunderStruck Motors, Eland Eggers and Loren Crotty began electrifying a 2001 Yamaha R1 in 2008. (more history here) They competed in the 2010 TTXGP at Infineon, but were unable to complete the race, as their bike overheated. Volt returned in 2011 and won the TTX75, setting the lap record at 2:09. What I love most about their story is that Eland was able to secure a job at Zero Motorcycles as a result of his work in developing the Volt, and perseverance. This year, he had a little help from his boss, Zero’s Director of EE and veteran racer Kenyon Kluge. Kenyon rode the bike to the win and helped with the development.
The Volt is powered by a 105 volt/55hp AC Induction motor from Hi Performance EV Systems and they managed to get the bike 100 pounds below the 440 pound weight limitation. I’d love to see the kind of lap times they could do on this bike with 100 more pounds of batteries…
Yes, Volt DNF’d in 2010. Yes, these are (were) students on a shoestring budget. But they hustled up some sponsorship, persisted in trying to get the sort of jobs they dreamt of, and came back with a winning bike. Why so few of their 2010 competitors did the same is beyond me. Eland Eggers was denied an internship at Zero but is now working there, along with Kenyon Kluge. IEEE Spectrum has a great story about how Kenyon found his way to Zero.
Don’t Dream It. Be It.
Those of us who are passionate about electric vehicles have a responsibility. That responsibility is to keep the dream alive however we can. I do what I can through writing, but the longer I go without actually owning an electric motorcycle, the more I feel like a hypocrite. This is why I am doing my best to secure a ride for future TTX75 races. I’ve done sub-2:00 lap times at Infineon, so I know that if I could manage the battery life well enough (which is easier now that the races are shorter) I could do great in this series. I’ve been wanting to convert my old race bike, a 2-stroke Aprilia RS250, but of course that couldn’t be ready until the 2012 series, even if I can find the money.
However, if more competitors don’t step up to the plate, there may not be a 2012 series. The organizers, whether they be TTXGP, ePower, AMA or FIM are all beholden to bring entertainment, in the form of full grids. I know there are plenty more electric bikes capable of competing, especially in the TTX75. I fear that some are letting perfectionism keep them out of the race. Even if they DNF or come in last place, it’s still miles ahead of the engineer who’s eternally tinkering away in search of perfection, his precious creation never seeing the light of day. I fear this industry may never get up to speed for a lack of Project Managers to keep all these talented Engineers on task.