CHARGE! Documenting the Birth of A Revolution

PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON for Sponsor Absolute Vacuum

Mark Neale has done it again! As a big fan of his films about MotoGP, I was very eager to see Charge, his take on TTXGP. Neale did an excellent job conveying the level of perseverance and innovation needed to compete in this series. The film focuses primarily on two very different teams as they prepare for the first TTXGP race at Isle of Man in 2009, then follows them through the race and their return to the Island for the 2010 race. The photograph above is typical of the sort of dramatic leaps the 1,000cc gas bikes display on this treacherous road course. I was unable to find any photographs this dramatic for the electric bikes. But someday… Chip Yates‘ bike already has the power (240hp!) but at 580 pounds, his bike may not catch as much air as the sub-400 pound gas bikes in that class. Unfortunately, IOM is not on his schedule this year.

Having met many of the teams in Albacete, I felt Neale did a great job of conveying their personalities and backgrounds. The contrast between Czysz’s operation and Agni’s made for great drama. The personalities are so compelling, the stories so impressive, the film is a must-see for anyone who’s ever wondered what it takes to bring their dreams to fruition. I especially recommend watching it with children, as it’s very inspirational. Then turn them into Young Makers!

Charge is a heartwarming story of triumph over the challenges of creating completely new products and subjecting them to the most rigorous performance testing on earth. Complete with plenty of spectacular on-bike footage, Charge does a great job of showing the true drama of racing at Isle of Man. Sadly, I still have yet to experience the Island except as an arcade video game and through the excellent book by racer Mark Gardiner, Riding Man. A visit there is in my plans for 2012, and someday I will race there. TT week at the Isle of Man is something every motorcycle race fan must experience at least once.

What the film doesn’t cover so much are the heroic efforts of Azhar Hussain to make this happen in the first place. While the Minister for the Environment at Isle of Man was completely behind it from the start, few others were. Azhar does not like to be in the limelight, but by creating this competition, he has sparked the development of many electric superbikes where before there were just one or two hobbyists with nowhere to really develop their creations. However, even builders such as Michael Uhlarik, who has not yet competed in TTXGP, are quick to point out that Azhar sparked a revolution which has quickly turned this (the quest for a proper electric sportbike) into an industry priority. The event at Isle of Man is no longer managed by TTXGP, and makes for a tight shipping schedule for anyone wanting to race the TTXGP at Loudon the following weekend. However, I’m glad it’s still happening, as that course is truly the ultimate test of any vehicle.

The TT Zero race will be on Wednesday June 8th, but it’s unclear whether it will be televised. Odd, considering the title sponsor is a satellite provider. More about that here. MotoCzysz came close to “breaking the ton” last year, with an average lap speed of 96.82mph. I hope to see this critical milestone achieved in 2011. It only took the gas bikes about 50 YEARS to break the ton. Moore’s law on FFWD, as usual in electric motorcycle racing! You can order the DVD of Charge here.

Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.