Wired is reporting that motorcycle racer Chip Yates and his team have developed a 240-horsepower electric “superbike” that is capable of producing a phenomenal 365 foot-pounds of torque. They plan to race it in the June 29 running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Although the bike weighs an ungainly 585 pounds, the amount of power it produces easily makes it a contender against gasoline-powered machines.
An earlier version of the bike, with 194 horsepower, managed to reach speeds of 158 mph and earned Yates a second- and third-place finish in the WERA Motorcycle Road Racing Heavyweight Twins races in Fontana, California. Wired reports Yates as saying, “I was surprised. I was thinking, optimistically, that I’d like to be fifth or sixth. I was over the moon. There’s no way we figured we’d get a podium.” While electric motorcycles have been racing for some time, none of them have challenged gasoline-powered machines in the way Yates’ bike has.
The Pikes Peak race will be a real challenge. It is one of hardest courses in motor sports, rising from 9,390 to 14,110 feet through 156 turns in just over 12 miles. The terrain includes dirt and gravel as well as pavement. In Yates’ favor will be the advantages of an electric bike: there is no performance loss due to elevation, as there is with gasoline-powered vehicles, and an electric bike doesn’t need to rev up in order to power forward. The bike’s 365 foot-pounds of torque is available the minute Yates twists the throttle.
We, along with a lot of others, are looking forward to seeing what this bike can do. Although Yates doesn’t plan on commercially developing the motorcycle, it’s this kind of innovation that will surely help transform the industry.