Posts Tagged Isle of Man
My Brammo-centric obsessive compulsive disorder is working overtime this morning. I just saw this tweet from JCAMJames, who happens to work at JCAM (in Hong Kong, I think):
JCAM is the distributor of Segways and other electric vehicles in Singapore and Hong Kong, and is owned by Jackie Chan, who is in possession of some specially-modified Brammo Enertias he plans to abuse in an upcoming movie, Chinese Zodiac.
Of course, I started wondering about the significance of Macau and November, and a quick search revealed that November 18 – 21, 2010, is the weekend of the Macau Grand Prix. According to the official website:
The three headline races are the FIA Formula 3 Intercontinential Cup, the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix – 44thEdition, and the FIA World Touring Car Championship – Guia Race of Macau, with five supporting races: The Macau GT Cup, Macau Road Sport Challenge, CTM Macau Touring Car Race, Hotel Fortuna MAC/HKG Interport Race, and Formula BMW Pacific.
No mention of any electric motorcycle race there (or on the TTXGP site or the FIM ePower site). But the schedule of the event for Sunday, the 21st, states:
13:45 – 14:45 Special Event
“Special Event”? Is it too OCD of me to notice that JCAMJAMES and the Macau GP folks used the same words?
If you answered “yes,” then you’ll love this: On the Provisional Entry List of riders, is #66 – Mark Buckley. Buckley was the rider of the Brammo Enertia TTR Race Bike that finished third in the inaugural TTXGP on the Isle of Man in June 2009. Maybe it’s just another coincidence.
According to a post on the Brammo Owners Forum, Susan Carpenter, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, will be riding the Brammo TTR race bike at approximately noon on Sunday, April 18, 2010, at the Long Beach Grand Prix.
She will ride the Brammo TTR on a demo lap before the main event. Carpenter has written a few articles about the bike, as I’ve mentioned here and here, including a recent one about Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher which appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine. Her extensive video ride report is a must-see:
The Brammo TTR rode at the TTXGP last year on the Isle of Man. Brammo actually had two entries in this race, and I’m not sure which one Ms. Carpenter will be riding. Perhaps someone can fill in that information in the comments.
UPDATE: See below… Motorcycle News just pulled the article….
Motorcycle News just published an article about how the winners of 2009’s inaugural TTGXP race on the Isle of Man won’t be back to defend their title unless organizers of the TT Zero change their plans to supply this year’s teams with gasoline-powered generators. Guy Procter writes:
Team boss Arvind Rabadia says his industry will be made a laughing stock if electric race teams are forced to charge their bikes using generators: “I’ve read that generators are going to be used instead and I’m not happy about it.
“It would only take one photograph of an electric bike being charged from a petrol generator to make a joke of my industry” he says.
Last year, Manx Electric ran a new line to the paddock area which was dedicated to the sole use of the TTXGP racers. According to the article:
The switch to generators was necessitated by TT organisers’ plans to move the electric competitors away from their newly mains-supplied paddock on the cricket field and integrate them with the rest of the TT field – a paddock area which has no mains electricity supply.
The fact that the IOM/TTZero management were even considering this method of supplying electricity to the teams shows that they have a fundamental lack of understanding of what electric vehicles are all about. The IOM’s Department of Tourism and Leisure appears to either be set on destroying the nascent sport of electric motorcycle racing or too ignorant to help themselves from destroying it.
You have to give credit to the spin doctors at IOM, they just issued a statement saying that they NEVER planned to have gasoline generators supplying electricity to any of the paddocks at the IOM.
Given this statement, and the reluctance of the sources of the article to curry disfavor with the TT folks, Motorcycle News pulled the article.
But ask yourself this, discerning reader: Would the CEO of Team Agni fabricate this story? If it was so easily denied, why would he bring discredit upon himself by alleging that gas-powered generators were planned? Of course, he would not. The TT Zero’s response that generators were never going to be used seems highly suspect.
Here’s their statement:
STATEMENT FROM THE ISLE OF MAN GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM AND LEISURE
Following an article that has been posted on motorcyclenews.com, the Isle of Man Government categorically denies that there was ever any intention to supply teams with petrol generators for the TT Zero race. The Department of Tourism and Leisure is at a loss to understand how this story came about as there has never been any intention to do anything other than provide power supplies by the existing dedicated distribution network.
The TT Zero teams will be situated in Paddock D and will be supplied with electric sockets to charge their bikes from the mains, as is the case with the rest of the TT paddock.
The TT Zero regulations, which were issued on 2nd February 2010, clearly state on page 26, point 16:
Charging from the mains
The machine may be charged from a provided 240 volt single phase supply of 13 Amps maximum. The charging system must be separate from the machine and comply with all electrical safety requirements including thermal overload trip, fusing and be equipped with an earth leakage protection breaker.
We have reassured Team Agni that electric sockets will be used to charge the bikes in the Paddock.
Note that the rules quoted merely provide that “The machine may be charged from a provided 240 volt single phase supply of 13 Amps maximum.” There is no language prohibiting the use of a gasoline-powered source, such as a generator, providing that electricity. In fact, other than the statement of intent to ”provide power supplies by the existing dedicated distribution network” there is nothing in this statement assuring Agni that power will come from Manx Electric’s lines. Even the provision that “electric sockets will be used to charge he bikes in the Paddock” is vague. Gasoline-powered generators have “electric sockets.” The “Charging from the mains” subtitle is worthless, absent a definition of the word “mains,” which is not common enough to go without further definition.
In fact… maybe this calls for an update of the TTXGP Technical Rules Wiki…
Let’s go to Imagination Land…
If Brammo decided to overvolve the Enertia–
Scratch that. Start over:
If Brammo decided to build an electric motorcycle that was beefier, sexier, faster (insert modifier here), what should it be called? If the motorcycle was less like this:
and more like this:
what kind of name would it deserve?
Let’s hear your ideas in the comments. Challenge- these names (and any forms thereof) are not eligible:
Added incentive: the top n responses (where n=an arbitrary number chosen by me) will be published in an upcoming post, will be voted upon by the BrammoBrigade, and the recipient of the most votes will receive a Brammofan mug, autographed by me. (Brammofan Logo designed by @PopSciGuy).
If you have been following what has been described as the “Soap Opera” going on between the TTXGP and the FIM, two organizations responsible for the care and feeding of the bouncing baby motorsport of electric motorcycle racing, then you know, at one time, the two organizations used to be happily engaged. Before that, of course, FIM was a charismatic, confident bachelor, jetting around Europe, telling companies and racing teams what it would or would not tolerate, calling its “companions” across the pond (the AMA being one of many of the numbers in FIM’s little black book) and generally being the king of the castle. FIM was, and is, the “leading man” in this drama.
TTXGP showed up last year at the Isle of Man TT races and, although its bikes were slower and quieter, they represented one possible future of motorsports. TTXGP flitted silently around the island, capturing the attention and affection of a growing crowd of admirers. TTXGP caught the eye of FIM and, shortly after the race, they met formally. Then, after a short courtship, they announced in June 2009 that they were engaged.
But it was not meant to be. TTXGP had come into the relationship with a child (the eGrandPrix), and FIM wanted to adopt it as his own. That was fine with all parties involved but then FIM got cold feet. We may never know the whole story behind the breakup: Did FIM demand a dowry? Was TTXGP a willing and consensual partner when FIM liberated her from her rules and called them his own? Did she consent at every step of the escalating relationship? Did TTXGP think that the rule-stripping was expected of her? Did TTXGP ignore the repeated advice of her friends who told her that “nice racing organizations” don’t have to say “yes”? And what about Naomi?
They may yet reunite, at least that’s the hope of TTXGP, but you can bet she’ll want an ironclad pre-nuptial agreement this time.
Now, with all that fluff as an introduction, I wanted to put the following article in its proper context. In late Summer 2009, Azhar Hussain, the organizer behind the TTXGP, was still celebrating the success of the Isle of Man race and had just met with FIM to discuss the future. It was at this point in time that he was interviewed by Jon Excell, a reporter with “The Engineer” Magazine, a UK publication that has been in existence since 1856. His article appeared in the October 12, 2009, issue. My excuse for not reading it and reporting on it at the time is because it came out during the same month that Jay Leno got his Brammo Enertia, the Best Buy stores in California began selling the bikes, and, of course Shocking Barack began. That, and I don’t have a subscription, and because I did not know the magazine existed until it showed up in my email inbox a couple days ago.
I am not going to slurp the entire article and re-publish it here, but I do want to share some great quotes and some insightful writing from a perspective other than the HellforLeather/AsphaltandRubber/Plugbike/Brammofan/GreenTransportationExaminer point-of-view.
Last summer, we spoke to TTxGP’s founder about his hopes for the race. Despite having just 10 months to go and only two teams signed up, race organiser Azhar Hussain confidently proclaimed that an emphasis on speed would dispel some of the prejudices surrounding alternative propulsion systems. He said that the competition could point the way to a fundamental shift in terms of the types of companies that would drive the industry in the future. ‘If you move from hydrocarbons to anything else, all the expertise and heritage in the combustion engine isn’t relevant anymore,’ claimed Hussain. A year on, he can reflect on his predictions with some satisfaction. Sixteen bikes took part in the pro class, with the winning bike, made by Agni Motors, averaging 87mph, completing a lap in 25 minutes and 53 seconds and beating the 50cc lap record.So what is the outlook for sustainable motor racing? Do those at the top of the sport have an appetite for change? Or willthey be overtaken by a new breed of young climate-savvy engineers? And could green motorsport drive innovation on the road?‘When you look at a grown man hurtling round a racing track in a fast car burning lots of fuel, it becomes difficult to justify,’ he said. ‘ I don’t think anybody’s going to throw any money at this unless they can see it giving wider benefit to society.’ Sustainable motor racing, added [Warwick University's Dr. Steve]Maggs, offers the industry a chance to deliver these benefits. ‘Motorsport could be a driving force for future innovation, but it has really become irrelevant in terms of driving technology forward for other industries,’ he said. ‘ I would defy anybody to prove that at the moment motorsport is providing any technological driving force, because all the people that are doing innovation hold their cards very close to their chest. It’s not in their interest to share their IP [intellectual property].’Talking to The Engineer, [Azhar] Hussain said that, by kicking off a competition guided from the start by a low-carbon approach, the potential spin-offs are greater and the development curve is much faster than is the case in other areas of motor sport. ‘There’s a much shorter road to travel if you’re building motorsport for zero carbon and building a vehicle for the road for zero carbon,’ he said.One of the attractions of the electric drivetrain technology used on the TIxGP bikes, added Hussain, is that it can be developed on a race bike and then rapidly reconfigured on different vehicles in a way that is not possible with conventional technologies. ‘Take motorcycles: a combustion-engined motorcycle is a fundamentally different beast to a combustion-engined car,’ he said. ‘But when it comes to electric, the drivetrain is basically your batteries, your controller and your motors and, whether you have a car, boat or bike, it’s always the same.’ A motorcycle is also a particularly good development platform. ‘With bikes, you get an incredible bang for your buck in terms of R&D,’ said Hussain. ‘The problems are the same but the cost of developing bikes is far less. Once you crack the problem, moving from there to any other transport is direct, real and very, very short.’Hussain believes TI’xGP, which will next year run a standalone UK championship and return to the Isle of Man, could stimulate some vital breakthroughs in electric powertrain technology that will push the wider industry forward.‘It’s incredible how much technology doesn’t exist,’ he said. ‘This is a really green area for IP. There isn’t really an effective battery management or control system; the motors could do with a lot more efficiency; and the batteries could do with improvement. On every single measure, there’s huge scope for improvement. On cars today, if you get a one to two per cent improvement you are the toast of the industry, but we are lookingat a 30-40 per cent improvement year on year; we’re on a very different trajectory.’Chris Aylett, chief executive of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) believes that TI’xGP could be onto something big. The bikes at last year’s event did 115mph,’ he said. ‘The average lap speed is 88-90mph. That was the 50cc lap record of the Isle of Man TT. The biggest marketplace for bikes is at 50-125cc in India and China, so squillions of them will be turned on by going at that speed on electric bikes: that is called opportunity.’Whatever happens, an uncertain future, said Aylett, is a good thing for the sport. ‘Each one of these directions is likely at some point to have someone in it saying “how about a competition?” And we will race anything. All this change of consumer interest is outstandingly good for motorsport. The more confusion there is as to the eventual solution, the better for us. Frankly, long may confusion reign.’(Copyright 2009, The Engineer)