The Ashland Connection – Neighbors, Bikers, Competitors

Excellent article from The Daily Tidings, Ashland, Oregon’s daily newspaper.

Ashland companies charge up Isle of Man race

Brammo comes in third in pro class, Barefoot grabs second in open class

Ashland Daily Tidings
June 13, 2009

brammobikesAshland electric vehicle companies Barefoot Motors and Brammo Inc. each scored a spot on winner’s podiums at the Isle of Man Friday after competing in the Time Trials Xtreme Grand Prix.

Brammo came in third in the pro class, a division for electric motorcycles designed as professional race bikes. Barefoot narrowly missed coming in first place in the open class, a division for street bikes, and instead scored second.

The race took place early Friday morning on the island that is known for its professional motorcycle races and is located between England and Ireland.

Executives from both Ashland companies were thrilled when the learned of the results of the race, they said.

“We’re ecstatic about how we did,” said Max Scheder-Bieschin, Barefoot CEO, “and we’re also ecstatic for Brammo. The fact that two Ashland companies were able to compete so successfully in such a premier race is a great thing for Southern Oregon.”

Brammo had two bikes in the pro class race, but — hoping for more speed — the racing team decided to adjust one bike above the levels the company had tested it at and the bike overheated, leaving the rider unable to finish the race.

“That’s kind of why we had two bikes,” said Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher. “One of the reasons we were going was to push the technology beyond the limit, and we were able to accomplish that, so we were pretty excited.”

Only zero-emission, carbon-free motorcycles were allowed to race in the TTXGP, billed as the first race of its kind. Six riders competed in the pro class and three in the open class.

The Isle of Man course, a 37.7-mile route with more than 200 turns, is notoriously dangerous. More than 200 people have died during races or practices on the course since 1911, when it was first used for professional races.

Although none of the riders were reported hurt in the TTXGP races, one of the riders who placed third in the open class race, John Crellin, was later killed while competing in the Senior Time Trial race, Motorcycle USA reported.

Even though the Ashland companies placed well in the event, they won’t be selling their racing bikes soon — although they could develop similar bikes in the future, executives from both companies said.

Barefoot specializes in electric all-terrain vehicles and is set to unveil its latest design on June 25 in Ashland.

Brammo will begin selling its Enertia bike — which its racing bike was based on — in Best Buy stores in early July. Because the Ashland company’s racing bike has generated a lot of buzz, Brammo is considering selling a version of that bike, Bramscher said.

“We’ve definitely gotten so much interest in the bike, we are considering evolving it into an upscale version of the Enertia or a sport-bike version of the Enertia,” he said.

Regardless, the prototypes the two companies developed for the race will help them create better vehicles, Brammo and Barefoot executives said.

“This is just another arrow in our quiver in terms of demonstrating that there’s great technology there,” Scheder-Bieschin said. “Anytime you can demonstrate you’re on the right track, it’s a good thing.”

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