This year is the 10th anniversary of a full electric class at the infamous Isle of Mann road racing circuit.
Team Mugen took the win again, continuing their ongoing domination at the absolute upper echelon of electric motorcycle sport.
Winning in the TT Zero class at the Isle of Mann requires a bike that can be ridden at around 200km/h, up and over 61km of mountains, valleys, towns and tree lined lanes with a nice handful of bridges and cobblestone streets for good luck.
Riders must negotiate 264 separate corners, many at frighteningly high speeds, and if their racing line is correct, they will hurtle past stone walls, knees scraping the tarmac, helmets just inches from the wall.
They will also need a bike that can handle being airborne at high speed, as they launch over numerous humps and bridges and literally fly through the air for up to 30m.
To be competitive, e-bike riders need to hit top speeds of more than 280kmh and be at full throttle for a lot of the time on the track. The bike of choice this year would be the refined for 2019 Shinden Mugen electric race bike, capable of producing 120 kW (around 160 bhp), and 210 Nm of torque.
This is handicapped by around 80kg of additional weight (totalling 248kg) compared to your lighter, more powerful and longer-range petrol powered compatriots in the Superbike class.
A single race lap is undertaken from a standing start, further impacting the ability to produce a high average lap speed, compared to other classes which run multiple laps.
Each year the electric bikes inch closer to the premium superbike class lap record speed, but alas 2019 will not be the year to beat the penultimate lap speed.
Petrol bikes took from 1950 to 1992, or 42 years to go from 155km machines to 196kmh machines. The electric class took from 2010 to 2018, or eight years, to do the same thing, albeit for only one 60km lap, so far.
Although progress has been steady, the electric class speed has plateaued over the last few years and the race only includes a small handful of entrants. This year there was a mere 0.1% gain, compared to last year’s lap speed in the electric class (196.2kmh v 196.05kmh).
However, the winning petrol bike increased by more than 1 per cent over the same period (212.2kmh v 209.68kmh). The outright lap speed record is 217.989 km/h, set in 2018.
The 2019 race was marred by woeful weather limiting practice time and another tragic death. Rider Daley Mathison, who was to ride in the electric class with team UON (Interviewed here last year) and petrol bike classes, lost his life at high speed doing what he loved most. Since the race’s inception in 1907, 258 souls have lost their lives at the Isle of Mann. Respect.
Team UON entered with Daley’s close friend Davey Todd riding, but were sadly sidelined with a technical problem over the mountain part of the course. Typical of the pressures of racing, it was a simple water pump running the cooling system which failed, and not any of the core electric drive components.
Motorsport is dangerous to the extreme, but also pushes technology and skill to the ultimate level.
This year we witnessed another small step forward in the evolution of electric motorcycles due to commitment and bravery of those who take on the worlds most dangerous race. We salute you.