Opinion: Club racing will adopt electric bikes

In Say What?!?

THIS week the racing world took on one of its biggest changes in recent years as MotoGP officially revealed its new FIM MotoE World Cup.

And as it’s so often said, top level technology tends to trickle down through the ranks – from the grand prix paddock to the factory floor and then back out onto the tarmac in the clubs.

Dorna choosing to adopt production electric bikes for its battery-powered series is merely a starting point meant to get teams off the ground. This give the technology time to develop to the level that the blue riband GP bikes have over the years.

Casper Voogt and Matthew Rees doing battle in the MotoE series when it joined NGRRC at Pembrey…

And whether you like them or not, electric bikes (and cars, for that matter) are on their way and they’re coming fast. The British government has already pledged to ban all sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2040… there’s not a chance in hell they’re going to let bikes slip through the cracks when that clamp-down comes into effect.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the silence, tyre noise or beeps and bells that can be heard on many purpose-built electric racing bikes. If you are, fair enough, they’re just not my thing.

I think we can all agree there’s nothing that quite resembles racing amongst a howl of combustion engines, or feeling your ear drums shift as 200hp petrol-powered monsters storm by on the other side of the fence.

But here’s what I am a fan of – increased track time, instant torque, developing technology and keeping motorcycle racing alive.

The silence of electric bikes means track operators would no longer have to bother themselves with local council noise regulations. It means that as long as they’ve got a burger van to power the people and plenty of electricity to power the bikes, they could theoretically run year-round without restriction.

The University of Nottingham’s electric superbike made history at Oliver’s Mount as the first battery-powered machine to take on the circuit…

In fact, fans at Oulton Park are currently petitioning to lift noise curfews. More track time? Yes please.

The technological advances in electric motorcycle racing will of course take time, but look how far the machinery has come in less than a decade.

Riders are just seconds off the 120mph mark at the Isle of Man TT’s Zero race, a precedent that used to be gold standard for any racer looking to break into the heavyweight ranks. When they raced alongside NG this past summer, some of the MotoE European series contenders were as fast as the winning Desmo Due B-class bikes.

And yes, electric bikes will save motorcycle racing. Who’s going to be lightyears ahead of the racing game when electric take over? Any manufacturer that has involvement in the FIA’s Formula E series, that’s who… Venturi, NIO and Mahindra, among others, already have a massive head start.

When the combustion vehicle ban comes into play in 2040, you’d be foolish to believe the big wigs in parliament will allow combustion racing to take place on purpose-built circuits. No, I’ve spotted my horse to win and I’m betting that by the time 2040 comes, both cars and bikes that make emissions will have been off racing circuits for years.

Forget the clean-burning engines, the efficient direct-injection two-strokes and the biofuel bikes because those ships will sail.

Sooner or later, clubs will need to adopt electrics and make way for electric racing classes. They’ll need to train their marshals on battery-powered safety procedures and ensure infrastructures that provide fast-charging facilities. It will happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to miss the growl of 1000s, the scream of 600s and the punch of supertwins. But if we want to keep bikes on track for years to come, we’re going to have to embrace change.

The real question is – which club will be first?

*Main image: Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press

*Top image: JTW Motorsports Photography

*Bottom image: Oliver’s Mount

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