One of the advantages of electric motorcycles is their high torque, which makes them great hill climbers. Zero intends to prove that point this June when they take an SR/F to the Pike’s Peak Challenge. Now we’ve got the first look at the slightly modified electric motorcycle and are hearing from its rider, Cory West.
The Pike’s Peak Challenge is a time trial race consisting of 156 turns over nearly 12.5 miles (20 km) of winding road.
The race starts at an already high elevation of 9,390 feet (2,860 m) above sea level, then climbs an additional 4,720 feet (1,440 m) to finish at an altitude of 14,115 feet (4,300 m). That’s halfway to the summit of Everest and high enough to induce altitude sickness in some people.
When most motorcycles rip up Pike’s Peak, they are usually roaring at high RPMs to make use of the higher powerband of 4-stroke gas engines.
But when electric bikes like the Zero SR/F make the run, they do so nearly silently. There’s a bit of motor whir, but that’s about it.
That silence is also aided by the Gates Carbon Drive system installed on the Zero SR/F, which uses a belt to transfer power to the rear wheel instead of a chain.
Cory West, who will race the Zero SR/F in the Pike’s Peak Challenge this June, was recently interviewed about the bike:
“Probably the most amazing thing is how quiet it is. Its on-track experience is unlike anything I’ve ever ridden…it’s just so quiet. I can hear things I’ve never heard before on the racetrack like my knee pucks dragging and the brake pads squeezing the rotor, and just the neat sound that the electric motor makes. The Gates Carbon Drive was amazing…this thing has 140 ft-lbs of torque, it’s more than any Superbike I’ve ever ridden, and the belt did awesome. Props to Gates Carbon Drive for making something that can handle so much power, and I look forward to racing this thing up the mountain in their backyard.”
Gates belt drive systems are becoming increasingly popular on electric bikes from the CAKE Kalk OR electric dirt bike to the Electra Cafe Moto Go electric bicycle.
The bike itself is mostly a stock Zero SR/F, save for a few special racing modifications. It will feature upgraded suspension and Pirelli racing slick tires – plus a handlebar and peg setup customized to Cory West. The Zero team will also be removing the on-board charger to save weight, instead using a 9 kW off-board charger. The major components (frame, motor, battery, controller) will be identical to those found on the production version of the Zero SR/F.
Electrek has also been given exclusive access to the bike’s livery, which can be seen below.
But Zero isn’t the only electric motorcycle manufacturer to take on the Pike’s Peak Challenge. In 2013, the 150 kW (200 hp) Lightning LS-218 electric superbike made history as the first electric motorcycle to win first place in the contest. Finishing a fraction of a second over 10 minutes, it beat every other motorcycle in the field, including every gas-bike. The second place finisher, a Ducati Multistrada 1200 S, finished a full 20 seconds behind the LS-218.
This year’s event will take place on June 30th. Make sure to check back for the results and to see how the Zero SR/F fared against a wide field of competitors.
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