Electric motorcycles make impressive showing at Pikes Peak Hill Climb race

The motorcycle division of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competition just wrapped up minutes ago. The results are in. Here’s how the four electric motorcycles competing in the race this year performed.

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race is comprised of 156 turns over almost 12.5 miles (20 km) of mountainous road.

The race starts at the high elevation of 9,390 feet (2,860 m) above sea level, then continues climbing another 4,720 feet (1,440 m) to an altitude of 14,115 feet (4,300 m) at the finish line. That’s halfway to the summit of Everest and can even induce altitude sickness in some people.

Posting a competitive time in the demanding hill climb racing competition requires vehicles to possess both high power and high torque – two requirements for which electric motorcycles are uniquely positioned.

We’ve followed Zero Motorcycle’s preparations for the race this year, in which their new Zero SR/F electric streetfighter was ridden by rookie rider Cory West.

Cory competed in the Heavyweight motorcycle category and finished the course with an impressive time of 10:46. His Zero SR/F briefly held the fastest time of the day, but was eventually surpassed by higher power motorcycles. That ultimately left the SR/F with the 9th fastest time among all motorcycles and the 5th fastest time in the Heavyweight category.

The Zero SR/F caused a rather amusing moment when the race commentators on KRDO News Radio didn’t notice the electric motorcycle pass by their vantage point due to the lack of engine noise. They had to go back and check the speed gun reading to report Cory’s 117 mph (188 km/h) speed as he passed through the Picnic Ground portion of the track. The Zero SR/F maintained an average speed of 66.8 mph (107 km/h) up the grueling, twisty course.

Robert Barber competed in the event on the University of Nottingham UoN-PP electric superbike. Robert ultimately edged out Cory and the Zero SR/F in the Heavyweight category, finishing in 2nd place in the category with a time of 10:19 and an average speed of 69.8 mph (112.3 km/h). Robert hit 133 mph (214 km/h) on the Picnic Grounds speed gun reading.

While impressive, these times are still behind the Lightning Motorcycle LS-218 electric superbike. In 2013, the 150 kW (200 hp) Lightning LS-218 made history as the first electric motorcycle to win first place in the race. 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.

Two other electric motorcycles competed in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competition today but didn’t fare nearly as well.

Jeremy Higgins rode the Rochester Institute of Technology electric vehicle team’s REV 2 electric motorcycle. Unfortunately, the bike suffered a mechanical failure and did not finish the race.

Another electric motorcycle suffered a similar fate. The Team MIRAI electric motorcycle ridden by Yoshihiro Kishimoto also failed to finish the race this year.

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Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd, and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power, The Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide and The Electric Bike Manifesto.

The e-bikes that make up Micah’s current daily drivers are the $999 Lectric XP 2.0, the $1,095 Ride1Up Roadster V2, the $1,199 Rad Power Bikes RadMission, and the $3,299 Priority Current. But it’s a pretty evolving list these days.

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