Zero S outperforming Empulse TTX for less money, and a deep dive into motor cooling issues

It’s way cool that the 2013 electric motorcycle racing season (eRoadRacing World Cup) is featuring manufactured bikes, where in previous years the majority of bikes were prototype bikes.  There are two manufactured bikes, Brammo’s Empulse TTX and Zero S, in existence with race-ready performance.  Well, “race ready” so long as you’re happy with 250-400cc levels of performance.  It’s been pleasing to see these two bikes so well matched, and interesting to see the Zero’s edging out the TTX’s.

Some data has been posted since the race implying that, if Zero and Brammo were to solve an overheating issue present in both bikes, that the power level could be turned up in the controller and these stock production bikes could be so much faster.  See an earlier post for some thoughts on the potential business model for manufacturing high end, race ready, electric motorcycles.  Could Zero and/or Brammo develop a better cooling system for the controller/motor in the 2014 Zero S or 2014 Empulse TTX and jump the power level way up?

UPDATE: This post stirred up a bit of controversy over on Facebook in the Electric Racing group.   Basically, the results I discuss below should be taken with a grain of salt because the results have a lot to do with rider skill and bike setup as well as how efficient or powerful the bike is.  It’s not all up to whether the motor can run at so many kilowatts for so long without overheating.  Put a good rider on a not-so-powerful bike and they can run rings around an inexperienced rider on a powerful bike.  But my contention is that rider skill and bike setup is not the entire story either …

UPDATE: Travis Gintz posted an insightful comment on Facebook.  The Zero S is lighter than the Empulse TTX which the riders can use to their advantage.  The race reports I read talked about the Zero’s beating Moreda in the technical section on the back of the track, while Moreda’s more powerful bike would get ahead of them on the long front straight.  Gintz went on to say that, yes, the Empulse R/TTX is more expensive, but that it comes with Brembo brakes, etc, and that the TTX includes a year worth of racing fees with eRoadRacing and track-side support from Brammo.

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What’s the business model for manufacturing high end electric superbikes competitive with the gas bikes? – See more at: http://www.electricracenews.com/2013/07/whats-business-model-for-manufacturing.html#sthash.rRG4iMUS.dpuf
What’s the business model for manufacturing high end electric superbikes competitive with the gas bikes? – See more at: http://www.electricracenews.com/2013/07/whats-business-model-for-manufacturing.html#sthash.rRG4iMUS.dpuf
What’s the business model for manufacturing high end electric superbikes competitive with the gas bikes? – See more at: http://www.electricracenews.com/2013/07/whats-business-model-for-manufacturing.html#sthash.rRG4iMUS.dpuf

Elaine Carpenter – wife of Ted Rich who is riding with Zero this year in both eRoadRacing and Pikes Peak – rode Brandon Nozaki-Miller’s bike at Indianapolis while Brandon was recovering from injuries.  She posted this picture annotating the starting grid with an interesting interpretation

Elaine Carpenter SBKTraining.com – from Facebook

The $200k prototype bikes are the Brammo Empulse RR’s which can’t be beat by the rest of the field who showed up.  For the Empulse RR’s to face actual competition would require certain other teams (cough cough) to show up and give them a run for their money.

But in the real race, the race between the eSuperStock bikes, the $15,000 Zero S’s qualified ahead of the two $30,000 Empulse TTX’s.  Okay, these are $15k S’s with a $2000 controller mod, right?  Still a lot cheaper than the TTX, and that was Elaine Carpenter’s point.

Where it counted, the race results, came out slightly different than the starting grid, but still along those lines.

Largely speaking the Zero S’s beat the Empulse TTX’s in the race.  Shelina Moreda did find some extra oomph to place a little higher than during qualifying.

Arthur Kowitz had this to say on a facebook postingArthur Kowitz upon reading my data from the race, it was revealed that my bikes electronics turned motor power down about 40% to protect the motor from a perceived overheat situation

Somehow the liquid cooling on the TTX is not enough for race conditions, where the duct-augmented air cooling on the Zero S’s is enough.  For the record, I was told at Laguna Seca that while the Zero S’s all had Gen4 Size6 controllers the power levels were turned way down to prevent overheating as well.  

This implies that if Brammo and Zero can solve cooling on their respective bikes, that these production bikes could be much more powerful than the 250-450cc range …?

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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