Electric Terry becomes IronButtTerry, riding 1000 miles in 24 hours on an electric motorcycle

Who wants to ride 1000 miles in 24 hours on an electric motorcycle?  Okay, you, your name’s Terry, right?  You look crazy enough to try this, go ahead.

(ahem) Terry Hershner, a.k.a. Electric Terry, is seeking to become known as IronButtTerry.  He set out at 1 PM on Monday from the ChargePoint headquarters in Campbell, CA, on a quest to join the Iron Butt club on an electric motorcycle.  In case you’re one of the zillions of people, like me, who didn’t know about this – the Iron Butt Association is made of hard core motorcycle riders who love to take long distance rides.  The IBA has several levels of crazi..er..awards – such as the Saddlesore 1000 for those who have ridden 1000 miles in 24 hours, the BunBurner 1500 for those who’ve ridden 1500 miles in under 36 hours, and the 100CCC which is riding coast-to-coast and returning in under 100 hours.

Image courtesy Google Maps

Apparently the President of the IBA doesn’t believe electric motorcycles are worth anything, because they cannot compete in Iron Butt events.  Terry, having done several ultra long distance cross-country electric motorcycle rides, is setting out to prove to Mr. IBA President that it can be done.

Terry’s previous rides have come close to the levels required for the IBA, and for this Iron Butt attempt the modifications to his motorcycle are almost beyond belief.

To back up a bit and explain this, Terry Hershner has been building electric motorcycles for years.  In 2012 he bought a 2012 Zero S electric motorcycle, started modifying it, and started taking long rides with the modified bike.

There’s a 2012 Zero S under there somewhere
Promise.

His first cross-country attempt was in December 2012 when he set out to ride from Florida to Los Angeles to attend the unveiling of Zero Motorcycles’ 2013 model lineup.  He didn’t make it because the charging stations were too far apart for the range his bike had at that time.  With the help of a friend driving a van, he made it to California anyway and stayed, meeting with some collaborators, continuing modifications on the bike, and now it is an ultra long-range electric motorcycle beyond anyones wildest dreams.

A year ago Terry had ridden in the 2013 BC2BC electric vehicle rally which ran from the US-Canada border north of Seattle, south along the I-5 and US 101 corridor to the US-Mexico border south of San Diego.  Before getting to the starting line he had to first ride from Florida, across the country the long way.  Before that he rode from California to Florida.  Yes, California to Florida to British Columbia to Baja California then back to Santa Cruz, CA.

Today his 2012 Zero S is carrying 21 kilowatt-hours of battery pack – stock this bike had a 9 kilowatt-hour battery pack.  Then, working closely with electric motorcycle efficiency guru Craig Vetter, they designed and built the ultra-efficient fairing you see in these pictures.  Modern motorcycles have horrible aerodynamics, something Craig Vetter has spent decades trying to fix.  The problem is that properly aerodynamic motorcycles aren’t for sale anywhere.  As a result, motorcyclists can only buy inefficient unaerodynamic motorcycles, resulting in lots of fuel wasted on bad aerodynamics.

4 charging stations @ 6 kilowatts = 24 kilowatts

In any case, between the Vetter fairing and the 21 kWh battery pack, Terry’s ride can travel over 200 miles per charge at 70-80 miles/hr.  Stock, this bike had a 60ish mile highway range.

Less than a month ago Terry proved the 200 mile range capability while winning the latest Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge, the first time an electric motorcycle has won that event.  On that day he rode the 170+ miles required for the Fuel Economy Challenge, at 80 miles/hr because Utah’s highway speed limit is that high.  Then he rode another 30+ miles to Salt Lake City to the nearest charging station, so he could charge the bike.

The stock bike came with a 1.5 kilowatt charger, with which a full recharge of this 21 kilowatt-hour pack would take 15 hours or so from empty.  To fix that problem Terry has put 24 kilowatts worth of charging equipment on the bike.

Yes, 24 kilowatts.  That’s almost enough to properly qualify as “Fast Charging”.  At the times he can arrange 24 kilowatts of power, the bike will recharge in about an hour.

For perspective – 200 miles of range in an hour of charging is nearly the charging rate of the Tesla Model S at a Supercharger.  It’s the 60 kilowatt-hour Model S which gets 200 miles range, and recharging a Model S in under an hour requires a 120 kilowatt charging system.  Terry gets 200 miles of range and a sub-1 hour recharge with a pack 1/3rd the size, and 1/5th or so the charging power.

Look carefully – four J1772 plugs

But, the typical charging station provides 6 kilowatts of power.  Where is Terry getting 24 kilowatts?

Simple, he plugs into multiple charging stations at once.  Four charging stations at 6 kilowatts equals a 24 kilowatt charging rate.

To do this his bike has a LOT of chargers on-board.  I didn’t ask the number, but since each is a 2.5 kilowatt Elcon charger, he probably has 10 chargers strapped to the bike.

The next piece is to map out a route hitting places with four (or more) ChargePoint charging stations located next to each other.  Then it’s a simple matter of connecting all four charging stations to the on-board chargers.

The route is taking him from Campbell, CA (ChargePoint’s HQ), down to the Mexico-California border south of San Diego, and back.  He left at 1PM sharp on Monday, with the odometer reading 66,581 miles.  He’s due back in Campbell by 1PM on Tuesday, and the odometer has to read more than 67,581 miles.

And, yes, that’s a lot of miles for a motorcycle that’s about 2 years old.

Terry isn’t just racing the clock to make it back to Campbell in 24 hours.  There’s a Hurricane that hit the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula on Sunday, and is currently working its way up the peninsula.  On Monday night the storm center was about 1/3rd the way up the Baja Peninsula, and the leading edge of the story is getting close to the Mexico-California border.  By the time Terry touched down in San Diego, the storm was still a good ways away, and then he was quickly on the road north again.

This Iron Butt ride was scheduled to coincide with National Drive Electric Week, which kicked off the same day.  NDEW is a nationwide set of events organized by local groups across the U.S. (and other countries) to raise awareness of electric vehicles.  Terry is planning to attend the Silicon Valley NDEW event, a part of which will be a parade where we hope to have the largest assemblage of electric vehicles at one place at one time.  Go to the NDEW website to find an event near you.

As I write this, it is 10 AM on Tuesday and Terry has made it to a charging location in Salinas.  That puts him about 60 miles or 1 hour away from the ChargePoint HQ.  He’s charging now, planning to leave there at 11 AM and make it to ChargePoint by Noon.

Energy usage for the last two days from Terry’s
ChargePoint account dashboard

UPDATE: Terry did make it to the ChargePoint HQ before Noon.  Official numbers from Terry are: 1046.7 miles, 22 hours 57 minutes, 126.883 kWh electricity to carry 950 pounds at speeds of 70-80 mph that distance, or 121 Wh per mile (including charger losses) at 75 mph average. Not too shabby!

He went home quickly for a well earned rest.

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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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