Is Gas-Powered Racing Innovation Dead?

The Symptoms:

  • Event attendance at NASCAR, MotoGP and other series has plummeted during the recession.
  • Formula One and MotoGP fans and racers alike complain that excessive use of electronics has ruined the sport by making it less competitive.
  • The new Moto2 spec engine class is by far the most competitive and exciting, yet comparatively low-tech.
  • Electric motorcycle racing series TTXGP has spawned more innovation halfway through its first season than quite possibly the entire ICE motorcycle industry has over the past decade.

Dinosaurs vs. LiIons

Just as the iPod and Napster gave music fans an easier way to enjoy their music, electric motorcycles are poised to revolutionize the motorcycle industry. While the major OEM’s have seen sales plummet in the recession and have little to offer in the way of real innovation, startup electric motorcycle companies are cropping up every month, with increasingly faster and better bikes.

Many of these brands compete in the TTXGP series, and have enjoyed tremendous development as the season has progressed, as mentioned here. While these bikes are still not head-to-head competitors for equally priced ICE bikes, they are rapidly closing in on that goal. Sure, many current motorcyclists say they can’t imagine riding without the deep rumble of their motor beneath them. After all, people still ride horses, even though it’s no longer necessary. But for every Harley rider there’s at least one sportbike rider who cares more about performance than sound, and expects the latest technology to make him at least feel capable of riding like Rossi. (more…)

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