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Isle Of Man TT: Zero – Mugen Win Again!

After so much hype, this year’s Isle of Man TT: Zero was a little bit…disappointing. And here’s why. It’s not down to the level of effort by the riders, it was down to a series of technical errors that just shouldn’t happen at this level, especially when the world is watching.

The Isle of Man TT: Zero is one of the most prestigious electric motorcycle races on the planet, and one of the most important places for technical demonstrations. The course twists around the island in a 37.7 mile loop, and provides the perfect testing ground for the latest electric technology. It’s no surprise that big names such as (Honda),, and – and smaller, independent university teams -are drawn to the event, because if any of these manufacturers want to make a name for themselves and sell their tech, this is one of the best places to advertise.

There was talk of the top speeds breaking the 120 mph threshold this year, but sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. In the end, Mugen’s Kiwi rider Bruce Anstey rode away in first, with a top speed of 118.416 mph and a lap time of 19:07.043. Victory’s William Dunlop claimed second, followed by Nottingham University’s Daley Mathison in third. And where were Saroléa’s riders? They didn’t even race.

I’m a big fan of the electric movement – I still won’t commit to buying anything though, but I appreciate the technology and performance figures. Generally, our readers at Gearheads are pretty uninterested in the , and I’ve always been confused by that. Sure, an electric machine won’t have the same feel or ride experience, but those are small prices to pay in the pursuit of greater performance, right? Wrong, I guess. Because now we can see that electric machinery just isn’t ready for us yet. I was hoping that the results from the would’ve proven my previous enthusiasm to be justified…but it was a bit of washout in the end. It’s no surprise that electric bike sales are falling flat all over the world.

The old saying: “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” doesn’t really apply here. In total, only five riders competed in the event, less than half of those on the roster. Sarolea didn’t even race due to technical issues for both of their machines (they didn’t even manage to reach the qualifying session, either), racing hero John McGuiness barely made it over the line, and university teams managed to perform as well as the big brands. Most of this was down to technical issues on the big player’s parts, but at a world class spectacle like this, should that even happen? Sure, Rossi had issues at Mugello a few weeks back, but that was an anomaly – and an issue like that isn’t going to stop anyone from buying Yamaha technology, is it?

If electric motorcycles are going to become the norm, manufacturers seriously have to get their shit together, start entering races, actually starting and finishing the races, being competitive, and give us a reason to be interested. Now, let’s not take anything away from Bruce Anstey’s incredible win, it was well earned and justified. And of course, performance figures have risen too, save for the top speed, which is great, but even if an electric bike was able to match the performance of its petrol counterparts, you’re not going to invest in one if barely half of them make it to the starting line, right?

I just wish that electric racing could reach its full potential. It has so much promise, and could revolutionize the way we view motorcycles… but only a handful of people seem to care, apparently. And I’m one of them, but it’s hard to be a fan of something when the big brands aren’t investing the time and effort*, and others are left watching from the sidelines.
*This doesn’t detract from the great efforts made by Mugen, Victory and Sarolea – It would just be nice to see some presence from Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki – who all have interesting electric concepts. Surely now would be the best time to get involved in the racing scene, while everyone is still trying and testing their new technologies?


Joe Appleton
About Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…

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