Electric motorcycles pick up speed

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Electric motorcycles are closing the speed gap on internal combustion bikes. Brammo won the kickoff to this year’s TTXGP North American Championship series Sunday, clocking the fastest-ever lap speed at Infineon Raceway for an electric motorcycle with its Empulse RR -- and showing the quick evolution of a sport that didn’t even exist until 2009.

Brammo’s fastest lap time at the Sonoma raceway was 1:55.150, almost two seconds faster than last year’s winning electric bike on the 2.5-mile track. Its average lap speed was within 20 seconds of the fastest qualifying lap time of a 1,000cc internal combustion superbike on the same track.

‘We’re definitely knocking on the door here,’ said Brian Wismann, director of product development for Brammo Inc., based in Ashland, Ore.

Brammo was among the first electric motorcycle manufacturers to compete in the original TTXGP on the Isle of Man in 2009. The Brammo Empulse RR is powered with a permanent magnet AC, or PMAC, motor and 12.5-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack. [Updated 5-20-11, 10:05 a.m.: A previous version of this post said the Empulse RR was powered with an AC induction motor.]



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-- Susan Carpenter