The founders of the TTXGP, that ran at the Isle of Man this last June, have announced that there will be a new racing class in 2010. Called the PRO2 class, participating teams will make two laps around the Mountain Course, with an optional pit stop in-between the laps. The pit stop is not mandatory, but will allow teams to swap-out their battery packs for new ones, if they so desire.
Making room for the PRO2 class means the departure of the Open class, which will not be a part of the 2010 TTXGP. The Open class provided a cheap and level playing field for entrants into electric motorcycle racing, which was popular with university students who had tight budgets. The organizers of TTXGP clearly want to promote more corporate involvement in the series, and cast a more professional light on the emerging electric motorcycle market by creating a higher barrier of entry into the race.
With the PRO2’s allowance of a pit stop and battery swap, there is some debate on the feasibility of such an act. Teams will have to decide whether or not the time lost swapping out the battery packs will be made up by the increased speed the bikes can carry, or if running a slower pace without a pit stop will be the quickest way around the mountain…twice.
Also at issue are the design challenges involved in making battery packs hot-swappable. Looking at the entrants to this past June’s TTXGP, the majority of the race bike’s weight is comprised of the battery packs themselves, which are highly integrated into the bike chassis.
Not dissimilar to how ICE motors have become a stress-bearing component in current bike design, the battery packs require mounting that will ensure their steady placement on the bike through all the stresses of racing. This concept finds itself the converse to rapid removal, and it is a bit unnerving to consider that nearly 2/3 of a motorcycle’s weight should be engineered to be rapidly removed.
Yet, if electric transportation is to succeed in mass-market, some sort of compromise will need to be struck, as consumers will want a solution that allows them to either rapidly recharge their power packs, or swap-in fresh batteries for extended usage. TTXGP finds itself now pushing manufacturers down one avenue of possible solutions; however there is currently only one team that boasts the ability to swap its batteries, MotoCzysz.
We have yet to see this act take place, but we have seen the chassis design, which shows the slots and battery arrangement for swappable batteries. Hopefull we’ll see more details on how MC is achieving this.