While attending the Skip Barber Superbike School, A&R Editor Jensen Beeler overheard a conversation between Lead Instructor Michael Czysz and a couple of students. As the students asked Czysz if he’d be at Seca to watch the Red Bull US GP, Czysz lamented that he would not be able to watch MotoGP at Laguna Seca because MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend. As some may remember the FIM’s e-Power Championship series has a round that is occurring at Laguna Seca in coordination with Dorna and the AMA. Czysz went on to pique out ears, confirming that MotoCzysz would be racing that weekend in the FIM e-Power Championship, with the rider yet to be determined.
As a California native, I’ve always wanted to ride around Laguna Seca on a sportbike. However my passion for track riding didn’t manifest itself until I moved away from the Golden State to Pennsylvania, making a Seca track day all but implausible. Having just moved back into California, and the warm weather finally upon us here in the San Francisco area, track days and Seca have been on my mind. So when Michael Czysz, Lead Instructor at the Skip Barber Superbike School (and of MotoCzysz fame) shot me an email asking me if I wanted to ride for two days around the fabled circuit and take Skip Barber’s two-day superbike course, I of course took him up on the offer. With perfect 70°F weather, I made my way to the Californian coast, ready to take on The Corkscrew with the brand new 2010 KTM RC8 motorcycle and with the help of Skip Barber’s instructors.
I’ve always heard how Laguna Seca is a special track, and how technical the course is on a motorcycle (or any vehicle for that matter). Driving into Monterey from Salinas, you get about half the distance between the two cities when the track entrance jumps up on you. Most tracks you can see for miles as you approach them, but Laguna Seca is nestled behind a hillside from the roadway, and sits inside a Monterey County park. This topography not only provides a scenic venue to enjoy when you’re not going full-throttle around the race track, but also accounts for Seca’s 300′ change in elevation as you go through the 11 turns that comprise the circuit.
Driving into the park I can already feel my nerves acting up. I went through eight years of competitive sailing, two Junior Olympics, and three Nationals with this same physiological response. On a typical track day this sensation would subside after my first session, and be greatly reduced after the first full-pace lap, but upon entering into the Skip Barber office the apprehension quickly disappears.
Ending our two-part series that looked at the the MotoCzysz E1pc, we ask ourselves: why do motorcycles look the way they do? Probably the best answer to this question is that motorcycles today represent an amalgamation of 100 years of design evolution centered around the internal combustion engine. When we look at motorcycle racing, we see the design in its purest embodiment of function over form. While surely some semblance of aesthetics remains, the ultimate goal is to shave the next tenth of a second off a lap time. Each minor improvement adds up, and these aggregated can translate into substantial improvements when racing the clock and the competition.
So it surprises us when we look at electric motorcycle racing and see so many teams approaching their designs with the same ideas and concepts that were born out of this century of internal combustion engine (ICE) racing. While the two offshoots of the same branch carry over with them many similarities, the fundamentals of attaching wheels, suspension, and seat to a running motor has changed, and with that change surely there would be a large movement to rethink the way we build motorcycle frames. The fact of the matter however is that many electric motorcycle designers choose to pursue cramming an electric motor and batteries into a frame, and ultimately into and architecture, that was refined for a gasoline pumping motor and doesn’t fully integrate the chassis’s from with its function.
In an industry that rethinks motorcycles from the ground up, the biggest paradigm shift has been left out by all but a few teams and manufacturers. Looking for the next generation in motorcycle chassis design, Asphalt & Rubber recently got to sit down with Michael Czysz to get an up-close look at the 2009 MotoCzysz E1pc electric motorcycle, and also got a sneak peak at the 2010 frame and chassis. As one of the few entities to rethink how a motorcycle should be design and produced, Czysz’s insights into his design give a glimpse as to what the next 100 years of motorcycle evolution will look like.
After a lively discussion on fully-faired motorcycles in his original post, including a lengthy post by Craig Vetter, Michael Czysz follows up the discussion by further delving into streamlining, dustbins, and the difference between the two. In his discussion Czysz explains the purpose and benefit of taking aerodynamics into account not only in electric racing but also in ICE applications, and then walks us through its use on the MotoCzysz C1.
The post is a good primer on the exponential force that streamlining tries to overcome, and well worth a read for that purpose. Michael Czysz closes his post with a hint that he’ll have a dustbin at the ready should the field warrant such a fairing, and should his rider Mark Miller feel comfortable using it. Check it all out here.
The last time we met up with Michael Czysz, he gave us the lowdown on why allowing dustbin fairings for use in road racing events was a poor decision for sanctioning bodies to make. Thankfully, Czysz has put his words to paper (computer screen?), and explained his thoughts on the subject more deeply in a blog post.
Making comparison to the salt flats of Bonneville, where streamlining is the name of the game, and close-circuit road course races like the Isle of Man, Czysz drives home the point that this is not a technology that transcends racing venues, saying “if Bonneville was 24’ wide and lined with stone walls streamlining would be banned- and so it should be at the IOM.” You can read his full post here for more of his analysis, and click past the jump to see what all the fuss is about.
MotoCzysz has confirmed today that they will be racing at the Isle of Man’s TT Zero event. The Portland based team has been hard at work on a new bike design that they feel not only has a chance of breaking the 100mph barrier, but possibly winning the event as well. MotoCzysz was a favorite in last year’s event, but failed to finish after suffering a failure to its Agni electric motor drive system. Learning from that hard taught lesson, Czysz & Co. are expected to return to the Isle of Man with their new 2010 E1pc, and tackle the Mountain Course once again.
In a candid perspective on the current rule changes to MotoGP, Michael Czysz detailed his thoughts on the switch to the 1000cc format for 2012, and what it means to MotoCzysz and it’s racing goals.
After Czysz’s hopes of racing in the pinnacle motorcycle racing series were dashed by the switch to the current 800cc format, the new rules adopted for 2012, which will bring the racing format back to 1000cc’s, may not only breathe life back into the company’s ICE racing hopes, but also give MotoCzysz some advantages as they consider another MotoGP entry.
It’s been nearly six months since the inaugural TTXGP race at the Isle of Man, but electric motorcycle racing seems to be a growing subject as of late. As discussion surrounds both the FIM and TTXGP, and their respective series, we’re beginning to see teams make their 2010 racing commitments. We reached out to Michael Czysz of MotoCzysz to see why his company has been suspiciously silent on the issue to date.
What will transportation look like in the future? MotoCzysz and Indian based Bajaj seem to have their theories, and the two companies have announced a joint-venture that will explore the next generation of automobile. Releasing a vague press release, we suspect the two companies are in the process of creating prototype hybrid vehicle that will explore a form factor and design not previously seen in the automobile industry. More from the announcement after the jump.
Today I want to broach the subject of what it means to be not only a motorcycle startup, but what it means to be an American motorcycle startup. For a majority of our readers, the concept of American motorcycling is something that we have understood since our days as children. No matter how you came to this industry/sport/lifestyle, as a reader of A&R you no doubt have a strong personal compass of what is means to be an American motorcyclist, and it is something that you touch and understand on a daily basis.
The business side of this understanding is less straight-forward though. It is one thing to identify personally with what makes an American motorcycle, but it is a very different exercise to build a product that evokes that same emotion to the mass consumer. This concept becomes even more relevant today, as the motorcycle industry is still recovering from the news of Buell’s closure and Harley-Davidson’s drastic measures to stay afloat. With no precognition of this impending news, I headed to Portland, Oregon to talk to Michael Czysz, CEO of auto-biographically named MotoCzsyz. Czysz’s journey presents a unique story about a company that has twice attempted to create an American-bred sportbike, and as such is the appropriate company in which to frame our topic about what it means to be an American motorcycle startup.