Chip Yates Electric Race Bike Practices at Infineon

12/16/2010 @ 11:20 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

Asphalt & Rubber was on-hand yesterday for first testing of the SWIGZ.COM electric race bike, which is being put together and piloted by Chip Yates and his crew. Getting blessed with a perfect California winter’s day, we only had to wait for Infineon Raceway, which is becoming the venue of choice for electric motorcycle race teams, to dry out from the previous night’s rain before the sunny 54° F temperature allowed Yates to get on the track. Taking eight laps in the afternoon, Yates ran the SWIGZ bike without the highly anticipated front KERS components, which will be the same configuration the bike will use when racing against the gasoline powered v-twins in the WERA Pirelli Sportsman Heavyweight Twins Superbike class later in January.

With the SWIGZ bike showing more than ample power in the straightaway, the electric race bike “exceeded all my expectations” said an enlighted Yates when he finished his last session. The first shakedown test on a track, Yates was also pleased with the bike having no mechanical failures during the sessions, giving him a vote of confidence for January’s race, which will see the SWIGZ race team contend against Ducati 1198 and KTM 1190 RC8 R superbikes.

Not likely to win many beauty contests, the SWIGZ race bike looks like the bastard red-headed electric step-child from a Hayabusa and European pizza delivery scooter, with its 180 lbs of batteries stashed in a box that sits right around where the pillion would be.

While it might not make it into the MOMA anytime soon, the electric racing machine might have a spot in Carnegie Hall waiting for it, as the 747-style whir from the motor, re-gen, and wheels was music to our ears (on more than a few occasions this writer looked up at the sky wondering if a jumbo jet was going by, when in fact it was the SWIGZ bike closing in out in the distance).

One lap from Yates should silence any discussions about electric bikes not sounding cool (no pun intended), and get an entire generation raised with Star Wars excited about the future of electric motorsports.

Like all the heavyweight electric race bikes, cornering seems to be a challenge, especially through the tight chicane at Turn 9. With Fontana (Auto Club Speedway) having two long straights though, this tradeoff between power and maneuverability will likely be less of an issue come race day in January. Yates hopes to finish mid-pack in the WERA race, and will be making calls over the holidays to make sure some stiff competition shows up at the event.

Photos: © 2010 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

  • Dantheautomator

    So, no KERS on that testing ?

  • Dantheautomator

    sorry I wrote the previous comment just looking at the pics. Reading that Chip decided not to use the KERS is weird, any explanation ?

  • Ted Shred

    180lbs in the pizza box?? I hope that’s a typo. That much weight on the back of a bike would make it handle like a GL1800 :-(

  • Not a typo Ted.

    Dantheautomator, the WERA race is only 6 laps or so (going from memory here, it might 8 laps), so KERS wouldn’t be needed for that race. It’s also my understanding the KERS needs some more development before it’s ready for prime time.

  • I have no words for this.

  • Ed Gray

    180 lbs on the pillion, and he’s having trouble changing directions! Gee there’s a surprise. The handling has to be wretched. The rider is going to have their hands full if he loses traction. I predict no mild highsides.

  • Yates should look at the engine and battery placement of the Brammo Empulse (, maybe he can use some ideas to get that center of gravity down. You can clearly see in the video that he is fighting the top-heavy machine.

    Cool vid, cool project, keep the stream coming! Really interested in how Chip will do against the gassers.

  • Electric is lame, in my opinion, unless you are a tree hugging, antidrilling, left wing wackjob. Two strokes are the obvious answer because they are light weight and high power. Erik Buell, please join Bombardier and stuff one of their clean burning (low emissions) direct injection two strokes in your superb handling bikes. Those guys down under (Two Stroke Store) are getting my attention with that 1100 two stroke Triple that they are working on and plan to stuff in a ZX10 Kawasaki frame. Those guys really have cojones!

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  • gnmac

    Alfonso Rodrigues – A-FREAKIN’-MEN!! F*** electric bikes, especially this fatso which happens to be the only bike uglier than that fugly Ducati Diavel!!

  • wbkr

    Ducati Diavel is the prom queen compared to this thing. Kill it with fire.

  • Damo

    “Electric is lame, in my opinion, unless you are a tree hugging, antidrilling, left wing wackjob.”

    Seriously? Are you typing that in your mom’s basement while listening to Glen Beck cry on the radio? j/k

    All kidding aside, I will personally go where the performance/cost viability is. If electric bikes with 170+ horsepower, 100 mile travel range and a quick recharge option start showing up on showroom floor for a reasonable price…..I will get in line for one.

    I would miss the rumble of my Rotax V60, but a bike that sounds like a TIE fighter fly-by would cool I supposed.

  • Chris

    Gotta love these guys slamming electric bikes I”m sure the Wright brothers had people like this in their time. Bet none of them could even come close to riding any bike to its potential.

  • Damo


    I think much of problem people have is not being able to separate a political agenda from a technology advancement.

    I personally would love electric bikes to thrive, and not for any environmental reasons. I have worked directly with small electric motor development and the amount power and efficiency that these things can put out is astounding.

    Batteries however, need to tons of work to fit into the equation, but with the steps being taken in lithium-ion polymer battery development, electric bikes might be closer than everyone thinks.

  • Dear Mister Rodriguez:
    Having read your most recent missive, I must strongly protest. Rather, it is these new-fangled gas-o-leen powered contraptions that are, in my esteemed opinion, a wretched blight on the lanes and byways that run through and connect our humble townes and villages. Can thou deny that they are only owned and operated by scoundrels and blackguards, for they be not unlike a one-legged man in their lameness? Two-horse teams are the only answer because they consume less hay and produce fewer tonnes of equine feces per mile traveled. Henry Ford, please join the Busch family and hitch a two-horse team of their finest Clydesdales to your noisy “Model T”. Those beer vendors truly have the heft of voluminous balls, in, of course, the figurative sense.
    As for the suggestion that a vehicle could somehow be put into motion by that self-same power that God himself shows us in a bolt of lightning . . . well you and Mr. Benjamin Franklin should just go out and fly some sort of kite in a lightning storm. Perhaps He will strike you down for your blasphemy.

    Yr. humble servant,
    Capt. James Horsebreeder
    Signed by my own hand, this 17th day of December, (unreadable year), in the year of Our Lord.

  • gnmac

    Hell, motorcycles are about the noise and sheer badass-edness…Yates’ bike looks like a fat 80’s w/ an oversized LV trunk wrapped in a tarp hanging off of its ass…I’m sure all the MotoGP, SBK, Harley-Rebelson, Cafe Racer, etc fans would love this…this is your future, an ugly donkey with an ass the size of J-Lo!

  • Dr. Gellar

    @ gnmac and other haters…

    Do you really think future electric racing motorcycles will look like this bike?!? This bike does not represent the future, but the present…and is the result of Yates’ no compromise approach to obtaining maximum horsepower in an electric road-racing motorcycle despite the limitations of modern batteries as a power supply. Yeah…it’s currently heavy, and yeah, it isn’t the prettiest electric racer out there…but already in a very short period of time Yates is proving it to be effective so far (can you say “240hp”). With more time, money and development…the bike will only get better, faster….and likely prettier.