Chip Yates Electric Race Bike Practices at Infineon

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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