Mavizen, the company behind the TTX01 superbike and promoters of the first ever zero-emissions international motorcycle race, have salubrious new headquarters in Gerard’s Cross, South Bucks. That’s where I found myself the last week of January. Chris Hodder, government relations executive of the BMF, was there too. We were to share the honour of being the first two people outside the company to ride the TTX01.
Chris and the BMF helped get the project through the maze of regulations that could so easily have made the race a nonstarter. My invite was down to my genuine interest in electric powered motorcycles, an interest that has not affected my impartiality.
A z h a r Hussain, the head of Mavizen, displayed considerable faith in the project by allowing us to ride the bike just a few hours after it was delivered from the Jozzbike workshops of its builder Steve Ali Labib. Its batteries were brand new and had been charged only once – they last longer after several charges.
Chris was the first to throw his leg over the machine and he followed me cautiously up the A40 to our chosen photo location – a nice big roundabout with a handy 50mph speed limit. First impressions weren’t great. Chris seemed to struggle to keep up with my Yamaha Tmax500 superscoot and I soon saw why when I had a go on the GSXR-based bike myself. It would barely accept half throttle. Anything more had it stuttering and apparently fighting with itself.
I pulled in after a few minutes and explained the problem to Mavizen’s Dipam Patel. In about the same time as it takes to type this sentence, he had removed the cover on the tailpiece, unplugged a mystery wire and said: “Try it now.”
Hey presto! Suddenly the TTX01 was running smoothly on full throttle with lots of power! This time the laps of the roundabout were a lot more exciting, as was a quick squirt down a short stretch of 70mph dual carriageway. Chris’s second spin on the bike turned his frown to a smile and his ride back to base was a lot quicker than the ride out.
While the bike was given a recharge in the garage, Dipam explained to me that its ‘battery’ is actually a collection of no less than 144 three-volt cells, distributed between three 10-amp power packs of 48 cells each, connected in series and providing 30 amps of battery power in all. After refuelling ourselves with fish and chips we went off again in search of some twisty roads. After gingerly negotiating mud-strewn narrow lanes we were rewarded with the discovery of some wider and mostly dry, sweeping Tarmac where we able to give the electric wonder its head. The almost total lack of engine braking made it more like riding a sporty two-stroke than a standard GSXR, but the brakes were still well up to the job of slowing things down, and the handling was very reassuring.
Chris put out a Press release later in which he said: “The BMF’s aim is to promote, protect and safeguard the future interests of motorcyclists and there’s no doubt about it, electrically powered motorcycles will be part of that future. The TTX01 gives an exciting foretaste of future biking and guess what? It needn’t be dull!”
Steve Ali Labib explained to me that the earlier misfire was an indication that some of the brand new cells were actually duff – it was a warning that something was wrong and in normal circumstances he would have had it straight back in the workshop for investigation. Unfortunately the bike was already on its way for further testing in the Isle of Man! I was even more impressed when Steve explained that the wire that Dipam had disconnected actually meant the bike was only running on two-thirds power. He also added that his own Ducati-based racer for the TTXGP will have more power and better endurance due to a new generation of battery cells due out any week now.
Two days after our ride TTXGP creator Azhar Hussain rode the TTX01 around the legendary TT circuit, where it exceeded a genuine 100mph for the first time. It was also thrashed around the Jurby circuit by ex-GP racer and BBC commentator Steve Parrish who pronounced himself impressed. As Azhar said, it was history in the making.
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