MotoCzysz E1pc electric motorcycle: at nearly 500 volts, enough power to melt metal

Is the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc the world's most advanced electric motorcycle? Wes Siler makes a compelling case for its Portland, Oregon-based maker.

Is the 2010 MotoCzysz E1pc the world's most advanced electric motorcycle?

Writing in Popular Science, Wes Siler -- editor for Hell for Leather magazine -- says yes, adding that the race-ready bike offers 2.4 times the torque of a Ducati 1198 and 10 times the battery capacity of a Toyota Prius.

But if all that means nothing to you, just look at it. Seriously, look at it.

The motorcycle is built by a small Portland, Oregon-based company ("MOH-toh-sizz") with the intent to win the grueling Isle of Man TT race.

The reason an Average Joe like you and me should care? Because race-ready technology eventually works its way into consumer products, and there's no better place to look than at a bike capable of topping out at 140 miles per hour.

You'd be surprised at the engineering necessary to keep all that snarling power consistent.

Siler writes:

There are 10 individual lithium polymer cells that each weigh 19.5 Lbs and were hand-assembled by a company that typically builds batteries for NASA. The level of integration here hints at the kind of work that’s gone into the rest of the bike. There are no wires connecting the batteries to the bike or any exposed terminals. Instead, posts on the batteries lock into receivers on the bike's frame, at once making the electrical connection and supporting the batteries’ weight. The proprietary internal arrangement is secret, so we can't show you a picture of it, but it allows the batteries to be swapped out in just a couple of seconds.

That's not all. Since the electric motor can burn through the bike's 12.5 kilowatt-hours of power in 40 miles -- in comparison, a Toyota Prius battery holds 1.3 kWh --the danger isn't just crashing, it's fatal electric shock.

(Case in point: the E1pc is nearly at 500 volts, "enough power to turn a wrench into molten metal," Siler writes.)

Engineers' challenge is to remove that power quickly, and the bike uses a specially-designed, oil-cooled DC electric motor for just that. Czysz calls this direct connection "D1g1tal Dr1ve" (the company clearly favors difficult-to-write names) and most interestingly, it manages 100 horsepower and 250 lb-ft. of torque continuously.

If you're interested in more details, read Siler's complete essay in Popular Science. The main takeaway: like hybrid and plug-in electric cars, electric motorcycles are a reality, and the technology developed for the race track may work its way into your garage -- no matter how many wheels your vehicle has.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com