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An AMA Champ On Why Electric Bikes Are Awesome

Illustration for article titled An AMA Champ On Why Electric Bikes Are Awesome

When four-time AMA champ Eric Bostrom isn't running his fire-breathing Kawasaki in AMA Superbike, he's racing a Brammo Empulse R. With one foot in the past, another in the future, and nearly two decades of racing experience, he's a perfect arbiter of performance, and when it comes to electric bikes, he's sold.


In a column for CycleWorld, Bostrom answers the typical round of ICE-obsessive questions, but his insight into both the riding and tunability of electric drivetrains is what stands out.

When I'm riding an electric motorcycle, the droning sound of an engine and its related vibration through the controls are eliminated, and I constantly pick up new sensations, such as increased road feel and heightened spatial awareness. EVs are also extremely easy to ride (you don't have to rely on a manual clutch to get moving), freeing up concentration so I can work more on my technique and less on controlling the mechanics inherent to the machine. As a result, I feel less rushed on the track, which, if I'm honest, has made competing against ICE bikes annoying and distracting.

More importantly, the advantages an electric motor open up a new realm of control for the rider and the engineers:

Torque is so impressive that you might think it is an EV's greatest strength. In fact, tunability is an EV's greatest strength. Having raced Superbikes for many years, I am well versed in the persistent problem of applying throttle while riding on the edges of the tires where traction is so critical. Unlike ICE engines that suffer from abrupt power delivery and require roundabout solutions to control these surges, with an EV, you can go straight to the source of the problem and simply reduce torque command to the rear wheel. If you are looking for either softer or more aggressive acceleration, you can have it—just copy and paste. Identical parameters apply to traction control. Controlling power delivery is the true strength of an EV.


But Bostrom doesn't gloss over the downsides. Range and charging are the biggest issues, and consistent battery performance in extreme heat and cold continue to be an issue. But he also brings up another advantage when it comes to the constant battle over noise at racetracks.

After being closed for 30 years, could Southern California's Saddleback Park re-open to EV MXers? Would Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca no longer be under threat of shutting down due to noise restrictions? Could currently unused OHV trails re-open due to less impact on the environment?

That all seems more than plausible. And when you begin to equate the evolution of technology – from two-strokes to four-strokes to pneumatic valve control – to the electric realm, Bostrom says it's a no-brainer.

"Once again, we are peeling back another layer reaching for tomorrow. If you look deep enough, circling electrons are everywhere."

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Tom McParland

I wonder if the "easier" usability especially for novice riders will result in more riders giving it a go.