Electric motorcycles return to Pikes Peak to race into the clouds

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Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

The peak is 14,115 feet (4,300 meters) high, and the road to the top is 12.42 miles of pavement, with no fewer than 156 turns. 

This year, the mountain will be the setting for the 100th anniversary of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb car and motorcycle race.

DON'T MISS: Electric Cars Take Top Two Spots At Pikes Peak Hill-Climb Race (Jul 2015)

Electric motorcycles have had some exemplary performances at Pikes Peak in the past.

In 2013, Lightning Motorcycles rider Carlin Dunne proved to be the fastest motorcycle in any division by about 20 seconds, with a time of 10:00.694. 

That record stands today as the fastest electric motorcycle time to beat. 

Hollywood Electrics Racing motorcycle, 2014 class winner at Pikes Peak

Hollywood Electrics Racing motorcycle, 2014 class winner at Pikes Peak

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In the Production electric motorcycle class, Jeff Clark owns the record on his Zero with a time of 11:59.814 on a Zero FX.  

The teams competing this year includes Victory Motorcycles, Hollywood Electrics, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Ohio State University.

ALSO SEE: Pikes Peak Electric Car Contenders: How They Finished (Jul 2013)

Aiming at the overall electric motorcycle course record will be Victory Motorcycles and Ohio State University.

Victory has listed its bike as a “Victory Prototype," and the only electric race bike it has shown the public so far is the Victory RR at the Isle of Man TT Zero. That bike weighed 530 pounds (240 kg), with rated output of 174 horsepower and 177 ft-lbs of torque.

Buckeye Current RW-3 electric motorcycle, 2016 Pikes Peak contender

Buckeye Current RW-3 electric motorcycle, 2016 Pikes Peak contender

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The Ohio State University Buckeye Current was built by a student-led project team. In 2013 and 2014, the team finished in third place at the Isle of Man TT Zero, and second in the electric modified class at Pikes Peak last year with a time of 11:12.756.  

The Buckeye Current RW-3 is based on a stock CBR1000RR frame with a 134-hp motor and a 7.8-kilowatt-hourbattery.

The bodywork is carbon fiber, the enclosures have been 3D-printed, and along with a custom battery-management system and aftermarket suspension, all of it was designed by the team’s student members.

CHECK OUT: To the four corners of the USA on an electric motorcycle

Rounding out the modified electric motorcycles is the Kommit EVT Zero FXS.

This bike is an international collaboration between the MIT Electric Vehicle Team and the the race companies Komatti (Isle of Man) and Mirai (Japan).

Video of the team's preparations can be seen at the top of this story.

Kommit EVT FXS electric motorcycle, 2016 Pikes Peak contender

Kommit EVT FXS electric motorcycle, 2016 Pikes Peak contender

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The team has also received engineering support from Zero Motorcycles (Santa Cruz, CA), and additional academic partners from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and London’s Brunel University.

The division for production electric motorcycle has two riders, sponsored by Hollywood Electrics, who will be astride Zero FXS electric motorcycles.

READ THIS: Energica Electric Motorcycle road trip uses only DC fast-charging

Both Jack Holden and Mark Miller will ride Zero FXS electric motorcycles, with only minor modifications to keep the motor cool during the demanding climb.  

The Zero FXS bikes are light, weighing only 293 pounds, and put out 70 ft-lbs of torque.  Hollywood Electrics is looking to retain its dominance among production electric motorcycles at Pikes Peak; it has won the class for the last two years.  

Practices begin today, and the race itself will be help this Sunday, June 26.

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