Electric MX Bikes - Future of MX - Full Write Up

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6/17/2015 2:35 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/15/2015 10:39 AM

Does ANYONE have any additional info on Yamaha's 2016 Electric bike they had shown?

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I would like more people's opinions on what would motivate you to buy an electric motocross bike or not buy one. Please read my post before replying if you have the time and note since writing this thread earlier the company referenced as BRD is now re-named as Alta Motors out of SF California

I've been following and watching these EV (electric vehicle) Motorcycle companies the last few years and I must say I am more than impressed with what is being accomplished, especially in the Road Racing world. The charge times have now gotten as low as 30 minutes (you can even charge these off of a portable or mounted solar panel fixture on the roof of your trailer) and range has improved as much as up to 200 miles per charge on a competitive sport bike (see Lightning Motorcycles LS 218 model and Brammo, Mission Motorcycles). While the EV MX bike is not quite a total reality to the open market TODAY, it will be in coming months. Currently the there are few "Motocross" styled EV bikes out there from Zero Motorcycles, Quantya EVO1/2, and the lately popular KTM Freeride E. Now I've seen all these in action and have read through countless reviews and though they are all incredible electric motorcycles that are created for the dirt, they don't quite hit the mark when it comes to becoming the next best mx bike to go the fastest around a track on. They are all fun and serve a great purpose to a wide audience of enthusiasts and trail riders but the motocross track racing individual would feel disadvantaged on the starting gate lined up next to the latest 250f's at this point in time.

This is why I've had my focus on a silicon valley based EV Motocross bike company called BRD Motorcycles. Their sole mission is to create an EV MX/SM bike that can compete DIRECTLY with the 250f competitive motocross/supermotard bikes today. Here's a quick pic:

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Now this was their 2012 prototype that claimed some very competitive specs in 2012. Since then, they have completely re-designed the battery packs and power delivery process with some very unique proprietary designs. Here's a quick overview of the TCO of their MX version vs a CRF250R (same as the sm version but for mx) KEEP IN MIND this was the circa 2012 Prototype model and since then improvements have been made.

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Now I know some of you do your own maintenance and such but take this at face value and understand that these vehicles require less overall maintenance and as time progresses the cost to manufacturer to build these "simpler" motors will decrease as well, bringing the cost down to you.

Look at the spec'd performance from 2012 on the BRD Redshift MX and Redshift SM

[img]http://i2.wp.com/www.asphaltandrubber.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/BRD-RedShift-technical-specifications.jpg?zoom=1.5&resize=635%2C309[/img][/img]

Now considering these specs from the 2012 Prototype model, and the information you can find on updates made in the BRD garage: http://www.altamotors.co/ the actual expected 2015 models should have increased RANGE by 2/3s and DECREASED time to charge.

Here are a few links to some of their bikes in action from the local 408mx track with Kris Keefer to some trail riding with Kevin Butler...

Niche Wisdom With Kris Keefer from Alta Motors on Vimeo.



Kevin Butler Ripping Through Trails from Alta Motors on Vimeo.



There are def concerns around this direction in terms of viability long term and environmentally awareness so here's some relevant info...

Here's an article discussing the ability to recycle these Lithium Ion batteries in a more efficient way than motor oil today and it seems that they've started developing the plant infrastructure for this EV movement back in 2009.

Feel free to read up and see what you think: http://www.scientifi...icle-recycling/

For those of you worried about sound, not only do I feel like at full rev the bikes sound like a crazy supercharger hissing and winding out but with technology today and the fact that these bikes run off of software that is COMPLETELY tuneable to your desires, I'm CERTAIN there will be companies developing downloadable engine note sounds from YZ125's to RMZ450's that will match rpm of the engine and if you want to be bombarded by the moto sound then you can, if not you can enjoy your ipod like i will be doing smile

Now I know every state is different but in CA the EV government rebates bring the price wayyy down to comparable or better than a new CRF250r or KTM250sx with lesser performance (we'll see how true this statement is once the Alta is avail to race).

Here are a few rebates in CA listed on Tesla's site: http://www.teslamoto...s/US/California

Here's some background as to how used motor oil is somewhat efficiently recycled today: http://www.scientifi...il-be-recycled/

What other hesitations do you guys have about riding these EV bikes? Not saying get rid of your ICE bike (I'm never selling my CR250 or my thumper cuz i love them) but what about adding this to your arsenal of speed slaying bikes?

I guess one thing I've been curious about is how these things jump because aside from the little jumps in the videos I've posted and seeing Brian Deegan backflip the Quantya EVO1, I have reservations as to how these bikes will do on an SX track with all the rhythms and such.

Furthermore...

Some more information that might help answer some common questions you may have about Electric Motocross bikes and how they fit into this industry/market/user environment.

Water crossings
There are riders wondering about what happens when you cross a creek with the electric bike. Streams are generally low salt content. These motors will actually run under water, not that it would be good for the motor, but the water is not involved if current does not flow in it. Any current that does flow is localized inside the motor compartment and chassis. It would NOT go around and kill fish in the steam, and it would not shock you if you are standing in water hanging onto the metal bars. The currents stay locally inside, positive terminal post to negative terminal post.

This is very unlike the AC power grid where power is relative to earth and wants to find any conductive path to ground, including through a person strongly coupled to the earth standing in water…


Environment

Coal fired power plants thread: Some claimed an electric motorcycle will worsen the global warming problem as compared to motorcycles using fossil fuels because it will burn more coal!

Not only is there less net emissions from electric vs gas power (because of the significantly higher efficiencies of electric motors vs gas engines), the percentage of power from coal is very low, especially here in the Pacific NW. The source of this power can come from renewable sources at any time.

In fact, we buy our power from renewable’s already so there is no coal burned for the electrons when charged here. Taken to the next step, the energy can come from your own roof from panels that are now guaranteed for 25 (some even 35 years) and that pay for themselves in 10 to 15 years.

Imagine a day when you pull your electric dirt bikes to the riding area with an electric rig (with a large capacity pack, charged off the AC line during off-peak hours). This allows for very fast charging of the dirt bike packs because of the very high current/power available in a vehicle size pack.

Competition

This form may eventually lead to a new racing classes in the motocross world. Until our energy density is where it needs to be for full length motos, we may need pack swapping capability for racing, sort of like NASCAR. Smooth lines and techniques (better use of the energy) allow a rider better distance/kW giving a new skill requirement in EMX events. We hope to see SX length charge capacity soon.

Noise-wise, keep in mind, full on aggressive track riding will not be totally silent! You will still feel the landings and ground contact like the gas bikes on a rough/mx track so it isn’t a complete bore for spectators. Now you might hear the riders yelling at each other, as well as the riders having a chance to hear those at track side.

When on trails with hikers, the chain noise alone makes an early announcement so you can’t really sneak up too close on people. Silence is all relative.

Attributes/Benefits of electric bikes that are difficult or impossible with gas powered bikes:
Massive low end torque starting at zero RPM. No clutch needed for a controlled launch. This will excel in trials riding and on tight/technical trails in the woods.
Silence, relatively speaking.
Continuous acceleration from 0 – 55mph (with current gearing and single speed)
Very little vibration.
No warm up period. Just turn it on and go full on.
Powered from your own solar panel if so inclined.
Throttle curve customizing with ease, just plug in your laptop.
Little maintenance.
No fluids (other than brakes and shocks)
No exhaust. The indoor tracks can now retain their heat without the need for massive ventilation fans which still leave lingering exhaust fumes.
No spark arrester needed, there is little heat to begin with. This means significantly less fire danger. These cells have inherently safe chemistry that will not explode or burn, unlike the batteries in cell phones and laptops.
Simple cleanup. When the complete drive system is enclosed there is much less to clean. A quick shot with the pressure washer and the bike is clean.
Street legal opportunity. These bikes can now be made legal for dual purpose mode. The broad federal sweep of emission control implemented on January 1 2006, banned all bikes with the statement on the title “for off road use only” from street use. This was strictly for emission control reasons. We know this from Bob’s (our founder) personal experience he had with this matter in 2006 with DMV/DEQ. His Oregon DMV department will grant licenses once they see directly there are no emissions involved and has all the normal required equipment.
Energy Density – Comparing gasoline with Lithium Ion
Some forums are talking about the comparison of the energy density between batteries and gasoline. It comes down to: how much energy can be carried in a given volume and weight? To help put this in perspective, here are the numbers that show the energy content difference as well as the various losses delivering the energy to the drive wheels.
With these specific cells (A123 Systems), the difference is 111 times.

However, not all the energy contained in fuel generates is power that gets applied to the rear wheel. The reality is gas engines are only 30 – 39% efficient, where the majority of energy is lost as heat off the motor and exhaust.
The energy difference is then actually (111 * 0.3 =) 33 times, assuming you get the power from renewable sources like we currently do.

This is very poor efficiency at 30%. Even worse when you also include the extraction, refining, and distribution costs that significantly contributes to the overall impact. If the same fuel is used in a electric power generation plant, greater efficiencies allow much more power to be made available in the form of electrical current.

The power grid delivers this energy with little loss to all of us end users already. The transmission and distribution losses in the USA is ~7.2%

This brings the energy difference up to (33 / 0.93 =) 35 times

The electric motor efficiency is in the 90 % area, depending on throttle position all the way to the driving of the rear wheel. There is little heat loss in the drive system, especially with motors with high current capability.

This brings the difference up to (35 / 0.9 =) 39 times
Now when you factor in the weight of the gas engine at 2 times the weight of the electric motor for the same output, the difference is made with more cells, meaning a higher ratio of the total bike weight is now holding energy.

Net result, delta is down to (39 / 2 =) 19.5 times
When you consider the typical ride (or moto) uses half a tank of gas on the average, and this is still considered an “acceptable” ride, this means another half of the difference;
(19.5 / 2 =) 9.8 times

Now for the speculative part (but probable since A123 has the new recipe): Because of the intense research and development effort being put into this lithium storage technology around the world (for EV use primarily), there is potential for new developments that will help extend the range enough to match or exceed the range of gas powered bikes.

Source: http://www.evdrive.com/
This information might be a few years old but still addresses many questions most mx riders may have about these EV bikes.


Thanks for reading and looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Shelby
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instagram: @ginger969

6/17/2015 2:48 PM

That's a lot to digest in one helping, but very informative. The first issue that I would have, beyond the initial cost, is the $7,000 battery replacement cost, especially if the battery's performance begins to decline earlier in it's life cycle than advertised. Would love to take one out for a few laps if that ever becomes possible. Should be an interesting thread, thanks for putting it up.

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6/17/2015 2:54 PM

Starcrossed wrote:

That's a lot to digest in one helping, but very informative. The first issue that I would have, beyond the initial cost, is the $7,000 battery replacement cost, especially if the battery's performance begins to decline earlier in it's life cycle than advertised. Would love to take one out for a few laps if that ever becomes possible. Should be an interesting thread, thanks for putting it up.

Yea the cost is pretty intense at first, I have debated putting a deposit down for about a year on the first batch but haven't pulled myself to do so yet haha...Hopefully with some more time those costs will decrease too

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instagram: @ginger969

6/17/2015 2:56 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/17/2015 2:56 PM

I appreciate you posting all that info because I'm interested in it as well. Electric is inevitable. I'm ok with that. One thing I noticed in the chart comparing cost: the residual cost line seemed like it could be manipulated pretty easily to make or break the argument. I understand their criteria, just not sure it's the most reliable way to do it.

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6/17/2015 2:59 PM

hvaughn88 wrote:

I appreciate you posting all that info because I'm interested in it as well. Electric is inevitable. I'm ok with that. One thing I noticed in the chart comparing cost: the residual cost line seemed like it could be manipulated pretty easily to make or break the argument. I understand their criteria, just not sure it's the most reliable way to do it.

Yeah Idk why but i'm pretty fascinated with this niche as well...Just to point out too, the company has been fairly guarded on updated specs in the last 3 years of testing and updates so the data points provided are referenced from 2012 which I do know have been focused on by Alta in revisions and technical releases internally so hopefully some updated stats and pricing will be available soon!

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instagram: @ginger969

6/17/2015 3:27 PM

I live in the city, gotta drive an hour to hit the track in any direction... but I've fantasized about having a decent-sized backyard, maybe half acre lot in a suburb where I could build a small rhythm track and go rip an e-bike around after work. I'd ride so much more if I could just walk out the back door and throw a leg over.

To actually buy one though? I'd have to see more exposure, more guys riding them, more shakedown in a real commercial application instead of just marketing like you see now...

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6/17/2015 3:31 PM
Edited Date/Time: 6/17/2015 3:31 PM

As soon as a quality affordable electric motox bike is built by a reputable manufacturer I will buy one..

We have a 5 acre lot with plenty of room for a motox track but no way the surrounding neighbors would be happy with me ripping around on my 450, but an electric moto would be perfect!

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6/17/2015 3:33 PM

Brad460 wrote:

As soon as a quality affordable electric motox bike is built by a reputable manufacturer I will buy one..

We have a 5 acre lot with plenty of room for a motox track but no way the surrounding neighbors would be happy with me ripping around on my 450, but an electric moto would be perfect!

Exactly! I would LOVE to open up an indoor facility with a track, food, tv screens, lounge/bar and just have a DOPE place in the middle of town to ride and hang out...This would allow that to happen smile

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instagram: @ginger969

6/17/2015 3:35 PM

The TT Zero race was amazing how fast these bikes can go.

Its only a matter of time before electric will catch and then surpass internal combustion.

And there will be plenty of people complaining about them and the good old days.

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6/17/2015 3:36 PM

Brad460 wrote:

As soon as a quality affordable electric motox bike is built by a reputable manufacturer I will buy one..

We have a 5 acre lot with plenty of room for a motox track but no way the surrounding neighbors would be happy with me ripping around on my 450, but an electric moto would be perfect!

Exactly! One things that I've always found funny is that no one has a problem with the constant sound of mowers, weed eaters, blowers, tractors, screaming eagle kits, etc., but f^

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6/17/2015 3:37 PM

RC buggies and planes have taught me how awesome an electric motor can be but do I see the electric motor taking over the sport of motocross? I'm not so sure. Certainly not anytime soon at least.

For the performance aspect, yes, the electric motor can deliver some awesome things but it comes at a price and certain sacrifices.

I think the biggest thing against it is that a big part of the appeal of motocross and riding dirt bikes is the mechanical aspect. An internal combustion engine is cool. It looks cool, it sounds cool, it is fun to shift a mechanical motorcycle gearbox, it is fun to slip the clutch, scream the bike in a low gear or lug it around a gear taller, etc. The trend with our sport right now is actually going backwards in regards to technology with vintage racing getting more popular, getting 2-strokes again, etc.

And THE biggest thing going against it is the price. We already talk about new bikes being too expensive as it is. To even get it somewhat justifiable in price you need to live in a State that will subsidize the price with tax dollars fueled by political ideologies but how long is that going to last? The electric bike companies can try to make a case about how buying an electric bikes is better for the environment but the truth is that the average person doesn't give a shit. Certainly not for that much of a price difference and with how much of the "global warming" rhetoric is still widely debated.

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6/17/2015 3:58 PM

Personally I don't see myself ever being a customer to any electric motorcycle company. Just because it's cheap and good for the environment doesn't mean it's fun to ride. Just look at all the hate four strokes get for being too easy to ride, now take away the clutch & gears and see how much riders like that. There's nothing about an electric motor that will make it fun to ride especially without the beloved sound of a motor we all like to hear. While I respect these companies for trying I believe it's a lost cause and they will end up losing money in this market.

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6/17/2015 4:03 PM

erikcrvjl wrote:

Personally I don't see myself ever being a customer to any electric motorcycle company. Just because it's cheap and good for the environment doesn't mean it's fun to ride. Just look at all the hate four strokes get for being too easy to ride, now take away the clutch & gears and see how much riders like that. There's nothing about an electric motor that will make it fun to ride especially without the beloved sound of a motor we all like to hear. While I respect these companies for trying I believe it's a lost cause and they will end up losing money in this market.

I definitely get what you're saying about combustion being more fun to ride. IMO, what will make electric fun to ride is the possibility that it could become the only option to ride. Obviously, that's an extreme situation, but not as far fetched as it once was.

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6/17/2015 4:08 PM

I would buy one for sure. It has two wheels so it's going to be fun to ride!

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6/17/2015 4:11 PM

I want one but will wait until they become more popular, I would like to know how they go out of the start gate as well.

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6/17/2015 4:17 PM

Initial price is way too high. It causes a really high entree level to purchase one. Also a new battery is like a total write off ... I hate that electric bikes make a mountainbike noise because there is no engine. Can't the electric motor make some cool electric / turbo -style noises?

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"Ryan Dungey will always wonder how he can be a better son, brother, partner and racer. Because if you are satisfied, you will never be able to dream" ~ Troy Adamitis

6/17/2015 4:18 PM

It will open up many riding areas,close to urban areas.

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Keep in mind that free advice can frequently be worth less than you pay for it.

6/17/2015 4:19 PM

I dont really care about the envoiermental stuff.
My concern about electric bikes is how long can you ride in real world not lab miles, and can you ride when its minus -20c?

I am thinking used resale value is gone be bad. Since if your battery dies you run the risk of having to pay 7000 extra on the bike it self

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6/17/2015 4:28 PM

It should be a viable option in 7 to 10 years from the way things are going. What we have not seen yet is what the competition will do to the gas powered engines. Once the electric bikes start to put the heat to the gas powered bikes, I think you will see some interesting innovations on the gas side. Right now electric bikes have a ton of torque, but the actual HP is down from gas. The battery technology will also change in leaps and bounds in the next 5 years and I see the weight coming down as well as the cost.

As someone said above-----they have two wheels, they are going to be fun. I'm going to take the "don't knock it till you try it" approach.

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6/17/2015 4:31 PM

I also think that $9000 marginal cost of ownership in 200 hours is off the charts. I think that number will be closer to $2500.00 at worst on the average.

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6/17/2015 4:40 PM

Why not start in the mini market? I seem to remember the Raffe bikes guy on here posting. I know this is about the big bikes, but i see alot of advantages in minis that are already mentioned as negatives (quiet, automatic, low maintenance). For my 3 yr old, transitioning from the strider to a pedal bike and then mxer, I would think an electric bike he could actually race (not just ride around like the Sharper Image ones or whatever else is out there) - would be cool. Not to mention he could ride it in his own yard track I build. Seems like that would be a good entry as well so people learn about the technology.

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BRD = bench racing digits; I liked the old number system!

6/17/2015 4:52 PM

I don't think I'd own one, it would be fun to ride one every so often......but it just isn't for me. Having an engine you can work on and modify is all part of the fun for me.....plus the sound they make, to me......is also part of racing and riding.

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6/17/2015 5:06 PM

I think it's cool as hell. I want to work in sustainable energy or auto/moto. This is right in the middle. 40% of my electricity comes from wind so this would almost be a wind powered motorcycle wink

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6/17/2015 5:07 PM

I agree about starting in the mini market. I bought a used oset electric trials bike and modified it for my three year old son. The suspension is better and the power is better than a stock pw50 and it weight about 30 pounds.Photo

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6/17/2015 7:44 PM

It would be awesome to trail ride, if you could get the range comparable to current internal combustion bikes, and get the price down to compete with current machines. I would buy one!
What I wonder is what the environmental nuts would find to complain about! No noise, no pollution, they would really have to work hard to keep us out of Our forests and off Our public land ! Lol

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6/17/2015 7:57 PM

I see people from time to time riding electric mountian on the "mountian bike trails" around my house. I stay clear of all them trails on my Moto bike. If me and my buddy's could get our hands on some electric Moto bikes it would be a game changer.

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6/17/2015 7:58 PM

ginger969 wrote:

Exactly! I would LOVE to open up an indoor facility with a track, food, tv screens, lounge/bar and just have a DOPE place in the middle of town to ride and hang out...This would allow that to happen smile

I've been obsessed with this idea for sometime,look at what KTM is doing.
http://v2.ktm.com/ridektm/ktm-e-cross-center/freeride-e-parks.html

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6/17/2015 9:05 PM

It sounded like a rollercoaster I like rollercoasters...

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Who Ever Dies With The Most Toys Wins...
No Point Waiting Till Then... Newman Wins





6/17/2015 9:28 PM

I am all for it. Knocking it's greatest asset though is mind boggling to me. Being almost silent when ridden is a huge positive. Look at all the tracks that have closed down in the last 10 years. To be able to bring them back or create new tracks close to cities and towns is exciting to say the least. Who cares if they are slower, could be the best thing to happen to our sport. It just doesn't look like happening any time soon.

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November 13th, Forever in our memories !!

6/17/2015 9:38 PM

Battery technology to make this work at full-scale just isn't here quite yet.

I'm glad there are companies innovating and skilled guys like Keefer testing and developing this stuff. They will have the sauce close to perfected when the batteries arrive.

OP: your timing with this informative post & thread is good pretty good for me considering I spent a little time this afternoon thinking about electric MX bikes.

I did a little math to consider the battery required to make an electric bike with power comparable to a 250F. So a peak of 40 horsepower and an average horsepower of maybe 15 to 20. My back of the envelope calculation says that with current cells from the high-performance RC car market assembled together to make a battery pack we need 100 to 150 lbs of battery to last a 30 minute moto.


We actually need two of those batteries, one for the 2nd ride. I typically put more than a full hour on my hour meter on any given track day. Charging batteries between motos isn't an option yet since there isn't power at most tracks and the charge rate is much slower than the discharge rate on these batteries.


As the battery technology gradually improves, these bikes will become more and more viable. Once the battery tech is not a performance or cost issue, nobody will consider a gasoline engine competitive, just like the two strokes are now and for the same reasons. Electric motor controllers can be programmed to give the rider any amount of torque at any RPM that the rider desires. Compression braking can be programmed in and can re-charge the battery, etc. The power delivery from an electric motor can be perfected for each track and each rider with a simple re-map.

If you want to see the future, look into the RC cars. Electric RC cars absolutely kill the nitro powered cars.


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