After the January announcement that Polaris had “acquired the electronic motorcycle business of Brammo Inc.” many, including us, wondered what the future held for both companies. Polaris has dropped the first clue with its announcement today that Victory will be racing two electric prototypes at the Isle of Man TT Zero race later this year.
The two bikes will be piloted by William Dunlop, nephew of IoM legend Joey Dunlop, and Lee Johnston. Before this announcement was made, Johnston got the rumor mill swirling with this tweet from April 4:
The photo was taken at Thunderhill Raceway in Northern California, and in it we see a non-descript motorcycle resembling the former Brammo Empulse RR. Lee’s customary number 13 resides on the front fairing. We now know this to be the Victory electric prototype. At first glance the Victory and Empulse RR appear to be very similar. However, Gary Gray, Product Director Motorcycles / Business Leader for Polaris Electric Motorcycles, informs us that the Victory race machine is significantly different.
For starters, Gray says the new battery system now offers 20% greater capacity, or 17 kWh. The specially-built Parker GVM Internal Permanent Magnet motor is claimed to put out 150 hp and 162 lb.-ft. of torque. Battery packs feature revised internal packaging of the lithium-ion battery cells, Gray says, in order to deal with the shock and vibration associated with the TT’s 37-mile course. Parker, a longtime technical partner, developed new motor windings to “optimize power delivery and system efficiency,” and the new bike also receives a more sophisticated electronic control system and wiring harness that allows the team to “simulate runs on the track and tune for the actual race course virtually.” Gray also says the team developed “new motor controller torque and power configurations to ensure maximum performance.”
Reading between the lines, one could interpret this to mean the Victory electric prototype is being tuned to ensure the bike can make it to the end of the race. This is especially important considering much of the lap will be spent at full throttle.
According to Gray, other performance upgrades include:
When looking at the photos, the Victory branding is quite obvious. However, look closer at the fairing and you can spot another sticker, with a name that used to be prominent on this motorcycle: Brammo. In full, the sticker reads “Brammo Power,” and when asked about the future of the Brammo name, Gray replied, “Brammo is committed to developing world-class electric vehicle drivetrain systems, including lithium-ion batteries, electric motors, and associated control electronics and has ongoing operations in Talent, Oregon.”
As is common with most manufacturers, Gray refused to comment about future product plans, but with the apparent reorganization of Brammo as the electric drivetrain developer for models branded as Victory Motorcycles, we surmise Polaris is mounting a response to the Livewire electric motorcycle introduced by their competition from Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson, potentially in the form of the Victory Charger. While Victory’s involvement in the TT Zero race is no doubt exciting news, the bigger story lies in the potential for Victory to build and sell a production electric bike in the relatively near future.
Below is the Victory press release, in full.
Victory Motorcycles to Race Prototype Electric Motorcycle at the Legendary International Isle of Man Tourist Trophy
MEDINA, Minn., USA (May 12, 2015) – Victory Motorcycles is announcing their intention to race at the iconic International Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) event on a prototype Victory electric race motorcycle.
The prototype electric race bikes will be piloted by William Dunlop of the legendary Dunlop dynasty and by Lee Johnston known in the racing world as “General Lee”.
Victory Racing will compete in the Isle of Man TT electric class, marking the first time that Victory Motorcycles has entered a professional motorcycle-racing event in Europe and raced an electric motorcycle. Parker, the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, is providing the race-proven, high performance GVM PMAC motors for both machines.
“The entire Victory team is excited to make history with this effort,” said Rod Krois, Victory General Manager. “We know that William Dunlop’s experience and the continued Victory Motorcycles development of this electric race bike through work with Parker will propel us into a strong future with electric motorcycles.”
With more than a hundred years of history, the annual International Isle of Man TT, raced on the Irish Sea Island, is one of the most demanding and exciting races in the world. The SES TT Zero Challenge class event for electric motorcycles is a one-lap race round the island’s 37.73 mile Mountain Course scheduled for Wednesday, June 10, 2015.
“I’m more than excited to race this prototype at the Isle of Man,” said professional rider William Dunlop. “Electric powertrains have many advantages, and the Isle of Man is one of the greatest tests in motorcycle racing.”
Professional Rider Lee Johnston will be riding the second entry for Victory Racing at the Isle of Man TT and said, “I’m excited to make history by racing the new Victory electric race prototype. It’s thrilling to be part of the emerging electric motorcycle movement.”
Ben Furnish, Marketing Manager for Parker Hannifin said, “Parker is thrilled to be involved with Victory Motorcycles in this historic event with these talented riders. We look forward to working with Victory to develop high performance powertrains for electric motorcycles. “
The Victory Racing prototype electric race bike features a dedicated electric racing motor and power cells as well as highly sophisticated electric controls to maximize peak power, power delivery, and durability under racing conditions. Victory engineers have further refined the electronics and chassis for the upcoming race with private test sessions in North America.
Victory Motorcycles will host a continuous news feed of updates and photos from the Isle of Man TT and will have more information available on the Victory electric prototype race bike at www.VictoryMotorcycles.com. Be sure to follow Victory on Twitter @VictoryBikes and on Facebook at facebook.com/VictoryMotorcycles for additional updates. To learn more about Parker and their production version of the GVM traction motors visithttp://www.parker.com/hev.