Electric Cowboy's 102 miles/hr electric motorcycle land speed record
There is a little friendly shootout underway in the electric motorcycle land speed record field. In August a land speed record was set in the under 150 kilogram electric motorcycle class. Last weekend Brandon Nozaki Miller, who bills himself as The Electric Cowboy, went to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the 2012 Bonneville Shootout, looking to set one or more land speed records in that same class. By the end of the weekend he'd set a 101.652 miles/hr land speed record for a motorcycle whose manufacturer claims an 88 miles/hr top speed.
Miller is a young man on a curious path into electric motorcycle racing. He's been bitten with the electric motorcycle bug, and rides a Zero Motorcycles made Zero S ZF6 electric motorcycle on his daily commute. This summer he began training for a AMA motorcycle racing license, something that many young men do except that, unlike most of these people, he has never ridden a gasoline powered motorcycle. Ever. Last weekend he was invited to the 2012 Bonneville Shootout to bring that same Zero S ZF6, his daily commute vehicle, to the salt flats and set one or more land speed records for unfaired electric motorcycles under 150 kilograms.
Miller was riding to break a record set in August by Kevin Clemens, with Clemens' encouragement. That record, in the World Unfaired Electric Motorcycle under 150 kilograms class, was set at 78.4 miles/hr during the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials. Higher speeds have been attained with electric motorcycles in other, heavier, classes. The highest record, at 216 miles/hr, was achieved by Lightning Motorcycles in August 2011, at the Bonneville Speed Week. A little later that month a set of speed records just shy of 200 miles/hr were set by Chip Yates during the 2011 BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials. Both were in a heavier weight class than are the bikes Miller and Clemens were riding, whose bikes are in the under 150kg class.
Almost immediately upon arriving Miller broke Clemens record, just during initial testing, with an average speed in the upper 90's. However there were several changes required for compliance with AMA and FIM regulations. For example the AMA requires steering dampers which are not stock on the Zero S, and members of the Al Lambs Honda team pitched in to fabricate steering dampers for Miller's bike. Other changes included a chain guard, and an automatic shutoff lanyard. At one time there were six people all working on different parts of his bike and everybody at the event was very interested in the electric bike.
After a series of runs between Sunday and Tuesday, Miller ended up with a 101.652 miles/hr land speed record, certified by both AMA (national) and FIM (world), for modified production motorcycles under 150 kilograms, averaged over a 1 mile distance. The highest speed shown on the timing slip is 103.381 miles/hr.