Planning an Electric Iron Butt

The Iron Butt Association has been alive as long as I have. That's right, creepy stalkers, you can now mathematically deduce how old I am. Entry into the Iron Butt Association requires a rider to go 1000 miles within 24 hours under a set of rules available on their website. 30 years after its formation the first electric attempt was successfully done by Terry Hershner. In preparation for his trip he heavily modified his 2012 Zero S making it almost unrecognizable. For months he worked on aerodynamic bodywork, constructed framing to hold additional batteries, and stuffed the rest of the bike full of chargers. All of those modifications were absolutely essential to Terry's ability to attempt the record, which he did successfully in September of 2014. You can still see his timelapse video:

Terry's achievement was certainly at the cutting edge, but electric motorcycles still weren't feasible to the average person as a means of distance transportation. After all, Terry had months of work and the help of fairing-wright, Craig Vetter, in building a body to make it aerodynamically smooth enough to double the range on the several sets of small 2012 battery packs, and filled it full of enough chargers that he could siphon from up to 4 EV stations at the same time. The bike weighed something like 1000 lbs. All of these make it a cool novelty, but hardly practical. This begs the question: Is there an electric motorcycle you can roll off the factory floor and successfully run an Iron Butt? In 2014 the answer was no. So let's fast-forward 5 years:

There is no EV charging for miles but this looks cool

Zero's latest and greatest offering, the SR/F, has a much bigger battery and has dropped their charge times from 10+ hours to ~2 hours at US EV stations. It's a big improvement but with an expected 70-90 mile range between 2 hour charges it's mathematically impossible to do it on a stock Zero SR/F.

Assuming Harley-Davidson's LiveWire was available it gets closer to fitting the bill. Promising a 70-90 mile range on a 1 hour charge or 40 minutes 0-80% is closer, but still too tight. Also as there are no distance ride reports it is unknown how the batteries perform under prolonged use and if they overheat. It is mathematically unlikely to do it on a LiveWire, and since it's impossible to obtain one at the time of this writing it is impossible to do an Iron Butt on a LiveWire.

This brings Energica into the picture. All of their current bikes share the same battery and powertrain. They promise 70-90 miles of highway range on a 30 minute charge, or a 20 minute 0-80%. This is mathematically possible to do on a stock Energica. Add into this the fact that the motor and controller are liquid cooled, and there are air channels inside the battery case which offer active cooling as well. What, then, is the correct Energica model to use for this?

The Ego has a more aggressive track seating and fairing, which is better aerodynamically, but the Esse Esse 9 is really comfortable. Like, really comfortable. With a name like Iron Butt, you're going to want comfort, right? Esse Esse 9 it is. We scouted out a test route and looked at different charging stations and realized that EVgo offered an incredibly dense and reliable charging network all through California that would be perfect for our trip. Brandon's test run ended up being over 800 miles in a day and we learned a lot from it:

Based on all the things learned from the first attempt, like not driving through construction zones in the middle of the day, we have created a new route which Brandon will be testing this week or next. The time is now rapidly approaching for an actual Iron Butt attempt. The route is being finalized and will be given the Iron Stamp of Approval* by Mike Kneebone, president of the Iron Butt Association. *that's not a real thing; it just sounded cool. Mike will confirm the route, though.

We've decided to use EVgo stations exclusively for the run. Right now the route looks something like this:

Iron Butt Test Route 2

Electric motorcycles have arrived. They are now good enough that you can roll one off the factory floor and do 1000 miles in a day with no modifications. Stay tuned for more updates on Brandon's testing and official Iron Butt run.

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