Book Project- Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles

June 8, 2015

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 5.58.48 AMFor the last 8 years or so, I’ve been keeping track of resources and news about electric motorcycles over on my The Electric Chronicles blog.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized that what I had was a pretty complete history of not only recent electric motorcycle development, but not-so-recent history as well…  such is the nature of obsession.  I also realized that it was a fascinating story of how science, technology, research and the market come together to make a revolution happen.

So I started a book.

What I find most interesting is about how the timeline of electric motorcycle illustrates bigger subjects of technology and innovation.  We always hear about “Think Different”, but one of the key patterns in innovation is watching how individual pieces have to fit together to make that “Different” happen.  What we know as the modern bicycle, for example, went through almost 50 years of fits and starts, through several interpretations of a two-wheeled, human-powered device…  but until three unrelated bits came together – a manufacturing process that could make tube steel, inflatable, pneumatic rubber tires, and, most interesting, industrial roller chain – could the modern concept of a bicycle exist.  The parallels in electric motorcycle development make this a fascinating story of 21st century innovation.

This is a book that will interest not only EV enthusiasts and motorcycle fans, but anyone interested in how breakthrough ideas incubate, fail, and succeed.

And, I started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the book.  Take a look: Power in Flux: The History of Electric Motorcycles.  If you’re interested, I hope you’ll consider backing the project. In the first 24 hours the project hit 25% of the funding goals, and 50% in a few days.

What’s most exciting, and personally satisfying, is how the electric motorcycle community has embraced and supported the project.  Where I once had doubts that this was anything but a personal obsession, the community has stepped up and unequivocally weighed in: this is an important project, and people want to support it, both with their dollars, but also with information, resources and contacts.

The video:

Here’s the latest version of the outline:


The Timelines:

• Battery development • Brand development • Community/forums • Racing

The Pre-history – makes and models, tests and development:

• The Age of Lead • 1900 to 1950 • the late 20th century • The Dawn of Lithium • The 2000s

Battery and Supporting Tech Development:

• A Short History of Lithium Battery Research • The BMS • The Motor and Controller Equation

The People (notable cast and characters of the 2002-present period):

• Mike Corbin • Michael Czysz • Terry Hershner • Chip Yates • Craig Bramscher • Livia Cevolini • Jeff Disinger • Shawn Lawless • Luke Workman • Azhar Hussain • Cedric Lynch • Neal Saiki • Brian Richardson • Bill Dube and Eva Håkansson

The Student Teams: Ohio State • Purdue • Virginia Tech • Kingston University (others)

Europe and the UK

The Australians: A continent in flux:

• Danny Ripperton • The Voltron • Racing

The Communities:

Endless Sphere (and the e-bike crossover) • Elmoto • ElectricMotorcycleForum • V is for Voltage • DIY Electric Car • Brammo Owners Forum


• The Early Years (Team Bettimoto and the EVN CUP) • The Isle of Man • TTXGP • FIM • eMotoRacing • MotoE • eFXC • Land Speed Racing • Drag Racing

The Brands:

• Zero • Brammo • Energica • Harley Davidson • Electric Motorsport • Agility Saietta • Quantya • KTM • Mission Motors • BRD • Vectrix • Electric Moto • ELMOTO • MotoCzysz • Oset • Roehr • Bell • Lito • Sarolea • Lightning • Amorak  (others)

World’s Firsts, Records and Feats:

Mike Corbin • The NEDRA • KillaCycle • Shawn Lawless • Lightning • Chip Yates • Mission • Nathan Abbott • Terry Hershner • Team MotoElectra • Pikes Peak • Charlie MacArthur (more)

The Medicine Show: Emerging technology and the rise of the “PT Barnum Effect”

The Future of Electric Motorcycle – Overtaking a century of carbon-fuel development: Mainstream Manufacturers • Emerging Brands • Custom Builders


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