From rallies and races to benefit rides and shows, events have always been a staple of the biker community. But this motorcycle event is a little different from the meetups and groups rides many of us are used to. Now introducing the 2022 Charging Across America Challenge.
What is Charging Across America?
In just a few short days, on April 18th, two riders will face off in a coast to coast run powered only by electric vehicles and the will to beat the other to the reverse ocean shore. Riders Rob Swartz and Steven Day will start on opposite sides of the country, gear up on their Energica electric motorcycles and attempt to cross 10 states and 2,906 miles in under 5 days.
The ride follows the original Cannonball Run route from New York City’s Red Ball Garage to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, California. Though the race is known most for the cars and drivers that have continually driven it to set unsanctioned speed records, it all began with a motorcyclist. In 1914, Erwin “Cannonball” Baker crossed from New York to Los Angeles on his Indian motorcycle in just under 12 days, strategically stopping to refuel and powering through many unpaved roads.
Since then, more than a dozen motorcyclists have reset the record over the years, but electric motorcycles are relatively new to the scene. With the added challenge of time spent charging their vehicles, the two riders aim to break the current cross-country electric motorcycle record of 178 hours and 17 minutes.
Not only are Swartz and Day racing one another, they are also racing to set a historic record for the motorcycling community. Their run will produce zero emissions, zero noise and aims to accelerate the message around choosing electric motorcycles. For this challenge, they will need all the support and tools they can get.
How is HeliBars Involved?
Both riders will make the journey atop electric bikes manufactured in Italy and sold by Energica of New England (EONE), including the Eva Ribelle and the EsseEsse9 (https://www.energicaofnewengland.com/energica-esseesse9). These electric bikes are built with the Italian tradition of beautiful design and practical engineering and are befitting of a long-distance ride. But with almost three thousand miles to cover, comfort and control will be key to their success in breaking the record.
Exclusive Electric Motorcycle Handlebar Risers
To ensure the bikers have an optimal riding position and maximum comfort on their journey, HeliBars has designed and supplied a set of exclusive handlebar risers to each of them. We’ve been longtime partners and friends with EONE Owner, Rob Swartz and began development of the risers at his request. Harry Eddy constructed risers to fit each of the 3 Energica bike models sold at EONE including the Eva Ribelle, EsseEsse9, and the Ego.
The need to improve the ergonomics of these electric bikes benefits not just the contestants in the CAAC, but any rider looking to feel comfortable and safe on an electric bike. With the ability to adjust and improve riding position, the risers increase the accessibility of switching to an electric motorcycle. The new handlebar risers will be available to riders exclusively through Energica of New England.
“Electric vehicles are not only a huge part of our future, they're also a very exciting part of our future! We're looking forward to the results when the high performance and zero emissions of the Energica bikes equipped with more comfortable HeliBars risers are put to the test during the CAAC. Long rides are what HeliBars are made for!” –Harry Eddy
The partnership between EONE and HeliBars bolsters the effort to drive awareness and interest in the electric motorcycle market and demonstrate the true usability of this technology. Average riders may not be planning to make a cross country trek in just a few days, but the handling of a bike on long rides is often a concern of potential buyers.
The Future of Clean Energy in the Motorcycling Community
As technology continues to develop and more manufacturers enter the electric motorcycle market, clean energy bikes are becoming faster and cheaper, making it easier and more enticing for bikers to make the switch. Improvements are constantly being made to recharging times, range, and the convenience of charging stations.
Though the electric motorcycle industry has the most support in Europe, distributors like Energica and iconic American brands like Harley-Davidson are bringing these bikes to the forefront of the US market. In fact, the US electric motorcycle market is expected to grow at 7.4% annual rate between now and 2030.
Benefits of Choosing an EV Motorcycle
More importantly, motorcycle riders everywhere are becoming more aware of the many reasons why choosing an electric bike could benefit them and the planet:
- More economical to run than a petrol bike
- Quieter and reduce contributions to noise pollution
- Lighter by design
- Help reduce individual carbon footprints
- Offer instant torque delivery
What’s more, the Charging Across America Challenge is not the only event to highlight and promote electric motorcycle as a rising option for everyday riders. Riding partners Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are completed their latest motorbike adventure atop prototype electric Harley-Davidsons. The Long Way Up covers 13,000 miles of terrain and similarly looks to contribute to the adoption of more sustainable technology in the motorcycling community.
That said, there are still many barriers to electric motorcycles overtaking gas models, or even becoming comparably popular. For one, not as many manufacturers have begun producing electric models and though there are many concepts in the pipeline, we’re still years away from a wide assortment of models to choose from.
More crucial is the hesitancy and concerns of the motorcycling community. Many riders have expressed anxiety around range and the unavailability of charging stations when stuck out on a ride. Cost has also been an obstacle to more riders making EV purchases. But the biggest factor of them all is perhaps the cultural shift between gas bikes and electric. Riders love their bikes, the smell of gasoline, the grumble of the engine, and the overall character of a traditional model. Trust us, we know that it can be difficult to let that go.
Nevertheless, electric bikes are their own complex beasts and are developing more and more personality with every new model that arrives at market. Our hope is that EV will continue to capture attention and our community will work to break down barriers to bringing clean energy into the world of motorcycles.
Have insights into the future of electric motorcycles or an opinion about their growing popularity? We’d love to hear your input, so just shoot us a message with your thoughts.