If anyone doubts that electric bikes will one day be highly desirable even for sports bike riders, a brief spin on the Victory Empulse RR that Ulsterman Lee Johnston rode to third place in this year’s TT Zero would surely change that. It’s good for over 140mph, lapped the TT circuit at over 111.62 mph and could be the reality of a production electric sports bike within a few years.
Just as John McGuinness’s TT-winning Hondas are based on a standard Fireblade, Johnston’s Victory is derived from the Victory Empulse TT Roadster and uses a very similar aluminium frame. But it has a bigger motor, developed by specialist firm Parker, which produces over 148lb-ft of torque, pushing power output close to 150bhp. And the racebike weighs slightly more because its 16.5kW/h battery capacity is over 50% up on the roadster’s.
I wasn’t aware of the weight because the Victory Empulse RR handled superbly. Its high quality Öhlins/K-Tech suspension gave a superbly firm and well-damped ride, its Dunlop D212 GP tyres gripped tight, and the radial Brembos bit hard. The bike felt super-stable as well as fast, and was still pulling at 130 mph plus at the end of the straight. With no gear-changing to worry about it was wonderfully easy to ride, too, especially on an unfamiliar track.
This level of performance will take a while to reach the street, because the Victory Empulse RR would be crazily expensive, and was designed to run out of juice after one 37.75 mile TT lap, plus a couple of hundred yards. But just as today’s superbikes are quicker than WSBK winners of barely a decade ago, this stunning battery-powered bike is a glimpse into motorcycling’s future.