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Electric, iPad equipped motorcycle set land speed record

Electric, iPad equipped motorcycle set land speed record

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One way to silence skeptics is to prove them wrong. An electric motorcycle that was built on a sheep barn in rural Virginia has been winning races and setting records on tracks across the United States.

One way to silence skeptics is to prove them wrong. An electric motorcycle that was built on a sheep barn in rural Virginia has been winning races and setting records on tracks across the United States.

Moto-Electra Racing's Moto Electra is based on a 1949 design - yet its latest model contains an iPad and high tech battery. It was dismissed as a gimmick and billed dead last when it was entered into a completion against gas-powered bikes at the Barber Motorsports Park in 2010, where its winning streak began.

The bike's victory was a surprise to Moto-Electra and a crowd of 60,000, said Brian Richardson, the manager of Moto-Electra Racing. "It was the only bike in the front straight and won the race," he added. The victories kept on rolling in.

In 2011, it placed 2nd in the TTXGP Points Standings and set an east coast land speed record with ECTA (East Coast Timing Association). It finished either second or third in a series of races in California, Canada, and Virginia. It will participate in the Isle of Man Clean Tech Road Show tomorrow.

Its next step could be setting sales records - provided there's enough demand for a US$20,000+ electric motorcycle that has a 100 miles range on a single charge. The Moto Electra "marries high performance and economy - a rare combination," Richardson said. "It's hard to get a premium price for economy. People will pay more for a fun bike," he added.

However, Richardson acknowledged that Moto Electra's commercialization is pending: components must become less expensive. The company is looking for partners to assist with its transition from sheep farm to mass production.

It could happen. Harley-Davidson, an industry icon, spent its formative years in a home machine shop and prototypes were stored in the Davidson's family's backyard shed. It is now a multi billion-dollar company.

A recent report by market research firm Global Information Inc. forecasts that electric vehicles will reach 130 million units sold annually by 2025, and many of those vehicles will be two-wheelers.

(Image credit: Moto-Electra)

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure