All-electric off-road race series launched by FIM
The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) has announced a new international, all-electric, off-road motorcycle race series called the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup beginning in 2022.
Set to begin in 2022, the new electric off-road series announced by the FIM will be a “world first” at elite level and something which has been a long time coming in motorcycle sport.
Electric powered motorcycles have been around for many years now with MotoE circuit racing series and the TT Zero on the Isle of Man. In off-road sport things have been slower with only the FIM EBike Enduro World Cup, the FIM E-XBike World Cup and the FIM Trial-E World Cup standing as official world-level competitions. As such those races have often featured very limited numbers of unobtainable bikes or used e-MTBs rather than actual motorcycles.
Actual commitment from motorcycle manufacturers has been slow too, with no serious motorcycles from the major off-road brands currently out there. Alta was a forerunner in actually sending bikes to major events like the EnduroCross series and hard enduros like Erzbergrodeo but when they went bust so did the impetus, it seemed.
Until now according to the FIM who have sanctioned the series under some big hitters in the electric motorsport world and claim bike development is already underway.
Promoter Valentin Guyonnet has more than a decade of experience working as part of motorsports’ world governing body. As CEO of the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup, Guyonnet will be joined by global sports marketing and events developer Carina Munte as CCO.
The series is also backed by Alejandro Agag, CEO of Extreme E and Chairman of Formula E and the E1 Series.
Respected promoter and sporting advisor of ESPN X-Games and Red Bull Straight Rhythm, Eric Peronnard is also involved. Eric will be familiar to off-road sports fans in North America as one of the long-time figures behind the EnduroCross championship, helping rescue it from the dead a couple of years back.
Speaking about the series, Peronnard says we are long overdue a credible motorcycle series in off-road. “I’ve been a fan of electric bikes from the get-go – even creating the first electric motorcycle race in 2008 – and [have] been riding them ever since they've been on the market; they’re quiet, better for the planet, better for racing and simply more fun!
“Having a platform like E-Xplorer presents the ideal opportunity for manufacturers to come onboard to showcase not only their technology but their support for the future of riding.”
How will it work?
Honestly, Enduro21 is not sure how to take this news at the time of writing. It is inevitable an electric version of off-road sport would happen, it is amazing it hasn’t already, but we’re skeptical it will be the real thing supported by the major manufacturers and not a show pony. The fact the announcement comes with a slightly cheesy video (and images, see above) is just a tad off-putting– you can judge for yourself in the video below.
The FIM say a total of 10 teams will each compete with two riders; one male and one female and be made up of a mixture of leading OEMs and existing professional race teams. Competitors will race on two-wheel off-road motorcycles propelled by a single 100% electric motor with a maximum weight of 130kg.
Five races are set to take place during 2022 in a mixture of urban and natural environments across the globe. With provisional locations in the United States and Switzerland, the idea appears to be to present motorcycle sport, and we guess to a certain degree bring it in from the woods, to make it visible to spectators while minimising environmental impact.
The FIM say a review process will be carried out this month (July 2021) to identify issues alongside a rigorous testing programme that is already underway.
Who’s in it and can we take it seriously?
At the moment that is the grey area, certainly the unwritten element in the FIM announcement. We know that bikes exist with the Japanese manufacturers and obviously the development of the engines and batteries from, for example, Yamaha has been ongoing at pace for many years – their electric trials bike contested in the Trial-E World Cup served very much as R&D in these areas.
KTM have been quiet about e-bikes since launching the Freeride-E, non-committal you might argue. If the series lands in towns and cities like the Formula E car series does, then maybe the Freeride-E is enough for now but the danger there is it stands too far apart from what we know and love as ‘proper off-road sport’.
There are some seriously fast crossover two-wheelers on the market, hybrids between MTB and motorcycles including the ‘CAKE’, Swedish electric bikes. That’s not forgetting SUR-RON either.
French manufacturer Electric-Motion make some great trials bikes and appear in the video but they are just that, trials bikes. For now, we’ll stand back and wait to see what happens with this one.
FIM E-Xplorer World Cup promo video:
Jorge Viegas, President of the FIM, said: “The FIM has long been a leader and a strong advocate of sustainability in sport, our FIM Environmental code is both extensive and seen by many others as the benchmark for delivering sustainable events, so our continued and growing commitment to integrating electric motorcycles into our existing championships has always been a natural path. However, the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup marks a significant moment on this important journey. The FIM is proud to be part of this exciting new project and will provide all the necessary support to ensure its success during its inaugural season and long into the future during which time electric power will become a dominant player in our sport.”
Alejandro Agag, regarded as one of the pioneers of sustainable motorsport and a supporter of the new series, said: “I have always had a vision that the future of motorsport should be electric, and that is now being realised. From where it all started with Formula E, to Extreme E, the E1 Series and now, and now E-Xplorer. The FIM, Eric Peronnard and the highly experienced team at E-Xplorer, have big plans and names to reveal over the coming weeks and months as they prepare for next year’s inaugural event and what I have no doubt will further promote the electric revolution on two-wheels.”
E-Xplorer CEO Valentin Guyonnet said: “We are delighted to be making this announcement today alongside the FIM. We have seen the growing trend for electric racing and the fusion of sport and sustainability, so for us the next step was to expand that to motorcycling. In addition to creating a platform to test electric two-wheel technology, we want to challenge the current perception of motorbikes and their riders to excite the next generation, and to present a global e-mobility solution that isn’t just limited to cars.
“The interest we’ve already had from recognised manufacturers and leading riders is incredible and we’re looking forward to sharing details in due course in time for our global launch event.”
More information: www.fimexplorer.com