05 July 2019

Will Electric Motorcycles ‘Spark’ a Riding Revival?

While there is nothing revolutionary about electric vehicles, new technology and greater concern for the burning of fossil fuels has seen a new wave of electric motorcycles ready for market.

When the giant Harley-Davidson Motor Company develops a brutish electric motorcycle, you know something is afoot.

H-D’s new LiveWire project is all the indication you need to know electric motorcycles are about to go mainstream. Customers in North America will be taking delivery of their pre-ordered machines from August, while Aussies and Kiwis will have to wait until 2020 for theirs - with a price tag of around $40,000.

LiveWire is clearly aimed at riders who like big, powerful machines. Top speed is cited as almost 180kmh and - hang on! - you can get to legal highway speed in about three seconds. H-D intend to build a network of charging stations throughout the dealerships to cater to the expected 200km range. Charging can be completed in about an hour, so there's plenty of time for a coffee and window-shop while waiting.

And it’s just as well H-D is ahead of the game with LiveWire because breathing down their neck is a swathe of similarly futuristic machines ready to take them on.

Former H-D engineer and motorcycle designer, Erik Buell, has unveiled his first full-size electric machine, the Flow electric motorcycle under his new brand, Fuell. Last year, Buell teamed up with Vanguard Spark, formed by Alfa Romeo F1 principal Francois-Xavier Terny of Vanguard Motorcycles and Frédéric Vasseur, founder of electric Formula E race car company Spark Racing Technology. With this kind of backing, the serially luckless Buell should be a force to contend with. The Flow “urban mobility” electric motorcycle will be a relatively modest performer and priced at around half that of the LiveWire.

Beyond these two, BMW is known to be seeking hybrid drive technology patents, Triumph are again surveying owners while Finnish company, RMK, are preparing a science fiction-styled machine called the E2 which utilises a hubless rear wheel and direct drive motor.

“The future is electric, we’re not far from starting series production,” said Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali who, along with VW Group Chairman Matthias Mueller, upped the ante when he said Ducati would have an electric motorcycle “by 2020”.

And if that wasn’t enough, Chinese electric motorcycle company Super Soco expects to sell three much cheaper, scooter-like electric models in Australia any time now.

So, it would seem the die is set for a serious influx of electric motorcycles sooner rather than later. Just when these machines will finally make their way down to Australasia - and at what price - is the next question.

02 July 2019

Australia's newest luxury car brand: Genesis is launched in Sydney [watch]

A glamourous ribbon-cutting at the first Genesis Studio, in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall, has marked the launch of the Genesis brand in Australia.

The flagship studio was unveiled by Executive Vice President, Global Head of the Genesis Brand, Manfred Fitzgerald.

The launch of Genesis Studio Sydney introduces a new premium customer experience to the Australian market, and will be joined by Genesis Studios in Melbourne and Brisbane next year.

The stunningly designed Studio in the retail heart of Sydney’s CBD is defined by its spiral staircase encircled by a spectacular, bespoke large-scale curved LED screen.

19 June 2019

Lake Perkolilli claypan racing is back

It’s called sacrilege! Desecration! A travesty! Covering precious antique race cars and bikes in sticky red dust and driving them at extraordinary speeds. The drivers of 100 pre-war race cars and motorcycles who will be heading to the isolated claypan of Lake Perkolilli near Kalgoorlie in September this year don’t care what the purists think.

Getting down and dirty with their vintage cars is their greatest reward for bringing the old bangers to life.  The ability to race on one of the world’s oldest motor race tracks is getting old cars restored and fired up again all over Australia.

12 to 15 September ON A CLAYPAN 
NEAR KALGOORLIE, Western Australia

Lake Perkolilli is legendary amongst those who know about the outback origins of Australian motorsport.  The rock hard and billiard table smooth claypan was a Mecca for speed merchants who wanted to claim Australian speed records, and from 1914 through to 1939 many records were set by cars and motorcycles.

When around-the-houses motor racing came to Western Australia and the spectators did not need to trek the 600km to the Goldfields, Lake Perkolilli or “Perko” as it was called was forgotten and virtually abandoned. 

The Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival from 12 to 16 September this year will resurrect the old natural track and re-live the glory days of motorsport.  The competitors will get their vehicles (which are all at least 80 years old) covered in thick red dust that seems to get ingrained into the paint so it never comes off.  The dust will seep into everything. “So what?” is their reaction!

They’ll camp in the bush — just like the racers of the 1920s and 1930s who trekked from Perth to test out their cars and bikes on what was called the “Brooklands of the West”.

Britain has its Goodwood Revival on a converted airfield, the USA has The Race of Gentleman on a beach and now Australia has the Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival on a claypan in the outback. 

The oldest cars at the Red Dust Revival will be Ford Model T speedsters.  The venerable Model T released to the world in 1909 was not known for speed but when the smart young mechanics of the era stripped them back and hotted-up the engines they were fast and loud. 

There will be Chrysler racers from the 1920s, replicas of the cars which set Australian 24 Hour Speed Records back in 1926 and 1927.  Austin Sevens, the original “Baby” Austins will compete head-to-head with more expensive and sophisticated cars such as Bentleys and Lagondas.

One car is even being shipped from the United Kingdom to be a part of the revival of motorsport at Perkolilli.

About 40 classic motorcycles will also race on the claypan for the first time since 1939. The great marques of the past such as BSA, AJS and Triumph will be well represented as well as obscure brands such as Corah which have been forgotten in time.  The “flat tank” racers with their black racing leathers and big singles or V-twins will add to the spectacle. 

Vintage aircraft will also fly up from Perth to the claypan just like the original era.

The Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival is run by a group of enthusiasts from the vintage motorcycle and sports car fraternity who just want to experience the thrill of claypan racing.  To administer the event they formed the Lake Perkolilli Motor Sports Club Inc.  Everyone who enters the event with a car or motorcycle automatically becomes a member of this very exclusive bunch of people who can say that they have competed on one of the world’s oldest race track with exactly the same surface as a century ago.

The event is free to attend as a spectator and thanks to the City of Kalgoorlie/Boulder there is camping adjacent to the claypan and the most basic facilities.  And that is how it should be!  Camping in the bush and enjoying the smoke, smell and clatter of old race cars and bikes as they kick up the dust.

For more information go to www.motoringpast.com.au