Zoe Rem, awesomely awesome pro rider, who’s competed with the AFM since ’08 and made her pro debut on the TVG.com Honda CBR600rr in AMA Pro SuperSport at Laguna Seca in 2010, also has a B.A. in Religious Studies, is a certified Nuclear Reactor Operator and has a day job at TVG.com. No slouch, this one, and willing to answer my endless questions with grace and style. Read on, for Zoe’s take on electric bikes, noise, gas, and being a woman in a brand new sport.
“I’ve been riding dirt bikes for about 7 years, and I raced Supermoto for a year before road racing. Both dirt and supermoto have been incredibly valuable for developing my riding skills and I still ride a lot to train, along with yoga, bicycling and a bit of lifting. I’ve been racing with the AFM for the past three years and this year has been full of ups and downs. I road an SV650 for the first two years and got a ride on a Ducati 848 for the first part of this year, which was totally amazing. My plans for next year include all the California rounds of AMA Supersport and hopefully the complete TTX GP series.”
On the Electric Race scene:
“There was definitely come sniggering in the paddock, but after people saw the battle that took place at the opening North American round at Infineon, everyone seemed to realize that it’s just as cool as gas bikes. And the fans are way more enthused. E-bikes have a following that’s way more loyal and deeper than gas bikes, because people really care about them in a more personal way. Many of the fans you talk to are involved in some way, building their own bikes or something, and it they all just seem so much more interested in the development of it as a sport. It’s probably what gas bike racing was like 50 or 60 years ago (or whenever it was in its infancy); it’s a different kind of feeling knowing everything’s new, no one knows the right way to do it, and no one’s sitting around in a big factory trailer with all the secrets. That makes it exciting.
The TTX GP series and Team Agni have furthered my career this year in a way I never imagined would happen when I first twisted the throttle of an electric bike. So electric bikes have certainly opened a wonderful new door for me”
On the Electric Ride:
“Since I’ve been racing the electric bikes, probably the most common question I get asked is what the difference is from racing a gas bike. And honestly, I don’t find it that different. The power is obviously really different than your standard motorcycle, but it seems to me just like the difference between riding an inline four or a twin, or a two stroke. This past year I had the opportunity to race a bunch of different bikes and found myself switching from a Ducati 848 to the Pril Motors e-bike, to a CBR 600, to the Agni Motors electric and back. For a period of time, each time I got on the track I was on a different bike. So part of my comfort in racing electric bikes might just come from forcing myself to get on whatever’s in front of me and ride as fast as I can.
However, I think the e-bikes feel most like a very low powered two stroke, especially with the lack of engine braking. The power band is really torquey and either it’s all right there, or you’ve got nothing, like a 125, when you’re not on the pipe, there’s nothing. And while there’s nothing you can do to the e-bikes like you can by keeping a 125 high in the revs, it’s still a similar kind of feeling to me of having all or nothing power. Not being able to rely on any engine braking is probably the most difficult thing for me, especially coming off the 848. But it’s just another skill to pick up.
All of the e-bikes I’ve ridden have had some kind of throttle lag, which I think is just a part of technology which can be overcome, but that’s what has been most difficult for me, because you have to plan ahead to compensate for the lag. Instead of opening the throttle when you want to start accelerating, you have to open it a second before hand so that the bike actually accelerates when you want it to.
The Agni bike is incredibly maneuverable for its weight (which is only 100 lbs more than the GSXR from which it’s made). And overall, the e-bikes are really fun to ride, and getting so much better technologically. It’s amazing. But to me, it just feels like any other motorcycle”
On being a woman in the sport:
“The TTX GP has been helpful in attracting sponsors and being a female has always been huge in attracting sponsors. Because I’m a female I do not think I can ever be purely performance based. It will always be the whole package. Even Elena Meyers, the first woman to ever win any AMA national, and she’s 16, but it’s so amazing because she’s a girl. Anytime anyone speaks of her it’s because she’s a 16 year old girl who can hold her own against the boys. It’s never because she’s just an amazing rider.
So definitely, being a female in this sport has worked to my advantage. It’s the difference between the electric scene and the gas scene that I can’t seem to work out. Whether the electric-female combo is more significant than the gas-female combo. Proportionally, there are far more women in the electric field, which is great, but makes me wonder, and I can’t pin point it.”
Thanks Zoe, and here’s to a great year in 2011 of kicking some righteous (electric) butt!
Zoe’s sponsored by Super Plush Suspension, check them out and tell ‘em Zoe sent you! “SPS worked with us at VIR tons and has done suspension for ElectricRaceBikes.com and Team Werkstatt (also a female rider, by the way).”