Speeding up the mountain in silence.
Racing fans around the world just received the bad news that bikes won’t compete at the 2020 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. That doesn’t mean we can’t still appreciate great, groundbreaking moments like this breathtaking video of racer Cory West taking his Zero SR/F up the mountain during the 2019 PPIHC event, though.
Cory West placed eighth in the 2018 MotoAmerica Supersport championship, after two podium finishes racing for M4 Ecstar Suzuki. 2019 was West’s first year competing at the PPIHC for Zero. In the interview at the beginning of this lap, he says that he hopes it won’t be his last. So do we, Cory. So do we.
Gallery: Cory West Zero SR/F At 2018 PPIHC
While a lot of people have talked about how the near-silent nature of electric bikes can be an added danger to pedestrians, West also brings up another concern: Shifting while racing. Many racers—and even just normal riders—rely on engine sounds to help them determine when to up- or downshift. It’s not impossible on an electric bike, of course—but it’s still a challenge that the growing numbers of electric bike racers have to wrap their strategies around. Like any new racing technology, you absorb it and just try to go as fast as you can.
The course is as beautiful as ever as West races up the mountain. You gain an even greater sense of the desolate mountain beauty, awe-inspiring cliffs, and vast expanses of open sky as huge amounts of wind noise rush past. As Kate pointed out, up toward the top, where the air gets particularly thin and tests both racers and traditional internal combustion engines, electric bikes like the Zero have the distinct advantage of not needing all that oxygen anyway.
In the end, West wasn’t the fastest rookie up the mountain—but both he and the bike still performed admirably. Given time and experience, both he and the Zero—or another electric bike, perhaps—will likely improve their times in the Race to the Clouds.
Photos courtesy of Cory West and Kevin Wing.