In January of 2016 we took delivery of the new all-electric BMW C-Evolution and became the first company in the world to use electric motorcycles for camera tracking. It's true to say that, at the time we were a little sceptical. Certainly clients raised concerns over the range, stability and high speed handling characteristics. As a result, it was less of a plunge and more or a toe in the water when we committed to two C-Evos to run alongside our existing fleet of petrol powered BMW R1200GS motorcycles.
However, the success of these machines was a surprise to us all - pilots, camera operators, directors and sound engineers. The silent operation and resultant clearer camera audio was obviously a huge advantage that anyone could have predicted, as was the lack of exhaust and zero emissions. However the real shocker was how much better suited they are to motocam camera tracking than conventional motorcycles.
Firstly they are extremely comfortable - offering way more room for the camera operator to work than even the mighty R1200GS. But the real boon was in how smooth and stable they are. The smaller wheels generate more centripetal force making them more planted at slow speed. And the huge low slung weight accentuates this stability. The lack of clutch and gearbox and the amazing freewheeling sail mode makes them a doddle to ride and as a result, it's much easier to be super smooth through all camera shot sequences. Also they handle amazingly well. Even with a camera operator on board and with the extra weight of the rigging, the C-Evolution can be threaded through the twisting city centre streets at high speed as well as any sports bike - an absolute necessity when filming the white knuckle action of a city centre criterium or triathlon.
But the big issue with clients has always been the range. Last year's bike had a quoted range between charges of 60 miles. However at the ITU Leeds Triathlon we covered back to back men's and women's events that amounted to 116 km and the bikes still had charge remaining - obviously constant speed race environments are kinder to the bikes than standard riding, giving much greater range.
Whilst this range is enough for standard athletics and triathlon events, it was not quite enough for cycle racing. Until now.
BMW Motorrad's announcement of a new long range version of the C-Evo last year instantly grabbed our attention. We knew that their quoted range of 100 miles for the new motorcycle would be easily achieved - but would it be enough for single day cycle races that are typically up to 120 miles?
We took a gamble and ordered five brand new long range C-Evos to sit alongside our conventional fleet. The proof however was in the testing. At the C-Evos' inaugural event, the Brighton Marathon, the bikes covered the 26 mile course showing a remaining range of 88 miles. This range indicator adjusts on the fly - it showed 100 miles at the beginning of the event but because of the efficiency of the machine at constant pace the range came down by one mile for every two miles covered. Effectively then this new machine will cover upward of 150 miles on a single charge during typical race conditions. Simply amazing and a gamble that will pay off come the cycling.