Things have moved on since the early green motorbikes

Green cars, buses and even white vans are often cited as staples of our low-carbon future, but what stake do the Steve McQueen’s, Evel Knievel’s and Hell’s Angels of the world hold in sustainable transport? The goings-on on the Isle of Man, it turns out, may give us some insight.

The Financial Times recently found time between stock rises and falls, mergers and acquisiations to check in at the Isle’s famous TT race and shed some light on developments on two wheels that certainly we here at the blog team, and probably quite a few others weren’t aware of. 

First, the TT Zero event – which it wouldn’t take a genius to deduce, is a zero-carbon bike race. It might, however, take a genius to come up with the technology behind the tear-up. Universities and companies are throwing their test models into the mix every year, and there was a target this year to break the 100mph lap time mark for the first time. Agonisingly, the winner Michael Rutter fell just a few tenths of second short.

There’s local pride at stake too – with an international twist. Bladon Jets are a fledgling outfit who are trying to turn the intriguing concept of putting a jet-style engine (but somewhat smaller, obviously…) on bikes into a commercial proposition. This is no doubt something made more possible via the injection of investment from Tata, the Indian group that owns Jaguar. Further entrenching this world view, the company also says it’s working on a boiler that would create heat and power for the Indian market.

At the same time, electric bike manufacturer Ecolve is hoping to build 500 electric bikes a year if it gets funding to build a plant on the Isle – a place with a growing stature in the clean tech world. With over 50 such companies on the island, and a government setting ambitious targets (15% of electricity from renewables by 2015), there’s a lot going on besides significantly quieter revs on two wheels.

An energy-from-waste plant, a planned wind farm and testing on tidal power in the pipeline does seem to promise that any notes from this small island will not have green development in the margins. 

Now, where’s that sustainably-sourced leather jacket?