The report from the team's Facebook page was that the bike "let out its magic smoke" - a tongue-in-cheek reference familiar to anyone tampering with electronics meaning some or all of the electronic components have failed - in this case, one of the two "Zilla" controllers. Here's the report:
We let the "magic smoke" out of one to the two Zilla controllers on the first pass in New Zealand. This resulted in an anemic 11.4 second run.
This convinced us that it finally time to retire the KillaCycle. I could coax a bit more from the DC drive perhaps, but instead of beating the DC "dead horse" into the ground, it is time to move on to AC. Why crudely mechanically commutate DC into AC when you can do it better with transistors? I had planned an AC drive when I originally named it the KillaCycle.
It has earned its small place in history, and deserves a suitable display home.. I wonder if the AMA museum in Columbus, Ohio would be interested. The Smithsonian perhaps?
Although we are disappointed, we are honored to have had NZ/Australian dragbike champion Athol Williams as the rider for KillaCycle's last run.
See that run here:
KillaCycle still holds a respectable top speed in the record books at 170 mph, and for many of us, this was our first introduction to electric motorcycle drag racing. Here's that bit of history, dated 2006, complete with the DC motor's commutator blowing out explosively at 1:07 -
As well as a bit of history we're sure Bill Dube, the team owner, would like to forget - at the Wired NextFest Fair, in 2007, Bill was giving a "burnout" demonstration that went horribly wrong. Dube wasn't seriously injured, but the clip possibly made more of an impression to the general public than anything else the team did to illustrate the sheer power of the bike. We still cringe watching it.
The drag racing community in general, and especially the electric guys, are a small group of fanatics sporting more than their share of testosterone. That combination can yield some of the most entertaining drama in motorsports. For a little taste of that, see The Electric Chronicle's post, Electric Drag Racing: the Good, the Bad, and Some Other Guy.
All the drama aside, we're sad to see the bike retired, and hope to see it find a new home where we can all share a little of it's remarkable place in history. Congratulations to Bill and Eva, and the whole KillaCycle team for some amazing accomplishments!