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An EV (motorcycle) visionary: Matt Dieckmann (1981-2010)

I first heard about Matt Dieckmann in a Wired Magazine article touting his electric motorcycle and impressive racing results, so I wasn’t prepared for the soft-spoken, overly-humble 29-year-old I caught hanging out in his garage one hot August day in Santa Rosa (California).

With the camera on him, he chose not to sell what he’d created, but to talk about the new electric motorcycle race circuit – The TTXGP (the eGrandprix) where his bike placed 3rd- and the future of EV tech. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought he’d simply bought the bikes piled up in his garage.

But it was obvious he loved everything about the bike. He smiled his way through an explanation of his conversion of a Yamaha TZ250; he was excited about the tandem Agni motors and the re-tooled battery packs they’d placed in any available space under the frame.

Then he suggested we take the bike out for a spin, not just down his suburban street, but out to a scarcely-used road on the edge of town where he could really show us what an electric bike could do. It was fast.

We asked about his credentials as an EV expert (classes, school…). Matt just smiled some more and explained that he loved motorcycles and that everything he knew he’d picked up from racing and reading.

Back in his garage, Matt showed us a new bike he was building from the ground up. This one was going to be constructed solely to be powered by electricity and it would be fast.

Six days after our interview, Matt was riding one of his prototypes when he was killed in a traffic accident.

I edited this video attempting to capture the spirit of our day: Matt’s bikes as well as his humility, laughter, self-taught skills, and his incredible vision for someone quite young (he died just weeks after his 29th birthday). As his father Steven “Mike” Dieckmann explained it, Matt saw “how electricity is the new frontier of transportation.”