Thread: Electric motorbike racing
This was not a project particularly relevant to this forum, but since it involves machining and is generally an exciting project, I think people here might be interested in hearing about it...
Over the summer this year I was involved with building and racing an electric motorbike, for the University of Nottingham PEMC research group. We started with an existing motorbike frame (Suzuki GSXR-600) which had been raced as an electric bike previously, but stripped down so we started off with a heap of parts:
1 month later:
Our rider was Jeremiah Johnson, a professional rider from Hawaii. He arrived in Nottingham shortly before the first race and stayed for the whole season. The bike was not quite finished when we had to leave for the first race in Assen, so the finishing touches, connecting all the batteries and battery management system, were only completed in the early hours before the first race in Assen. During practice Jeremiah told us that the bike had much less power than expected. We found that this was due to a fault with the motor controllers, which after working late into the night again we managed to fix in time for the race, securing 3rd place.
The subsequent races, in Anglesea, Hockenheim, Donnington and Silverstone were just as eventful. After each race we fixed any broken parts and made improvements. The first upgrade was to lighten parts of the frame, by cutting metal out where not needed and replacing some parts with carbon fibre. Another member of the team put a lot of effort into the bodywork and painted the fairings - something we didn't have time to do before the first race. Later on I added ducted fans to increase the airflow over the motors in the hope that this would let us extract more power from them.
Racing was quite an unfamiliar experience for most of the people involved. Compared with having plenty of equipment in the lab it was a stark contrast to be at a race track with only what we had remembered to take. This meant there was much improvising to keep the bike working whilst at the track. The electric bike racing attracted a lot of interest from some petrol racers and fans. I was frequently asked what the top speed and range of the bike were - about 105mph and 120 miles, though not at the same time! The race at Donington included petrol bikes on the track at the same time as us though in a separate race. It was good to see the electric bikes proving they were competitive against petrol, though less good when a petrol rider blocked Jeremiah on the penultimate corner, preventing him from taking 3rd place.
We achieved third overall in the race series, which was pleasing given the short timescale available to work on the bike and considering also that this was our first racing experience! The race series has given us valuable experience and data which we can use to improve our standing next season.
For next season I have negotiated a sponsorship deal with Parker for the motor and the plan is to race the bike in the Isle of Mann TT Zero in 5 months time. According to my simulation the new motor should get the bike to approach 180mph without much difficulty, for short periods at least.
I have got plenty of pictures of the bike, inside and out, so if people are interested I will post them. There are some videos and interviews featuring the teams that participated, including us, here on the IET website.
We're currently looking for sponsorship for the parts required for the upcoming races (TT zero and moto-e), so if you're reading this and works for a company that manufactures something related, please do get in touch.
The Following User Says Thank You to Jonathan For This Useful Post:
I think Cool Project sums it up!Avoiding the rubbish customer service from AluminiumWarehouse since July '13.
However, I lost my bottle at half-throttle. this thing went like a scalded cat
The work you have done on this motorbike is a credit to you Jon; I cant think of a better person to be involved in such an exciting project. well done.
Dont "sell out" for an office job like I did!!!
Last edited by kingcreaky; 16-12-2014 at 09:28 AM.
SACRILEGE BLOODY Sacrilegeeeeee I'm still in mourning for smokers and sweet smell of "Castrol R" and adjusting to those valve murdering strokers was bad enough but if they end up making everyone go to these Silent whinners I'm coming to hunt your lot down and wire your balls to those lithium Ion assassins and drain every last bit of juice into your ball sacks.!! .
BUT well done and excellent just the same hats off to you all. . (Just keep off our noisy smelly bikes we love so much.!)
Last edited by JAZZCNC; 17-12-2014 at 12:27 AM.
Know what you mean Dean, have tried to persist with Formula E but it's S***e
without the whine of an internal combustion engine.
(Ah there's a money making Idea for Us OLD Racers.!! . . . Instead of Yanky Candles company could be called Cranky Yankers. . )
Last edited by JAZZCNC; 17-12-2014 at 04:07 PM.
Thank you for the, er.. varied comments so far...
Eddy, I'll see you and your bike at the next race then?
Here's one part I machined for the bike. I didn't actually machine many parts as the health and safety rules prevent me from using the workshops at uni, so I mainly did electrical stuff. The part is a heatsink for the speed controller on the ducted fan that helps cool the motors - one on each side. Wall thickness is 1mm or less:
Thermal image from after a race and testing batteries:
This project is progressing, only 23 days to go until we go to the Isle of Mann so I'm very busy along with the others I'm working with. We now have the new custom frame, but there's still a lot to do.
My bank holiday weekend was busy on one part:
I'm currently waiting for the cells to get through customs, then they need testing and soldering into packs.
More info here. Will post more information if there are particular things people here are interested in.
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