A pair of electric motorcycles were entered in the 10th Annual BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials, held on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, 24 to 29 August. The motorcycles were powered by a pair of 190-watt RAIS solar photovoltaic (PV) modules from Minnesota (US) based tenKsolar.
The motorcycles were built in The Velocity Workshop in Lake Elmo, Minnesota by Kevin Clemens. One of them is based on a modified 2004 Kawasaki Ninja EX250 frame and is powered by high-efficiency lithium polymer batteries. The high tail, clad in carbon fiber holds the bike’s lithium batteries and contributes to the slippery, aerodynamic shape.
In 2012, running the same electric motorcycle with more conventional motorcycle bodywork and in a more restrictive class, Clemens set four world records (recognized by the Fèdèration Internationale de Motocyclisme in France) and two American Motorcycle Association (AMA) national records on the Salt Flats, achieving a top speed of 85.7 mph.
The sidecar bike is based on a 1972 Honda Scrambler frame, and Clemens rode it as a solo bike to a national record on the Salt Flats in 2011. This year Clemens broke the existing 300-kilogram sidecar record of 50.407 mph by averaging 54.651 mph in two passes. The record is subject to ratification by the AMA.
The highly streamlined motorcycle, named “The Fabulous Photon Torpedo” successfully competed in another fast-evolving motorcycle category that allows more significant aerodynamic innovation and its top speed of 98.7 mph was significantly faster than the previous class record of 68.848 mph. However, Clemens was unable to beat the speeds posted by a university team and eventually burned out his motor while trying. “The water-cooled prototype motor run by the other team didn’t even exist 6 months ago—it shows you how quickly technology is progressing. That’s a good thing and pushing technology is one of the reasons we are doing this in the first place,” said Clemens.
The success of Velocity Workshop’s participation at the BUB speed trials demonstrates the promising combination of solar energy and electrified transportation. The solution came from tenKsolar, a company that designs and manufactures a solar PV system optimized for commercial rooftop solar installations.The internal controllers in the pair of 190-watt solar panels provided the energy that Clemens needed for his lithium polymer charging system. The panels also provided energy to charge the sidecar electric motorcycle that set a national record.