Electric bike holds its own against gas motorcycles

Electric bike holds its own against gas motorcycles Pro Racing will make history on Jan. 9, 2011 when what is billed as the world’s most powerful and technically advanced electric superbike will compete head-to-head against conventional gasoline-powered race bikes in a professionally organized roadrace at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Chip Yates, the bike’s rider and owner of Swigz Racing, says he expects to show that electric technology can achieve laptime parity with gasoline superbikes.

Electric motorcycles have had their own races, but the Swigz machine has been excluded from them because it is over the 250 kgm weight limit for those events. It weighs 266 kgm.

The Swigz Racing machine is said to have a power-to-weight ratio slightly better than that of 600-cc gasoline bikes, and will begin the 2011 season competing in the WERA Pirelli Sportsman Heavyweight Twins Superbike class where its power to weight ratio puts it in the middle of the field. Swigz says to be competitive against these heavyweight twin-cylinder bikes going forward, it will boost the bike's 194 hp by about 20% after the first race weekend in January.Yates says the power boost will put the bike extremely close in power-to-weight ratio with the best 1,000-cc Japanese superbikes.

For power, the bike uses a modified UQM Technologies PowerPhase 145 Traction System. It is basically a PM DC electric motor that puts out a max 8,000 rpm and 400 Nm of torque. The transmission is a custom ground jackshaft, single-speed reduction type driving a high-strength 520 racing chain and sprockets. Juice comes from 102 lithium-ion polymer pouch cells in a custom pack. They put out a total of about 428 V at a nominal 30 A-hr. Total stored energy is 11.5 kW-hr plus what comes from a special regen system on the front wheel (patent pending).

The motor controller is liquid cooled and works over a CAN bus. Cooling is via custom Honda CRF 450 aluminum radiators. All this sits on a customized Suzuki GSX-R750 frame with Ohlins custom-built forks in the front and TTX36 shock in the back.

Yates says the bike's top speed currently is drag limited to 184 mph. This will increase after February when the team plans to boost the bike's power. The exact means of the power increase is under non-disclosure agreement but relates mostly to the motor controller, Yates explains. He also says the bike's acceleration is so violent that it's difficult to measure - the bike makes 300 ft/lbs of torque currently and simply smokes the rear tire on the dyno, Yates says.

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