I have a lot to be excited for this year, in terms of green racing. For one, the EMXGP, a grand prix style race for electric cars, will be happening in Barcelona, Spain, rather than Paris, France, in October. Works for me, as I’m not a huge fan of French food. But even bigger news is the TTXGP series of electric motorcycle races happening across North America and Europe, drawing competition from every corner of the world.
A new American team, Rhyne Electric Powersports, has recently entered the fray with a bike they promise will drive just like a standard gas-powered bike, and has more than enough power for your average wheel-standing daredevil.
Rhyne Electric Powersports, based in Columbus, Ohio, was founded by Jordon Rhyne and co-founded by Sean Ewing in February. I spoke to Sean yesterday while he was at the Moving Ahead 2010 Conference at Ohio State University, a gathering of alternative fuel industry leaders. Sean is currently both a student and employee of the University, working for the Center of Automotive Research at the University alongside Dr. Giorgio Rizzoni, who Sean says has been a huge help to the project. He told me what he could about their upcoming electric motorcycle without giving away any secrets that could give the competition an advantage over them. They are calling the project “Square Wave” and the bike is designated the SWR1.
“We wanted something that felt like a regular motorcycle,” Sean says. To that end, unlike many electric motorcycles, there will not be any regenerative braking. Instead, they are going with lithium ion phosphate batteries. Big ones. You see, even though it is an electric motorcycle, Rhyne Powersports wants power. Lots of power, as right now they are focused solely on competing in the TTXGP, which has its opening race in California in ten days. “Since bikes do 100% of their braking with the front wheel, and we wanted to it to feel normal, we decided to skip regenerative braking.”
But they are still aiming for an 80 mile range on a fully charged battery, with a top speed over 100 mph. They’ll have to meet that criteria if they hope to compete with other bikes on the circuit. And with so little time, starting from scratch would have been impossible. “The frame of the bike is a 1996 Honda CBR,” Sean says. “We would have liked to have an aluminum frame for less weight, but this works for now.” Still, there are a lot of custom parts needed to make an electric motorcycle, which is where veteran rider and racer John Wild steps in. “He fabricated pretty much everything,” says Sean. “I wired it all up.”
That fabrication included finding a way to mount the large batteries, the 3-phase induction motor, and “some kind of small transmission.” Sean estimates they are putting out about 76.8 volts of power, which should be plenty to reach their goals. Is it enough to win? Who knows. But they certainly sound like they’ll be steadfast competitors, and I will certainly be rooting for them. Sean says that while they are focused solely on the racing bike right now (which is operational and apparently very powerful) they do plan to bring a consumer model to market some time in the future. Until then, I’ll root for them from the sidelines.
Source: Rhyne Electric Powersports