We haven’t seen many bikes that combine as many disruptive tech ideas as the WMC250EV electric land speed record challenger that was revealed in June, and now that machine has shown it’s for real. The bike has flown through its first testing stage to prove it’s on target for the goal of hitting more than 250 mph during a record attempt next year.
Designed and ridden by engineer Rob White, whose eponymous company White Motorcycle Concepts is behind the WMC250EV, the bike aims to take the electric land speed record using clever aerodynamics and drive technologies rather than the usual route of brute power alone.
As we explained when the bike was unveiled, the WMC250EV’s central concept is a huge aerodynamic tunnel that runs straight through the bike, from front to rear. This reduces its frontal area and coefficient of drag when compared to a conventional bike, but without the usual sacrifice of an ultralow seat that would come with a more conventional semi-streamliner. Although the WMC250EV is still longer than a normal motorcycle and the riding position is an extreme crouch, the seat height is the same as that of a Yamaha R6. White’s thinking is that while battery and electric motor tech is rapidly improving, allowing ever-smaller components to be used, the shape and size of a rider is something that can’t be reduced. So persuading air to flow through a bike, rather than over or around it, can bring aero benefits even when a more conventional riding position is used, as seen in some of the firm’s concept sketches.
While computational fluid dynamics (CFD) testing and wind-tunnel measurements suggested the WMC250EV has around 70 percent less aerodynamic drag than the best road-going production bikes, nothing is as effective at picking holes in an idea as real-world testing. So the team has been running the bike at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, a former World War II RAF airbase in the UK that became home to US Air Force B-47 bombers during the Cold War, gaining a 10,000-foot runway to accommodate them in the 1950s. Turned into a vehicle testing ground in the 1970s, it’s ideal for the high-speed, straight-line runs needed to check that the WMC250EV works as planned.
At the moment, the bike is running with an interim powertrain, using a 60V electrical system driving four electric motors—two driving the rear wheel via an enclosed chain and another pair mounted in the front hub to make the bike two-wheel drive.
Its total power is currently 100kW, equivalent to 137 hp, but the firm expects to have as much as 250kW (335 hp) for the assault on the world record, with an 800V high-voltage system. At that stage, running on salt flats, the two-wheel-drive system will help get more of the power to the ground. Traction, as much as outright power, should help overcome aerodynamic drag on the relatively slippery salt.
The initial tests were to check systems and show that the essential elements of the bike like the aerodynamics, riding position, hub-center steering, and front swingarm suspension work as intended. There wasn’t a focus on top speed, but even so Rob White was hitting around 170 mph during the runs.
He said: “We are delighted with the progress made so far on the WMC250EV. We were encouraged by the great reception the launch of the bike received in June, and the high level of interest that the project has gained subsequently. This is a completely bespoke motorcycle and for it to run straight out of the box is fantastic.
“We are taking a measured and controlled approach to our testing program to ensure no stone is left unturned, and given the results we have gained to date my confidence is building all the time that we will be successful.”
The team’s test program for the WMC250EV is due to run for the rest of this year, working toward a run at the world record in 2022. At the moment, the record to beat stands at 228.05 mph, set by Max Biaggi on the Voxan Wattman. That’s a two-way average, measured over a mile, and the Wattman—using a more conventional, low-slung, semi-streamliner shape—peaked at 254 mph. That suggests Voxan will be able to raise the record once running on a surface longer than the 2.17-mile Châteauroux airfield near Paris that it used for last year’s record runs. With both Voxan and White Motorcycle Concepts aiming to push the electric bike record past the 250-mph mark in the future, we could be set for a head-to-head rivalry between two very different machines.Source link