Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fastest electric motorcycle in the world? Depends on how you define it

Kevin Clemens of Lake Elmo MI is seeking to set the national land speed record for electric motorcycles - at 100 miles/hr.  His motorcycle is a fairly typical motorcycle conversion, with an Agni motor and an Alltrax controller, though he was careful with the weight keeping that under 150 kilograms.  However the head-scratcher here is the claim that he owns the land speed record for electric motorcycles (61 miles/hr) and plans to up that record to over 100 miles/hr at Bonneville this year.  Okay, has he not heard of Lightning Motorcycles and the 215 miles/hr record they set in 2011?  And what about Chip Yates and his set of four speed records including an average of 196.420 miles/hr?

Turns out you have to read down in the fine print of the article in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press that's showcasing Clemens' effort.  He is competing in the "lowest weight category" for electric motorcycles, those weighing under 150 kilograms.  Lightning Motorcycles are way above that category, and as for Chip Yates he does hold the FIM record for bikes weighing between 150-300 kilograms, at 187.142 miles/hr with fairings, and 173.574 miles/hr with no fairings.

Kevin Clemens poses for a photo in front of his custom-made electric motorcycle in Lake Elmo, Minn., on Thursday, August 9, 2012. It's a modified Kawasaki Ninja running on 100 volts and up to 350 amps. He's hoping to break 100mph, a new electric motorcycle speed record, on the salt flats this year. In the background is an electric motorcycle he made last year. (Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin)
Well then, what about Kevin Clemens?  He built a bike last year that set the record in this class at 61.534 miles/hr, and has built a new bike hoping for a new record.

The new bike is built on a 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 250 that's said to feature parts that aren't off the shelf -- "a specially made Agni motor that just arrived from India, expensive lithium polymer batteries and a state-of-the-art, never-before-made Alltrax controller."  Reading between the lines of this, it's likely that Agni sent him one of the super-dooper Agni motors that aren't on the price list yet, and that Alltrax built him a special controller.

What he says on his website is: "The batteries consist of 96 lithium polymer cells of the sort more commonly found in radio controlled model aircraft. The permanent magnet DC electric motor is a lightweight yet high performance unit produced by Agni Motors."  The pictures are too-low a resolution to tell much, other than the build is similar to that in The Secrets of El Ninja.

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