View Full Version : Electric Motorcycle hits 150!!

09-15-2009, 10:51 AM

Mission Accomplished: Electric Motorcycle Hits 150 mph


Mission Motors has always said its electric superbike would do 150 mph and it appears to have fulfilled that promise with a record-setting run at the Bonneville salt flats.
Company product manager and test rider Jeremy Cleland set an unofficial record for electric motorcycles when he averaged 150.059 mph during back-to-back runs of one mile each at Bonneville Speedway west of Salt Lake City. The runs, which followed an earlier dash at a claimed 161 mph, came during the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials (http://www.speedtrialsbybub.com/2009_event/index-2009.html) sponsored by the American Motorcyclist Association. The AMA hasn’t ratified Cleland’s speed yet, but Mission says it’s legit.
“We set this record on our first visit to the Bonneville salt flats on poor salt conditions and in high crosswinds,” said Edward West, a founder and president of the San Francisco startup. “And to set it with our production prototype vehicle, not a custom Bonneville bike, is truly amazing. It’s a watershed moment for electric vehicles and further proof that the era of the electric superbike has begun.”
Cleland’s success on the salt followed Mission’s third-place finish at the TTxGP (http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/06/ttxgp/) motorcycle green grand prix on the Isle of Man. In both cases Mission ran a prototype of the $69,000 electric superbike it will begin selling late next year before producing, by 2012, something the rest of us can afford.
“It’s the same production prototype we ran at the TTxGP, in the same general configuration we’ll offer the production bike,” Cleland told Wired.com. “We changed the gearing, but it’s the same drivetrain customers will get on the production bike.”

http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/autopia/2009/09/mission_one_bonneville_04-212x300.jpg (http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/autopia/2009/09/mission_one_bonneville_04.jpg)The record-setting run comes just seven months after Mission Motors unveiled the bike (http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/02/mission-motors/) at the TED conference. The company, founded by West and Forrest North, who worked on the battery pack in the Tesla Roadster, is well-stocked with Tesla Motors and Ducati North America vets. Mission Motors wants to do for electric motorcycles what Tesla did for electric cars - make them sexy and sporty. In addition to a lithium-ion battery, the bike sports Ohlins suspension components, Brembo brakes and Marchesini wheels. Cleland likens the Mission One to the lustworthy, and equally expensive, Ducati Desmosedici (http://www.wired.com/autopia/2008/11/if-the-chance-t/).
“We’re starting with a halo product, something people will see and say, ‘Wow.’ I’m a motorcyclist, and I’ve always thought of electric motorcyclists as slow and boring,” Cleland said. “We want to show that they can be blazing fast.”
That describes Cleland’s streaks across the salt during the first three days of the Speed Trials, which ran Aug. 30 through Sept. 4. The conditions were less than idea when the team arrived, as Bonneville had been soaked the week before, Cleland said.
“It was just slush,” he said. “It was my first time riding on the salt and I didn’t really know what to expect.”
Sloppy salt made traction tough, and Cleland said the back tire slipped enough to give him a scare when he first hit the course. Still, he managed 147 mph. Mechanics adjusted the tire pressure and suspension in an effort to keep the bike planted, then sent him out for another run. Cleland said he hit 161 mph but it was too late in the day to make the return run. The rules (.pdf (http://www.speedtrialsbybub.com/2009_event/AMA-BonSR%27s-2009-v6.pdf)) say record attempts are the average speed of two consecutive runs in opposite directions.
Day two was so windy that Cleland made only one run — just shy of 149 mph — before calling it quits. The team was up bright and early the next day. Cleland struggled for traction, then peeled off back-to-back runs that were fast enough for an average of 150.059 mph. So what’s it feel like going that fast on an electric motorcycle? About the same as it does on a conventional one, Cleland told us.
“At 150 mph it doesn’t matter if the bike is powered by electricity or by gasoline,” he said. “It’s the same feeling - the bike is moving really, really fast and you’re being blown hard by the wind. People ask, ‘Was it quiet?’ No. It wasn’t any different. All you’re thinking is, ‘This is fast.’”
Cleland and the rest of the crew are back in San Francisco. They’re wrapping up work on the drivetrain — and so far refusing to provide any details whatsoever about it — and refining the chassis to dial in the riding dynamics. The AMA is expected to ratify the results by the end of the month, so until then the speed remains unofficial. But Cleland never doubted the bike is that quick.
“It wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was gratifying,” he said. “We’ve got an official number to show how fast it really is.”
Check out all of our coverage of Mission Motors here (http://www.wired.com/autopia/tag/mission-motors/).