It seems like the world of university electric vehicle projects is an ever-expanding one nowadays, so we headed west to check out the University of the West of England’s latest attempt to create an electric bike to race in the Isle of Man’s fabled TT Zero race in less than two years time.
We took some time out with Yastra Kelly-Sinclair and Matthew Kemp, two of the undergraduates involved in the project, who both have extensive experience with various motorsport engineering projects.
Yastra is in charge of the systems design/analysis and motor choice, and talks us through the motivations for the project which will span the next two years:
“Motorsport is at the cutting edge of technologies looking at reducing greenhouse gasses, and provides a platform for many innovative and new ideas. As such, our project will look into the research, design and analysis of an electric motorcycles control systems and motor choice while also conforming to the Isle of Man TT regulations.
“The key technical areas we will be focusing on in our project include powertrain, regeneration and energy control as well as motor choice, all with an overall aim on maximising efficiency and thus battery life.
“Although motorcycle racing has seen a rise in electric or zero emissions categories and races it is still relatively small manufactures that are involved, larger manufactures such as Kawasaki and Yamaha still seem uninterested. This is despite the obvious added benefits of electric motorcycles such a noise levels (well, the lack of!)
“This could be very beneficial in motorsport due to the fact that noise is one of the biggest complaints made by residents living close to circuits. On average race circuits have a decibel limit of 103 db in comparison most electric motorcycles rarely see above 70 db, which is approximately the level of human speech.
“I have always had an interest in low emissions vehicles in particular those driven using electric motors. The constant torque and low running cost have been big factor in my interest as well as the technology being at the forefront of research and development. Although I have limited experience in electrical engineering, previous to starting this year I have been working over the summer for a company involved in the design and manufacture of a zero emissions taxi using a generic IC engine as a range extender. The electric motorcycle project will allow me to further my knowledge of a subject not normally focused on in motorsport engineering whilst still allow me to make use of the problem solving skills developed throughout my previous study years.”