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Monday 20 September 2021

White Motorcycle Concepts

British Challenger Targets Electric Land Speed Record
By Ben Purvis

New British company White Motorcycle Concepts is aiming to prove its radical aerodynamic idea by taking the land speed record for electric bikes.
Founded by Robert White, an engineer with a quarter of a century's experience in race vehicle development (on both two and four wheels), White Motorcycle Concepts has developed a machine with a huge reduction in both frontal area and drag coefficient. The company hopes to use it to establish a British land speed record for semi-streamlined electric bikes later this year, hitting around 200 mph on a tarmac runway, before heading for Bolivia in 2022 (Salar de Uyuni - the world's largest salt flat) to target the world record, aiming for more than 250 mph on the salt flats.

The record bike, dubbed WMC250EV, clearly shows the aerodynamic concept - there's a huge duct running all the way from the nose to the tail. This duct reduces the bike's frontal area, but just as importantly it means that air hitting any part of the front of the bike doesn't have to be moved far, either laterally or vertically, to either slip past the bike or through the duct.
That gives an edge over traditional speed record bike designs, where the rider lies almost prone over a long, low chassis to reduce frontal area.
The duct also means that the bike's seat is at a conventional height, which means it has potential for future road-going bikes to reduce drag, a requirement that's likely to get increasingly important as bikes move towards electric power - less drag equates not only to more performance but also increased battery range.
In its most extreme form on the WMC250EV, computer simulations and real-world wind tunnel tests have both shown the bike to have 70% less drag than a Suzuki Hayabusa, often cited as the most aerodynamic road bike on the market.
Although White initially considered small-capacity combustion engines for the project, including the idea of a turbocharged version of Yamaha's YZ450F motocross engine, he soon switched to the idea of electric power, which gives much more flexibility in where components are mounted. He's also aware that electric technology is rapidly improving, with smaller, lighter batteries and motors coming in the future, which will make it even easier to implement the idea.
As well as the duct, the WMC250 uses two-wheel drive, with four electric motors in total - two driving the rear wheel and another two inside the front hub. In its initial form, the bike has a total of 100kW (134 hp), but that figure will rise considerably before the attempt at the world record. 

White also believes that the 2WD system will be a huge help in reaching record speeds, as on salt flats the battle for high speed becomes a fight between drag and traction rather than a quest for ever more power. With minimal drag and both wheels driving the bike, the WMC250EV should have an edge over conventional designs.
Additionally, testing has shown that the aerodynamic duct massively reduces front end lift at speed, meaning there's as much as five times more load on the front wheel than on a normal motorcycle at the same speed, adding to the argument that the front wheel should be driven as well as the rear.
Even before the WMC250EV hits the salt, White Motorcycle Concepts is preparing to reveal a second machine using the aerodynamic duct idea.
Called the WMC300FR, it is a three-wheeled scooter, based on Yamaha's Tricity 300, to show that the aerodynamic gains are worthwhile even at city speeds. The 300 cc engine will be assisted by a hybrid system, and along with the duct, reducing drag by 25%. The intention is to achieve performance near that of a 500 cc bike while slashing CO2 emissions by 50%.