Motorcycles

"Big hole" land speed electric motorcycle hits the track for first tests

"Big hole" land speed electric...
The WMC250EV looks absolutely surreal with its giant Venturi tunnel
The WMC250EV looks absolutely surreal with its giant Venturi tunnel
View 5 Images
The WMC250EV looks absolutely surreal with its giant Venturi tunnel
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The WMC250EV looks absolutely surreal with its giant Venturi tunnel
WMC founder Rob White with the WMC250EV at Bruntingthorpe
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WMC founder Rob White with the WMC250EV at Bruntingthorpe
Air flows unimpeded through the channel in the middle of the bike
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Air flows unimpeded through the channel in the middle of the bike
The WMC250EV achieves a landmark drag coefficient of 0.118 - nearly 70% lower than "the world leading motorcycle"
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The WMC250EV achieves a landmark drag coefficient of 0.118 - nearly 70% lower than "the world leading motorcycle"
The riding position won't be great for touring
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The riding position won't be great for touring
View gallery - 5 images

There's no bike on earth remotely like the bizarre WMC250EV, an electric land speed racer built to slash aerodynamic drag by taking the radical step of tunneling a giant hole through the middle of it. The target speed is 250 mph (402 km/h), and its creators say its huge Venturi tunnel reduces drag by an astonishing 69 percent compared against "the world leading motorcycle."

The whole bike has been designed around this giant hole, which sits right where a lot of the components of a motorcycle usually would. White Motorcycle Concepts has done some design-sheet gymnastics to make the whole thing work, squashing not only the battery, dual motors, drivetrain and electronics, but also the suspension and a hydraulic hub steering system, into the bottom of the chassis.

Indeed, WMC founder and chief rider Rob White doesn't escape a good squashing himself, thanks to a rather extreme riding position that places his torso nearly horizontal. Nothing obstructs the tunnel, so air is free to go through, and the result is a drag coefficient of 0.118. That's an absolutely tiny figure, and it was recorded with White on board, in his leathers.

The riding position won't be great for touring
The riding position won't be great for touring

Currently, the WMC250EV is running an "interim low-voltage powertrain" at 60 volts, making about 100 kW (137 hp). That'll be replaced with something about 2.5 times as powerful when it's time to go record-hunting next year.

Recently, the team moved to start testing the thing on track at the storied Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in the UK. First on the agenda was to make sure everything worked, which it did. The bike will go on to do some medium- and high-speed testing with the current powertrain; aerodynamics tend to be much more important than horsepower when it comes to high speeds, so the team is confident they'll learn plenty even without the eventual 250-kW (335-hp) powertrain they'll be fitting in time.

We asked White what this oddity is like to ride. "Our early tests are on the Bruntingthorpe two-mile runway, but it is also required to go around the whole circuit, so it needs to be able to turn. Given the motorcycle is designed to work primarily in a straight line for the land speed record, it's surprisingly nimble,” he told us. "As the speed increases, the motorcycle becomes increasingly stable as the aero loads become more influential."

The WMC250EV achieves a landmark drag coefficient of 0.118 - nearly 70% lower than "the world leading motorcycle"
The WMC250EV achieves a landmark drag coefficient of 0.118 - nearly 70% lower than "the world leading motorcycle"

"The seat has the same height as an R6, though this optically looks higher due to the nature of the design," he continues. "The upper torso position is similar to that of a Moto3 rider, although there is an extreme foot and leg position. Straight ahead vision is completely clear in the squat."

WMC has captured a video of the testing, which can be seen below.

WMC250EV Testing Video

Source: White Motorcycle Concepts

View gallery - 5 images
13 comments
13 comments
vince
Just hope they don't go airborne with that design was it tested at 250 mph in a wind tunnel? Seems the rising upper portion of the bike under the seat could produce 'lift' and end up going airborne on the back wheel at speed.
geemy
it could also produce some down force like a diffuser..and the tunnel gives more freedom to add more down force, the air tunnel could be directed upwards for more downforce, or even have a wing
Drag is one of the things that make super Ike "inferior" to modern supercars
"The most aerodynamically “slippery” motorcycle is the Suzuki Hayabusa which has a drag coefficient (cD) of about 0.55 to 0.60"
though the 0.12 number doesn't seem to make sense, especially once you add the rider.
but it looks like one of the biggest (r)evolutions in high speed bikes. removing the parts of the bike that are no more required in an electric motorcycle. also it could make a big difference for future touring electric bikes if they could make a comfortable electric GT that's let's say has half the drag of traditional gas GTs that could offset the poor energy density of batteries vs gas
Adrian Akau
The Venturi tunnel is the most significant feature and I have hoped for a long time that it might be applied to cars and trucks.
Gadget
From a design aspect initially I wasn't sure how something that looks so strange from so many angles can look so perfectly correct from the rear. Same as others I thought why not just collapse the whole thing down on itself. That was until I looked at the rear end pic. Spent some time in wind tunnels with some aerodynamic projects over the years and looking at that ram jet rear end pic, my gut tells me this thing will be fast. Drag is a killer of speed, this thing could be very Fast.
jerryd
This is BS. While it's a hole, it's not aero because of the wall friction and intersection drag will be about a .40cd for that added frontal area at best.
Plus the rider on top isn't completely behind the fairing ruining it's aero.
This isn't getting anywhere near 140mph, much less 250mph.
Trylon
I think the Monoracer folks should do a little aerodynamic tweaking and drop in a big block electric motor and battery to give this a run for its money.
vince
It would be super cool if this thing greatly exceeded expectation and not only broke 250 mph but 275 mph with feeling it could do more maybe even 300 mph?
Koziol
Drop the height by the massive hole in the center and you reduce the drag. If holes improved the drag coefficient as much as White is predicting aircraft manufacturers would have done it years ago.
Adrian Akau
Reduced coefficient of air friction means using less gas to maintain speed and thus savings on fuel with increased mpg. It would be a great economic benefit if applied to vehicles.
MarkGovers
I'm wondering if some servo controlled wings or fins inside the "tunnel" could be employed to fine tune the aero effects at various critical speeds or even smartly controlled, reacting to air pressure/direction sensors.
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