Motorcycles

"World's fastest electric motorcycle" uses radical big hole technology

"World's fastest electric moto...
WMC is preparing to take on the world land speed record for electric motorcycles, armed with a motorcycle built around a giant hole
WMC is preparing to take on the world land speed record for electric motorcycles, armed with a motorcycle built around a giant hole
View 19 Images
WMC is preparing to take on the world land speed record for electric motorcycles, armed with a motorcycle built around a giant hole
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WMC is preparing to take on the world land speed record for electric motorcycles, armed with a motorcycle built around a giant hole
A huge Venturi tunnel punches a big hole in the bike's frontal profile
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A huge Venturi tunnel punches a big hole in the bike's frontal profile
An absolutely bizarre motorcycle design
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An absolutely bizarre motorcycle design
The footrests are a bit on the high side
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The footrests are a bit on the high side
Wind tunnel testing shots show a pretty clean airflow right through the center of the bike
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Wind tunnel testing shots show a pretty clean airflow right through the center of the bike
When smoke comes out of the back of my bike, nobody's impressed
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When smoke comes out of the back of my bike, nobody's impressed
Left: Guy Martin's 300 mph motorcycle, the fastest in Europe. Right: the WMC250EV
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Left: Guy Martin's 300 mph motorcycle, the fastest in Europe. Right: the WMC250EV
Rob White with Guy Martin at the MIRA wind tunnel
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Rob White with Guy Martin at the MIRA wind tunnel
That's one complex front wheel design
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That's one complex front wheel design
The steering linkage is hydraulic
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The steering linkage is hydraulic
The guts of the bike fit entirely below the huge Venturi tunnel
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The guts of the bike fit entirely below the huge Venturi tunnel
Super-chunky rear swingarm
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Super-chunky rear swingarm
The whole bike is designed around this carbon fiber tunnel
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The whole bike is designed around this carbon fiber tunnel
OK, it doesn't look much good for touring
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OK, it doesn't look much good for touring
There's a man in leathers on the bike in this photo
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There's a man in leathers on the bike in this photo
A 250 mph land speed record is White's target
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A 250 mph land speed record is White's target
WMC founder Rob White has designed the bike around his own body, and will pilot the bike in the upcoming record attempts
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WMC founder Rob White has designed the bike around his own body, and will pilot the bike in the upcoming record attempts
There's a lot going on with that front wheel, including two electric motors, twin disc braking, hydraulic steering and a swingarm suspension system
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There's a lot going on with that front wheel, including two electric motors, twin disc braking, hydraulic steering and a swingarm suspension system
Business at the bottom, party on the top... And a big hole in the middle
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Business at the bottom, party on the top... And a big hole in the middle
View gallery - 19 images

There's no motorcycle on the planet like this one. British company White Motorcycle Concepts (WMC) has put land speed record holders on notice with a 2WD, hydraulically hub-steered electric motorcycle, designed around a giant hole. The company says the WMC250EV should be capable of more than 250 mph (402 km/h) thanks to a massive 69 percent reduction in drag.

Rob White has paid his dues in the racing world, working on numerous Formula One, Le Mans Prototype, V8 supercar and World Endurance Championship race teams over the last 25-odd years. And his approach to motorcycle design is clearly influenced by the world of high-end cars.

Going super fast ends up being much more about aerodynamics than horsepower; the air becomes a ferocious adversary as you move past two or three times highway speed. Motorcycles are aerodynamically ugly without big, streamlined fairings, chiefly because of the big, funny-shaped human on the back.

There's a man in leathers on the bike in this photo
There's a man in leathers on the bike in this photo

Not this one. The WMC250EV has been specifically designed around its rider, none other than Rob White himself. The team laser-scanned White's leather-and-helmet-clad body in an extreme racing crouch, and designed the bike's bodywork such that it matches his personal contours almost to the millimeter.

It's also got a big freakin' hole in it. We've seen plenty of Venturi tunnels on high-end hypercars, but this is the first time we've seen something so extreme attempted on a motorcycle. The entire bike is designed around a cavernous carbon tunnel that punches a huge hole in the bike's frontal aerodynamic profile right where a headlight would normally sit.

WMC has tested this bike, Rob included, at the Horiba MIRA facility near Hinckley, and says the concept reduces drag by an enormous 69 percent compared against "the world leading motorcycle," with a drag coefficient of just 0.118. That's absolutely nuts. Even the mighty SSC Tuatara, currently the world's fastest production car at 282.9 mph (455.3 km/h), can only manage a drag coefficient of 0.279.

Left: Guy Martin's 300 mph motorcycle, the fastest in Europe. Right: the WMC250EV
Left: Guy Martin's 300 mph motorcycle, the fastest in Europe. Right: the WMC250EV

In order to run that big hole through the middle, WMC has had to jam all the guts of the bike into the space under the tunnel. That's not just the electric drivetrain and battery packs, either; the tunnel cuts right through where your steering head and forks would normally be.

So the design uses a double-swingarm suspension system. The rear wheel is chain-driven by a pair of 30 kW electric motors integrated into the swingarm, according to Top Gear.

The front wheel is hub-steered using a hydraulic system that completely replaces the mechanical linkages you'll normally find between the handlebars and front axle on a hub-steered bike. That's one hose you definitely don't want to get air in.

The guts of the bike fit entirely below the huge Venturi tunnel
The guts of the bike fit entirely below the huge Venturi tunnel

Where most hub-steered front wheels are pretty complex units because they need to fit both steering and braking into the picture, this one takes things up a level by adding an extra 20 kW electric motor on each side. So this bike is not only two-wheel-drive, it's also got two-wheel regenerative braking. Between that and the wild aerodynamic efficiency of the design, White claims it could double a regular bike's range out of a given battery size.

The battery on this bike will be a reasonably humble 15-kWh pack. Total peak power is 100 kW (134 horsepower), and while that's a long way down on the 270 kW (362 hp) Voxan Wattman on which former MotoGP star Max Biaggi broke 11 records last November, White is confident that the next-level aerodynamics of the WMC250EV will more than compensate.

"We've produced the most aerodynamically efficient motorcycle in the world," says White. "If it's going to be proven, then the best way to do it is to go as fast as possible. We will be taking a world land speed record." The target is 250 mph (402 km/h), for the electric semi-streamlined motorcycle record. The location will be the Bolivian salt flats in 2022, after blowing the cobwebs out with an attempt at the British equivalent record later in 2021.

OK, it doesn't look much good for touring
OK, it doesn't look much good for touring

White's plan is to prove the technology with an electric land speed record, and then roll it out into the electric streetbike market. To that end, he's patented the "V-Air" big-hole technology internationally, and hopes he can bring something similar – albeit nowhere near as extreme or personally tailored – to the street.

Maybe it makes sense, too; today's electric bikes are profoundly depressing to ride on the highway, where air resistance saps battery power so fast you can almost watch the digits ticking away. It's no accident that guys like "Electric" Terry Hershner set their electric distance records riding bikes retrofitted with slippery fairings, and it's a little odd that there's not much on the market right now that puts aerodynamic efficiency front and centre.

The WMC250EV is a seriously weird-looking bike, built from the ground up with a radically different design philosophy to anything we've seen. We're fascinated to see how it performs.

Check out a few videos below.

Part 1 - The World’s Fastest Electric Motorcycle Revealed - WMC250EV
Part 2 - The Technology and Innovation of the World’s Fastest Electric Motorcycle - WMC250EV
Part 3 - The Future of the World’s Fastest Electric Motorcycle - WMC250EV

Source: White Motorcycle Concepts

View gallery - 19 images
18 comments
18 comments
RobC
From the pictures it's hard to imagine how the rider can see where he is going.
Nobody
The rider looks to be totally face down and the extreme viewing angle through the windshield would likely be somewhat distorted. I also wonder about steering lag with hydraulic steering. I'm sure they have it figured out.
paleochocolate
Man, that's radical.
VincentWolf
So now just install a jet engine inside that 'hole' for ridiculous speeds.
geemy
for the everyday bike?
they might be able to build a sport gt with decent range If the rider is ok to tuck in like a gp rider
Lex Stockton
Sorry to be a doubter but, if there is a hole in the center of the bike, why not just “compress” the hole by lowering the rider? Not an aero expert but I’m fairly sure passing air through a tunnel isn’t the best idea. That tunnel has (guessing) roughly half the surface drag of the whole exterior of the fairing, I don’t think that is the best approach if you are trying to reduce drag. Maybe the men who built the “kneeler” bikes back in the 50s and 60s were a half century ahead of the game, before the FIM killed real aero in motorcycles.
VincentWolf
That black hole will make a better life for bugs which will pass right through without getting splattered. Imagine the range this bike could have if lithium metal batteries are perfected with nearly 10 times the energy density of LiON. You could have a bike with a cruising range of over 1,000 miles. That's something that the old gas farts like HD have to be scared about. And an end to Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Susuki. Japan is going to get left behind. Deservedly so.
usugo
Indeed, I have been thinking about something similar applied to cars/trucks for a few years now. By creating a duct, starting from the frontal area usually taken by the radiator grill, sweeping through the center cabin (finding the best compromise between efficiency and practical cross sectional dimensions), and all the way to the back end. In this way, greatly reducing the overall drag frontal area of the vehicle. Glad to see the idea had merit. And probably more relevant as compared to a motorcycle.
riczero-b
Good idea Vincent, a hole in the rider's seat panel and some kind of ignition device would form a crude ramjet. I'm sure fuel gas would be forthcoming at those speeds.
Joe Bunting Jr.
Looks very uncomfortable.