It’s always exciting when a former Formula 1 engineer turns his sights on the motorcycling world. Sure, F1 is possibly the most boring precession in motorsport these days in my opinion, but the technical concepts involved are truly next level until they get banned for whatever trivial reason...
Taking motorcycle land speed racing to the next level is exactly what former F1 and Le Mans aero engineer Rob White and his company White Motorcycle Concepts (WMC) plans to do with the WMC250EV, an electric motorcycle somewhat resembling a straw with wheels and featuring White’s own revolutionary V-Air aerodynamics system.
The WMC250EV has been more than two years in the making and is the result of White’s determination to turn his vision for vastly reducing aerodynamic drag into reality, with the concept winning support and recognition from all corners of the British motorsport engineering industry.
The prototype WMC250EV is constructed from carbon fibre and is capable of speeds exceeding 400kph (250mph) according to WMC. Built into the design are three core technologies including WMC’s ultra-low drag system called V-Air, a direct-drive (D-Drive) front motor and a unique F-Drive final drive system.
The V-Air system features a large duct at the centre of the bike which forces air through the vehicle, rather than around it. Incredibly, V-Air reduces the WMC250EV’s aerodynamic resistance by as much as 70% compared to that of the market-leading high performance road bike according to the results of wind-tunnel testing.
The duct also increases the axial load on the front of the motorcycle allowing the WMC250EV to utilise a D-Drive motor unit that powers the front wheel, which in turn makes it possible to harness regenerative braking energy – something unachievable with a conventional motorcycle. Finally, the bike carries a unique F-Drive final drive system fitted to boost power and enhance efficiency; a technology that could be retrofitted to improve existing roadgoing bikes by converting them to hybrid drive.
“If you want to demonstrate to the rest of the world that you’ve just invented a new aerodynamic concept that means you can go faster for a given power, the best thing to do is go as fast you can,” says White.
“That’s why we created WMC250EV high-speed demonstrator, the most radical version of this concept, to challenge for the world land speed record. It is electric, as that is the pre-eminent zero-emissions power source at the moment, but as the aerodynamic concept provides efficiency benefit, it could just as easily be hydrogen or any other future power source.”
But speed is just the beginning, as White hopes the concept’s more wide-reaching and important implication is the huge impact it can have on vehicular energy efficiency, which combined with the global zero-emission agenda that is currently at the forefront of the auto industry has the potential to contribute to a large reduction in CO2 emissions globally.
“The records are all champagne, but are actually the insignificant part of the story,” says White. “While this technology allows you to go faster, it also allows you to go much further for the same amount of energy. This has a direct and tangible benefit on CO2 reduction. Market-disruptive ideas like this are uncommon, and if successful, have the potential to revolutionise the industry."
WMC is already working on a real-world application for the innovation and is producing a 300cc three-wheel hybrid scooter – the WMC300FR – that includes V-Air technology and reduces drag by 25%. That equates to 18% improvement in fuel efficiency, from aerodynamic improvements alone and when coupled with a small hybrid system enhances the performance to near traditional 500cc levels, but with 50% less CO2 emissions.