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.
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 electric 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.
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.
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-horsepower) 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.
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.
Originally published at New atlas