Kingston University's racing car

Ecotricity / Kingston - Ion Horse, on its way to 4th place at the TT Zero 2013 - fastest UK University

 

Reflection on the TTZero 2013

During 2012 we had been developing a new electric motorbike to race at the 2012 Isle of Man TT Zero. This new bike built on the tremendous success we had with the 2011 bike that achieved 3rd place. I decided to take a gamble with the 2012 bike and use the latest prototype components as this would help us with mass reduction and power increase. The gamble was that due to the nature of prototype parts and the time scales we work to, there was always the possibility that parts might not be signed off in time (dependant on the manufacturers' test results). As it turned out I could not sign off one of the key components in time for the 2012 TT race, so we ran the 2011 bike at this event instead.

Sign off for these parts finally happened in August and the newly completed 2012 bike went testing at Bruntingthorpe, where all went very well. To end the season on a high we entered the FIM e Grand Prix at Le Mans, but the fire happened just before we left for this which obviously stopped us competing.

We rebuilt the 2012 bike during Jan / Feb 2013 in readiness to show its capabilities at the TTZero 2013. It should be emphasised that our electric racing bike is designed from the ground up, with my students involved in key areas such as chassis design and the development of control systems. These are not simply theoretical studies, but detailed design projects, with real deadlines and deliverables, encompassing all the key skills engineering students will need when going into the real world. Students feedback their sub-assembly designs to the Technical Director where great care is taken to ensure they meet the pre-defined requirements. We then work through a pass off phase, add the sub-assemblies to the master model, carry out a full kinematic analysis for final sign off, before we proceed to fabrication / production and all this hard work is then proved on the running bike. The only components we do not design are the wheels and the front fork assembly.


The Isle of Man TT 37 mile mountain course is known in the racing world as the 'bike killer'! The course is the world's most demanding race course and is used by all the major manufacturers as a proving ground for their new sports bikes. Over the years many of these manufacturers' machines have failed to complete the course. So for Kingston University's bike to complete all the qualifying laps this year with no issues was a phenomenal endorsement of the excellent engineering that has gone into this project.

There were 15 bikes that entered the TTZero 2013 and only 11 managed to make it to the start line. On race day we came 4th and were the fastest UK university beating both Imperial and Brunel and only 2% off the pace of the 3rd place bike. We already have a raft of ideas on how to further improve the bike and need to find the necessary financial support to make this happen.

All the top teams commented on the engineering excellence and build quality of the Kingston bike and paid much attention to some of our innovative design features. They all thought the chassis was from a Ducatti and that other components we designed were from bikes developed by large manufacturers - a great endorsement of the team's effort. There are many 1000s of hours than have gone into the development on the electric bikes over the last 4 years. I insist the team works to a level of quality and finish that the likes of BMW and Honda would expect and am very proud that this was clearly recognised and appreciated by the top teams. Even more impressive is that all of this has been achieved on a budget that is less than 5% of the top teams.

We are looking to compete again at Le Mans in September this year and have not ruled out the possibility of going for the land speed record for electric bikes! So we will keep you updated with our progress.

A huge thank you needs to go to all of the industrial sponsors I managed to secure who have the belief that we will deliver time and again.

Paul Brandon

Technical Director - Electric Motorcycle Team

The track


Technical Specifications for 2013 bike

  • Drivetrain - DC brushless motor
  • Power source - Lithium batteries
  • Speed (max) - 145mph
  • Mass - 240kg
  • Chassis - Custom trellis frame
  • Torque - 300Nm

Media Coverage

To follow media coverage of the TT Zero Bike team click here.

For more information contact Rod Bromfield - r.bromfield@kinsgton.ac.uk