2021 C2I Automotive Award Winner: White Motorcycle Concepts – WMC250EV

This year’s Automotive category winner pays tribute to an engineer whose radical new motorcycle design could not have been achieved without a significant number of collaborators.

Conceived by Rob White, company founder and CEO of Northants-based White Motorcycle Concepts, the idea for the WMC250EV high-speed demonstrator prototype took shape while White was an employee of the RML Group.

According to Ian Hird, Commercial Director of WMC, White’s original motivation was to achieve a world land speed record – improving the performance of a 500cc motorcycle – by incorporating a venturi, a concept applied with great success in F1. . However, it soon became clear that the efficiency achieved through this concept could solve a mass market problem facing the introduction of electric motorcycles, namely that of relative parity with conventional fuels.

Before elaborating on the unique design of the WMC250EV, it should be noted – said Hird – that the shape of the motorcycle has not changed drastically since Hildebrand and Wolfmuller introduced the first production motorcycle in 1894.

“The last 100 years have seen many adaptations to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of motorized vehicles,” he explained. “However, while significant reductions in the aerodynamic drag of cars have been achieved, attempts to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of motorcycles have, to date, been less successful.”

The venturi running through the WMC250EV eliminates drag (Image: WMC)

White’s innovation lies in radically improving the aerodynamic nature of the existing bike design, without compromising rider position and improving other facets.

“The identified solution reduces the frontal area of ​​the bike, placing a venturi in its center,” Hird said. “The benefits of this patent-pending concept provide increased efficiency over current motorcycle design, which impacts fuel consumption, battery cooling, rider experience and rider safety. rider; and can be applied to elite and retail bikes with significant upgrades at each level.

CFD analysis undertaken at Total Sim showed that White’s initial design offered a 25% aerodynamic gain over the Suzuki Hayabusa, which would be the most efficient production motorcycle. Further technical development by EY3 and more CFD testing by Total Sim led to a design that was 70% more efficient than the same Suzuki model. Hird said work on the design was frozen at this stage, allowing WMC to work with ACE Composites on commissioning the carbon fiber bodyshell while RML conducted a feasibility study for the powertrain. In October 2020, the complete rolling chassis was completed and was taken for testing in MIRA’s wind tunnel.

WMC250EV
The WMC250EV represents an all-new, radical motorcycle design (Image: WMC)

“During this test of the bike, we were delighted to confirm that the results obtained in the wind tunnel correlated almost directly with those seen in the CFD, achieving a CdA of 0.108,” said Hird. “Furthermore, it was discovered that due to the removal of the center of pressure from the front of the bike, there was five times more load on the front wheel than a traditional bike.”

He continued: “It meant we could develop a two-wheel-drive system, with the added benefit of being able to [incorporate regenerative braking] of the front wheel. A feasibility study was carried out for this between October ’20 and December ’20 and it was predicted that we would be able to regenerate around 10% compared to the standard WLTP.

“This concept achieves that efficiency gain through aerodynamics and hub motors, in a step change… not possible through improvements in motor design.

This knowledge led to the development over seven months in 2021 of a two-wheel drive motorcycle, with the front wheel motor designed and housed in the disc bells. From July 21, the first tests of a working WMC250EV began, incorporating an interim powertrain of 100 kW motors.

“We are now engaged with several well-known UK engineering organizations who have the capability to design and install the complete – 250Kw – powertrain that will enable the WMC250EV to set a world land speed record for electric motorcycles in July. 2022,” Hird said.

Much of the new design incorporates a unibody body, allowing for production without disturbing the riding position. It also means that repairing these bikes will be much simpler and allow for manufacturing efficiency across the different generations of this design.

Five companies are listed as collaborators in the WMC250EV project, but in reality as many as 30 supported its delivery, said Hird, who was responsible for ensuring that all parties had the resources they needed, from the center of communication and reporting on progress and challenges on a weekly basis. based.

He explained that most of the team operates in elite motorsport and that approach to race day excellence has shaped the approach to their collaboration, which has been underpinned and structured through the application of seven principles, processes and themes of Prince 2. [process-based project management]using a Gantt chart [project scheduling tool] emphasize/communicate the interdependence of tasks and deadlines.

“The Gantt chart has been broken down into manageable sub-projects and although the end goal has been set, direction will adapt during the various testing phases, with the results determining the direction of areas to be developed,” said Hird. “The team had well-defined roles and responsibilities, although given the size of the team, everyone’s contribution was considered part of development.”

He continued: “This project was ambitious, but was totally achievable with the team involved, encouraging the combination of many marginal gains to deliver the optimal result. Coupled with the team’s willingness to listen to authoritative voices, this attitude enabled the project to achieve the success it had set itself.

Six months after the launch of the WMC250EV, the company unveiled the WMC300FR, which is the first road bike featuring the V-Duct. Developed with support from the Northants Police Force, the WMC300FR features an electric hybrid powered by removable EGO batteries.

The WMC300FR comes at a time when motorcycle manufacturers find themselves at a crossroads with Euro 5 regulations. Riders don’t want a reduction in bike performance, but manufacturers will be forced to supply expensive engines to produce the same power while reducing emissions.

“This concept achieves this efficiency gain through aerodynamics and hub motors, in an incremental change… not possible through motor design improvements, meeting this challenge now and in the future” , Hird said. “It is important to note that as the concept improves the aerodynamics of the bike, this efficiency gain will be achieved regardless of the power source. This means that even if the future of the non-fossil future is not electric, but hydrogen or any other energy source of the future, this concept is beneficial.

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