Homemade electric motorcycle sets record

Kevin Clemens, who wrote yesterday’s story on nickel mining in Minnesota and Michigan, is also a bit of a gearhead.

Clemens, an engineer and writer, has also been building an electric motorcycle in his garage in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with which he recently set a national land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

A caveat – the bike set a record in its weight class, which is under 150 kg. While some streamliner motorcycles can top 300 mph on the flats, Clemens was able to put his Honda in the books with an average speed of only 61 mph.

Still, that’s pretty fast for what is essentially a giant battery on wheels. But is Clemens satisfied?

“I’m already trying to figure out how to go back next year and go faster. 100 mph has a nice sound to it.”

Helmet-cam footage of the record run below.

3 thoughts on “Homemade electric motorcycle sets record

  1. Tell us more about the battery. What’s the effective range of the vehicle?

  2. For this particular record attempt, I wanted a very robust motorcycle, so I went with pretty much off-the-shelf plug-and-play components for the motor and controller. For the batteries, I looked at Lithium Ion and at Nickel Metal Hydride, but settled on AGM lead acid batteries. They are heavy and don’t have huge energy capacity, but they are very tolerant of mistreatment, unlike lithium batteries for example.They are also cheap! So I used five 12 volt 35 Amp Hour Power Sonic AGM batteries ( a total of about 125 pounds of batteries) to set the record. The bike was capable of easily doing both five mile runs that the record entailed. Around town (not maximum throttle) I’d expect about 25-30 miles of effective range.

  3. Yesterday (Saturday) I rode on a big loop with several mid-sized hills at speeds between 25 and 35 mph and ended up running out of juice right at 21 miles. Your mileage may vary…