James Madison University

JMU Engineering Students Unveil Latest Electric Powered Motorcycle

PHOTO: Students compete with motorcycle

Pictured from left to right: Sam Osterhout ('13), Richard Arena ('13), Brandon Cash ('13), Dr. Rob Prins (JMU Department of Engineering), Grant Haskins ('13), John Lowitz (Outlier Electric Vehicles), Matt Muller ('13), Travis Knight ('13)
Not pictured: Evan Bowen ('13), John Edinger ('13)

A group of eight juniors from the Department of Engineering at James Madison University have converted a motorcycle to electric power.  With support from Rob Prins, assistant professor of engineering, and funding from client John Lowitz of Outlier EV, students installed batteries, motor, and controller on a 2002 Honda Goldwing chassis. The project goal, geared towards the touring market, is to develop an electric motorcycle that can travel at 70MPH for 150 miles between charges.

PHOTO: JMU students at competitionThe project started as an independent study in which students used road load equations to predict vehicle performance and appropriately select drivetrain components.  During the summer, four engineering students began the conversion process at the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Lab (AFV); their efforts accelerated this fall when eight engineering students adopted the study as their Capstone Design project.  On September 24th, client John Lowitz successfully piloted the bike down the Maxton, North Carolina course.   At 92 MPH, he set a track record for "naked" electric motorcycles.

PHOTO: JMU student welding motorcycleOver the course of the weekend students collected data from several runs that will be used to validate their performance model.  Next steps include incorporating a 12v system to make the motorcycle street legal and a return to Maxton to test the new configuration. 

“I think electric vehicle projects make excellent learning tools, and giving students an opportunity to present their work in a public venue provides great experience," said Prins.