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From the scrap heap to the record books

Drew Joiner

Engineering sophomore Drew Joyner presents the record-setting ECYCLE during a public display at Early's Cycle Center in Harrisonburg.

Dr. Rob Prins explains how participation in activities such as electric motor sports can increase student and public awareness and interest in alternative energy.

The ECYCLE, an electrically powered motorcycle, is the brainchild of a team of James Madison University students from the School of Integrated Science and Technology, the School of Engineering and Dr. Robert Prins, assistant professor of engineering.

The project to convert a small 1968 Sears 124cc motorcycle to electric power started this August in JMU's Alternative Fuel Vehicle lab.  The engine was removed and fitted with a DC motor, controller and other electrical components. Six Odyssey PC680 batteries for energy storage were donated from by Mark Jenkins, a JMU MBA alumnus.

The motorcycle was recently taken to Maxton, N.C. for an East Coast Timing Association land speed event. The ECYCLE improved the record time for electric motorcycles from 53.548 mph to 70.17 mph.

"I felt that that was a record that students ought to be able to break, so I recommended that they start with this bike," Prins said.

By working on the motorcycle, students are developing an appreciation for the energy required in transportation applications.  They are developing an aptitude in the areas of electrical energy storage, control and machinery, Prins said.

The team will work to improve the ECYCLE with several adjustments before the ECTA 2010 season opener in April.

"It's really cool. I think it's cool that I get credit for class for working on a motorcycle," said Drew Joyner, a sophomore engineering major who helped lead the project.

"I've got a few more years here, but even after that, it can kind of be a legacy that's passed down, to make it better each year to try to keep that record."

Published November 2009