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Electric motorcycle speeds past records

The Ohio State Buckeye Electric Motorcycle Race Team set a new record for electric motorcycles at an East Coast Timing Association meet on Sunday in Maxton, N.C.

The BEMRT more than doubled the previously held ECTA record in the altered category of 53 mph with a speed of 112 mph. This was the team’s first competition.

BEMRT built the full sport-sized electric motorcycle in less than a year since its founding in October 2010 by Sean Ewing, a fifth-year in electrical and computer engineering. Ewing built two motorcycles on his own before forming the team.

“This is my final year (at OSU) so I wanted to start this team up,” Ewing said. “There’s been a ton of student interest.”

Thirty-five OSU undergraduate and graduate students make up the team, a majority of which are engineering majors, said Holly Henley, a communications program assistant for the Center for Automotive Research.

“There are about 15 really dedicated members, graduate and undergraduate, who are out there working all the time,” Henley said.

BEMRT, with the help of the Center for Automotive Research, did extensive research on what items would be most cost effective to build the motorcycle.

“We’d love the biggest and baddest stuff, but they don’t sell that at Walmart,” Ewing said.

All of the motorcycle’s parts were either brand-new or built, including the battery assembled from hundreds of radio-controlled airplane batteries. Donors and sponsors funded the majority of the $200,000 motorcycle, Ewing said.

“We got the money by begging and pleading, getting our name out there,” Ewing said. “(We were) shot down a lot. But still finding those people that wanted to help us out.”

Typically, students are not permitted to ride the motorcycle in competitions and can only be considered to ride if they have undergone proper training and have the necessary safety equipment, Ewing said.

Jennifer Holt, a graduate student in physics and BEMRT team member, met the qualifications to ride the motorcycle in

the competition.

In order to ride the electric motorcycle in the competition she had to join the ECTA and complete a series of runs of increasing speeds on another motorcycle, Holt said.

“I’ve been riding motorcycles for a very long time just on my own,” Holt said.

Holt joined the team at its founding because of her interest in motorcycles and electric vehicles, having build some of her own, she said.

Although Holt was excited by BEMRT’s record-breaking run, she sees room for improvement and noted that higher speed records have been set in the West.

Ewing also said there are areas in which the team can advance.

“(Breaking the record) was great, I want it to go faster,” Ewing said. “I’m very confident this motorcycle can go 160 to 180 mph. There’s a long way to go.”

Marcello Canova, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and BEMRT’s faculty adviser, has set goals for the team and its record-breaking motorcycle.

“We will work on improving the motorcycle,” Canova said. “We would like to beat out our own record, try to push the limits of our technology.”

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