Salt Addiction: KillaJoule Electric Racer

September 16, 2010
Rocky Robinson
Rocky Robinson
Contributing Editor| Articles|RSS

Having raced everything from Flat Track to Trials, Rocky Robinson now pilots streamliners at the Bonneville Salt Flats and currently holds the ultimate land speed record at 376 mph aboard the Ack Attack streamliner.

An aluminum body will offer ample space for sponsors to display their logos.
The KillaJoule streamliner will be an electric streamliner aiming at the ultimate mtorocycle land speed record, with 400 mph the true LSR prize right now.

In a time when thundering, turbocharged engines echo down the salt flats hurtling two wheels beyond record pace, it’s refreshing to see – given there’s little to hear – an electric powered motorcycle pushing the boundaries of speed while having minimal impact on our environment. Eva Hakansson is a new breed of racer whose time is due.

Certainly there are others who’ve paved the way with alternative power such as Pat Rummerfield, a recovering quadriplegic who drove White Lightning, a battery powered electric streamliner to a record speed of 245.524 mph in 1999. Or the Buckeye Bullet, the Ohio State University project which set U.S. and international records using battery/electric power before converting to hydrogen fuel cell electric power. Both are of the four-wheeled variety while Eva’s latest project, KillaJoule, is a two-wheeled streamliner she hopes will reach 200 mph this year at Bonneville’s World of Speed event in September.

Kent Riches, owner of Air-Tech Streamlining, recently set a record with his electric powered motorcycle at Bonneville running 176 mph. He too, claims to have an electric two-wheeled streamliner in the works. This is a growing segment which I’m sure will draw a lot of attention at future events.

KillaCycle is the worlds quickest electric drag bike.
KillaCycle is the world’s quickest electric drag bike.

Team KillaJoule’s ultimate goal? It’s 400 mph and the title of World’s Fastest Motorcycle.

Eva’s father, Sven, is a huge influence in her life. A Swedish Road Racing Champion in the 60’s, Sven enjoyed building and tuning his own equipment. Eva claims that before the Japanese wiped out all the competition, his bikes were among the fastest road racing machines in the world.

“My dad got into electrics during the ’70s oil crisis, developing an electric scooter for motorcycle manufacturer, Monark. He also had a role in the development of the Stirling engine used in submarines. At 78, with over 20 patents to his name, he hasn’t slowed down much.”

There’s a sense of pride when Eva tells of her father’s accomplishments: “In 1994, he built the first modern electric motorcycle in Sweden, and maybe the world, based on an Aprilia AF1 125cc. It was never registered for street use but performed on par with the original bike, if not better. In 1998 he built, to our knowledge, the world’s first electric trials motorcycle.”

ElectroCat became the first electric motorcycle to be registered for highway use in Sweden.
“ElectroCat” became the first electric motorcycle to be registered for highway use in Sweden.

A street legal electric roadster was next, which Sven completed in 2004. It’s claimed to be the first electric car in Sweden with lithium batteries.
In 2006 Eva decided to build an electric vehicle with the help of her father. Due to budget and space issues, a motorcycle seemed the only sensible alternative. By February 2008, Eva claims “ElectroCat” became the first electric motorcycle to be registered for highway use in Sweden. Based on a 1990 Cagiva Freccia C12R, (an Italian 125cc two-stroke motorcycle) the engine, gear box, fuel tank, exhaust and radiator were removed and replaced with an electric motor, a controller and batteries.
I asked Eva about a recent trip she and her team made to Colorado: “Briefly, I rode the ElectroCat up Pike’s Peak on May 25th. A few days prior to the race itself, I injured my wrist, so I was unable to ride the ElectroCat in the race myself. With a rider that weighed almost twice my weight, the ElectroCat was able to complete the race in 16 minutes, 55 seconds.” This is the first electric powered motorcycle to complete the race and now holds the electric motorcycle record for Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb.

A leading link front end assembly is used to absorb the bumps and keep Eva going straight.
A leading link front end assembly is used to absorb the bumps and keep Eva going straight.

Eva is also crew chief for the world’s fastest electric drag racing motorcycle team. KillaCycle, owned by husband Bill Dubé and ridden by Scotty Pollacheck and Tracy Helmhold, produces over 500 hp and is powered by two DC series motors with energy supplied by A123 Systems nano-phosphate battery cells. How fast can an electric motorcycle really be? KillaCycle goes from 0 – 60 mph in just under one second! In 2007 at Pomona Raceway the silent racer ran the quarter-mile in 7.824 seconds at an impressive 168 mph. Best top speed in a quarter-mile is a click over 174 mph.

Back to the salt racer; what’s with the funny name? “The name KillaJoule is just like KillaCycle, a play on words. KiloJoule is a unit of energy, but KillaJoule fits the sometimes hardcore racing culture better.”

Eva was born into a family of engineers and knows how to think outside the box. Going green on the race track is an ideal way to draw attention to her cause.
“I earned two degrees at Malardalen University: a bachelor’s in business administration with emphasis in ecological economics, and a bachelor’s in environmental sciences. I took classes in energy technology, wind power, fuel cells, and nuclear power. I wrote my bachelor’s thesis about political policy for introduction of low emission cars. At the intersection between technology, economics, and environment, my interest for low emission cars grew into a passion for electric drive.”
Her passion for electric drive comes from its characteristics: “Electric racing is like chocolate without calories: it gives me everything I want—power, speed, and torque, without

A silent launch catches the medias attention.
A silent launch catches the media’s attention.

the things I don’t want – pollutions. I know that engine sound isn’t considered a “noise,” but the feeling of power and speed is actually much more intense in complete silence.”
I’ve talked with builders of other non-traditional powerplant driven motorcycles who’ve competed for the unlimited two-wheel record. Guys like Richard “Rocket-Man” Brown, or Mike Charlton, the recent jet bike streamliner competitor. All of them seem to think their method of propulsion is best. How does electric power stack up against the traditional and non-traditional powerplants running now or in the future?

“The big change is improvements in battery technology. The A123Systems “NanoPhosphate” technology, invented at M.I.T., provides unprecedented power output. That’s why KillaCycle is so fast on the drag strip, and it is what will make electrics competitive on the salt, and in other racing venues.

“Folks have squeezed every drop of possible performance out of internal combustion engines at this point in time. There’s not much more to get. This isn’t the case with electric drive. Now that powerful batteries are available, the “physics” is there to easily exceed internal combustion performance. All we have to do is build a vehicle that will keep the rubber-side down and link the horsepower to the track.”