Buckeye Current – The Ohio State University Electric Motorcycle Team

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Categories: Technology, Interviews, Racing, Event, Real Racers

I first learned of the Ohio State Buckeye electric motorcycle team when reviewing the the 2014 Isle of Man SES TT Zero results.

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SES TT Zero Results 2014

  • 1. John McGuinness (Shinden San) 117.366 mph
  • 2. Bruce Anstey (Shinden San) 115.048 mph
  • 3. Robert Barber (Buckeye Current RW-2.x) 93.531 mph
  • 4. Robert Wilson (Sarolea) 93.507 mph
  • 5. Mark Miller (VercarMoto) 85.828 mph

Yep, McGuinness first. Anstey second. Barber / Buckeye..third. Wait. What?  Buckeye third? A group of geeky engineering college kids from Ohio show up at the Isle of Man and they finish THIRD?

Next, I find they are coming to PPIHC and I immediately know who I want to cover this year. I have a thing for the electric underdog it seems. This is a very different approach from past winners like Greg Tracy and the Ducati/Spyder Grips Livingston team. You are more surprised if they don't win or break a record.

I watched them from the time they began unloading their bikes for tech inspection. The first person I met was a confident young lady named Polina Brodsky, who came over to greet me and introduced herself.

If the space program was still in full swing, she'd probably be an astronaut. Brodsky is a Mechanical Engineering B.S. and the Technical Coordinator for the Ohio State Buckeye Current team, and she is very good at what she does. Over the course of the week, it became apparent that they all are. They'll be the ones building rockets powered by the sun when Elon Musk reads this.

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Their unofficial finish time was an impressive 11:12.756. To put that into perspective, the unofficial results show a rider on a 190+HP BMW S1000RR in the heavyweight class—for example—finished with an 11:14:226

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Q: Well done Buckeyes! You guys were fantastic! So calm and organized. You looked like you were just out there having fun.

A: Thank you!  Despite you catching us at the wee hours of the morning during practice, we were having a blast! We're a bunch of college students who get to take time off of school and internships to go race a motorcycle we built. There's nothing better than that.

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Q: Are you happy with your team's performance and finish as a rookie effort?

A: I think, as a rookie effort, our performance this year (especially after a crash and rebuild a few days before practice began) is respectable. We finished the race with a fast time in the first half of the course, pulled an impressive 121 mph through the speed trap, and got our bike to the top of the mountain. Though we’re pleased with our initial performance, we did not meet our goal of breaking the motorcycle record at Pikes Peak. I think the team will continue to push for even better results in the future, no matter where we race. We are always striving to improve and build faster bikes.

Q: What was your overall impression of PPIHC as an event?

A: We loved being at PPIHC this year. The mountain is breath taking and the team enjoyed spending a week taking in its sights. The staff and officials were helpful and understanding of our needs as both a student and electric vehicle project, and we had a great time talking about our bike at FanFest.

Q: You guys set a pretty lofty goal for yourselves with a 9:45. After the race, is this still a reasonable time for you? What were the factors of the race itself that made it a challenging effort this year? 

A: Even after the race, I believe this team has what it takes to build a bike that can beat the motorcycle record at Pikes Peak. It is a lofty goal, and is one that requires near perfect vehicle capability, rider performance, and course conditions to achieve. This year we had a bike to rebuild after a crash right before race week, an injured rider that needed quickly replaced, and the inevitable technical bumps and glitches that come from building a one-off prototype bike like this in less than a year. The team learned from this experience and now we know even better what it takes to set such a fast time on the mountain. I think a record at Pikes Peak is definitely still reasonable and achievable for us.

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