08:06 AM

Electric motorcycle team competes with world's best on Pikes Peak

If anyone ever told the student members of The Ohio State University's electric motorcycle team to get their heads out of the clouds, they obviously (and thankfully) didn't listen.

After recently completing the design and build of its racing motorcycle, RW-3x, the Buckeye Current team will compete in the 2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, also known as The Race to the Clouds, on June 26. This follows on the success of the team’s 2015 performance at the competition, when rider Joe Prussiano steered the RW-3 motorcycle to a 2nd place finish in its all-electric class and 16th overall out of 52 motorcycles (both electric and gasoline-powered). The team is one of three universities selected to participate in this year’s prestigious 100th anniversary of the race.

The student-led Buckeye Current team operates out of Ohio State's Center for Automotive Research and races at a professional level in national and international competitions.

Over 30 team members, mostly undergraduate, have devoted the entire academic year to redesigning and building the newest motorcycle, which will be ridden by professional driver Rob Barber. This year, Buckeye Current’s design advancements include custom suspension and handling characteristics, a more powerful battery pack, a higher performance cooling system and the framework for implementing an antilock braking system.

The product of the team, however, isn’t just the motorcycle. Students in this—and the university's other motorsports teams—are often targeted as by industry recruiters.

“Student projects at Ohio State are life-changing,” says team leader and electrical engineering graduate student, Aaron Bonnell-Kangas. “They're the practical experience that students and employers are both hungry for, and a chance for students to explore techniques and concepts they would never reach otherwise.” The team also benefits from a wide range of industry sponsors, such as Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Bosch and Honda of America.

Previous Buckeye Current successes include 2013 and 2014 Isle of Man TT Zero performances in which Barber piloted the team’s RW-2 and then RW-2.X vehicles to third place victories, achieving the title of the world’s fastest collegiate electric motorcycle two consecutive years.

Stay tuned to the team’s social media channels for up-to-date information on competition practice runs and results: Twitter (@BuckeyeCurrentRacing) and Facebook (@BuckeyeCurrent).