By: Emily Doer, via The Projector
Get your motors running – or in this case, don’t.
Motorcycle enthusiasts at Red River College and around the city will soon have a greener alternative to automobiles through the college’s Solar Ebikes project.
The project, which is funded by Red River College’s Research Innovation Fund, will construct a prototype street legal sportbike that will run off solar power.
The project will be completed in several phases, the first phase being the creation of the sportbike. The second phase will see the creation of a solar powered platform that can be towed behind the bike. Whenever the bike is stationary in a parking lot or driveway it can be plugged in and charged.
Leon Fainstein, a Mechanical Engineering Technology instructor leading the project, has high hopes that their bike will perform just as fast, if not faster than gas-powered bikes.
“Electric bikes are really only about a minute slower than the gas bikes, and it’s possible this year that they might even surpass them,” he said.
Fainstein explained that the team working on the project developed a knowledge base when it comes to green vehicles, solar power, and energy-efficient design based on prior project.
The team previously built a solar-powered car, which they drove from Texas to Calgary twice. After the car, the team turned its attention to the idea of the electric motorcycle.
The team took a Yamaha 600cc sportbike, gutted it, threw away the motor, and began the transformation process.
Fainstein noted that the electric motorcycle will comply with the same road safety requirements as gas-powered ones, and would be licensed and registered with Manitoba Public Insurance.
“This bike will be street legal, reliable, relatively easy to drive, and only cost approximately 10 cents of electricity per 100km,” said Fainstein.
Kirstyn Gray, a 20-year-old motorcycle enthusiast who has owned her own motorcycle since she turned 16, isn’t surprised to see the emergence of greener alternatives.
“We’ve seen the transition to greener alternatives in cars, and I’m not surprised to see the movement in the bike community. Every day there are new ideas for energy alternatives, so it seems only logical to use them,” said Gray.
The team hopes that both phases of the project will be complete by the end of the 2011 school year.
“My wife always bugs me about how long projects are going to take me,” Fainstein said. “I hoped that it would be done already, but we are trying everything we can do get it on the road before there is snow or ice. If that doesn’t happen you will see it driving slowly and carefully in the hallways of Notre Dame.”