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Courtesy Team Zeus

Club races electric motorcycle in Utah

By Fabian Mayer, September 29 2015 —

University of Calgary club raced its homemade electric motorcycle, the Zephyr, to a fourth place finish at the eMotoRacing series in Tooele, Utah.

Team Zeus is comprised almost entirely of engineering students and was the only university entry at the national zero-emissions competition. The race featured six teams and their electric motorcycles.

President and third-year mechanical engineering student Kyle Parrot said going to the race was a great experience. He’s pleased with the team’s performance.

“It’s really good considering all the other bikes were production model motorcycles,” Parrot said.

The team has been working on the Zephyr for two years. Students converted a 2004 Suzuki gas bike to run on batteries.

The bike doesn’t have a speedometer, but reached up to 230 km/h in tests prior to the race. The team raced the Zephyr once previously in the same race last year.

“From last year to this year the change in performance of the motorcycles that were at the race was just huge,” Parrot said. “It shows the industry itself is moving so quickly.”

Parrot said the club has come a long way since it built its first bike, whose top speed was only 20–30 km/h. The club now boasts 120 members. He thinks part of the reason the club has become so popular is the increased profile of electric vehicles.

“They are taking off right now. It’s such an evolving and expanding industry and people really see the value of joining our club,” Parrot said.

He admitted part of the appeal comes from the unique project of the club.

“The fact that it’s a motorcycle and it’s really cool and really fast — people seem to really respond to that.”

Parrot said the club has also helped him get to know people in his faculty.

The club is planning to work on the Zephyr for one more year and then start on a new model.

“I’m thinking that we might actually go to a university race next year,” Parrot said. “That way we can see how we stack up against other universities. I imagine we’d do very well.”

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