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Buckeye Current takes first in electric at Pikes Peak

Buckeye Current, The Ohio State University’s student electric motorcycle team, raced to first place in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) Electric Motorcycle Division on June 25.

Buckeye Current professional rider, Rob Barber, finished with a time of 10:55.500.

“While the time is still short of the team’s goals, the results speak for themselves and Rob’s grin coming down the mountain was a testament to the bike’s performance on race day,” team leader, Polina Brodsky said.

Barber, with the team for five years, already had his name in the record books for winning the first-ever Electric Bike race on the Isle Of Man TT Course in 2009, becoming the first rider to win at both the TT Races and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

“I have to confess, coming back down I did shed a little tear inside my helmet,” Barber said. “I'm so proud of my Ohio State team, they really do deserve this win as they work so hard and we have just been plagued with bad luck. But their never-give-up attitude paid off."

During the practice days leading up to the race, the team overcame fog delays and a broken down cargo van to continuously shave seconds off of their time. As a result, the team placed 11th overall—gasoline-and electric-powered motorcycles—and improved their time by 20 seconds.

Last year, the team finished 16th overall. This is the third consecutive year the team competed on the iconic mountain.

“This year went exactly how we wanted it to, building upon past years' successes, to get better and better results at competition,” electrical and computer engineering student Alex Miller said, operations manager for Buckeye Current. “At the start of every year we pour over the previous year's data from our extensive datalogging system to set refinement goals for the year. Last year we attributed our performance issues to a power-limiting motor controller, so we replaced that this year and saw a corresponding increase in power. We also spent time analyzing the previous iterations custom-made parts and came to the conclusion that some of the structures were over-designed, leading to re-designs with the goal of shaving weight off the bike to make it lighter and faster.”

In addition to making technical adjustments, the way team members were recruited this year was adjusted as well.

 “We've started recruiting new members directly from hand-picked classes to help us get more active involvement, rather than relying on involvement fairs and word-of-mouth,” Miller said.

This new way of recruiting team members is especially beneficial because many senior teammates graduated, now learning how to effectively train new members who share the same passion and commitment.

The support and encouragement that the Buckeye Current team receives from friends, family, Ohio State and racing fans does not go unnoticed.

“It's amazing to see just how many people are invested in how we do every year, and our base of support is extensive and ever-growing,” Miller said. "We could not do what we do every year without that, and it's very rewarding to see everyone rally behind us and share in our success and happiness. We're looking forward to getting started on next year, and we hope everyone who follows us is ready for another exciting year.”

About Buckeye Current

Buckeye Current is a student team at The Ohio State University based at the Center for Automotive Research and advised by Marcello Canova, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The team researches, designs, builds and races electric motorcycles to not only create innovative electric vehicles, but also to educate both students and the community about green technologies. The team’s first bike, RW-1, set the East Coast Timing Association record for electric motorcycles at 144.3 miles per hour. Buckeye Current’s second bike placed third in the Isle of Man TT Zero 2013, an international all-electric series, and their third bike placed third the following year to defend that podium finish. In 2015, RW-3x changed pace and competed at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for the first time, and placed second in the electric modified class. They returned in 2016 and left with a third place finish. To read more about the team and to follow its progress, visit current.osu.edu.

Article courtesy of Center for Automotive Research