Appalachian State University graduate Tom Miceli put together the ultimate resume when he built his all-electric Ion Sportbike for his Industrial Design graduate project. There are many folks putting together electric motorcycles, but many seem to overlook an important detail of the package. Good looks sell and we enthusiasts demand them. And if you can make it look unique at the same time even better.
The ’96 Kawasaki ZX6 based Ion is not the fastest electric motorcycle in existence with its estimated 80 mph top speed. However, it incorporates a full coverage fairing, which adds much needed aerodynamics to the motorcycle, and a custom designed LED headlight that’s not only eye catching, but it also helps keep the weight low. Tom mentioned the most difficult and time consuming part of the two month build was forming the fiberglass body. In our opinion this was time well spent. With the low energy density of today’s battery technology designers are lucky to get 1 gallon of petrol’s range equivalent packed into a bike while keeping the weight reasonable. Low wind resistance is critical for range at highway speed. Miceli pulled it all off with the Ion and kept it looking sharp and unique.
Tom incorporated 24 40-Amp hour Thundersky LiFePO4 (Li – Lithium, Fe – Iron, PO4 – Phosphate) batteries, a Curtis 1238 controller and 3 phase AC-15 golf car motor from Hi Performance into the Ion to achieve a claimed 105 ft-lbs of torque and 46 HP. Tom’s dad Frank is working on a compact 2 speed transmission that fits on the drive shaft of the motor and is a similar diameter. This should help keep the motor in the sweet spot and increase the top speed some. They are also working on a custom battery management system (BMS) to keep the battery pack health in check. With more time Tom explained he would like to build his own frame which would allow him to fit 60 amp hours worth of batteries in the bike.
We can point you to Tom’s resume but you better act quick, we hear he is already being swamped with requests, and we thank him for wading through his full inbox to answer our questions. If nothing else we hope Tom gets some props from the green ladies on campus. He put in a pillion seat so you know he is with us on that thought. Now that’s smart design.