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An afternoon with KillaCycle Racing, pt 1

FutureCars' Aaron Turpen made the trip to see Bill Dube and Eva Hakansson of KillaCycle Racing at their HQ in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. In an afternoon of touring the shop and talking with Bill and Eva, Aaron got to know how busy and exciting even the off-racing season can be for the KillaCycle crew.
image courtesy of KillaCycle

photos and article by Aaron Turpen

The KillaCycle

FutureCars has covered the KillaCycle in-depth, with technical specifications and racing information. Only when you see it in person, however, do you realize how simple such a complex machine can appear to be.

The bike is smaller than you might think, being roughly the size of a large street bike such as a BMW or Honda touring motorcycle. Not including the drag tail, of course. The components are similarly simplistic-appearing, since most of the dragster's controlling mechanisms are electronic rather than mecahnical.

Underneath that simple exterior, however, is a lot of technology. The batteries are the core of the bike, slung low underneath the ìgas tank" which the rider straddles. Above them, on a slanted board, are the electronics that control most of the motorcycle's power and thrust. Directly underneath and slightly behind the rider is the motor itself, which drives a sprocket and chain to turn the rear wheel.

As you can see here, Scotty Pollacheck, the KillaCycle's racer, gets few comforts as he straddles the seatless-bike and lies forward over the molded tank to steer the KillaCycle to new records.

That might happen (again) soon, in fact, as the team has received new batteries from A123 Systems which are being built into series to make the new pack. Those will debut in the upcoming racing season.

New A123 Racing Technology

KillaCycle seat

The new battery cells from A123 Systems are about 75% smaller than their predecessors and lose about the same amount in weight as well. In the picture here, the green battery is one of the current cells used in the bike and the smaller ones above it are the new cells.

What all this means is that the total battery pack for the KillaCycle will see a slight increase in power output while enjoying a huge weight loss (about 150 pounds). Higher horsepower will also result as the new batteries are more capable of putting out stronger currents. All together, that means more speed.

With that, the team plans to break the 200mph barrier and maybe beyond. They're taking a wait-and-see attitude but they're definitely going for it. As Eva puts it, "We are trying to calculate the difference that the new batteries will make but… we have no real-world reference. We may not know… until we actually race them. -Eva of Killacycle."

Charging the KillaCycle

When on the road, doing the racing circuit, the KillaCycle Team lives in a large camper trailer pulled by a semi-truck powered by biodiesel. Of course, they also need a fast way to charge the powerful dragster as well as keep their portable shop (for on-track repair and service) running. For that, they need power.

KillaCycle power source

This comes from a Cummins Onan generator made specifically for RVs. The KillaCycle Team is testing the generator on biodiesel for Cummins and has so far had great results. The generator puts out 7,500 watts, enough to power a house - or the KillaCycle, depending on your needs. It's impressively quiet as well.

Having driven a truck and used a diesel generator as an alternative power unit (APU), I can tell you that these machines are usually loud, put out a fair amount of exhaust, and rarely do they put out that much wattage. With this generator, the team has enough power to charge the KillaCycle, run their power tools and compressors, as well as keep their trailer air conditioned and run the fans that quickly cool the motorcycle's motor and batteries.

More Than Just a Dragster

Of course, the KillaCycle Racing Team has a lot more going on too. As if the world's fastest motorcycle weren't enough, the husband and wife team of Eva and Bill have many other EV projects in progress as well.

We'll get to those in part 2

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