The blend of retro and futuristic is compelling and proof that the interdisciplinary ethec team from the ETH Zurich has come up with a winning balance between design and functionality. The sleek looking bike is impressive on the inside too, being driven by wheel hub motors in the front and rear wheels. The two electric motors are approximately three times more efficient than combustion engines. But that’s still only part of the story. One of the things the team of young researchers focused on was energy recuperation by regenerative braking. Most of the energy recovered comes from the ethec motorbike’s front wheel since it accounts for 75 percent of the total braking energy. The ethec bike brakes by using its wheel hub motor, which transforms the energy produced by braking into electricity that is fed back to the battery rather than generating heat like a conventional brake.
Real-life tests passed
The fully functional prototype has already got its first real-life tests under its belt - and the results bode extremely well. On the test track the electric motorbike accelerated from zero to 100 kph within nine seconds, and its maximum measured speed was 128 kph. However, maximum motor speed was limited for testing. Without this limit, the motor would have been capable of propelling the bike to over 140 kph. “There’s still plenty of scope for improvement, though,” admits ethec team member Jan Schubert. For example, if the current state of the art technology were applied, it would be possible to reduce the bike’s gross weight by over ten percent. This would yield a further improvement in both acceleration and maximum speed, as well as in range. “The motors and energy recuperation can also be refined and improved.” For this reason, ethec plans to come up with a Mark 2 next year. We can all keenly look forward to the next results.
The findings gained about energy recuperation technology is of interest to Schindler too. The company has been offering highly energy-efficient elevators that use regenerative braking to recover electricity for several years. Sponsoring this forward-looking project was therefore a logical step.