A group of 23 students from the Dutch Technical University of Eindhoven wanted to prove electrical vehicles are ready to conquer the world. They developed the world’s first electric touring motorbike from scratch and decided to try driving them around the world in 80 days. It resulted in a kickass adventure…and the first circumnavigation of earth on an electric motorbike.
Storm Wave: The Idea
Two years ago the students came up with the idea of developing electric motorbikes as a university project. A small idea, sketched out on a sheet of paper, grew big with a world trips as the ultimate goal. Before departure the team announced their electric motorbike ambitious like this
“Our team has set the ambitious goal to go around the world in 80 days with Storm Wave, our electric motorcycle. To show people all over the globe the beauty of e-mobility, the STORM Wave is solely powered by the existing electricity grid. This endeavor is the ultimate proof of concept for both our Storm Wave electrical motorcycle and electric mobility as a whole. By involving individuals and organizations to recharge our batteries we share the experience of electric mobility with the world. All the involved parties together form the STORM GRID: a worldwide network of plug-in locations. The clock has started ticking down from 80 days 14 August 2016.”
World’s first electric touring motorbike
They developed two electrical motorbikes – named the Storm Wave electric motorcycle – from scratch with unique removable batteries. Each motorbike contains 24 batteries that give the vehicle a 380 km range on one charge, much further than existing electrical motorbikes. Once emptied they simply replace the batteries with new fully charged ones and continue driving. In this way their motorbikes have a daily range of 600km making them a real electrical touring badboy.
The bike has 48 hp and a torque of 120 NM.
“The great thing about an electric motor is that he immediately accelerates when you put your foot on the pedal. It also provides less noise and less vibration, which makes driving more comfortable, “said Wilco one of the Storm team members. The comfort was further improved by incorporating a special Hossack front suspension that transmits less vibration in the steering wheel.
Unique honeycomb battery structure
The STORM tourer has a strong and unique design. To get a range of 380 kilometers a lot of batteries would have to be built in the bike. But where do you put them?
In an electrical car you have space to hide them in the floor like Tesla did. But where do you hide a huge battery pack in a motorcycle?
Wilco explains how they solved it. “The bike has a modular battery pack. Thus, you can choose to use the full capacity for a ride, or a part thereof. The modular battery, shaped prominent in a honeycomb pattern in the body of the motorcycle, is divided into 24 cartridges, which you can pick out individually. If you are going to take a long trip, you put them all in there but for short trips you can just use the minimum quantity of 12 cartridges hence traveling lighter.
Electric motorbike with gears & IoT
What is also striking about the bike is that – unlike electric cars – it has two gears. One gear to accelerate and one gear to drive efficiently on high/cruising speed for example on the highway.
The Storm team developed the gears inhouse (or in-university) from scratch while the other standard components like brakes and tires were sourced from existing manufacturers.
On top of that they used the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology which allowed them to monitor every part of the Storm Wave motorbikes in real time on their computer dashboard. Among other things the battery packs contained sensors displaying the temperature, current and voltage of every independent cell. This made it possible to observe the functioning of a particular battery or a combination of batteries. Along with real-time insights from numerous other components, it enabled the dashboard to report and predict which parts of the motor functioned well and which parts urgently needed to be replaced.
They even build an app so followers of the electric motorbike world trip could get real-time updates on every aspect of the trip. This amazing monitoring capability resulted in some awesome data figures about the entire journey.
Around the world in 80 days on electric motorbikes
After they had developed the bikes the students were looking for a challenge to proof that their electrical bikes could ride under extreme and demanding circumstances. Something that would leave a lasting mark and raise awareness for clean technologies and electric driving.
The first trip around the world powered by battery technology had already been made years before by the Solartaxi. So they knew they needed a more daunting challenge…
And – like many kickasstrips before – here Jules Verne’s travel classic ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ served once again as great inspiration. A modern electric motorbike trip around the world in 80 days was born…
To achieve this ambitious goal the students needed to drive for 80 days straight. Through 18 countries. And for 23,000km Eastwards.
Storm Electric Motobikes RTW trip departure
On the 14th of August 2016 the Storm electrical motorcycles started their ambitious ride around the world in 80 days from the Eindhoven University campus.
The team was off to a not so auspicious start as the electric motorbike broke down on the highway before Vienna. The problem – a broken power inverter – was quickly diagnosed and solved and – with a day delay – the team continued driving eastwards across Europe and into Asia.
In Iran the team had to deal with extreme heat, poor roads and chaotic traffic which resulted in the Storm bike crashing in a local taxi. Fortunately the taxi was more damaged than the motorbike and the team was able to continue their journey towards Uzbekistan. Their arrival there coincided with the death of President Islam Karimov. Because of the proclaimed national mourning all planned events were cancelled and the students were forced to leave the country quickly.
Crossing the raw beauty of Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and into China they made good progress using local electrical power everywhere. Everywhere they were welcomed at local universities and loads of media coverage.
Then they shipped all their gear across the Pacific to the USA where they continued their trip across the USA to New York before going back to Europe.
Along the way the team posted daily video updates on their youtube channel which you can find here.
One of the trip’s absolute highlights was a photo shoot with the Storm Wave bike on Times Square including their own Storm Wave billboard over there. Find that video update (with English subtitles) here:
Completion of electric motorbike trip around the world in 80 days
Then On November 2, STORM drove the last 400 km from Paris to Eindhoven and so completed its 80-day World Tour with their self-developed electric motorcycle. With a great event at the TU Eindhoven Campus, STORM was welcomed home.
Along the way the team had gathered 17,001 MB of data with the help of their revolutionary IoT integration. It resulted in some stunning and fun facts about the journey:
The team had driven through 17 countries, visited 65 cities covering a total of close to 21,000 km.
They had used the bike’s left blinker 925 times while the right blinker had been used 1,033 times.
The front brake had been used 1,095 times, the back-brake a bit more: 3,001 times.
During the trip they changed the batteries 74 times.
Lucky for them 54% of the journey was sunny, 40% cloudy and only in 6% of their trip did they encounter rain.
All in all a fantastic kickasstrip.