RIT EV Team Wins eMotoRacing’s Varsity Challenge


On July 12th, the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Electric Vehicle Team won the Woodcraft Technologies eMotoRacing $1000 “Varsity Challenge” award for completing a 6-lap race on a bike of their own design and construction.  Based on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX636, the bike runs in the “eSuperSport” class of up to 125V, and is running the Zero Z-Force 75-7 motor (54HP at 4300rpm and 68Ft-Lb of torque), with a top speed of around 100mph.  They’re running an NMC 5.6 KWH pack.

They competed against Virgina Tech’s “Bolt” team, which was last year’s winner, the Canadian Team Emus (Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec) and Kenessaw State University. Emus ran out of funds to travel down, the other two bikes broke down.


The RIT Ninja in the pits

Night preps

Night preps

The RIT EV Team

The RIT EV Team

The bike was ridden by Karl Smolensk, an Isle of Man Manx GP veteran racer.  Here are the complete race results:

1. Arthur Kowitz          Brammo TTX
2. Pete Nicolosi            Brammo Empulse R
3. Andrew Cowell        Brammo Empulse R
4. Bob Berbeco             Brammo Empulse R
5. Karl Smolenski        RIT EV prototype
6. Scott Signorini        Brammo Empulse R     DNF
7  CR Gittere                Virginia Tech Prototype     DNS

The team started at RIT in 2012 with the goal of building a race bike in mind.  After a few smaller projects, like a moped (named “Hellboy”) some e-bikes and a go-cart, this competition gave them the push they needed to get the bike completed.  From Drake Wilson, a new team member (and Zero Motorcycles intern):

“This is a big first for us. The team/club started in 2012 with this in mind. … They bought the rolling chassis in 13-14 along with 2 zero motors & controllers and 60 battery cells.

It was a huge push from this year’s students that got it done. They did a lot of scanning and CAD in the fall semester and built everything in the winter/spring.

“The bike worked great. The only issue was that the first chain (the small one from the motor to the jackshaft) got cooked on the first race, and the tensioner melted. Both easily replaceable.”

Read more about the RIT EV Team here, on their Facebook page, and about the eMotoRacing series here, on their site.

eMotoRacing grid, ready to roll

eMotoRacing grid, ready to roll

Category: Bikes, Racing


2 responses to "RIT EV Team Wins eMotoRacing’s Varsity Challenge"
  1. Bonaire says:

    Go Tigers. Being my Alma Mater, this is good news. Also, the president of RIT is an EV fan now too and drives a 2011 Volt. I just wish they would install more charging points on campus…

  2. Ken says:

    Thanks Ted for posting all these motorcycle articles. I really enjoy them even though i may be a little too critical of them sometimes. Really cool to see the new Zero 75-7 motor in a 636 chassis.