Voxan Wattman: Strange Name, Blistering Speed
Electric Record Breaker Aiming for more recordsby Harry Fisher, on
After setting eleven world records in 2020, Voxan has continued developing the Wattman electric record motorcycle and will try for more records with ex-MotoGP star Max Biaggi at the helm once again.
Voxan Wattman and Max Biaggi Gunning for More Records
Voxan started life as a niche motorcycle manufacturer based in France, producing v-twin petrol-powered bikes before being bought by Italian electric vehicle specialist Venturi. President Gildo Pastor immediately refocused the motorcycle manufacturer on electric engines with a brief to set electric bike speed records with a dedicated streamlined motorcycle.
The team recruited ex-MotoGP and World Superbike star Max Biaggi to ride the machine and, in November 2020, 11 world records were set.
Biaggi piloted the Voxan Wattman at the 2.17-mile Chateauroux airfield in France. An outright top speed of 254mph was recorded but, as the record is the average of two runs in opposite directions, the record was set at 228mph. The previous record was 204mph. An unfaired version of the bike was also run, setting a new record of 217mph.
At the time, Biaggi said: "The team was driven by an incredible belief and determination. These records make me a happy man! I’m proud of the team and delighted to bring these titles back to Voxan."
The other records set were: Quarter-mile flying start, partially streamlined (245.10mph); quarter-mile flying start, non-streamlined (221.95mph); 1km flying start, partially streamlined (240.07mph); quarter-mile standing start, non-streamlined (78.42mph; quarter-mile standing start, partially streamlined (79.10 mph); 1km standing start, non-streamlined (115.30mph); 1km standing start, partially streamlined (119.20 mph); 1 mile standing start, non-streamlined (138.45mph); 1 mile, standing start, partially streamlined (139.81mph).
Then, in July 2021, the company announced that the Wattman was being tweaked for even more speed. The bike was initially designed to run on the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia (where Guy Martinwill attempt an outright motorcycle land speed record at sone point in the future) but with that being impossible under present world conditions, the engineers have changed their focus to continue running at Châteauroux airfield in France.
This means the Wattman has to be optimised to run on a tarmac surface and Voxan has worked closely with Michelin to develop special tyres. Also, weight is being pared down to below 300kg to enable the bike to run in a different category.
In order to beat the existing records, the engineering team at Venturi/Voxan have also worked on the motorcycle’s air penetration and stability. Wind tunnel testing has been extensive and the R&D department has also enlisted the help of specialists in fluid dynamics simulation, to take account of the incredibly high speeds targeted.
Biaggi said: "Attempting to set new speed records barely a year after posting the very first is exhilarating! Eleven is great but... it’s not enough! I want to keep on and on developing electric mobility."
Fast forward to November 2021 and new batteries have brought the weight to under 300kg, while an updated version of the Mercedes EQ Formula E electric powertrain has raised power from 270kW/362bhp to 320kW/429bhp.
The wheelbase is longer than before and the bodywork can be changed to compete in partially streamlined and naked classes.
The hope is to run at the end of next summer in France. Nothing has been said about returning to the plan to run in Bolivia. If records can continue to be set at the airfield, then it may be that any such plans will be scrapped.
Watch this space for more news.