In July 2020, student electric superbike builders Warwick Moto unveiled the Aurora, their first-ever superbike design. Based on a Honda Fireblade, the multi-disciplinary group of students from the University of Warwick built an electric motor, battery, cooling systems, and all necessary components to create an electric superbike.
They’d started the project well before the pandemic hit, with the intent to enter a future Isle of Man TT Zero race. Once COVID shut things down, they just kept quietly working on their build.
As every small racing team and student project manager knows, building any type of independent race bike is expensive. So is working on new technology. When you do both things at the same time, as Warwick Moto is doing, it’s important to get some good sponsors on your side. Luckily, in October 2020, Norton Motorcycles stepped up to bat for Warwick Moto and began supporting its electric superbike ambitions.
Norton donated a high-performance bike frame and various unspecified data to the students, which is helpful enough. However, something even cooler is that the students have also been able to consult with the experienced engineers at Norton. This allows them tap into that repository of experiential knowledge that you really can’t get from anywhere else. Sometimes, the most important benefits are intangible.
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The Warwick Moto team created its new electric superbike, called Frontier, based on what it had previously developed combined with the new Norton frame and data. The electric powertrain found in Frontier makes a claimed 160 kW, or 215 bhp and 400 newton-metres (or 295 foot-pounds) of torque. It’s worth noting at this point that the team hasn’t made the bike’s weight or many other details available, but that’s still impressive.
The battery pack, which Warwick Moto designed and built in-house, is immersion-cooled. The team is using robust thermal management strategies to help the battery last longer, as well as to better manage the short-term power peaks required in race bikes. That immersive cooling system can also help the team dial in the precise temperature requirements for optimal performance at each track, based on real-time conditions.
Frontier uses a CHAdeMO connector to make things easy and accessible, and the battery can achieve full charge in just one hour, or up to 80 percent from empty in just 32 minutes. Thanks to the shorter charging time, it’s easier for the team to continue its on-track testing without a lot of down-time.
“Ever since we started the Warwick Moto project, the overall goal has always been around learning and enhancing our engineering experience. We have gained practical experience in our research that is required to deliver a real-world project, along with balancing considerations such as tight budgets and deadlines, while learning logistics and everything around delivering an industry project. This has made us all the more proud with the way the Frontier looks,” said Warwick Moto chief engineer Aman Surana in a statement.
“To have access to Norton’s engineering team, years of experience and data has been a great resource, integral to the design of the bike. Combining the motorcycling knowledge from Norton, with the leading research at WMG, University of Warwick has been a fantastic learning opportunity for all students involved. We’re very excited to see what this collaboration leads to,” he concluded.