Top

news

Stories

 

In the meantime, she worked with her father to build her first electric motorcycle, the ElectroCat. They stripped all vestiges of the two-stroke combustion engine from an old Cagiva Freccia and replaced it with a permanent magnet DC motor, battery pack and controller. After extensive lobbying — and a little fibbing about its top speed, which exceeds all Swedish speed limits — the ElectroCat became Sweden's first street-legal electric motorcycle.

In 2007, while writing a book about electric vehicles, Håkansson contacted Dubé and requested permission to reprint a photograph of the KillaCycle. They met face-to-face that December, at the 23rd Electric Vehicle Symposium in Anaheim. EVS is the world's largest electric-drive conference, a massive gathering of the who's who and the what's what in the world of electric vehicles. Standing in the hallway outside a conference panel, Håkansson introduced herself and told Dubé she would love to take his KillaCycle for a ride.

"I don't let anyone ride the KillaCycle, not even me. Only professional drivers," says Dubé, who'd crashed the KillaCycle into a minivan while doing a burnout demonstration at the Wired NextFest in Los Angeles a few months earlier. "But I liked her, so I gave her the test anyway."

Bill Dubé and Eva Håkansson fell in love with speed — and each other.
Bill Dubé and Eva Håkansson fell in love with speed — and each other.
Tracy Helmhold goes electric with the KillaCycle at Bandimere.
Tracy Helmhold goes electric with the KillaCycle at Bandimere.

He pulled a dollar bill out of his wallet, creased it lengthwise and held it at the top end with his fingertips. He instructed Håkansson to hold her thumb and forefinger open at the opposite end, near the bottom of the bill, and to watch his fingers closely.

While she held her hand out, pincher grasp at the ready, he delicately explained that operating the KillaCycle requires far-beyond-average reflexes, and that when he lets go of the dollar, most folks catch the bill at the very top — the last possible moment — if at all. Håkansson didn't say anything. Her eyes met with his briefly, and then she focused on his hand. Dubé let go.

Håkansson pinched the bill right on Washington's face.

Dubé was in love.

Soon Håkansson was, too. She moved to the United States and, eighteen months later, rode down the aisle on the ElectroCat, dressed from head to toe in traditional Swedish attire. She and Dubé exchanged non-conductive wedding rings made from zirconium dioxide, an advanced ceramic material that is used to make the batteries in their motorcycles more powerful. Their chapel was a gleaming-white Boulder Electric Vehicle delivery truck.

******

At the Bandimere starting area, Dubé uses a Dzus fastener tool to detach the KillaCycle's fiberglass shell. Beneath the slick exterior, the bike has innards that look like an old computer — coiled wires, batteries, fuses, even an Ethernet cable. The Galileo crew continues filming Dubé and the KillaCycle while he hunts for the source of the malfunction. Håkansson returns, ripping through the staging area on an electric-assisted commuter bicycle. They find nothing wrong, so they reattach the top panel and prepare for a second attempt.

"Let's just make an easy pass to make sure everything is okay," says Dubé.

Helmhold reassumes his position over the bike and hits the throttle.

Other than the whir of its motors and the squeal of tires against the pavement, the bike is completely silent, but it is most certainly revived; a fierce plume of blue smoke rises from the spinning tire and envelops the film crew. Helmhold taxis forward to the start, watches for the green light and then launches down the track. Even taking it easy, the bike moves like a bullet.

"Maybe there was a moth in the connector, or a pebble, but it looks fine now," says Dubé. "You just never know. Sometimes these things happen." He puts his arm around Håkansson and she pats him on the stomach.

******

The day before, Dubé and Håkansson had welcomed the Galileo crew to the two-car garage behind their small home near I-70 and Kipling in Wheat Ridge: Team KillaCycle headquarters.

Kimmo Wiemann, the Galileo reporter, pointed to a hulking, 190-pound cube on the floor, replete with little glowing green LEDs and microchips. It looked a bit like a miniature, low-fi version of the Borg cube from Star Trek, built from hundreds of batteries — not that different from the ones sold in the supermarket — soldered together in a giant grid. "Is this the battery pack?" he asked.

Dubé gave a quick laugh, then started doing public-relations calculus in his head, thinking about how far he wanted to go with his explanation of the LiFePO4 cells that power most modern electric vehicles. As he began to speak, it was clear he'd decided to hold back and give the light version. "Yep, that's the battery," he said. "This one over here is the new battery pack — well, this was a test for the new battery-pack design. It's going to save us over 100 pounds of weight when it's finished."

"So tell me, how does it work?" asked Wiemann.

Dubé sighed, then spun around, picked up a cordless drill and popped out its battery. He held the battery up as though he were about to propose a toast.

"This is an A123 cordless tool battery," he said. "It's powered by lithium and iron phosphate, which some folks just call LFP. A123 Systems calls their brand Nanophosphate. They were invented by Yet-Ming Chiang at MIT."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
3 comments
Visualeyes108
Visualeyes108

Wow. I better go through my change jar and find enough quarters to buy a KillaCycle t-shirtWonder if they have KillaJoule T-shirts yet?

the_punnisher
the_punnisher

From someone who worked on the FIRST Killacycle power pack:

Everyone left out the OTHER local story that involved EVs and the packs that were produced for the Dodge Intrepid ESX...as well as the Original Killacycle.

Bill owes a bit of thanks to the BOLDER TECHNOLOGIES TMF ( Thin Metal Film ) power cell.

Bolder Technologies was ahead of it's time. And was allowed to be outsourced. Golden lost a potential energy hub.....

I spent quite a few hours of company time working on the packs....

And the Killacycle was the first thing you saw when you entered the Lobby of our building......

I HATE revisionist history. Especially when it involves my former employers..like Cray Research and Bolder Technologies.....

Rmkpower1
Rmkpower1

Tracy is an awesome choice to ride that motorcycle he is a mutli winner of Division5 drag racing,,

 
Loading...