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Elements of electric motorcycles

La Ducati V21L for the world championship MotoE
La Ducati V21L for the world championship MotoE (photo: Ducati)

What are the basic elements of an electric motorcycle, such as the Ducati MotoE? By electric motorbike we mean a motorbike in which the combustion engine is replaced by an electric motor and the energy is not the chemical one of the fuel, but the electric one of the battery. Similarly, on an electric motorcycle, the power system is replaced by the inverter. From the point of view of the chassis, however, there are no substantial differences: the frame, suspension and brakes are conceptually the same between the two types of motorcycle.
The motion to the wheel comes from a traditional type transmission, for the MotoE it's a chain. On the motorcycle designed by Ducati, the transmission pinion is rotated by the electric motor through a series of gears that are integrated into the same housing as the motor. Other manufacturers adopt different solutions: there are those who have installed the pinion rigidly on the electric motor shaft, coupling it to a large crown to reduce the number of revolutions, but there are also those who have chosen to keep the clutch and a traditional gearbox.

La MotoE being recharged from an Enel X Way station
La MotoE being recharged from an Enel X Way station (photo Epaddock)

On the MotoE the rotation speed of the engine is controlled by the rotation of the throttle grip, through the motorcycle control system and the inverter. The latter is a device that transforms the direct current arriving from the battery into the alternating current needed to power the engine. The power electronics, which are part of the inverter, modify the frequency of the alternating electric current, causing the number of revolutions of the motor to vary. When the rider keeps the grip closed with the bike stationary, the electric motor does not turn, therefore there is no need for the clutch to be present.

Detail of the electric motor of the Ducati MotoE
Detail of the electric motor of the Ducati MotoE (photo Epaddock)

The energy for the motor is taken from the battery and is transformed into alternating current at the frequency set by the accelerator control. During the charging process, however, the current flows to the battery and is stored inside. Both processes generate heat; for this you need a very effective cooling system to keep all the battery cells within the correct temperature range.
While the electric motor has a smaller footprint than an endothermic engine, the same is not true for the battery, which is very heavy and bulky. The range of an electric motorcycle depends on how much energy can be stored in the battery, so the more km you want to do, the bigger the battery needs to be.

The deepening of the main elements of the electric motorcycle and the design of the MotoE are described in the technology section of the site or in the link below.

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