Voxan Wattman: Max Biaggi to pilot electric streamliner powered by race car engine

Max Biaggi rides the Voxan Wattman
Max Biaggi rides the Voxan Wattman

Voxan have revealed their Wattman streamliner, which will be piloted by ex-MotoGP and WSB racer Max Biaggi in an attempt to set a new electric bike world speed record.

If you’re not familiar with Voxan, they’re a niche French motorcycle manufacturer who were acquired by Venturi, an Italian electric vehicle specialist. In 2013 they released the Wattman electric bike before setting their sights on the electric speed record in 2018 with a streamliner version of the machine.

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The existing record sits at 327kph (203.56mph) but with Biaggi at the controls Voxan think they can crack 330kph (205.05mph) when they head to the Bolivian salt flats next year.

"I’ve always loved a challenge," says Biaggi. "I’m proud that I will be taking this new step in my career under the colours of Voxan and Venturi. The engineers and designers from the R&D department are driven by an extremely strong sense of determination. Breaking through the 330km/h mark will provide even more evidence of the group’s expertise."

Voxan Wattman electric bike

The key to this is going to be the innovative bike Voxan have created. The shell is made from carbon fibre, and has been honed using wind tunnel tests at 240kph. The shell sits on a steel trellis frame, which is suspended by double wishbone at either end with a steering linkage. This allows Voxan more room for the rider, while helping to retain decent handling – well as good as you can get on a bike with an 1850mm wheelbase.

To power the bike, Voxan have looked to parent company Venturi, using one of their motors from a Formula E racecar, which produces more than 350bhp and a mind-bending 715ftlb of torque.

Feeding this beast is a proprietary battery system made up of 1470 individual cells (accounting for more than half the weight of the machine at 140kg), which are capable of providing 317kW of power. As if that wasn’t clever enough, the designers have dispensed with a conventional radiator for cooling, instead pumping the coolant through a container full of dry ice located in the seat hump.

Max Biaggi gets measured up for electric speed record attempt

First published on June 26, 2019 by Dan Sutherland

Max Biaggi gets measured up in leathers. Photo: Charly Gallo

Six-time motorcycle world champion, Max Biaggi, has teamed up with Monaco-based electric bike firm, Voxan Motors, to try and set a new two-wheeled land speed record.

Announced in April by Voxan’s owners; Venturi, the team will attempt to break the current record in August 2020 on the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. Riding the firm’s Voxan Wattman land speed record machine, the team are aiming for a speed of 330kmh (205.1mph).

Since the initial announcement, Biaggi headed to Venturi’s headquarters in Monaco earlier this month in order to test out the bike’s ergonomics, as well as take his measurements and a number of 3D scans.

Venturi are no newcomers to electric motorsport, having already competed in Formula-E, set four-wheeled land speed records and claimed the longest distance covered by an electric vehicle without assistance back in 2010, at 14,900 kilometres.

Max Biaggi gets measured up. Photo: Charly Gallo

Working in tandem with the bike’s designer, Sacha Lakic, this integral part of the design process allows engineers to create the most appropriate set up for Biaggi, whilst remaining compliant with FIM regulations.

The record the team are attempting to beat is for 'electric motorcycles propelled by the action of one wheel in contact with the ground, partially streamlined, under 300kg.' This is currently held by Jim Hoogerhyde on a Lightning SB220 at a speed of 327.608kmh (203.6mph).

Speaking about the challenge, Biaggi said: "A lot was learned during this first work session with the Venturi-Voxan team, especially when we were adjusting positioning on the model.

"It’s nothing like the typical racing posture. I literally have to become one with the bike, lying down on it close to the ground. I had to learn to get used to it and work within the technical constraints that we have.

"I feel surrounded by an incredibly motivated Venturi-Voxan team. This is certainly going to be an unprecedented experience and I truly hope to earn Venturi another record."

Alongside winning four consecutive 250cc grand prix titles between 1994 and 1997, as well as two World Superbike crowns, Biaggi also set a world speed record of 164.198kmh with a Fazi Egraf, in the same category, back in 1994.

Biaggi set a previous record in 1994

"I’m pleased to see the project progressing so well and so fast," Venturi Group President, Gildo Pastor, said. "I have full confidence in my team of engineers as they tackle the challenge I set them.

"They’re used to developing innovative vehicles and are leveraging the experience they gained designing powertrains for our Formula E race cars. I’m proud of their hard work and dedication and I know that they are just as committed as I am to making this project happen.

"Roll on 2020, when I hope to watch my friend Max Biaggi beat the world land speed record on the Voxan Wattman. We’re dreaming big for 2020, which also happens to be Venturi’s 20th anniversary as a specialised producer of high-performance electric vehicles."

The Voxan Wattman design

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Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.