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University of Calgary’s electric superbike turns heads at eMotoRacing event in Utah

University of Calgary students put their custom-built electric motorbike to the test against some top-notch talent on the eMotoRacing circuit in Utah earlier this month – an experience they plan to build on over the winter.

“Even though we placed second-last, we were pretty proud of it,” said Annie Nguyen, vice-president of logistics for Team ZEUS, a group of students who retrofitted a 2004 Suzuki GSXR 600 to run completely on electricity.

With U of C alumnus Tim Johnson as their rider, the team entered the ninth annual Bonneville GP at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.

“We were the only university team down there,” Nguyen said, adding that the team was up against professionals “with money and resources.”

The team turned some heads down south, too.

“These enthusiastic engineering club members were pleased to meet all their challenges, finish both races, and enjoy the spectacle of this AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) sanctioned racing event,” Arthur Kowitz of wrote on the organization’s blog.

The team’s bike, named ‘The Zephyr,’ reached speeds of 130 km/h during the race, Nguyen said, and topped out as high as 160 km/h during dyno testing.

Team ZEUS now plans to go back to the drawing board with a new bike.

The students are working on a new design of their own, which Nguyen said will offer advantages they didn’t have when modifying an old, gasoline-powered bike.

“This time we really want to build it literally from the ground up,” she said.

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