Two-time World Superbike champion Max Biaggi has set a new speed record for electric motor bikes with a 455.737 km/h run aboard the streamlined Voxan Wattman.
Biaggi, who won the World Superbike championship with Aprilia in both 2010 and 2012, completed a one-kilometre sprint in opposite directions at Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre Launch and Landing Facility at a staggering average speed of 455.737 km/h (283.182 mph). The run sets a new world record for partially streamlined electric motorbikes under 300 kg.
The new benchmark smashes the existing of 408 km/h (254 mph) record, also set by Biaggi and Voxan at the Châteauroux airfield in France between October 30 and November 1 last year. Interestingly, the original plan to make the attempt on a Bolivian salt flat in June 2020 was abandoned due to Covid-19, and the re-location and subsequent run on asphalt, ironically, led Voxan considering a second record attempt with a modified Wattmann. Hence the recent Kennedy Space Center program.
The new record was one of 21 toppled by the streamlined Voxan Wattman between November, 18 and 23 with Biaggi and the e-bike at one point topping 470.257 km/h (292.204 mph) in one direction. On top of this, a non-streamlined version of the Wattman – which did not feature its counterpart’s aero-optimised fairing – also set a new record of 369.626 km/h (229.675 mph) in the ‘non-streamlined electric motorcycle under 300 kg’ class on an identical, 1-km opposite directions run.
“In less than a year, we have succeeded in lowering the motorcycle’s weight, while increasing its power and improving its stability,” explained Gildo Pastor, president of the Venturi Group that’s been the parent company of Voxan Motors since 2020. “Following the records we set in November 2020 in the ‘over 300 kg’ class, these 21 new records are another magnificent reward for the Venturi Group, for Max Biaggi, and for our valued partners, Saft, Michelin, and Mercedes. I am pleased to think that the experience gained from this project will contribute to improving ecomobility. I share these records with my country, Monaco, which does so much to promote sustainable development.”
First unveiled in July 2020, the Wattmann is driven by a reworked version of the Mercedes EQ electric motor that powers Venturi’s Formula E single seater, producing 429 hp, (and up from the bike’s original 362 hp guise) and a sizeable 1,003 lb ft of torque. Arguably the bike’s most significant performance point, though, are the inboard Voxan-Saft batteries, developed by TotalEnergies: “The pouch cells make it possible to increase the batteries’ power by nearly 80 times, compared with around 10 times for standard products on the market,” says Pastor. “They are assembled in modules, enabling cooling to be managed with a recently patented process, resulting in an ultra-compact construction.” The ultra-lightweight, Sacha Lakic-designed bodywork also helps keep the weight below 300 kg.
To further improve aerodynamism and stability (cross winds are a significant risk with any high-speed run), the Wattman’s wheelbase was stretched from 1,800 mm to 1,957 mm, while the seat height was also raised from 610 mm to 685 mm, providing Biaggi with a more horizontal seating position. Michelin also produced a bespoke set of a more durable, and grippier, compound of its ‘Power GP’ tires for the six-day Florida program.
The new record is just the latest accolade for Voxan ambassador Biaggi. A 250-cc World Champion for four years in succession between 1994 and 1997 (and a 125-cc European Champion in 1991), the Italian astonished the bike racing world when he won on his 500-cc debut at Suzuka in 1998, going on to win a further 12 times in 500-cc (latterly MotoGP) before bowing out of the series at the end of 2005. During that time, he was a runner-up in the championship on three occasions, and established one of MotoGP’s most applauded rivalries with bike racing’s GOAT, Valentino Rossi. Transitioning to World Superbikes in 2007, Biaggi, extraordinarily, won again on his debut at Qatar, and took a further 20 wins – and two world titles – before hanging up his helmet at the end of 2012.