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Buckeye Current gears up for new attempt at historic Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race

The 2015 Buckeye Current student experiential-learning team.Buckeye Current, the student electric motorcycle team at The Ohio State University, has completed its latest all-electric racing motorcycle, RW-3x. The team will compete in the 2016 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb June 26. This follows on the success of the team’s 2015 performance at the competition, when rider Joe Prussiano steered the RW-3 motorcycle to a second place finish in its all-electric class and 16th overall out of 52 motorcycles (both electric and gasoline-powered). The team is one of three universities selected to participate in this year’s prestigious 100th anniversary of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the Race to the Clouds.

Buckeye Current, operating out of the Center for Automotive Research at The Ohio State University, is a student-led project team that designs and builds electric road-racing motorcycles. The team races on a professional level in national and international competitions.

Over 30 team members, mostly undergraduate, have devoted the entire academic year to redesigning and building the newest motorcycle, which will be ridden by professional driver Rob Barber. This year, Buckeye Current’s design advancements include custom suspension and handling characteristics, a more powerful battery pack, a higher performance cooling system and the framework for implementing an antilock braking system.

“The Buckeye Current Team is currently in Colorado Springs, to conduct tests on the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race course and make the final adjustments and modification to the motorcycle," says Marcello Canova, faculty advisor and professor in Ohio State's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. "Team has worked incredibly hard with unique dedication and commitment, and has made phenomenal progress in refining RW-3x."

Buckeye Current's RW-3x in Colorado, preparing for June 26 competition.The product of the team, however, isn’t just the motorcycle. Students in this--and the other automotive experiential-learning teams at the university--are highly sought after by industry members. “Student projects at Ohio State are life-changing,” says team leader and electrical engineering graduate student, Aaron Bonnell-Kangas. “They're the practical experience that students and employers are both hungry for, and a chance for students to explore techniques and concepts they would never reach otherwise.” The team also benefits from a wide range of industry sponsors, such as Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Bosch and Honda of America.

Previous Buckeye Current successes include 2013 and 2014 Isle of Man TT Zero performances in which Barber piloted the team’s RW-2 and then RW-2.X vehicles to third place victories, achieving the title of the world’s fastest collegiate electric motorcycle two consecutive years.

Stay tuned to the team’s social media channels for up-to-date information on competition practice runs and results: Twitter (@BuckeyeCurrentRacing) and Facebook (@BuckeyeCurrent).

See a video of last year’s road to success here.