If you’ve seen two boys zipping along Nelson footpaths on an interesting-looking bike, chances are it was Team Xpeed boys, Will Hewitt and Zac Wilkes.
The Nelson College boys have made an electric bike for the Evolocity competition to be held at Christchurch’s Rapuna Race Track in two weeks.
Evolocity is about stimulating electric vehicle innovations and having some fun racing the different designs. The competition will test the vehicle’s speed, efficiency and manoeuvrability in a 100 metre drag race, 10 kilometre economy run, a tight street circuit and a rolling resistance test.
“We first heard about it from one of the teachers from school who suggested we enter the competition, and we just build on it from there,” says Will. “We went through a few initial ideas like a scooter and such, but we’ve always leant towards a bike.” Each team is given the same motor and battery, but from there, creativity runs free.
“We’ve gone for an agile vehicle with everything as lightweight as possible,” says Zac. With the help of mentors Daniel Farley and Adrian Curtis, the boys say they have spent hundreds of hours designing and refining their electric bike.
“I’ve spent a lot of nights, straight after school until 10pm, at Daniel’s house working on it,” says Zac.
The bike’s top speed is 42km per hour, which it reached in 11.3 seconds. Mentor Daniel expects the boys to do extremely well, “I’ve worked at universities and one of my first impressions of Will and Zac is that they’ve got some skills above what some second year university kids have.”
“It’s been interesting seeing how fast they pick things up,” says Daniel, “we saw fire come out the side of that bike a few times while they were trying to get it right, but they’ve really perfected it.”
And as for the competition, the boys are confident and raring to go.
“We’re hoping to do quite well, definitely get a podium finish, we’ve strived to make the best vehicle we can so we’re keen to see how it does,” says Zac.