25 Sep
25 September 2018

Manfeild mini moto’s electric edge

THE major annual event at Manfeild where secondary school students race mini motorcycles they have developed has followed latest trend and gone electric.

The spirit of inventiveness synonymous with the New Zealand Secondary Schools Mini Moto Racing has seen Manawatu schools and a local learning institute plug into the potential of battery-compelled bikes.

Machines created by Feilding High School, Freyberg High School, St Peters College and Palmerston North’s UCOL will add quiet and Green-minded flavour to the October 16-17 outing in which pupils from 12 schools race motorcycles they've designed and built to gain NCEA unit standards.

Roger Emmerson, the Feilding High School engineering tutor who devised a racing activity that has reached its 10th year at Manfeild, says going electric is a natural progression set to add extra zap to a two-day race series that continues to draw bumper participation from all over, from Katikati to New Plymouth to one South Island school, Timaru Boys High.

“The organising committee felt it was time for electrics, given the growing public interest in EVs in general, so a number of schools have involved.”

It will be a small-scale start – he expects perhaps half a dozen bikes to show, but won’t know until the day because some projects are taking longer than expected – but reckons that, for next year, the category might well expand to bigger machines, including sidecars.

It all depends on the learning curve, which has been interesting and as new for teachers overseeing the bike-building as for the students who do all the work.

“We have been learning quite a lot about electric motors, batteries and recharging,” Mr Emmerson says.

The bikes this year run a 800kW electric motor that peaks at 2000rpm and requires a 36 Volt electrical input, which means running three 12 volt gel batteries.

However, they have already started looking at bigger motors that we might well be able to run in a sidecar next year as well as other battery options.

This year’s bikes have proven quicker off the mark than the petrol equivalents, but not as fast overall. The batteries mean the bikes are twice as heavy as the 38cc models on which they are based.

To offset this, Feilding High School has recruited a light rider; year 11 student Liam Magill is just 60kg on the scales.

The electrics are based off the kits that have long been the core preferences out of the now six classes and various weight categories.

The New Zealand Secondary Schools Mini Moto Racing is fiercely competitive, but it’s more than just the racing.

A project that begins in the workshop is devised to provide students unit standards towards the National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering Technology (Level 2).

The participants gain achievement standards in design, but also learn how to fabricate accurately, learning MIG welding, lathe turning and drill press processes, all good skills to have when looking at going into trades.

The programme has the enthusiastic backing of Competenz, the engineering, food and manufacturing industry training organisation, through their Tools4Work programme. It is also supported by Motorcycling New Zealand.

The Manfeild activity sees the students compete on a section of the venue’s famous Circuit Chris Amon.

Unsurprisingly the biggest turnout, of 51 participants, is from Feilding High School while the most modest comes from Katikati College and New Plymouth’s Spotswood College, each represented by a single student.


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Caption: Liam Magill, 15, of Feilding, is a year 11 student whose first experience of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Mini Moto Racing will come with riding Feilding High School’s electric motorcycle.


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