Almost totally unknown in the United States, Voxan Motors was founded in 1995 in France by Jacques Gardette. Voxan began life building a variety of uniquely styled motorcycles powered by a 996cc 72-degree V-twin motor built by Sodemo Moteurs in Magny-Cours. Distribution of Voxan motorcycles, which featured a frame designed by Alain Chevallier of World Championship Grand Prix racing fame, was primarily in its home country.
By 2009, Voxan had gone through a series of owners and a public stock offering before being forced into liquidation. In 2010, Monaco-based Venturi Automobiles, led by CEO Gildo Pallanca Pastor, bought Voxan to convert it into a testbed for electric-powered motorcycle designs.
The tie-in wasn’t as far-fetched as it might sound. Frenchman Sacha Lakic had been the designer of the 1995 Voxan Roadster before overseeing the styling at Venturi in 2000. Lakic continued to work for Voxan, putting his touches on the 2003 Voxan Black Magic. In 2013, Lakic’s Voxan Wattman, a 205-horsepower concept power cruiser electric motorcycle debuted at the Paris Motorcycle Show.
After some rough personal times for owner Pastor, Voxan has focused on its most recent initiative—an assault on the zero-emissions land speed record. Using a repurposed name, the LSR-assaulting electric motorcycle is called the Voxan Wattman.
Starting in late 2018, project developer Louis-Marie Blondel who has been with Venturi since 2015, after time with Renault, where he worked on the X95 Mégane III. The goal of the Voxan Wattman is to reach 330 km/h (205 mph). That would break the existing FIM electric motorcycle speed world record of 329 km/h (204.5 mph) set at Bonneville Salt Flats last year by the Mirai-Ringyou Tomorrow Motors Mobitech EV-02A with Ryuji Tsuruta aboard.
“We were keen to move fast, so we focused on two main points,” Blondel reveals, “drag—aerodynamics—and stability at high-speed. We were aiming to have the smallest possible projected area, but with a long wheelbase and a large rake, so the rider would be positioned as low as possible.”
The Voxan Wattman uses a fascinating purpose-built frame. With 25CD4S steel tubing (commonly used for ultralight aircraft) and 7075-T6 aluminum (a zinc-infused alloy for highly stressed structural applications), single-side dual-swingarms and a single shock are used at both ends. Steel linkage-rods are used for steering, and there is no front brake on the aluminum wheel shod with a Michelin Power RS+ tire. A carbon fiber fairing obscures the industrial art.
“There is no front brake, for several reasons,” Project Technical Director Franck Baldet explains. “Firstly, it’s better aerodynamically at high speed, but also on the vast salt flats it takes quite a while to accelerate due to the low grip surface, and we have plenty of room to slow down. Last, but most importantly, front-wheel braking at very high speed on a salt flat can unbalance the motorcycle and cause a fall. We aren’t using a parachute, but the rider does have a rear-wheel brake, which he controls with the left handlebar grip, and also engine-braking controlled by a small lever on the right handlebar grip.”
Batteries are always a large part of any electric motorcycle, and the Voxan Wattman is no exception. Of the 661-pound curb weight, 309 pounds can be attributed to the 1470-cell battery array. The proprietary power supply was developed in conjunction with Venturi North America and engineering students at Ohio State University.
Although you might expect a radiator to keep the high-performance power supply from overheating, the Voxan engineers had another idea. The Voxan Wattman is equipped with a tailpiece filled with dry ice. The dry-ice cools liquid that is pumped through the power supply.
The Venturi Group has extensive experience with high-performance electric engines. It had built the Venturi VBB-3 powerplant that earned the absolute land speed record for an electric vehicle—549.43 km/h (341 mph). The Group also built the powertrain for the HWA RaceLab team in the 2018-19 FIA Formula E Championship Series.
“We have poured all of the Venturi Group’s accumulated experience into this motorcycle world speed record project,” according to Voxan Motors Technical Director Franck Baldet. “It has proved valuable, particularly for the process of optimizing the Wattman’s electronics, which we have had to develop completely, whether in terms of energy management or power management. Like Venturi vehicles, and also our first Formula E powertrains, the Voxan Wattman is entirely Made In Monaco.”
With the 2020 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials canceled due to government health-related restrictions, Voxan is aiming for the 2021 edition to challenge the FIM world speed record for electric motorcycles.
Voxan Wattman Specs
- Type: Permanent magnet motor
- Maximum power: 367 horsepower
- Maximum torque: 715 ft-lbs
- Battery: 1470-cell 15 kWh lithium-ion w/ 756 volts
- Cooling: Dry-ice cooled liquid
- Transmission: Direct drive w/ timing belt
- Frame: 25CD4S steel tube and 7075-T6 aluminum
- Steering: Link rods
- Front suspension: Swingarm w/ single shock
- Rear suspension: Swingarm w/ single shock
- Wheels: Custom forged aluminum
- Front wheel: 17 x 3.5
- Rear wheel: 17 x 6.0
- Tires: Micheline Power RS+
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 190/55 x 17
- Front brake: None
- Rear brake: 305mm disc w/ 4-piston caliper
- Wheelbase: 72.8 inches
- Overall length: 106.3 inches
- Seat height: 24.0 inches
- Ground clearance: 2.8 inches
- Battery weight: 309 pounds
- Curb weight: 661 pounds
Voxan Wattman Land Speed Record Electric Motorcycle Photo Gallery