The inspiration for NEDRA is Ed Rannberg, a man who began racing electric vehicles back in the 1980s. Ed is also the inspiration for the Rannberg Cup Award. This award is given each year to NEDRA members who have made a significant contribution to the sport of electric drag racing.
In 1988 Ed's "Kawashocki" drag bike was featured in "Hot Bike" magazine. Even the enthusiasts from the gas powered motorcylce world took notice of Ed's accomplishments.
In honor or Ed's accomplishments, the article below first appeared in the September 1989 issue of the EVAOSC News and is reprinted here with their permission. The incredible run described in the article below is on par with race times being run now. Ed was truly an innovator and ten years ahead of his time.
In the EVAOSC Spotlight
by Ken Koch, EVAOSC News
Ed Rannberg has always enjoyed high performance vehicles, and his interest in EVs dates back almost as far as his interest in motorcycles. Ed's first electric car ride took place about 1972 when he rode in a Renault Dauphine converted by a friend, John Bradley of Rialto. Ed was fascinated by the ride. It didn't take long before he was converting a Renault of his own, using a J&H 9 HP aircraft motor and a36 volt battery system. Ed used his Renault for transportation to and from Kaiser Steel in Fontana where he worked. Interestingly enough, Leo Schatzl was employed at Kaiser, too, and had already been driving his electric car to work for 4 years. They met, became good friends, and shortly thereafter found themselves involved in organizing the EVA of Fontana. All of this took place about the same time that our country experienced its first oil embargo.
In 1968, Ed opened up a motorcycle shop in Fontana, which he named Eyeball Engineering. He managed to run the business while being employed mat Kaiser until he finally went full-time with Eyeball about 1975. Besides having tools and equipment to work on motorcycles, the shop has complete machining, welding and metal fabrication facilities. Over the years, the equipment has enabled Ed to build from scratch or convert about 12 electric's. Because of his interest in EVs and willingness to help others, Ed has played a part in building at least 25 electric vehicles. Some of his own vehicles have been strictly performance machines. One of the wildest rides Ed ever had was testing out a go cart which he built, powered by an aircraft motor and 72 volts worth of nicad batteries. When you run the 1/4 mile drag strip at 94 mph and 14.02 seconds in the open air about 2 inches above the ground, anyone's appetite for speed could be turned into instant fear! Ed also designed and built an aircraft motor/nicad powered drag bike called the Ampeater. Its best 1/4 mile performance was just a tiny bit slower than the go cart.
In 1987, a new lead acid battery came onto the market called the Pulsar Power Pack. It's manufactured by Dunlop Pacific in Australia. Ed heard about its low internal resistance and extremely high power density, and decided to order one for evaluation. Sure enough, a small 12 volter was able to push more than 900 amps through a carbonpile resistor for 15 seconds. Ed also heard of a Prestolite MTC-4001 motor being modified to produce over 100 HP for several seconds in a race car.
The combination of factors set Ed on the course to designing and building a faster and better electric motorcycle. The result: Eyeball Engineering's Kawashocki.
The Kawashocki is loosely based on the mechanicals of a Kawasaki Ninja bike. It has a 68 in wheelbase, is 8 ft long, 3.5 ft high and tips the scales at 640 lbs. It even uses modified fiberglass fairing from a Ninja, but that's where the similarity ends. The frame is constructed from chrome-moly tubing. Power is supplied by 16 Pulsar model 10P batteries, which are 12 volts each. The motor us a Prestolite MTC-4001 20 HP series-wound unit that has been modified to the extent that the end bell has been filled with insulative expoy so that the brush rigging at 192 volts won't arc over to the case. The transmission is a 2-speed automatic, shifted by CO2 pressue, and is coupled through a centrifugal slipper clutch. The controller is a 2 step diode/contactor unit built by Leo. Step #1 puts half of the battery pack in parallel with the other half for 96 volts; step #2 puts all batteries in series for 192 volts. The controller steps are actuated by a rotating handlebar throttle grip. 0-300 volt and 0-1000 amp meters are mounted topside where the gas tank used to reside. A giant knife switch is within easy reach of the pilot for emergency shutdown. Batteries are rapid-charged between races with a 6500-watt Honda generator that charges at 220 volts and 25 amps.
By now you've got to be more than curious about what happens when you apply 192 volts to a 96 volt motor, all of which is pushing a light motorcycle and pilot. Well, how about 130-150 HP and a lot of very quietly generated smoke, not to mention some acceleration: 109.68 mph in 11.54 seconds for the 14 mile!! Ed reports that the motor draws 1000 amps coming off of the starting line, which "tapers off" to 400 amps or so at the timing lights. (Boy, you talk about a testimonial for the durability of a Prestolite motor!) It must be quite a different experience for the spectators to see all that smoke and hear next to nothing in noise. The Kawashocki has even been run at Bonneville to see what the top end would be. After a lot of experimenting with gear ratios, it ran a pretty consistent 124 to 126 mph in the flying mile. This told Ed that the amount of battery he's carrying in the bike pretty much determines the power limit.
What's next for Mr. Rannberg and Eyeball Engineering? His Kawashocki already has gained the notoriety of such publications as Hot Bike, National Dragster, Hot Rod Magazine and Electric Vehicle Progress. When asked, Ed confided that someday he'd like to break the 200 mph barrier in an electric vehicle. He didn't specify whether that would be with a motorcycle or a car. Present world land speed records are 171 mph for a bike and 175 mph for a car, set respectively by Corbin Gentry and Roger Hedlund back in 1974. Knowing what he does about racing frames, Prestolite motors and Pulsar batteries, it's just a matter of time before Ed realizes this 200+ mph dream. By the way - Ed sells brand new Prestolite motors for as low as you'll find anywhere.