Hamline News

Hamline School of Education Alumnus Rides Self-Built Electric Motorcycle to a New Speed Record


Kevin Clemens loves green vehicles, especially those that go fast.

He holds a graduate degree in environmental education, followed the hottest car trends as a technical editor for Automobile magazine, and authored a book about alternative energy vehicles.

And on August 29, 2011, he set a new land speed record of 61.55 miles per hour for “unstreamlined electric motorcycles” in his custom bike’s weight class – under 150-kg. The record was made while participating in the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

“The electrification of vehicles is the way forward to save the environment and end our addiction to oil,” Clemens said. “But everyone has golf-carts; I wanted to race something like a motorcycle to show electric vehicles can be fun.”

Clemens hand-built his winning bike, starting with a Honda frame and integrating batteries, a powerful electric motor, and custom sprockets. The motorcycle is considered “unstreamlined” because it lacks aerodynamic aides like rounding or fairings.

After his editorship at Automobile magazine and a journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan, Clemens came to Hamline to receive a Master of Arts in Education: natural science and environmental education.

“Education is the future and the way to change the world,” Clemens said. “I wanted to be able to teach younger generations because they’re going to be the ones who will solve our problems of oil addiction and climate change.”

He also and worked on a project with Hamline’s Center for Global Environmental Education to document the history of environmental teaching in Minnesota by interviewing early, key leaders in the field.

Yet throughout his plethora of experiences, Clemen’s passion for vehicles has remained steadfast. He intends to build a new bike based off a Kawasaki Ninja with his sights on breaking the all-time electric motorcycle speed record of 100 mph.

“I think I can do it,” Clemens said. 

Check out the amazing footage from his helmet camera during the record-setting run.