Hamline News

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


You might think Kevin Clemens' love of driving fast and his passion for eco-friendly vehicles would be mutually exclusive, but he's designed a brilliant way to merge the two worlds. 

Clemens set the land speed record for unstreamlined electric motorcycles on a custom-made bike he designed and constructed. He clocked
61.55 miles per hour to make the record at the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 2011.

“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 aids like rounding or fairings.

Driving fast isn't the only way Clemens spreads the word about alternative fuels. He's written about the future of eco-transit in his book The Crooked Mile and worked as a technical editor for Automobile Magazine. Even with that success, Clemens wanted to deepen his knowledge in the field and his ability to educate people about the importance of alternative energy. That's what brought him to Hamline University to pursue aMaster 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, Clemens' passion for vehicles remains 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 Clemens helmet camera during his 2011 record-setting run.