Meet the woman who invented the world’s fastest motorcycle

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Håkansson’s KillaJoule is 19 feet long and 21 inches high with a weight of 1450 pounds.
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Eva Håkansson

In 2014, Eva Håkansson set a world record for being the fastest female motorcycle rider, with a speed of 270.224 mph.

She also happened to build the very motorcycle she set the record with – KillaJoule, the world’s fastest electric motorcycle and the fastest sidecar motorcycle of any kind.

Håkansson, who comes from an engineering background, spent five years building KillaJoule in her garage with the help of her husband. The vehicle made waves thanks to both its speed and its battery technology, which Håkansson credits to clever engineering.

We spoke to Håkansson to learn about the story, inspiration, and process behind her incredible creation.


Originally from Sweden, Håkansson moved to the US seven years ago. She enrolled in a PhD program for mechanical engineering at the University of Denver.

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Eva Håkansson

She comes from a family of engineers — her father was a racer in Sweden in the ’60s, and he would build motorcycles in the time he had off from his job as an engineer. She decided to do the same, beginning the building of KillaJoule with her husband, Bill Dube, a research engineer at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in the two-car garage of their home in Denver, Colorado.

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Eva Håkansson

KillaJoule was essentially a hobby for Håkansson while she worked towards her degree, and it took her and her husband a total of five years to build. Her engineering background helped her to imagine and construct the vehicle, even though some people assumed her husband had taken the lead. “People are always directing the technical questions about the motorcycle to my husband,” Håkansson told Business Insider.

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Eva Håkansson


For Håkansson, the project was about more than just speed. Her goal was to change the public’s perception of electronic vehicles and to show that eco-friendly motors can be sleek, sophisticated, and useful. “My purpose wasn’t to invent something new but to show the capability of what’s already out there…you can find all of the technology we used in cars already on the market,” Håkansson said.

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Eva Håkansson

KillaJoule is made from a battery pack built from 14 Ah lithium-nanophosphate battery cells made by A123 Systems. Four modules consisting of 56 cells make up the battery pack of 375 V, 10 kWh, and 300 pounds. When in need of charging, the modules are swapped out for four fully charged ones.

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Eva Håkansson

The batteries are recharged using a 12 kW Manzanita Micro charger powered from a CumminsOnan hybrid bio-diesel generator that runs on solar energy (pictured in the back here). Håkansson told us that people often show up at their home expecting to find a full-swing facility, often surprised to discover that they put it together in their garage.

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Eva Håkansson

Here’s what KillaJoule looks like without its casings. For Håkansson, the vehicle is really just like “a giant cordless drill with wheels…it has a battery with the same kind of lithium-ion chemistry that you will find in cordless tools, a motor, some power electronics, and a throttle.”

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Eva Håkansson

It also has a minimal frontal area that allows for it to gain maximum speed. For this reason, the driver must be five-foot-four or shorter to fit into it.

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Eva Håkansson

Here’s what the view looks like from inside KillaJoule.

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Eva Håkansson

Another feature is the sidecar, which gives stability to the frontal area of the motorcycle.

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Photo: Anthony Olway/TTxGP

In 2014, the KillaJoule set a world record for the fastest electric motorcycle and the fastest sidecar motorcycle of any kind with an official speed record of 240.726 mph in the flying mile (the AMA record as of August 2014) and a registered top speed of 270.224 mph. That recorded speed officially made Håkansson the world’s fastest female motorcycle rider.

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Eva Håkansson

Ironically, Håkansson was not originally supposed to be the driver of the vehicle, but after being unable to get a professional rider in time, she took the wheel. It was not her first time behind a motorcycle, as she had been riding motorcycles since she was 16.

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Eva Håkansson

With the help of her father, Håkansson also created the ElectroCat, Sweden’s first street-legal electric motorcycle. But it wasn’t always easy. “The path to success is never straight, and remember that if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not doing anything new or creative,” Håkansson said.

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Eva Håkansson

For Håkansson, who is now one of the faces of the new Johnnie Walker campaign, her mission was to leave an eco-friendly impact and to inspire more women to get into engineering and science. When she was sixteen, she came across a quote in a book that read, “The meaning of life is to leave it better than it already was,” and that was the moment she knew she had to pursue this passion.

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Getty Images/Stringer