A Beginning of an Electric Motorcycle Conversion

A while ago I used to write this blog about electric mobility, mainly concentrating on my experiences with my electric scooter and other electric vehicles I’ve bumped into. Eventually there was so little to say anymore, that I decided to quit the whole thing (and deleted the blog). But this lovely little scooter of mine is still around and I’m currently using it for my commuting. Just over a month ago I got it from the storage and started driving it again. Ahhh, summer.

But to get to the point… I’m now about to sell my scooter, as I’m starting to convert a gasoline powered motorcycle into an electric motorcycle to replace my scooter. And this will certainly consume a lot of space in this blog. I’m hoping to do the actual motorcycle conversion during the following summer, after I’ve obtained the full motorcycle driving licence, as I’ve already started taking the safety classes at a local driving school (the scooter I’ve been able to drive with my car driver’s license). When done, in the future, I’ll continue customizing the bike to my own liking, maybe into some kind of electric cafe racer or bobber/chopper. It’s a pretty big project, but it should be fun.

I’ve already contacted two separate professionals. One that is going to manufacture (CNC) my motor mounting plate (the part that connects the electric motor into the frame of the bike) and the another one, a professional aluminum welder who is willing to manufacture my battery boxes to my specs. I will have 25pcs 40Ah CALB cells inside the battery boxes, bottom-balanced and charged to 87.6 Volts (72V nominal). The motor & controller kit that I’ve just ordered, includes motenergy ME-1003 electric motor combined with Alltrax AXE7245 (72 volts and 450 amp) controller, both of which have proven their worth in many garage conversion around the world. This should provide a decent package to become the power train of my daily commuter. The bike should have 40+km range and enough top speed to cover all the required speeds in our neighbourhood (up to 100km/h). I could easily aim for more range or speed, but that would require higher voltages, bigger battery pack and more expensive 96V controller.

So I want to keep it in budget – and at the same time fill all my personal transportation needs. And this package should be more than good enough for me, while being a lot cheaper (about 1.5k€ for the bike plus up to 4k€ conversion) than the cheapest Brammo Enertia (8850€), which apparently is discontinued in any case and replaced by the way more expensive Enertia Plus (13880€). I actually considered the cheaper Brammo, but it’s still way too expensive in my opinion. (And my own conversion will be way more cool. Not to mention easier to maintain and upgrade as needed.)

The bike frame itself is still undecided, but I’ve already contacted one guy selling his 1972 bike. We’ll see how that turns out… In any case it will be a 1970’s or early 1980’s naked 500-750cc street bike (most likely Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha or Suzuki). The former engine compartment will be filled with the electric motor and battery boxes. To “make it pretty”, I’m planning on fabricating some sort of shaped fairings (like these) to cover the angular battery boxes. I want it to look like it’s a sleek design from the past, not a “frankenbike” from the Mad Max movies. I was actually thinking of modelling the fairings in Softimage XSI and having them 3d printed by Shapeways (which I’ve got plenty of experience in my RC related projects). If printed light and thin, I could reinforce them with fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin very easily. No need for molds or plugs. And I could leave the printed models inside the fiberglass cover. Same for cafe racer seat pan. I only have to see how much it would actually cost to print them and how I could spare some of the printing costs by design. But going 3d printed would be cool enough to justify the bit higher costs.


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