Last summer, I converted an old, non-running motorcycle to run on batteries and an electric motor.
It has sort of been a tinker-along-the-way project. I have never had a motorcycle before, but always wanted to learn to ride. I also hated how loud motorcycles are. (Shouldn't they call them ENGINE-cycles!?!?)
I had tinkered around with an electric bike, which was great fun, but then I wanted more speed and shocks. I was also suprised at how car drivers behaved around the electric bicycle. People would pull out right in front of me not realizing how fast I was going.
I sort of figured that if I wanted something that was faster, better suspension, and street cred, that thing would be a motorcycle.
I took a good look through the Austin EV Album to see what parts people commonly used on small projects and e-mailed a few folks for advice.
I picked up a copy of the "Secrets of EL Ninja" book/plans and used it as a rough basis for the conversion.
I wanted to do eveything as cheaply as I could, but I did buy a new Alltrax controller and later, new Yellow Top batteries in place of the tiny AGMs I was using from the bicycle.
The cycle is completely street legal, licensed, registered, and insured.
It was only designed as a short-range/limited speed project, mostly because of what I could fit in it for batteries. It goes up to 38 MPH and the longest I have ever taken it is about 16 miles, with just a little break and tiny bit of charging between the two 8 mile one-way trips.
Both my office and the grocery store are only about two or three miles away each, so even this limited range is plenty.
It's a blast to ride. Easy to steer. No clutch, no engine to kill or restart, just twist the grip and go. It is also quiet. There were a few times I would just hop on and zip off to the grocery store. When I got back, my wife would never know I left because the thing is so sneaky quiet. (yeah yeah - loud pipes save lives. Don't get me started. I may just have to hook up an iPod running engine rev noise or stick a baseball card in the spokes. Maybe use a bicycle bell like on that one crazy Commuta car.)
The motorcycle is stashed in the garage for the winter. I would like to eventually work on a cheap, simple, 4 wheels and a roof vehicle for getting around in non-motorcycle weather. (Yes, another Forkenswift....) I am in Wisconsin - motorcycle season isn't that long.
So basically the cycle runs at 36 volts - I would like to bump it to 48 sometime, just need to find space for one more battery...
It goes 10 to 15 miles on a charge which uses about a kilowatt. That comes to about a penny a mile. I figure if gas is $3.00 USD per gallon, that means I get 300 miles per gallon!
Here is a web page I made talking about the cycle. Please take a look at it and let me know what you think. I would be happy to answer any questions or offer advice.
The original web page I put together for the cycle was on a third party web page, which no longer exists. However, since the beginning of this project, I have now created an instructional video teaching other people how to build their own electric motorcycle
. It's available through 300MPG.org