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bennelson 04-26-2009 10:25 PM

Range-extender Sidecar for EV motorcycle
Last week, at a local showing of WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR?, one of the questions from the audience was if there are any hybrid motorcycles out there.

I briefly spoke about my electric motorcycle conversion, but mentioned that its a bit difficult to cram a gas engine, electric motor, batteries, and everything else all within a motorcycle frame.

I have seen photos of several "range-extending" trailers for automotive EV's.

Why not a sidecar for an electric motorcycle? Instead of space for a passenger, it could carry a generator. Ideally the generator would run bio-diesel or some other renewable fuel.

The only trouble is - I have never ridden with a sidecar, know little about generators, and don't have a clue as to how to hook it up without frying my controller!

That's where you guys come in. I'm sure that with guys like Mazda Matt, Wherewolf, and MPaulHolmes, we could create the Ecomodder EV-Extender Sidecar!

In the end, the electric motorcycle with sidecar would have similar specs to GM's Volt.

Of the list of suggested names for Paul's open source controller, I rather liked "Open ReVolt". As a less expensive (and cooler!) alternative to the Chevy Volt, the name would fit perfect. Motorcycle culture always seems to go for the bad-boy attitude. Maybe I could paint a skull and crossed lightning bolts on there!

So go ahead, let loose with your ideas, concepts, and encouragement! :thumbup:

Ryland 04-27-2009 01:11 AM

side cars are hard to set up so they handle well as you have the same kind of alinement problems you get with a car, only it's on a semi-removable part of the vehicle, not an easily removed part of the vehicle either.
Side car motorcycles are also normally designed to have a side car, something like the Russian made Ural, where their front suspension is set up differently so they handle better with that 3rd wheel.
I would say get a motorcycle trailer, it would also work with your metro if you had a hitch on it, they tend to be small, light and let the cycle lean in turns, you can also un-hook it for short trips.

SVOboy 04-27-2009 01:48 AM

Whatever it is, it must be completely teardropped! That would be pretty slick looking.

Not knowing much about motorcycles I can't comment much on the dynamics of riding with a sidecar, but just seeing what Ryland says I must agree that it sounds like a trailer would be better unless you can come up with a new bike.

In for more, :thumbup:

Coyote X 04-27-2009 02:36 AM

one of these?

Uni-go Trailers Texas Plus

Might be nicer than a sidecar if you make it out of an old 250cc scooter. Sidecars suck for any riding speed other than slow. The one time I rode a bike with a sidecar I hated it. A tilting trailer will solve a lot of the annoying problems and just leave the one big annoying problem of making a hitch for it.

Ryland 04-27-2009 11:02 AM

I've seen the bob style trailers for bicycles and heard really good things about how they handle due to their single wheel and low center of gravity, a hitch should be pretty simple as it would only need to swing up and down, the side to side hinge would be farther back, but if you did go with a standard style two wheel trailer there are already hitches avalible for motorcycles and as I pointed out above, you could adapt it to work with all 3 of your electric vehicles.

bennelson 04-27-2009 12:47 PM

Hey CoyoteX, those are some nice looking trailers.

I love the style of sidecars, but they do sound like a pain to attach and detatch.

The pricing on those trailers above is more than I spent building EITHER EV. Building something real similar from a scooter sounds like it might work well. I have also heard good things about bicycle BOB trailers, and have always liked the style of single wheel trailers.

I would think that to design a trailer that could go on either the motorcycle or the Metro, it would just require a little thought put into some sort of custom hitch and have the wiring connections the same on the car and cycle.

Does anyone have thoughts of how to run the electrical from a generator to the batteries for use while an EV is moving?

It seems that perhaps having a commercial generator with a 120AC outlet on it could have the battery charger connected directly to, and then the power of the carger goes to the batteries and motor.

The motor would draw however much the charger is providing and the rest from the batteries.

That would also let me use a gen-trailer with either the cycle or car, even though they run different system voltages.

What would be required to make it all work without frying the controller or the battery charger?

DonR 04-27-2009 03:25 PM

I know they say the Volt's generator does not charge the batteries. They say it was an inefficent use of the gasoline. Go figure.

Maybe - It's not automatic, but i'm not an electric kind of guy.

Generator with adjustable voltage regulator for your different vehicles.
Have main disconnect switch for the battery bank.
Disconnect batteries then start the generator.
I would think the controller would treat it like turning it off then back on again.

You man be able to have an AC output so you can do a little charging of main batteries when at stop lights/coasting.

Good luck

MazdaMatt 04-27-2009 03:56 PM

Thanks for the kudos... I'm going to need a new hat :)

I think I'm siding with the above suggestions - sidecars suck. Never even driven a motorcycle and I still think they suck. Esthetically, they are ugly. Practically, they seem like they would be a pain to maneuver compared to a bike with a trailer, or a car. Geekilly - they increase your frontal area for wind drag.

I didn't know that the Volt did not charge the batteries. That's interesting. I suppose if that were your design criteria, then you just need to price out a generator that can provide enough amps to accelerate your car on a hill at your system voltage.

I work on one device that is both 120AC and 24VDC powered (the battery is backup in case of power failure, the board actually runs at 12V after a power regulator. When the device is plugged in, the AC side of things provides about 3 volts higher than the battery. This way, the battery recieves a "constant voltage" charge, which may not be greatest, depending on your batteries.

I rather doubt that your battery charger could do anything useful... it takes 6 hours to charge what it takes 20 minutes to use. Otherwise, that'd be a great idea.

Interesting project you've got going here... making it compatible with both the bike and car is certainly tricky...

aerohead 04-27-2009 04:06 PM

I'd do trailer,and take all my cues from Craig Vetter's build thread.There's a fella in town with side-hack.It's just too weird!

Coyote X 04-27-2009 10:54 PM

A broken used Chinese scooter in the 125cc range can usually be had pretty cheap. Usually from what I have seen if the motor makes it a hundred or two miles it will hold up for a while. But the chassis is pretty much always crap so expect to see terrible wiring, bad bearings and broken welds. That just means it will be a good price and still work for what you want it to do :)

Find one with the motor and all of it built into the rear suspension and it would be easy to cut away all the extra frame junk and make a u-joint hitch for it. I guess a rc car servo could be used for the throttle and connected to your existing electric throttle. I would probably just forget about the scooter brakes since your bike brakes should be ok. If you have a servo system for the throttle a trailer plug could get everything working. Park/brake light, start, throttle, and ignition kill would be all it needs I would guess.

The motor is pretty small so if you do fiberglass or whatever to make it aero it would also give you some storage room. I am not sure how much air it would need for cooling but that can be figured out from how much it gets from the existing scooter body.

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