Electric Motorcycle Conversion

So far on Gomi Style we’ve done a few interior design projects for your home but today we’re in the yard doing something a little bit different, an electric motorcycle conversion. Helping me on this conversion will be my good friend [Jisowie] fellow artist, fabricator and motorcycle rider. Starting with this broken down Honda Rebel, we’ll strip away the motor, transmission, gas tank, everything that makes it run and replace them with an all electric drive train; basically a small but powerful electric motor, and four big beefy batteries, plus electronics to make it all work. Let’s get to it. But why even make an electric motorcycle? There are a few answers to that question. First, I hated knowing that my gas-powered scooter had such terrible emissions; and second, a little research showed me just how easy this project would be. Here we have the Rebel frame all stripped out and cleaned.

Gomi Style – Electric Motorcycle Conversion

And the first thing we’re going to start doing to it is start cutting away some of these tabs and mounts from the engine, things that are getting in the way of where we want to place the batteries. We’re going to put two of them down in the bottom here and we’re going to weld up a sort of basket for them to sit in I just used the sawzaw and the 4-inch angle grinder with a cutting blade to clear away these motor mounts from the front and the back of the frame. So now we have a nice big open area in which to fit the first two batteries. And these batteries are heavy; more than 50 pounds a piece, so I’m welding a strong tray for them to sit in. Only two of the batteries are going to fit in this tray so I’ll also be making two smaller holders to carry the other batteries behind the rider, like saddle bags. So one thing I’ve learned when you’re not a very experienced welder and you want to make sure that your welds are good. It’s called the drop test and there’s really only one thing that you do.

I guess it’s welded. So I’ve got my battery tray and this is where it fits, so all we really need to do is weld it to the frame here, here and I think I’ll put a piece of metal between the gap here, a piece of this angle iron turned upside down right between the two would be nice structural support there. Now comes the tricky part. There’s not a lot of space left for the motor to fit so it’s going to be a tight squeeze. So once we cut away some of the metal from the swing arm and lower the motor into it we’re then going to mount a piece of plate steel here with a couple of holes through it so that we can bolt the motor right to it. And that’s essentially going to be our motor mount. The important principle is that this spindle perfectly in line with the sprocket that’s on the back wheel and that they’re both perfectly aligned this way as well as this way. So we’ve got a nice little hole here that allows the motor to sit in there a little more snugly. And we’re going to take a piece of plate steel like this and cut it to size, and weld it up here and have the two holes in it so we can bolt the motor right to it. So while [inaudible] through the junkyard I came across this beat up old kettle and I realized that this would be the perfect container for some of the components for the bike. Our cooking pot is in place. This is probably the single most gomey element of the whole bike, and I have to admit that I really like it.

Now we can begin to reassemble the bike. First comes the front forks and suspension. Next comes rewiring; headlights, taillights, brakes, all the normal stuff, plus the new drive train electronics. It’s a tight fit but all the electronics fit in the cooking pot. Finally we can assemble the motor and install that as well. Mounting the perm 132 motor to the swing arm; a momentous occurrence. The reassembly is almost done; all four batteries are in place and temporarily wired, the motor is melted and the tires and brakes are ready to go. Just some last minute rewiring and the bike will be ready for its first test ride.

It works, it’s a quiet zero-emission success and recharging is as easy as re-plugging it into any wall socket. Its 45 mile an hour speed and relatively short range make for a perfect city commuter but it has a way to go before it’s ready for the highway. In the end this was a pretty interesting experiment. I learned just how easy it is to make this conversion and I can’t wait to be upgrading it.