Coversion Component Selection

Motor

After casually perusing other people’s electric conversions for weeks, and intensely researching motors for a few days, I have decided to go with one of the most popular motors for this kind of project.  The Motoenergy ME-1003 which I ordered with a controller, and contactor from evdrives.com in a kit.

CK-1003-2

Shipped diagonally across the country it cost $1288.

It took me so long to decide because all the general articles I read about different kinds of electric motors sold me on the superior, quieter, maintenance-free, and cooler performance of brushless motors.  I found brushless motors that cost only about $40 more than this motor and provided more hp, and about 2000 higher rpms which would translate into about a 15 mph gain in top speed.

There’s one little problem though…there are no reliable controllers for them that wouldn’t have added about another grand to my total project cost.  A “controller” for an electric motor is basically like a big dimmer switch that controls how much power goes to the motor.  It’s like a gas pedal on a car.

In the end, I decided that a top speed over 60-65mph, and not having to change brushes once every two or three years was not worth $1000.  The noise wasn’t much of an issue either.  Normal motorcycles go BRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPP! so what do I care if my wwwwwwwwrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr is slightly louder than a brushless motor?

Batteries

Every time I explore the performance, weight, cost, and customization potential of various battery technology, I always quickly return to 18650 cells.  These are the little batteries found in everything under the sun…laptops, cordless power tools, vaporizers, and most importantly for my application…Tesla’s electric car batteries.  Tesla picked these batteries because they are the best, lightest, and most compact battery chemistry currently available.

The only downside, is that good ones down at the consumer level are a bit pricey…$5 or $10 dollars each.  BUT if you can scrounge up enough used laptop and power tool batteries on ebay, you can tear them apart, sort the good from the bad cells, and then reconfigure them to provide any voltage you want.

I lied…there’s another downside…in order to use these batteries you have to do a lot of work to salvage them, and solder hundreds of batteries into usable packs that provide the voltage and capacity you need.  There are lots of videos on youtube about this if you’re interested.

But the upside is that you get the lightest, most compact battery technology for EASILY half the price (if you go alibaba) or 1/4 of the price if you buy from western vendors.

ab

Next I’m going to start tearing all the crap off my bike required by the combustion engine.  Hopefully my title application goes smoothly or I might have some problems when it comes time to register the bike.  I just don’t have the patience to wait 6 or 8 weeks to start this project!

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First blog post

I am creating this blog as a place to dump some pictures, and text relating to my 1974 Yamaha tx500 conversion.  I am not creating it as a comprehensive “how to”.  It is simply a place I plan on sharing with friends interested in checking this project out.

Here is what I’m starting with:
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Why

Just for fun.  I like projects, and tackling things that I don’t know anything about.  And I like motorbikes.  I watched youtuber jehugarcia convert an ancient vw bus into an electric vehicle, and thought the project looked interesting, but I don’t quite feel like taking on a monumental and super-expensive project like that, and don’t really need another vehicle.

So I thought I’d try something I have space for, and that my wife volunteered to bankroll.

What

I scoured craigslist for about three weeks looking for a cheap bike.  I was not at all picky, I just wanted something not too big/heavy, and not a fucking cruiser/chopper (barf).  I found shit tonnes of potential cheap bikes, but not a fucking one had a title!  Some might be stolen, but I think most just fall through the cracks created by irresponsible owners, and/or bikes that have mechanical issues beyond their owners ability to repair.  The issue for me is that I wanted a title so that I would not have to go through any kind of inspection of my home-made frankenbike.  If you get an indemnity bond to create a title for an untitled vehicle, they send a cop out to inspect your vehicle, and sometimes you’re required to get a safety inspection before they grant you a new title.  Plus there’s a lot of extra paperwork, time, and expense involved in jumping through all the hoops.

All of that can be avoided if you manage to find a bike with a title.

The first low-priced bike I came across with a title was also exactly what I was looking for.  An old standard bike with medium cc’s with a rolling chassis in good condition.  A 1974 Yamaha tx500.  These bikes are super-versatile as far as the kinds of customization I’m interested in…mainly cafe racer/street tracker style.

Here’s what they looked like new:
Yamaha TX500 73

Although I feel a little bad for not restoring the bike to an original-looking state, I don’t feel too bad because they were apparently suckish new, and their motors had a mutlitude of problems.

Plus, restoring a bike puts so many constraints on what you can do, and the project is centered around the historical restoration of the original machine rather than creating something original crafted by and for me.

How:

The plan is to research, research, research before I dive into this project.  I’ve already been checking out other diy conversions for a few weeks, many of which suck balls.  There are a lot of conversions out there that barely do 40 miles per hour, which, as you’ll be all too aware of if you’ve ever ridden a motorbike, is extremely unsafe.  Motorcycle riders need good acceleration, and a reasonable top speed if they are going to safely merge into traffic.  Another thing that sucks about many conversions is that they look like total shit.  One of the most frequent reasons for this is that people often build them with old-technology batteries or with modules salvaged from electric/hybrid cars.  So instead of having an internal combustion engine, they have stacks of batteries or they seal them in giant, bulky boxes.

Kind of like this:
garbage2

or this:
garbage1

Not very appealing.

So I’m following leads, taking tonnes of notes, pricing out lots of options, and formulating a plan to create a motorbike that provides me with safe speeds, and doesn’t look like total shit.

Next post I’ll talk about some of the stuff I plan on using.