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I'm building a new website. Click here to see it.
I've been updating progress in my build thread on elmoto.net here.
This is my electric motorcycle, the GSX-E. It is based on a 1993 Suzuki GSX-R 1100.
I started building it in January 2010 and got it on the road February 2011.
Read on to see the year-long build. And thanks for stopping by!
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Noah's Electric Motorcycle Project
About 6 months ago, I got an electric scooter. It goes 55 mph, carries two people and groceries, and gets the equivalent of about 400 mpg. Zero emissions. You just plug it in at night. It's possibly greener than riding a bicycle (which uses food energy, which has to be grown, which usess fossil fuels, etc...)
After I got the electric scooter, I immediately decided I wanted an electric motorcycle. It's now actually happening. I put this document together to keep a record of how my bike has been coming along.
I decided that I wanted it to be a green vehicle, so all electric. I also wanted it to be a cool custom motorcycle first, and an electric motorcycle second. See, most electric conversions I've seen either look like a science fair project, or they cover all the batteries and motor so it looks like a stock bike. [See edit below!] I wanted a great looking, eye catching bike that showed off that it was electric.
[Edit: now that I've seen more of the projects out there, I take back my comment about the science fair project. That was a jack ass thing to write. There are A TON of great conversions out there. My apologies to all those folks I didn't know about way back when I was just getting started.]
This project is not cheap, and I'm not rich. Much like the Tesla roadster, I want this to be a way for people to see that green vehicles don't have to be slow and ugly. They can be as bad ass as any custom bike out there.
I've put about $2000 and a lot of sweat into it so far, and that is just to build the rolling chassis. The motor and batteries will another $4000-5000. If you'd like to help out, please donate. Totally safe transaction through PayPal.
Any amount is great! Thanks!
Many many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project.
Steve and Kathy Sandt
David Fonseca (Holland)
I looked and looked on Craigslist and E-bay and finally found a rolling chassis from a 1994 Suzuki GSX-R 1100. This frame is actually pretty good for electric conversions because it has a nice big open area for batteries (with the engine removed). It's also a very nice bike.
I decided on a motor and batteries, but those will be a long way off (motor is about $1500, batteries are about $2700). In the mean time, I'm having lots of fun working on the chassis.
Before I had any parts at all, I did a bunch of work in Sketch-up to see how the batteries and motor would fit in. I had to go on pictures of the same frame that I could find on the web...but I was anxious (while I waited 2 months for the frame to show up).
This is what I finally came up with...
Here are all the parts as I got them in the mail....finally, after 2 months. What a mess.
These are all the wires and crap I pulled out - they'll probably just go in the garbage.
I spent a lot of time working on the gas tank. I didn't need any of the fuel holes or the bottom of the tank, so I removed them, did a bunch of sheet metal and bondo, and repainted it black.
Sheet metal top (soon covered in bondo and sanded to blend into the original)
Bottom cut out and JB welded the sheet metal to the top.
I also painted the front fender gloss black.
[UPDATE: After all this work, I ended up scraping the front fender and painting the tank flat black. The final look of the bike is on Page 3.]
I thought a lot about what to do with the wheels. One was bare aluminum, the other was chromed. I finally decided just to paint them red to accent the rest of the bike (which would be mostly black).
The front brake rotor was already gold - I painted the rear one to match. Got tires put on at a local shop. He was really nice and did a good job of not chipping the paint.
I spent a lot of time polishing the old parts. Here's an example, the fork lower clamp.
Me and the bike when I first got it - couldn't wait to put it together...and then take the whole thing apart again.
It turned out the guy who sold me the bike had all sorts of mismatched parts. The rear swing arm (that holds the rear wheel) is from a different model, and the bolts don't match. Lots of other pieces were also missing or didn't fit. He didn't seem to notice. By the time I was done getting all the parts to match up, I had spent about $200 on random bolts, plates, washers, etc.
This is what the frame looked like assembled correctly (more-or-less). The only other thing I'd done so far was paint the wheels.
You can see the custom sprocket in the back is HUGE (original is about 1/2 that size). Electric motorcycles only have 1 gear, so you need a really high gear ratio (about 5:1). So the rear is 65 teeth, the front will be 13-14. With the motor I have planned, it should top out around 70-75 mph.
The bike is pretty big, so I decided to lower it 2 inches. This makes it so my feet reach the ground, and gives it a cool low slung look.
You do this by raising the fork legs in the front (see how they stick out of the top), and putting new suspension linkages in the back.
I made the new "lowering links" out of plain steel bar stock. Usually these cost about $100...for two pieces of metal! Old links on left, new on the right. They're about 2 cm longer (which lowers the bike about 2"). They're now painted black.
Hard to see here, but the shock is polished to near-mirror so you can see the red spring reflecting in it.
The bike is really coming along.
Finally got a sunny day to shoot some good pics.
I made a mock up of the motor mount, and stuck the chain on just for fun.