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Step 1: How to plan a DIY Electric Motorcycle

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Posted 02-03-2009 at 02:34 PM by mattW

Last week I said that this blog would be part journal, part guide to the conversion process but I've decided to separate those two categories by having a build thread for the bike with pretty pictures and having this blog as a sort of step by step guide. I'll still give you updates here but primarily the build thread will be about how I'm doing it and the blog will be about how you can do it. Step one in that process is making your plans, what do you need to know in advance before you start in order to make the process go smoothly? What parts do you need and how much will it cost?

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Well the first thing to do to make your plans is to go browsing. This is like window shopping for your conversion. There is no point reinventing the wheel, so find out what's possible. Find the bikes you like and how much they cost to build. Take a look at what motors, controllers and batteries they used, the range they got, how much it cost. Start making generalisations about parts, what sort of range do the lead acid bikes get? What about the lithium ones? The point is to get a feel for what sort of bike you want to build on your budget, there isn't that many kits for this kind of thing so you get to customise every aspect, seeing as there are only a handful of parts that's easier than you'd think. If your worried about the process you may want to find a book about it, or take a look at some blogs or guides.

The next point is to make a parts list, I did mine on a Word document and attached hyperlinks to suppliers when I found them. I'm not usually this organised but I found keeping everything in one place helped heaps, much better than keeping stuff in my head or using bookmarks. When you have options for a particular part list them under the same heading. My current parts list contains the following parts, though it changes fairly frequently:
  • Donor Bike
  • Motor
  • Controller
  • Contactor
  • DC-DC Converter
  • Throttle/ Pot
  • Batteries
  • BMS
  • Charger
  • Battery Monitor/ Gauges
  • Circuit Breaker/ Fuse
  • Sprockets and Chain
  • Engineering (for rego)
That was my component column, I also had name (hyperlinks), specs and price columns. I used that table to plan my whole bike, with links to similar conversions under the table. This way I could list the parts as I found them, guess and then confirm prices, make a budget that I was happy with and start to feel confident that the whole thing would come together. As you gather information you'll need to start defining goals for the bike, what top speed, range, acceleration and cost do you want for the bike? What are the negotiable things and what are set in stone?

Other than that you just need to work out what parts will fit your requirements, and where can you buy them. There are a lot of different places that you can buy parts from so it's worth shopping around. Just keep the website with lowest price for a particular part hyperlinked in your table (which should change a lot). Keep on planning until you are satisfied and maybe start to keep an eye out for a donor bike.

You are going to get stuck sometimes and are going to have questions. There are a lot of helpful articles on our EV wiki that will help you understand and plan your conversion, Sizing your Battery Pack is a good first step. Emoto's website has a really great excel based range calculator if you follow the links on his site, it is under specifications. Ask questions on the forums when you get stuck or need help. Email people who have finished conversions, especially people that live near you, and ask for their advice. On the advice of people who wouldn't of said anything if I hadn't have asked I changed my motor choice twice (Etek-->brushless Mars-->Brushed Mars) and upgraded my controller. Asking questions is a fruitful activity!

That is how I made the plans for my Bike and so far its worked really well for me. I've got good prices on a lot of things and am really happy with the parts I'm getting (on paper at least). You may find you work better in a different way but a lot of the stuff on here should save you time, answer some questions and help you get on your merry way.
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  1. Old Comment
    mattW's Avatar
    This method would also work pretty well for you car guys too...
    Posted 06-18-2008 at 12:15 PM by mattW mattW is offline
 
 
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