The advent of electric powertrains posed new challenges for motorcyclists, but it also offered new opportunities. While internal combustion engines currently possess the most range and performance, modern electronic packages make them harder for garage builders to work on. More suited to electrical engineers than mechanics, electric bikes presented a simpler configuration by consolidating the power source and removing the transmission completely. Specializing in renewable energy sources, experienced builder James Biggar made constructing an electric bike look like a stroll in the park.
Armed with a MIG welder and one-inch by one-inch eleven gauge steel tubing, the full-time builder/part-time YouTuber first went to work on constructing the frame. After a few tacks, the frame assembly started to take shape. Once Biggar began prepping the completed chassis for paint, we foolishly assumed he would take it to a powder coater. Ever the renaissance man, Biggar brought out the spray gun and laid down a sheet of gray primer before finishing it off with satin black paint.
With the frame painted, the one-man assembly line moved on to brakes and suspension. Biggar equipped the build with downhill mountain bike forks and e-bike rear monoshock, but due to the weight of the electric motor, he recommended using motorcycle-spec suspension. Retrospectively, he also suggested opting for a motorcycle braking system instead of the hydraulic e-bike calipers and 200mm rotors he used on the build.
Next, Biggar installed the 72V/60Ah battery. The 80-pound battery outweighed the 70-pound steel frame and eeked out 4.3 kWh/5.8 horsepower. With the battery in place, Biggar connected the power source to a 72V Bluetooth-enabled motor controller. In a quick exercise of color matching, the bike builder attached the electrical leads and wired up the rear wheel for power delivery.
Just when we thought that Biggar wasn’t skilled enough, he showed off his woodworking prowess by fashioning a fiberglass fairing mold out of 3/4-inch plywood. With the forms set, he coated them in a silicone base before layering fiberglass and casting them in polyester resin. After Biggar fitting the molded fairings to the frame of the bike, he finished them with the same primer/satin black treatment as the frame.
With the bodywork done, the video cuts to black and reopened on an assembled bike, complete with headlight and indicators. Of course, the only thing missing is a seat, but lo and behold, Biggar knew how to make that as well. Casting a fiberglass pan and covering it with medium-density foam and stretch vinyl, he outfitted the electric bike with a sleek but functional saddle.
Last, and most importantly, Biggar took the viewers out for a putt on the new rig. The test ride illustrated the sweet silence of riding an electric motorcycle with the colors of Fall foliage streaming by. Reaching a top speed of 75 mph with a range of 62 miles, the garage-constructed bike straddled the line between the Sur-Ron Light Bee and something like the Hadin Panther.
Though you would need a lot of experience to complete this build, Biggar does offer downloadable plans of his electric bike. Maybe we’ll work up enough courage to take on the project in time. For now, excuse us while we go sign up for welding and electrical engineering classes.