What kind of unexpected challenges arose when you started converting your ICE motorcycle to electric?

Technical discussion on converting internal combustion to electric
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theeeatr
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What kind of unexpected challenges arose when you started converting your ICE motorcycle to electric?

Post by theeeatr » Tue, 16 Jul 2019, 11:58

I got inspired by Benjamin Nelson's videos in a racing game from apknite and I am considering purchasing a salvage bike and converting it to an electric motorcycle. I am an electric engineer so motors and controllers don't worry me too much but rest of the stuff is out of my league. With initial research, I figured, it will be a costly ( about $8000-$9000 for the specifications that I want) and time-consuming project. So just curious what kind of unexpected difficulties have you encountered during the course of your project. I want to get a decent picture of what I am getting into before I sink money in it.

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Re: What kind of unexpected challenges arose when you started converting your ICE motorcycle to electric?

Post by jonescg » Tue, 16 Jul 2019, 13:01

Well the trick is to never apply a financial reasoning - you will always lose and that metric makes it look really bad. It's best to do it for other reasons, none of them financial.
Otherwise, awesome! Do it, you will never regret it.
In my case, I got a custom chassis fabricated. The motor I wanted to use for the race bike would never fit inside a Japanese bike frame, let alone leave room for batteries. So I bit the bullet and got a custom chassis built. Not cheap, but zero compromise.
Pick your motor first, and try to find the best place for it in the frame. Then work with what space remains for inverters and batteries. You will fast run out of room - so don't let weight be the first enemy - make volume your first battle, then weight can come second. Cost is a distant fourth or so.
Start with a good chassis, if you go down that route - Suzukis were wheelbarrows compared to Hondas, but not the '05-'08 Gixxers - they were a fair bit smaller. In fact, I'd say don't work with any chassis older than about '03. You want all the brakes and bearings to be in good order, and the geometry is usually pretty good from this point on.
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Re: What kind of unexpected challenges arose when you started converting your ICE motorcycle to electric?

Post by coulomb » Tue, 16 Jul 2019, 19:28

See also Some "Don'ts" for EV Building. Old, but should still be relevant.
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Re: What kind of unexpected challenges arose when you started converting your ICE motorcycle to electric?

Post by mikedufty » Wed, 17 Jul 2019, 13:48

I'm surprised Chis hasn't mentioned the unexpected challenge that arose with trying to sell his GSXR chassis to go with a custom one. I guess its not very specific to electric.

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Re: What kind of unexpected challenges arose when you started converting your ICE motorcycle to electric?

Post by jonescg » Wed, 17 Jul 2019, 14:01

mikedufty wrote:
Wed, 17 Jul 2019, 13:48
I'm surprised Chis hasn't mentioned the unexpected challenge that arose with trying to sell his GSXR chassis to go with a custom one. I guess its not very specific to electric.
:(

I'd almost gotten over it. Thanks.
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Re: What kind of unexpected challenges arose when you started converting your ICE motorcycle to electric?

Post by Richo » Fri, 19 Jul 2019, 12:58

What are the newer frames made out of?
Would it be easy to weld/mod to them?
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Re: What kind of unexpected challenges arose when you started converting your ICE motorcycle to electric?

Post by jonescg » Fri, 19 Jul 2019, 15:27

They are all aluminium, but the problem is the output shaft needing to be as close to the swing arm pivot as practical to prevent squat under acceleration. You can put a jackshaft in place, but this bulks out the lower half of the frame, where you really want to be putting batteries. The Varley electric race bike had a Carbon (Ultramotive) motor and a jackshaft which certainly worked, but it meant much of the battery had to be located elsewhere, including on the seat subframe.

Probably the only worthy modification is to hollow out the swing arm pivot so you can locate the motor closer to the pivot. Much like we did with Voltron, but also how Zero does with their concentric swingarm pivot.
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