It Begins…

9 11 2009

Well, welcome to my blog.  This is the first post about my new project: Converting a 1985 Honda VF500F Interceptor to an electric motorcycle.

So, where did it all start?

(in proper grandpappy voice)

“ya see son, when i was a boy, we didn’t have none of that new-fangled battery stuff. we used GAS.  and we liked it.  there wasn’t nothin like the smell of diesel in the morning”

OK, so that’s not really how it started.

I’m a bit of an environmentalist.  For a while, i’ve been trying to figure out a way to reduce the amount of gas i use on a day to day basis. I’ve been patiently (well, sometimes not so patiently) waiting for an electric car to be produced that wasn’t a NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle…one that can only go like 25 miles an hour) and that also didn’t cost more than my house.

There are some promising ones on the horizon:

  • The Aptera three-wheeled super-slick car
  • The Tesla-S sedan
  • The Nissan Leaf
  • The City-Zenn, though apparently, Zenn has decided not to make this one…and it’s arguable whether or not it was really on the horizon.

All of these cars are promising, but none are going to be in production soon. there are some others that are coming sooner, but they’re well out of my price range.

I was talking to someone about this, and she mentioned she and her husband had bought an electric scooter.  It was a great thing for them, it went like 20 miles per hour, which isn’t very fast, but got them to the store and back, cost less than $1000.

That got me thinking about electric scooters and motorcycles.  I had never ridden a motorcycle, however i do ride bicyles a lot. That actually doesn’t mean much, but i figure it at least gives me some experience being on a road with much larger vehicles.  I figured i’d go for it (a scooter), so went off to take the Motorcycle Safety Class and get my moto license.

Being the OCD guy that i am, i researched scooters for a couple of weeks.  I wasn’t interested in going on the highway, but did want to be able to use it for most of my daily stuff.  My commute is <4 miles one way, but i do spend a lot of time in a town that’s about 8 miles away.  I can take surface streets to all of my destinations, so the fastest they’re rated is 45mph.  I figured i’d be able to get away with a scooter that did around 40mph and got around a 20 mile range.

So, I ended up finding a good deal on a Zapino electric scooter made by Zap (images to follow at some point). It’s supposed to go 35mph, and have a 25 mile range.

After i bought the zapino, i found out that it only goes about 15 miles on a full charge when going at full throttle, and that 35mph really isn’t fast enogh.  Actually, the scooter goes 40mph, and that’s not really fast enough either.  it’s not that i feel like i need to be a speed demon, but in my commute to work, there’s a stretch of road about 2 miles long that’s basically one lane in each direction.  the posted speed limit is 40mph, but everyone else goes at least 45…usually 50 mph on it.  When you’re the only thing doing 40 and everyone else wants to do 45 or 50, it’s not such a good feeling.

So, i started researching larger scooters like the XM3500-Li, and Electric Motorycles such as the Electric Motorsport GPR-S. After cruising around the net for a while, i found, one of the coolest places for electric motorcycle folks.  I think that at some point, i figured i wouldn’t pay the $8-10K for a pre-built electric motorcycle.  And i thought that i’d be able to build one for cheaper.  Hell, there are a lot of folks out on the net that have created electric motos for far less.

Since then, i’ve been trying to learn as much as possible about electric vehicles and motorcycles, batteries, BMS, controllers, etc.  As well as about motorcycles in general.

So…that was the beginning.  More recaps to follow…

Have fun.





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