Electric Motorcycle – KZ440


Hi Folks!

If you are interested in building your own electric motorcycle, you have come to the right place! I’m working on posting all the information on how I built my own electric motorcycle to share with your. If you are ready to jump right in to building your own, please check out my BUILD YOUR OWN ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE instructional DVD set!

Here’s a teaser video to get you going.

My electric motorcycle conversion DVD is now available IN FULL, for FREE on YouTube. Watch the PLAYLIST HERE.

For “Chapters” of how I built the cycle, please see the links on the sidebar, or click the links below. I’m currently going through and adding in all the details to this project. Don’t worry if all the detailed info isn’t there yet, I’m going to keep adding to it!

Donor Bike and De-ICE-ing LINK

Electric Motor LINK

Motor Mounting Plate LINK

Batteries LINK

Battery Rack LINK

Charging LINK

Motor Controller and Throttle LINK

Balance of System LINK

Driveline and Gearing LINK

Parts supplies and other links

The cycle uses a single-speed gear reduction. 14 tooth on the drive sprocket, and 72 tooth on the rear wheel sprocket. This low gearing was designed to give the bike good acceleration, with a top speed of 45 mph, the top speed limit in the area that I use the cycle in. (I mostly use it in the city, where it’s all 25 mph zones.)

The Briggs & Stratton Etek motor is rated at 150 amps continuous, and rates as a 8 – 12 HP motor, depending on voltage. With my 300 amp controller, and 48V of batteries, that comes to about 20 HP peak, which you get INSTANTLY from an electric motor. If I swapped out the inexpensive drive sprocket ($10 at the Farm & Fleet store) I could probably go 60 or 65 mph and still be within the amperage rating of the motor, although I wouldn’t have as good acceleration.

The cycle goes 20-30 miles per charge, depending on speed, weather, hills, etc. on 4 Optima Yellow-Top batteries. It charges overnight with a built-in 48V charger. I’ve also charged it directly from a 48V 400 watt solar panel.

Here’s a video of my friend testing the cycle in the parking lot after updating some work on it.

Next, Donor Bike and De-ICE-ing —>

{ 14 trackbacks }

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eric May 27, 2013 at 7:41 pm


I’ve searched around for a decent, used sport bike with good frame volume for numerous batteries, and I think I’ve found something worthwhile. I hope to pull the trigger on my e-cycle project soon. I still wonder (after searching for a while), why don’t e-cycles use transmissions? As far as I can see, e-cars use transmissions, so why not e-cycles?


2 BenN May 27, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Aha! Actually, most commercial electric cars do NOT use transmissions! They use single-speed gear reduction and a differential! The differential is built in to the transmission on front wheel drive cars (and rear-wheel drive rear engine cars, like the Tesla S and Mitsubishi iMIEV)
On an electric motorcycle, there’s just a single drive wheel, so no need for a differential, and the chain and two different size sprockets take care of the gearing.

3 Damo July 12, 2013 at 4:22 am

I had a similar question re. Transmissions. On many of the YouTube vids I’ve watched on homemade ev’s, especially the ones made from Volkswagen bugs, they still keep the manual transmission. I remember one guy saying that he kept it purely for the driving experience, but I also thought that the transmission would help to extend the possible range from a charge. If this is the case (as I’m not sure), wouldn’t it make sense to use the gearbox on an ev bike?

4 BenN July 12, 2013 at 8:03 am

A transmission on a typical home converted EV front-wheel drive car is generally kept for two reasons; 1: Gear Reduction 2: Differential. On an EV motorcycle, you don’t need a differential (because there is only one drive wheel anyways,) and the gearing can be changed between the motor and rear wheel by changing either or both of the sprockets. On most motorcycles, the transmission is built right together with the engine. It’s hard to remove the engine, and still have an independent, working transmission. Plus, the transmission takes up valuable space that could be used for batteries.
Having a transmission will NOT extend the range of the EV. Transmissions are designed for giving you higher speeds at particular RPM band.
As for driving experience, I do know of one electric motorcycle manufacturer that does have a traditional manual transmission on their high-end cycle, and it IS there to make it feel more like a typical gas motorcycle.

5 Caleb September 19, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Very cool. I am very interested in the process of converting a motorcycle into an electric motorcycle.

6 Yash May 15, 2014 at 8:03 am

Hey ! How you doing? I too am more than keen on building my own electric motorcycle.
The thing is that I am unable to determine it’s components that are required for the ‘specs’ I have in my mind.
The bike I want to build should go 30-45 miles per chargeand should reach speeds 30-35 mph. The reason for this is I need the motorcycle to travel to my college and back home, the entire distance travelled would be 53-55 KM.

I think that using batteries with high power output and a high RPM DC motor can do the trick and if it really the solution i just don’t know exactly which motor or which battery should I go for? I searched the web but found no credible answer. Since you actually built the thing I thought you will know what I need to know. So please HELP me out here!

7 Ben May 15, 2014 at 10:32 am

Hi Yash,
In general, speed is about system voltage times gearing. (Higher voltage is more efficient and gives better top speed, low gearing gives better torque, better range, and lower top speed.)

Range is mostly about battery pack capacity. For example, my cycle uses four 55AH capacity batteries in series for a 48V system. 55AH times 48V is 2640 watt-hours. Figuring a guesstimated energy use of 100 watt-hours per mile (2640/100=26.4) comes to about 26 miles of range, which is more or less what I came to in real-world testing. So, if you want to go 30-45 miles per charge, you just need a battery pack that is roughly double the capacity of the one I am using. Frankly, that’s pushing what’s reasonable to do with lead acid batteries. A 5kWh battery pack should be plenty for you.

As for motors, there’s all sorts of different types that will work. Motenergy has a series of motors that are well-suited for EV motorcycles. If I were to build an EV cycle from scratch right now, I would use a 72V motor and controller and lithium battery pack.

8 John November 10, 2014 at 10:24 pm

This is kind of random. I’ve been thinking about something and I’m not to great withe eletric tec information. Is it possibil to hook a alternator or genartor to a cvt scooter transmissiom move the the cvt belt to the alternator/generator. Then use a seperert eletric motor for the drivetrain. That’s my basic idea. My # one goal is to go faster then 60 while getting 80 to 132 mpg. I figure if the alternator/ generator had simalure resistance to driving a scooter on the road I don see why throttle control couldn’t be used to change the output of energy created by the stock 50cc scooter engine that’s connected with stock clutch and bellhosing to the alternator/generator. So here’s my question. Can you use a capacitor to store the energy that’s been created for the eltric motor and use no battery or small battery. I have yet to start and plan on gathering more info. Any subjections welcome and thanks for reading. Sorry for poor spelling

9 Ben N November 11, 2014 at 10:58 am

Sounds like a round-a-bout way of creating a serial hybrid. While possible to do, I doubt it would be the best way to go. Using gas to spin an alternator to make electricity to spin an electric motor really isn’t advantageous over just using a gas engine to spin the wheel directly. All those extra steps in there are losses that would make it LESS efficient. The way to make it MORE efficient would be to use an engine and generator that are really sized/geared for each other and keeps the generator engine running at peak efficiency. Typically the other way that serial hybrids are used is that they START with an EV only mode, using a battery pack, charged from the wall, and then the engine is used as a range extender after the range of the battery is used up. Imagine the way a Chevy Volt works – it’s VERY efficient to start with as an EV for the first 40 miles, after that, it runs on gas, but the fuel economy in that mode is NOT exceptional.

The other thing is that scooters and motorcycles are relatively small vehicles. It’s hard to cram in all the extra components to fit inside the bike.
Another option would be to use (or convert) an electric motorcycle/scooter and then add a trailer or sidecar (which would be removable.) A generator could be mounted in that.

The other thing to consider is simply to make aerodynamic improvements to cycles. Do a web search for the aerodynamic improvements that Craig Vetter has been making to some 250cc scooters. It’s pretty impressive work.

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