In the list of "odd things nobody ever tells you about....."
I found a few quirks while working on this project.
Rear Brake Spring Bracket
When I was getting the cycle all back together and testing to make sure everything was working right, I had to hook the rear brake back up. On a motorcycle, the rear brake is activated by a right-foot pedal. A spring pulls that pedal back up when you release it. But here's the weird part.... I couldn't figure out where that spring connected to on the frame of the motorcycle. I consulted the repair manual, and found out that the spring hooks on THE MUFFLER!
By converting my motorcycle to electric, I no longer had a place to connect my return spring! So, I built a little tiny, custom bracket, just for the spring to go to. On your project, you might come across some other odd quirk like this. It's not a big deal, it just gives you the opportunity to be creative and come up with your own solution!
The Gas Tank
Some of the most common questions I get about an electric motorcycle are about the gas tank. Typical is "If it doesn't have any gasoline, why do you have the gas tank?" and "Why don't you just STUFF that gas tank full of batteries!?"
The short answers are that motocycles just don't look like motorcycles without the gas tank, and you really can't fit batteries in there anyways.
When I got the motorcycle, the tank was already rusted and dented. It was completely bone dry, but I still left it open for a few days before cutting off the bottom with an angle grinder, so I could beat out the dents from the inside. Then I stripped the existing paint, and gave it a new paint-job. The top part of the motorcycle frame is a tube that goes straight through the gas tank. The tank is almost like a saddle-bag that hangs over that bar. The tank is also curved and batteries are nearly always big rectangular things. So, between the frame and shape of the tank, you just AREN'T going to cram batteries in there (That would also raise the center of gravity on the cycle as well.) The tank does make an excellent cover for over the batteries. It would also be a good place to mount the motor controller or a battery charger, as long as you make sure they have enough ventilation.
Some electric vehicle enthusiasts will even make a FAKE gas tank from foam, fiberglass, or plastic. It gives the cycle that cool look, but since it's custom, can be designed to accomodate batteries or other components. Remember, on some cycles today, the "gas tank" really isn't. On Goldwings, the "tank" is just a filler port, but the actual fuel tank is elsewhere on the vehicle. The "tank" makes a nice box for gloves, goggles, and maps.
LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES
One myth of an electric motorcycle is that it's silent. It isn't - it makes some noise, but it is SIGNIFICANTLY quieter than a gas motorcycle, especially one with modified tailpipes. Should the need arise for my cycle to be loud, I have a horn and am not afraid to use it.
Even though most car drivers today have their windows rolled up, with the air-conditioning cranked, and the radio blaring, (so they can't hear a thing anyways) some people still think that a motorcycle being obnoxiously loud is a safety feature. After the millionth time that I heard that "loud pipes save lives" (mostly from NON-motorcyclists), I wondered if there was a way I could play with that in a way that an electric motorcycle could be BETTER than a gas one when it came to making noise.
I connected an MP3 player to my computer and downloaded some various motorcycle sound effects. I then attached self-powered computer speakers inside the hollowed gas tank and bungie-corded the MP3 player to the handlebars. I could now sound like a Harley, a Kawasaki, a 50cc scooter, or the George Jetson flying car!
See details on that here on Instructables.
If you haven't already, take a riders safety class. Motorcycle riding is a skill. It should be learned and practiced. Make sure to always "get the hang of it" again in the spring after pulling the cycle back out of winter storage. Come to think of it winterizing should be covered here as well.
When I looked through the cycle manual on winter storage, I was surprised at how much work it was to store a gas cycle for the winter! You have to change the oil, run the tank dry, and doing a surprisingly-long list of other things! When back out of storage in the spring, you are supposed to change the oil (again!) and have another laundry list.
On my electric motorcycle, here's how I put it away for the winter.
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