The finished project is a 1981 Kawasaki KZ440, converted to electric. It is powered by four Optima Yellow Top sealed (AGM) lead-acid batteries, that drive a Briggs & Stratton Etek electric motor. The speed of the motor is controlled by an Alltrax brand "AXE" programmable controller that can run at up to 48 volts and 300 amps. Contrary to popular belief, and electric motorcycle is NOT silent, but is CONSIDERABLY quieter than a typical gas cycle.

The cycle is GEARED to 45 mph, has fairly good acceleration, no clutch or transmission. There's no oil to change, to mufflers to rust off, no air filter, no carbs to tweak, and no gasoline. I designed it for primarily city riding. The top speed and acceleration could be easily changed by swapping out a $20 stock sprocket.

The cycle recharges from the wall, through a renewable energy program, and if there is a blackout, I can actually run my house off my electric motorcycle! In the future, I hope to expand my system to include charging the cycle with photovoltaic solar panels. Real-world range per charge is 23-32 miles, and charging takes less than 10 hours for a full charge. ( A different charger could charge them even faster - see details on the Batteries PDF)

In this Instructable, I'll walk you through the work required with the motor, batteries, controller, and mounting all components, including showing you some low-tech paper and cardboard "CAD" tricks.

Your Project
But what do you want? You might not even know yet. I always encourage people to take a look at the EV Album. It's an on-line listing of mostly home-converted electric vehicles. Each listing shows the make and model of the vehicle, the cost to convert, the speed and range, and other specifics of each project. You can also search by type of vehicle or brand name.
For example, if you go to http://www.evalbum.com/type/MTCY , you'll see a wide variety of electric motorcycles. Different brand names, lithium and lead-acid battery types, and a wide range of costs of conversion. Likewise, if you want to see Scooters, Mopeds, and Minibikes, you can visit http://www.evalbum.com/type/SCMM

Give some thought to what cycle you would like to convert. Do you like sport bikes? Great! They have a lightweight and strong aluminum frame! Do you like standard? Great! There's lots of those out there and you can show off the motor and batteries. Hang out at biker events with your unique ride!

If you aren't sure what to expect in terms of range per charge and top speed, don't worry, online calculators can help you out.
ower Use at Speed Calculator
and of course, a

For more on my electric motorcycle, electric car, and other projects, swing by my blog at http://300mpg.org/

If you are interested in building your own electric motorcycle, but want even more information, more details, and hands-on style instruction, check out the INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO DVD that I created to teach how ANYONE can Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle!

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MechEngineerMike made it!2 months ago

Ben your instructable was a huge help to me in figuring out my own electric motorcycle conversion project, so thanks for sharing! I thought you might be interested to see the instructable I just posted for my project: http://www.instructables.com/id/Engineer-Your-Own-...

electric motorcycle.JPG
Would it work if I put it all in a mini moto ??
bennelson (author)  gokart ect builder14 days ago

I just recently saw a Trail Buddy converted to electric. It was really cute, and an all the electric components were really well packaged. I didn't see it on their home page, but it was built by these guys. http://www.trail-buddy.com/home.html

bennelson (author)  gokart ect builder5 months ago

You can pretty much build any size electric motorcycle you want, However:
1) If you build it really big, you will need a very powerful motor and high capacity battery pack.
2) If it's a very SMALL motorcycle, you will have very limited room in the frame for all the components, and will only be able to fit smaller batteries.

A mini motorcycle sounds like a lot of fun. You could probably get away with using the style of lithium batteries used by high-end RC Car enthusiasts.

I recently obtained an old 1950s Harley Davidson frame from a friends junkyard. It does not have a VIN# because this was from a time before they put VIN#'s on frames. The odd thing about it, is the DRF XXXXX number on it. Does this mean it was stolen? Will I ever be able to register this old of a motorcycle frame before I start building on it?

Thanks for any help.

Depending on your state laws you will probably be able build it as a new custom. My suggestion is to sell that frame to a collector and buy a complete bike with a blown motor. Old Harley frames are heavy and parts are expensive.

I think the last sentence you said kind of sealed the deal for me.
Looks like I'll need to find a Collector!

Thanks again
MatthewP2 made it!1 month ago

I've built a 72 volt version from a Suzuki 600 Katana. weights about 500 pounds.

This was built in about 1 week give or take a few days. the current picture is Version 3. the first version was a 48 volt 75 Ah system. Version 2 was 72 Volt 75 Ah version, but the final version was 72 volt 101 Ah version. current version gets between 30-40 miles per charge depending on driving conditions. only an estimate since it is only 22 miles to work @ 50 mph and i recharge it everyday at work, so i never really never had a chance to kill the batteries that much.

This version has a dual laptop battery pack for the light and a 72 volt battery pack for the Drive motor. all lights are custom built L.E.D. lighting that i made my self from 12 5050 L.E.D. strips.

This version uses about 50- to 65 amps at 50 mph.

72 Volt E-Motorcycle.jpg48 volt E-Bike Version1.jpg48 volt E-Bike Version2.jpg72 Volt E-Bike version3.jpg
motiurn2 months ago

I like your electric scooter selling service..

motiurn2 months ago
motiurn2 months ago
bukharihashim3 months ago


Cat Adalay4 months ago

First of all, thank you for putting so much time into such an awesome instructable! This is really helpful. Secondly, I have a question. I'm looking at doing this for a 2001 Yamaha R1. It's perfect as the engine is in good nick and the transmission is busted, but I'm wondering if it's too heavy for the electric motor you used. I'm new to EL motors and trying to make a go of it with this project. What do you think? Could it work?


mad_b4 months ago
Put in few words, with same motor and more amps-hour (more energy stored), go farther.
Readequate motor (to get more power - more watts), more amps-hour, more speed depending on gearing. Same range. It's not so simple, you have to equate all variables for your goal.
Usually motors with higher voltage can develop more power.
Of course the correct is that you have a target power, say 750W (~1 HP), for sake of simplicity: 75V x 10A to feed the beast. Or, 32,5V x 20A. Or 150V x 5A. And it goes on. Higher voltage also allows thinner wiring (to hold less current)if you manage to have a motor that runs this figures at 12V, you would need to provide 62.5 Amps. Imagine the wiring for this now. Research motors, batteries, weight, your goals and spreadsheet it to find your personal solutions having in mind what you want. :)
koreanbee124 months ago

Wow what A dream bike..
I want to build my own like yours.
does it become a 96v18ah battery if i connect two 48v9ah batteries?
This is what I found on alibaba website

Lifepo4 48v9ah E Bike Battery,e-bike battery,ebike battery
Item No. Voltage Capacity battery type Lifespan
Dimensions Weight
G-BP4809A 48v 9ah lifepo4
15Amps 3Amps 69*148*360mm 4.9kgs

48v 9ah electric bike li ion battery Characteristics
a. Very Security: No fire,no explosion,no leakage ;
b. Portable handle and hidden charging port;
c. Aluminium alloy Back rack(Silver and Black for option);
d. Well die-casting slide board and lock, for easy installation and theft-prevention.
c. 30A Fuse and smart BMS are included for protection

Pictures and detaild data sheet

Model G-BP4809A
Norminal voltage 48V
Rated capacity 9Ah @0.5 C3A, 20°C
Operating current 15Amps(can be customized)
Peak current 30Amps(can be customized)
Charge voltage 58.4V
Standard charge current 3Amps
Cycle life >2000times
Dimensions 69*148*360mm
Weight 4.9kg
Battery box material aluminium alloy
Built in battery cells 3.2V 9AH polymer lifepo4 cells
Assembly 16 cells in series
Operating temperature - 20 °C to 60 °C
Charge temperature 0 °C to 45 °C

it weights about 12 pounds.
What do you think? No one can answer my question.

mad_b koreanbee124 months ago


Batteries Voltage adds up when in series, but current does not. If you put 2 batteries in parallel, you will get same voltage but will add the current. This is very very basic electricity.

To achieve your 96/18 figures you need 4 batteries, putting 2 pairs of 48/9 parallel batteries in series. I mean take a pair and mount in parallel - call it now pack 'A'. You now have a 48/18 pack. Then take 2 of this packs 'A' and put in series then you have your 96/18.

Best regards


koreanbee12 mad_b4 months ago
Thanks. Sorry for bothering you but if you dont mind i ould like to ask you one more question. Would my bike run faster and run farther if only current(AMPS) goes up? I think there is extra space for a pair. in that case a pair becomes 48v/18ah?
bennelson (author)  koreanbee124 months ago

No, current has nothing to do with range or speed. On a DC system, speed is determined by voltage and gearing. RANGE is primarily through battery CAPACITY, which is measured in AH - amp-hours. Being able to draw more current can get you to your top speed quicker (better acceleration) but won't change the top speed.

If you add additional batteries in parallel, this will increase the capacity of the pack, and give you better range. Current is only related to range in that batteries will give you less total range at high current than low current. Also, if batteries are the limiting factor in how much current you can draw, adding more in parallel will allow you to draw more current.

Remember that current (measured in amps/ampres/A) is flow, it is a RATE of power use. Amp-Hours (AH) is a measure of capacity.


1. Why a drive between the motor and the wheel? Why not have the motor in the wheel hub? Wouldn't this be more efficient?

2. Do you still use a gearbox? If so, why? Cant you use direct acceleration?

3. Why have a braking system, once the vehicle is stationary, wont it only move if you apply power?

4. Could you use this same system to make an electric cruiser?

5. Where can i get an high efficient high speed motor?

bennelson (author)  alexander.j.alley5 months ago

Hi Alexander!

1: Chaining the motor to the back wheel allows for both adjustable gearing (by changing the sprockets) and for placing the motor where I would like it. Hub motors of the right power ARE now available for motorcycles, but have not always been the best thing for high top speed. Direct drive also doesn't usually give you the same "oooomf!" that you can get with a chain drive. Also, a hub motor increases "unsprung" weight, which isn't as good for handling. My project as of spring 2015 is a Vectrix, which DOES use a rear hub motor, but it also has planetary gearing to overcome some of the limitations of hub motors.

2: Please see step 11. http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-Your-Own-ELE... It clearly shows that there is no transmission. The motor is chained to the rear sprocket. Yes, it is more efficient than with a transmission, there's fewer moving parts, it also saves space!

3: Brakes! Yes, of course I have brakes! The cycle came with brakes, I did not change them. Why would I want to remove the brakes! Yes, once at a stop, the cycle doesn't move, unless on a hill. Brakes are most important when you are moving and want to slow down! The vehicle doesn't have "regenerative braking" or any special system other than the stock regular motorcycle brakes.

4: Yes, you could build an electric motorcycle similar to the say I did, but build it as a standard, a cruiser, a sport bike, a scooter, or whatever style of motorcycle you like. Sport bikes are popular for conversions because of their light-weight aluminum frames.

5: There are many mail order companies on the web that sell electric vehicle parts. Just do a web search for them. The Electric Auto Association also has some nice links on their web page. http://www.electricauto.org/?page=EVsForSale Scroll about half way down on that page to "EV Converters, repairs, & kit or component suppliers", you can order parts, including motors from those places.

ErfanA17 months ago

Dear Ben,

I have a 1972 honda dirt/trail bike whose engine seems to me not worth restoring, and I have toiling with the idea to convert to electric for the longest time, refreshing my parts wishlist from time to time.

At last I've seen the Enertrac 18" hubmotor, and its the ideal motor in my opionion. However, as with any electric application, battery technology seems to let us down in various combinations of cost, weight, size, and amperage (cost in particular).

I have seen your batteries on your Kawa and its damn huge (and heavy). I am thinking of using LiPO batteries from hobbyking (those used in large scale electric RC) - just need your two cents on this opion.



bennelson (author)  ErfanA17 months ago
Hi ErfanA1,

Yes, you are right, lead-acid batteries ARE heavy. In fact, right now, I'm upgrading my Kawasaki to NiMH batteries I got out of an old Ford Escape Hybrid! (Nickel is still heavy, but it's better, and the salvage yard price was GREAT!)

Hub motors are becoming practical for EV motorcycles, and have already been used on many EV Scooters.

Lithium batteries are great. You might want to see about going on the Endless Sphere web forum. Those guys are into electric bicycles, but have GREAT knowledge to share about using small lithium batteries.

Good Luck!
schel8 months ago


So 'ok...you've got the info I needed and explained clearly...more clearly /less cluttered than most other related instructables! Now can you answer me this...the wires coming from the controller to the throttle.....could an arduino replace the throttle? this would be for remote or programmed motor "control" ie: instead of a human hand turning a physical throttle...an arduino sending signals to the controller as though it (arduino) IS the throttle...? make sense?...others have jumped all over me for this...but I think the 2 wires can act as the potentiometer..? yeah?

bennelson (author)  schel8 months ago
On my motorcycle setup, the throttle is a 0-5Kohm twist potentiometer. To replace this style throttle with an Arduino, you would need the Arduino to be able to create a variable resistance in that range. I haven't played around with Arduinos very much at all and would have no idea how to do that, but I'm sure somebody could figure it out.

There are also motor controllers that use a variable voltage of 0-5 volts as their input. Voltage can be varied by PWM, and I know that can be done by Arduinos. So, it may be an easier approach to use a controller with that style input.

Due to safety considerations, I would NOT create any kind of "experimental" throttle for an on-road vehicle, but if it is for some sort of stationary machinery, just follow typical safety precautions and have fun!
schel bennelson8 months ago

YES!! thats the numbers I was lookin' for!!! I'm just starting arduino as well but, if I'm not mistaken 5v is exactly what the arduino needs /handles.

I'm sure a resistor or two would make it a little safer I think? arduino pros?

the applications of this could be for giant remote control cars, a stationary sculpture...anything an arduino could influence via...PIR sensors..bluetooth phone remote control...timers etc.

Much Thanks Bennelson!!

ryan.tippens9 months ago

I have lots of bikes but I have this 74 cb 360,I took this cbr 600 that I had ,it was from a police chase and it was never picked up from the cops after its rider got away after it slide own on a golf course so I got it after it sat at the tow company for a couple of years..never could get a title for it so I sold its engine and took off its rear swing arm and front forks which bolt directly ODDLY to the 74 cb..I welded on the rear swing arm to make this cafe bike....but Id like to convert it to electric since I have 3 more bikes including the 75 cb 550....which will be cafe also but still a gas burner..I want an electric motor that goes faster than 45 mph..any suggestions?Im going to run lithium batteries Im thinking.

bennelson (author)  ryan.tippens9 months ago
For high speed/performance, it's best to go with the highest voltage motor you can. 72V is pretty popular for a fun lithium bike. Motenergy has some good motors. Check them out.
bilalz4002 years ago
Can you use the existing transmission system of the bike??
bennelson (author)  bilalz4002 years ago
On most motorcycles, the engine and transmission are really a single, integrated unit. It's very difficult to remove the engine, but keep the transmission. You CAN build an electric motorcycle with a transmission, but the tranny takes up space that might better be used by having more batteries.

What a transmission in general really does is convert engine speed into torque. Electric motors tend to have HIGH torque at LOW speeds, so you don't neccessarily need a transmission.

For a commercially-built EV cycle WITH a transmission, take a look at the Brammo Empulse.
Kevanf1 bennelson10 months ago

How about getting hold of an old pre-unit Triumph (or other manufacturer) gearbox? They are small and lightweight and also very strong mechanically. You should also be able to get different gear cluster set ups at a reasonable price.

But couldn't you gear that high torque down to get better top speed/further range?
bennelson (author)  bertzie2 years ago
For higher top speed, you would use high gearing, which would pull greater amps. Pulling higher amps creates more heat, shortens battery life, and reduces how far you can go per charge.

In general, to increase top speed, you are best off increasing your system voltage.
JustusH10 months ago

Good day Sir, i would like to ask if this bike could be build in South Africa too, and if i may request the plans for this bike please. Would you consider to open a factory here in the RSA ? A lot of jobs can be created by this and you may profit a lot by it too. My email is just1info@gmail.com 073 327 9390 thank you very much.

JustusH10 months ago

Good day Sir, i would like to ask if this bike could be build in South Africa too, and if i may request the plans for this bike please. Would you consider to open a factory here in the RSA ? A lot of jobs can be created by this and you may profit a lot by it too. My email is just1info@gmail.com 073 327 9390 thank you very much.

JustusH10 months ago

Good day Sir, i would like to ask if this bike could be build in South Africa too, and if i may request the plans for this bike please. Would you consider to open a factory here in the RSA ? A lot of jobs can be created by this and you may profit a lot by it too. My email is just1info@gmail.com 073 327 9390 thank you very much.

JustusH10 months ago

Good day Sir, i would like to ask if this bike could be build in South Africa too, and if i may request the plans for this bike please. Would you consider to open a factory here in the RSA ? A lot of jobs can be created by this and you may profit a lot by it too. My email is just1info@gmail.com 073 327 9390 thank you very much.

SuvarnaK11 months ago

Hi there,
what do you suggest on making a custom frame for my bike?
I want to make one!
What are the members that are included on the frame??

bennelson (author)  SuvarnaK11 months ago
Actually, I would suggest NOT building your own custom frame! By using an existing, stock frame, it already has a Make, Model, Year, and VIN (vehicle identification number.) These are important to have to title, license, and insure your motorcycle.

While it IS possible to build a cycle scratch and get it titled, it's complicated (more in some places then other) and possibly quite expensive. Even if you do that, it may still be challenging to get reasonable insurance.

If you really DO want to build something from scratch, try an electric bicycle. Most places don't require insurance, title, or registrations on bicycles, and it's a great way to learn about electric vehicles!
MrFrancis1 year ago
I'm going to purchase your DVD as soon as I get to a desktop. Thanks sir!
MrFrancis1 year ago
I know nothing about any of this, but this gives me hope. 2k is a reasonable price for the experience of custom made. Great job. Any books you recommend to get me "in the loop". Thanks, -Steve
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