Introduction: Retro Electric Bike

Picture of Retro Electric Bike

This is a custom pedal/electric bike I designed and built for school. This slideshow shows the start to finish build of the project.
I am doing Metal Fabrication Engineering along side a boiler making apprenticeship. I am looking to head into custom electric motorbikes or the automotive fabrication area after my apprenticeship and maybe one day have my own shop.
Location: Melbourne, Australia.
Inspired by the bikes from the 30s and 40s with a touch of WW2 Japanese Zero Fighter.
Bike Specs.
Frame: 4130 Chromoly
Swing arms and Front end: 6061 Aluminium.
Tank and Fenders: Aluminium
Leaf Spring Suspension
181 Hand cut pieces
30 parts
86 Bolts.
600+ hours over 16 weeks
Materials and parts $2500 AUD
Electrics : 500w 36v Front Hub 3 X 12v 12Ah AGM SLA Batteries Control and cycle Analyst from


Junior Paiva (author)2015-09-14

Hello! you are the author? Authorizes me to sell the project in Brazil? Would be great! Thank you!

Thank you! I'll try to make a simpler design

Hi, yes I am the author. Generally I don't give away my designs, they cost me too much time and money to make. I would consider selling the concept however.if you'd like to talk PM me.

Themachine615 (author)2015-08-18

Where's the motor?

Tis in the front wheel;)

CAbeachguy (author)2015-01-17

Really a great project, and nice craftsmanship. If you are heavy into boiler making why not consider a steam powered warning whistle?

Nitesh varekar (author)2014-11-17

wow... great creation...

gfunk5 (author)2013-10-29

Great looking bike

wobbler (author)2013-03-14

If you could distill and bottle genius, this is what it would look like.

paqrat (author)2012-06-09

It is a thing of beauty. Beyond my meager skills though.

TSC (author)2012-04-11

Great Job!

Thanks mate, this was some time ago I'm surprised people are still looking at it.

Your welcome!

Yep I really like it!

diarmaid_h (author)2010-06-02

Brilliant design, Whats it like to ride? I'd love to do somethin similar (eventually) but the only thing i'd be worried about would be that the riding position would be too low for decent leg extension when dealing with tough hills etc, i know the motor will help, but was this a concern when you were designing it?

 Thanks diarmaid_h
I have been up some really steep hills and it goes ok. It does feel a bit weird to pedal but it wasn't a concern. On a fresh charge she is great fun to ride, It quite stable and you can go around corners pretty laid down. It definitely more of a cruiser.
I designed this as an electric motorbike really but school was worried i'd sue them if I hurt myself so I told them I was going to make a "pushbike" instead. My teacher was cool with it but as far as administration knows the big black thing in the front wheel is a "hub brake" ahahah. 
Having pedals has the advantage of appearing like a push bike if an officer of the law goes past me too ;) We have a 250w limit on electric bikes in Australia, which I think is f***ing ridiculous
I'd always planned on a bigger motor and better batteries but towards the end it was turning into a money pit. It will happen when time and money permits.

Haha pedals for show! Ya i don't know what the limit in ireland is on wattage but i'm sure we're equally as bad! I've been lookin into doing something with a 72volt bike design but the money pit just seems to explode once you go past anything like an assist hub motor! check out to see what i mean. Alot of other insturctables feature grand electric bike conversions but no way of charging other than buying a big unit for over $800!

Yeah the price certainly does exploded. I have already designed its big brother, intended to be a proper motorcycle so I wanted fast with long range. I spec'd it on the extreme end but the whole package was going to leave a 30,000(AU) dollar hole in my pocket. 20,000 for the motor and controller (it was a 150Kw motor) and about 10,000 for the batteries necessary to power it ha. It was just a pipe dream, I don't even know if the batts would fit in the frame. I'd still like to build it but maybe around 100hp motor would be more realistic.

pretty sure a potentiometer, a handful of mosfets and a quad opamp don't cost $10k... :p

What I'm saying is, making your own electronics would probably be better, economically.

Thanks for the interest. I was being pretty broad with the term "motor and controller" I suppose.
What you describe would be great for a electric push bike but if you want decent automotive type controllers they do cost that much. What you missing is all the other necessary systems that these controllers have for automotive applications.
You'd get a battery managment system to control/monitor/recharge your cells properly, various input output controls to run and monitor water or oil pumps for the motor etc, programmable acceleration curve computer, data logging, output for your digital dash board, usb interface so you can access it and change it all. There is an AC invertor in that price too.
Plus you get the extra efficiency of a controller that has been designed, tested and improved over many years of RnD conducted by professionals.
Not to mention I don't have the technical skills to build any of these extra system you get. Even if I did it would take you ages, cost more than 10k to develop you're own. 10k is on the high end, you can get much cheaper controllers 3-5k.

Try to get a sponsor and enter it in the Isle of Mann TT for electrics. Maybe a battery company would front some money in exchange for advertising.
Good way to put your name out also.

orisj (author)2011-07-01

Wow! It looks fantastic, great design!

Matrix-technician (author)2011-06-15

This is in my opinion the best looking electric bicycle i have seen on this site. I would love to make one like this, only i would increase the power output as well as add a frame mounted electric motor with chain or shaft drive assembly. For me, I would abandone the pedals completely. I cycle quite frequently and already posses several pedal bikes.

iminthebathroom (author)2011-04-27

amazing, wow

ScubaSteve (author)2011-04-19

Runtime/Mileage? 12Ah of power doesnt seem like much go juice...

It'll do about 15 - 20kms on a charge, I'd always intended on L-ion's but I didn't have the cash.

johnny payphone (author)2011-01-14

sweet ride

Ravundra Pardeshi (author)2010-11-11

Excellent bike. Design is so good it compels one to go for electric bike. Congrates.

I Ride Kangaroos (author)2010-09-04

Love the bike dude and also love it how your Australian! I don't see much aussies here on instructables. Also can you try making a cheaper version of the bike because 2500 AUD is a bit too expensive for me...

oud25 (author)2010-07-04

looks kinda like a WW2 version of a snubnose chopper

Conel (author)2010-06-05

I love you design and would like to know if you would make the motorcycle design avalible for us. I would like to make you motorcycle version with your permission. I have been looking for an electric motorcycle that has some range.

Hi Conel. It would probably be easier if you PM me about what exactly you want to do rather than have the discussion here. Cheers

TheFullMetalAlchemist (author)2010-06-03

 Wow, featured, it's quite a surprise! Thanks everyone for your kind words.

shilohjim (author)2010-06-02

Cool bike! Good luck with your goals.

artworker (author)2010-06-01

Very beautifully designed! Reminds me of the movie "Worlds fastest Indian". I will try something similar someday when I will have my own tools!

CameronSS (author)2009-09-06

:-O That is awesome! Since you already have the pictures you would need, why not expand this out into a full Instructable?

Kiteman (author)CameronSS2009-09-06


Zem (author)Kiteman2009-10-08

 Thirded! (?)

_woodman_ (author)Zem2010-06-01

 And whatever comes after Thirded?

CameronSS (author)_woodman_2010-06-01

_woodman_, apparently.

ironsmiter (author)2009-09-06

Newcastle + machine tools = FAIL.

All other parts of the build and design = WIN.

What did you use for your motor controller?

Hey ironsmiter.
The bike never would have turned out as good without the newkeys!
I used the C3620PF Controller from . I got their cycle analyst computer with it too.

A nice beer gives both energy and inspiration. Many will give you weird damages and wasted materials..
A very nice bike! I look forward to the day i get the money to make something similar.
 (dont try this at home, i'am a experienced wood chop teatcher ;)

 Thanks Vidar.
I completely agree! And when the lathe starts to scare you, you know its time to pack up for the night :0 Ha!

-Edit The controller I actually got was the C7220PF

TSC (author)2010-04-16

Sweet cool!!!!!!!!!

r570sv (author)2010-04-04


Smoothmachines (author)2010-01-01

You kind of translated something from a belgian 30´s comics into a modern, playfully designed smart vehicle.
It makes me consider abandonning the electric Hotrod project i started to build on for something like that for my 10 years old son. This can be ridden on the street legally, as long as the pedals are commanding the electrical motor throttle, what a cool bike to ride to school!!
The english wheel is no easy trick, i tried to form a fender the other day and it looked like hell, i work with metal almost everyday and i hated the feeling, i could just not figure how to do.

Awesome built!
With envy from Sweden, happy new year!

It Itches (author)2009-11-17

Any chance you might post an instructable for this? I think a project like this would definitely be worthwhile. Thanks.

niuthon (author)2009-11-04


About This Instructable



Bio: I have a Advance Diploma of Multimedia Design, have a lot of graphic/industrial design work experience. I'm also a trade qualified Metal Fabrication ... More »
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