Introduction: Volkspod (Volkswagen Minibike)
Ever heard of a Volkspod? Inspired by the creator, Brent Walter, I will share with you a step-by-step guide on how I created my own Volkswagen electric mini-bike. Also shout-out to UltimateRebuilds for his great videos on how he made his own Volkspod!
Everything you will need:
4. Welding machine (This is the one I used. Cheapest and easiest one to use for beginners)
21. VW Beetle fenders (you are gonna have to find these on your own. I got mine off eBay. You can also find them on FB marketplace and craigslist. You might have some luck at junkyards too.) Only get fenders between years 1950-1996
35. Black spray paint (I used Rustoleum)
Step 1: Creating the Shell (cutting the Fenders)
Using some tape, mark off where you are going to cut. I cut right down the middle and left a little extra space to be safe. Keep in mind that for it to look best, they need to be perfectly symmetrical to the headlight.
Using your angle grinder, put on the cutting wheel, and cut along your tape line. Be careful to not damage the headlight cup.
Step 2: Reinforce Headlight Cup
Add some tack welds to the headlight cup to give it some more strength. We don't want it breaking if you go over a pothole since the bike has no shocks.
Step 3: Check Fit
Once you've got both fenders cut in half just check the fit by holding them together. If the headlight looks snug and nothing is overlapping you're good. You can see in the picture that there is some space between the fenders, that's okay since you are going to push them together later once you weld the front together.
If you have some things overlapping or hitting feel free to put your grinding wheel on and shave the excess metal away. Be careful, fenders are expensive.
Step 4: Tack Weld the Fenders Together
Be quick and precise with these welds. If you weld for too long in the same spot you will burn a hole through the metal since it is so thin. If you do burn a hole in the metal, you can fill it in with weld, just be careful. I had to fill a few small holes myself.
Don't make fun of my welds haha, when I made this I only had about 2 weeks worth of experience.
Advice: As I made more welds on this I found that putting my welder on its lowest power and making quick circle movement worked best for making smooth tacks on such thin metal.
Step 5: Create Template for the Gap in the Back
Get out your sheet metal and some cardboard. Use the cardboard to trace a template of the space you need to fill in with sheet metal. Put your cardboard template over the sheet metal and trace with a marker the area you need to cut. Use the cutting wheel on your angle grinder and cut out the metal.
Step 6: Weld the Back Together
Tack the piece you just cut on the fender. Try to get it lined up well so that there are no bumps or dips where the sheet metal meets the fender, it will look a lot better smooth when it is all painted. If you make a mistake it isn't a huge deal as we will be using body filler at the end.
Step 7: Grind Time
Grind all of your welds down so they are smooth. When you do this fill in any hole you might've missed while welding.
If you notice that there is a slight dip in the middle don't worry, I had a dip too, the body filler at the end will make it look nice.
Step 8: Weld the Bottom and Fill Hole
Add some tacks to the bottom of the shell, it'll give the shell some more strength. Also, cut out a small circle to fill in the hole in the middle of the fender.
Step 9: Frame Time
For now, sit the shell aside and get out the frame. Everything we do with the frame is done to fit it under the shell. So we are basically making it as small as possible.
The first cut we are making is cutting off the old seat thing. We will be using a different seat so we don't need to leave it on. Cut as close to the frame as you can, it will save you time grinding later.
ATTENTION: KEEP THIS PART IT WILL BE USED LATER
Step 10: Remove Supports
Cut off the support pipes so that your frame looks like the picture above^
Step 11: Cut Off and Grind Front Pipe With the Bearing in It
Cut this off using your angle grinder. Make sure to not damage the bearings. After it is cut off grind it so it is smooth.
Step 12: Grind
Grind every place you made cuts at on the frame so that it is smooth.
Step 13: Heat Up and Bend Pipes
Bend the front pipes in so they are approximately 100º The pipes should be connected at this point to make sure that they bend back the same distance.
Step 14: Cut and Bend Out
Separate the two pipes and begin heating them up in the upper-middle section. Stick in a screwdriver to get more torque. After they are bent grind them so that the pipe with the bearing in it can fit snugly. Then clamp it together overnight.
Also bend down the pipes that go overhead a little bit
Step 15: Picture Check
At this point in the process your frame should look similar to this:
If I were to make this again I would bend my pipes in a little further. You want to push the wheel in as far as it can go. The frame needs to be as short as possible.
Step 16: Shorten Front Fork
Shorten the front fork to approximately 10 1/4 inches.
Step 17: Press Fork
Press the forks so that you can replace the part you cut off. If your press is powerful enough you don't need to heat up the pipe. In the video I didn't get it 100% flat, make sure you get it as flat as you can. It should look like the picture.
Grind the edges of the flat part so that they are rounded and smooth.
Step 18: Drill New Holes for the Front Axle
Drill holes so that the axle will slide in nicely. If your drill isn't penetrating the metal I found a spray of WD-40 made it a lot easier.
Step 19: Weld the Front Pipe With the Bearing in It Back On
Weld back on the pipe with the bearing in it. Angle it slightly forward. So that it is almost vertical.
Step 20: Pull in the Back Wheel
Cut off the back braces and cut off a few inches. You want to pull the back wheel in as far as you can. Make sure to only cut the pipe off, try to leave on the supports.
Step 21: Weld on Shortened Back Braces
After you have shortened the back braces make sure that the wheel fits and doesn't touch any part of the frame. It should be close though. If the wheel fits well, weld on the back braces.
Tack weld the braces on with the wheel on so that you know they are straight. Put something over the wheel so no sparks pop or damage the tire.
Step 22: Test Ride
Make sure all of your welds are strong with a little test ride. If anything breaks, now is better than later.
Step 23: Weld in Supports
Weld the supports back on the frame. The same ones we cut off earlier. Make sure you leave room for the battery to stand up.
Step 24: Test Fit
Test to see if your shell fits over the frame properly. If you did everything right the shell should fit over nicely.
If the shell does not fit there are a couple of things you can do to get some more space:
1. Cut the inside lip of the fender off. Inside the fender, there is a lip that curls in. Cutting it off will give you an extra half-inch or so. The third picture shows how I cut the lip.
2. If you still need more space the last thing you can do is bend the fork in a little bit. This is riskier but if you do it right you can get a lot of room. I ended up having to do this and I will show you how I did it on the next step.
Step 25: Bend in the Fork (only If You Need To)
If your shell fits properly already skip this step
As you can see, bending the fork in gave me the extra room to fit my shell over the frame. Be careful on this step. If you bend the fork too much you might not be able to turn without hitting the frame.
Step 26: Round Out the Tip
This step is optional. Personally I think a rounded tip makes it look better. More like a true VW Beetle. If you prefer the pointed tip skip this step.
Watch the videos and cut where I did, the goal is to make the the front round.
After you make the cut, use a hammer to bring down the metal. Then weld it together. After you weld it, grind it smooth
Step 27: Weld on Shell Mounts
Weld the mounts onto the frame. One mount on each back wheel brace and one mount on the front of the pipe with the bearing that holds the fork on. Make sure the side with the nuts faces towards the frame on the front mount.
The front mount comes from the fork, cut off both. You only need one.
The side mounts come from the back seat you cut off a while ago. I told you to keep it so hopefully, you still have it.
Step 28: Weld on Flatbar Mounts
Once you have the mounts welded onto the frame, set the shell over the frame and mark where the side mounts line up with the shell. Weld the flat bar onto the shell where it will line up with the mounts on the frame.
Once the flat bar is welded on, screw everything in and the shell should be able to sit securely on top of the frame.
Step 29: Create Plate So That the Handlebars Can Be Removable
Use your flat-bar to create a plate. It should look like the pictures. Make sure you cut the hole in the middle big enough so you can take out the black bolt in the middle.
Step 30: Weld on 1 Inch Pipe
Weld the one-inch pipe on the plate that you made, be careful not to weld it onto the black bolt, and make sure the pipe doesn't overlap the middle hole of the plate. I added some supports because it would be bad if the handlebars broke off while riding.
Step 31: Shorten the 1-inch Pipe
Cut the pipe short enough to where it just barely doesn't touch the frame when you set the frame on top of it.
Step 32: Fit the 1/2 Inch Pipe Into the 3/4 Inch Pipe
Fit the 1/2 inch pipe into the pipe you just welded on the plate. You might need to grind the pipe to make it thinner.
After you get the pipe fitted in, drill a hole where you want the screw to go through that keep them together. You can see where I put my hole in the last picture posted. Originally I used pins but they rattled so I switched to a screw and lock-nut.
Once you have the holes drilled in both pipes, weld the half-inch pipe to the handlebars. Cut the pipe to your desired height where you think it will be comfortable when riding.
Step 33: Weld on Seat Pipe
For the silver pipe, use whatever will fit around your bike seat post best. I think for me it was a 1.5-inch pipe, maybe 2 inches.
For the 4 supports use the old back seat we cut off earlier. It should've been the first thing you cut off the frame that I told you to keep. There is a picture shown above.
I have been riding this every day for 3 months to work and no welds have broken, I have gone over plenty of bumps too.
Step 34: Test Ride
Put the seat in and test your welds. If anything breaks now is better than later.
If everything holds up fine, congratulations, frame modifications are over! You are almost finished!
Step 35: Cut Holes for the Seat and Handlebars With Rotary Tool
Using your rotary tool, put on the metal cutting blade and cut out the holes for the seat and handlebars to fit through.
Take a seat on it, make sure everything feels comfortable, hopefully, you made the handlebars and seat a comfortable height. You can always shorten them, but it is a hassle.
Step 36: Mount Battery
Using your sheet metal trace the shape of the battery, cut out a template that covers both sides and the top of the battery. Weld the protective cover to the frame.
After you make the protective shell for the battery, make some supports out of the steel rods since it is flimsy.
Also there is a video showing how to charge the battery above^^
(When both red lights are on, that means it is charging, when one green light and one red light is on, that means it is fully charged.)
Step 37: Paint the Frame
First, wash the frame. I just used dish soap and a hose.
You can paint the frame whatever color you want. But I recomend black since we want people to look at the shell, not the frame.
Step 38: Paint the Inside of the Shell
Step 39: Mount Brake Caliper
Step 40: Mount Motor and Put on Chain
Mount the motor, and put on the chain. Also, put the chain tensioner on. This part is relatively straight forward.
You might need to drill holes in the mounting plate to match up with the holes on the motor.
Step 41: Wire Up the Motor
The second video is what your frame should look like once everything is wired up.
IF THE MOTOR IS SPINNING THE WRONG WAY!
If the motor is spinning the wrong way, you can either put the motor on the other side of the frame, and move the sprocket. Or you can swap the green and yellow Hall sensor wires on the motor connector and swap the phase yellow and blue. It should work the same way, but counter-clockwise. This is what I did and it works great.
Also do a test ride here. Make sure everything works properly without the shell. Be really careful with the throttle, electric motors have a lot of instant torque and the frame is really short so it is easy to do a wheelie.
Step 42: Clean the Shell
My fenders had a little bit of rust on them so I used some rust cream cleaner to get them smooth and ready to paint. If you have rust, you should do the same.
I couldn't tell before cleaning, but my fenders are different colors!
Step 43: Add Body Filler to Shell
If your frame has any dents, or dips in the middle. Use body filler to fill in any imperfections or holes.
After you add the body filler. Let it dry. Then sand it down so it is smooth. You shouldn't feel any changes in elevation when you run your hands over it. It is easier to see imperfections after it is painted so be careful.
Step 44: Painting the Shell
You are almost done!!
First use a cleaner. Get any dust and stuff off.
Then apply a coat of primer
"If you want a great looking finish, you need to sand your primer... I hit mine with 220 grit followed up with 400 grit, usually after dunking the sandpaper into a bowl of water and shaking off the excess... this "damp sanding" gives a great finish and keeps the paper from clogging up. But basically any imperfections you can see in the primered finish at this point will be MAGNIFIED in the final color coats." (rocketry forum)
Step 45: Put on the Shell
Step 46: Put in Headlight
Put in headlight.
You are gonna need a 12 volt battery, you can see where I mounted mine. I also used a simple on-off switch for the headlight.
Step 47: Test Ride
If everything went well... Congratulations! You are finished!
Be prepared for a lot of looks and comments on your new ride! I got about 50 complements in the first week of me riding it around haha.
When you ride it, be super soft with the throttle! Electric motors have a lot of instant torque and this bike is super short so it is easy to do a wheely. I did a wheely my first try on accident haha.
Runner Up in the
Make it Move Contest 2020