Official PlatesSolar Charger"Gas Tank"Frame w Engine RemovedSitting in my driveway.Me on the bike
OwnerBen Nelson
Owner's Other EVs1996 Geo Metro
2007 Vectrix VX-1
LocationOconomowoc, Wisconsin United States map
Web/EmailWebPage email image
Vehicle1981 Kawasaki KZ440
Junk cycle with dead engine and transmission, home-
converted to battery electric. My very first EV conversion.
MotorBriggs and Stratton Etek brushed Permanent Magnet DC
used Etek motor off Ebay
Drivetrain14 tooth sprocket at the motor to #40 chain to
a 72 tooth sprocket on the back tire
ControllerAlltrax 4830
Alltrax AXE 300 Amp Programmable. Acceleration is set to
"ease into it" and I slowed the response to the throttle a tiny
bit so that every bump in the road didn't make me change
Batteries4 Optima YellowTop, 12.00 Volt, Lead-Acid, AGM
Spill-proof 55 AH batteries. Over 800 cranking amps.
Two of the batteries are mounted "sideways" to neatly fit
inside the frame. As of October 2014, I'm working on building a
new battery pack using NiMH cells from a salvaged Ford Escape
Hybrid battery pack.
System Voltage48 Volts
I've charged with:
A cheap Chinese 48V scootercharger,
A recycled 48V UPS, also powering my house off it in a blackout,
A 48V Solar panel mounted on my child's backyard swing set.
HeaterThe warm feeling I get inside. All jokes aside, one advantage of
converting a motorcycle to EV is that it doesn't have all the
complexities of heater, air-conditioning, power-steering, etc. that
a car has.
DC/DC Converter Artesysn BXB100
33-75v to 12v converter. I think it is used in
computers. Got it for $10 on E-Bay
100 watts. Works great!
InstrumentationCheap multimeter, speedometer.
0-300 amp ammeter built into gas tank.
Top Speed45 MPH (72 KPH)
45 mph - 52 downhill, 40 up big hills.
I am mostly in city at 25 mph zones, and only one area of
45mph speed limit, so I geared the cycle to it.
(Changing my front sprocket, a $20 part, could get the top
speed up to 60 or 65, without changing anything else on
the cycle.)
I HAVE gotten a speeding ticket in an electric vehicle.....
Accelerationpeppy - got to be careful how I pull away from a dead stop
Reprogrammed controller - much smoother excelleration
now - nice!
Range30 Miles (48 Kilometers)
Most my trips are about ten miles or so. To town and back -
library, work, grocery store, post office, etc.
Watt Hours/Mile100 Wh/Mile
Using a kill-a-watt at the wall, into the charger and dividing
by miles, usually comes to right around 100 watt hours per
EV Miles
Start:4,599 Miles (7,399 Kilometers)
Current:10,234 Miles (16,466 Kilometers)
Total:5,635 Miles (9,066 Kilometers)
    As of 10/30/2014
Seating CapacityJust me - Does have passenger pegs. Rides fine with a
passenger, but acceleration suffers
Curb Weight400 Pounds (181 Kilograms)
Weighed on the big scale down the street at the
landscaping place. Weight includes onboard charger, gas
tank (just there for looks right now) and 4 55ah sealed lead
TiresNothing fancy, but new tires summer of 2011.
Conversion TimeThis was a summer project. I have never worked on
motorcycles before, so that took a little time to learn how
everything works.
Knowing what I do now, I think I could convert a cycle to
electric in a long weekend.
Conversion CostEtek Motor - $500
Kawasaki Frame - $100
Alltrax AXE controller - $300
Batteries - $800
nuts, bolts, connectors - $50
custom rear 72 tooth sprocket - $100
title and registration $123
Not having to stop at the pump - Priceless
Additional FeaturesHousehold blackout protection.
I have a salvaged 48V UPS. It can be used to charge the motorcycle OR convert the DC
battery power to AC and back-feed it to my house. I can run my whole house from the
motorcycle in a blackout.

I call it the "Poorman's Smart-Grid".

I also now have a 48V solar panel. I run power straight to the cycle from the panel, through a
DC disconnect switch, a Xantrex C40 charge controller, and to a quick disconnect on the cycle.
I really can't think of any way simpler or more efficient to charge and electric vehicle. There's
no grid transmission losses and no DC/AC/DC conversion losses. Literally couldn't be simpler.
I made an instructional DVD set to teach other people how to BUILD THEIR OWN
I also have some extensive "how-to" information on at:
WebPage />
Below are notes from the project, in chronological order.

Just getting started on the project. Very excited about it. I hope I can get far enough
done to ride it once or twice before the end of summer.

Everyone I have contacted through this web board has been great!

I built a camping trailer from scratch last summer. What fun! The main thing is just
to find other people who are into cool stuff like this!

6/6/07 - Got to work on the cycle a bit the last couple days. I made a motor mount
plate from some aluminum scrap plate I found and mounted the motor. I am
canabalizing the batteries from my electric bike for now to get the cycle to an
"experimental" mode where I can just make it go for as cheap as I can. So, I am
starting with 3 - 18 amp hour sealed lead acid. I know that won't make a motorcycle
go far, but I just need to go down the street for testing.

I ordered a 72-tooth rear sprocket from Sprocket Specialists about a week and a
half ago. That's supposed to show up tommorow. Then I should be able to mount
the chain and make the tire spin.

Just tested it out. Went 4 miles altogether - goes about 35 mph. Only set up on 36
volts with 18ah batteries. I don't have turn signals, breaklights,headlights, etc yet.
Also the front brake drags a bit.

6/15/07 - MREA Energy Fair (
Took my cycle up the the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair. Had a great time showing
it to people. I was the only one there with a DIY project. Lots of expensive hybrids
and other vehicles out of my price range. I still have less than a grand in this whole
project. Got lots of great info from people at the festival. Thanks to Jeff, Steve, Ed,
Michael Paul, and anyone else who was hanging out there.

6/17/07 - Weight & Endurance road testing.
I weighed the cycle down the street at the landscaping supplier. Bike weighs 280
I reset my trip odometer and zipped around my sidestreet at various speeds up to
30 mph, mostly flat, but also did the big hill coming back from the landscaping
place. I had just over 8 miles when I got the volt meter reading to 36 volts no load.
So I figure I have an 8 mile range on a full charge on my current 36 volt

Reprogrammed controller. Changed the throttle response - much smoother to pull
away from stop signs - less touchy. I also activated the "High Pedal Disable" and set
the max current output to 66%. That should make it so I can't pull over 200 amps at
a time from the batteries - hoping that makes it harder to accidently burn out the
controller or motor. Still has good acceleration and same top speed.

Just got the title and registration in the mail. It is registered as a "street modified"
Hobbyist Vehicle. Hobbyist plates are only purchased once. You don't have to renew
them every year (saves $$$!) Only drawback is you can't drive vehicle in January. I
don't see this as a problem...

Got to work on the cycle a fair amount this last week.
Installed a speedometer cable. Cut out the bottom of the gas tank. Wired up the left
hand brake(rear brake) so that it activates the tail light. Got DC/DC converter
working. Wired oil light in tachometer to now show accessory power and brake light
on dash to activate when tail brake light does.
Installed cigaretted plug for other accessories.
Went to DMV and got my Motorcycle Temps.

Upgraded from 36 to 48 volts. Built a small metal rack to hold two batteries side-by-
side sticking out from the frame so I could fit four total batteries on the system. New
top cruising speed of 45 MPH!!!

June 2011 - Built a custom steel rack out of angle to hold the batteries. Now, two
batteries are mounted vertical, and two horizontal, so all fits in the frame real nice. I
did have to notch a tiny bit out of the gas tank to make it all work, but it looks great.

I also stuck a hole saw through the gas tank to install an ammeter there, as well as a
green "the cycle is one and ready to go" light.

October 2014. Time to replace the batteries. I got a salvaged Ford Escape Hybrid battery
pack and took it apart to use the cells to build a new battery pack for the motorcycle.

code by jerry