Hot Rod cruisers are a style where most people have a clear divide over whether they love them of hate them. That being said, Doctor Chopper (in Philadelphia) has wrestled with customers over what works, versus what they want, and the result can be educational for anyone who wants hot-rod performance for their street ebike. If that interests you, then this article might be something you’d like.


First of all, I hope to be a go-between, who informs the public with info developed by builders who are spending serious money and time on their hobby…and new enthusiasts who want accurate information before they commit to spending serious bucks.

A board-tracker frame, but no pedals on this one.

We all know that the entry-level crap might “work”, but the performance and longevity may be disappointing, and…at the other end of the spectrum, the guys with a “Ferrari wallet” will just throw money at every problem. What works for the guy in the middle who will pay just a little extra for something that get’s the job done?

The top-of-the-line off-roaders have a frame-mounted motor (to keep the wheels as light as possible) and expensive suspension components for big jumps. Also, off-roaders pay extra for extra-light components. And…that brings us to the contrast of custom street ebikes. If you haven’t seen our article on “40 custom ebikes” yet, click here.

One of Dr Chopper’s more common builds. A Vector Typhoon frame, with the parts listed below

Street hot-rod ebike builders often seem to be fine with having a heavy and powerful hubmotor in the rear wheel. Here is our article from 2015, listing the how and why of available hot-rod hubmotors.

If you are curious about the Vector Typhoon ebike frames posted above, we wrote about them back in 2014, click here. He has also built-up Mongoose Malus frames and EEB frames.

One of the differences between common ebikes and a street cruiser is how wide the rear tire is. You don’t need to hunt down all the choices about the various rim widths…just call Dr Chopper.

Of course, instead of wading through a lot of article fluff, I’m guessing that you have read this far because you want to know what components serious hot-rodders are using. so….

Motor: QS V3 205 50H 5T

QS = Quan Shun, Version-3 with cast aluminum core to absorb heat spikes, 205mm diameter stator, 50mm “Height” magnets on the rotor, 5T = five “Turns” of wire bundles around each stator-tooth, which affects the RPM’s per applied volt (Kv).

Controller: YKZ120150

YK= Yuyang King, style-Z, 60V to 120V, 150A, 24-FET’s

Battery is made from LiPo pouch cells, 134V (32S) 20-Ah, or…100V (24S) 32-Ah

24×3” bicycle tires, or….sometimes 90/90-18” moto tires

Fairdale 2.5”-rise handlebars

58-tooth chainring on the front, 16T on the rear freewheel, 3/32 chain

Vans cult grips

Half-twist throttle, with a thumb kill switch (better than Ebrake levers)

Rockshox forks are nice, but ZOOM works on a budget .

DNM rear shock

Shimano 410 quad-piston brakes, with 203mm rotors

12V DC stepdown converter for powering lights and accessories

An off-road Semar frame a customer ordered from China, with the Dr Chopper treatment…The rear tire is a Shinko model-R006, size 140/60-R18


Some of you will use this info to make your own, but a few of you would rather pay Dr Chopper for his services directly before he gets too famous, so his contact is his facebook page, and you can find that by clicking here.

Dr Chopper, from Philly. The helmet is a “Triple-Eight”


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, September 2020

A good friend of mine, Laurence who is also ebike obsessed rode his ebike from Ithaca, NY to Washington DC last year. This trip without traffic in a car is about 12 hours round trip which got me thinking, “How big of a battery would you need to ride for 12 hours straight on an ebike in a day at 30mph?” When you start pricing out quality ebike batteries with a built-in BMS you’re looking at close to $1000 per kWh. Although the prices have dropped a little over the last few years, they have not dropped as fast as the cost of batteries in electric cars. This article is about how I sprung for a Chevy Volt battery from a local junkyard and then took apart the nominal 352v pack and reconfigured it into 8 different cell packs that were each 44v nominal to use for ebikes, my electric tractor, and 2 electric generators that I used to build my tiny home and power my wife’s off-grid home in the winter. I ended up paying about 1/10th of what I would have had to pay if I had used quality new ebike packs with BMSs, although the entire process took about 8 hours worth of work. (actually it felt more like 8 hours of play)

The Gen 1 Volt packs are some of the cheapest Lithium batteries you can get your hands on and are extremely well-engineered

I shopped for a Chevy Volt battery on which is one of the best websites I have found for getting parts from a junkyard. This website hooks into the databases that large junkyards use but you must then call the junkyard (on the phone) to get the parts. Many junkyards will deliver parts for a small fee, and the volt battery is quite large and weighs over 400lbs so if you don’t have a pickup truck to transport it then it might make sense to have it delivered. Much of that weight is the metal frame and fiberglass cover, the battery packs themselves end up being about 50%+ heavier than normal ebike batteries (per usable kWh) when everything is stripped down.

It’s best to work on taking the pack apart somewhere where you don’t have to worry about it getting wet

I drove about 30 miles to get mine and they loaded it in the bed of my pickup on a pallet. The bottom of the battery was badly rusted, but in NY state they dump so much salt on the road it is just silly. I’m not sure why anyone would buy a new car in NY and then drive it on the road in the winter. They also broke off one of the main power connectors, but since I was throwing all that away and just keeping the packs I didn’t care. When you first start working with the battery you must be aware that the pack is 352v of DC power which can deliver 300 amps continuously. Working with batteries this large is exceedingly dangerous so if you don’t feel comfortable with high voltage power systems, then you should not do this project. You absolutely 100% will kill or seriously injure yourself.

This is what the battery pack looks like with the cover removed

Battery disassembly was very straight forward, there are many good videos on youtube of people taking off the cover and taking the battery apart. Once you remove the high voltage flat flexible cables that tie the packs together in series it is much less dangerous because it goes from being a 352v pack to 6 44v and two 22v packs. I always work with batteries with thick Nitrile ‘Gorilla’ gloves on, and I highly recommend that. Also when working with the battery it is important to use tools that have insulated handles in case you drop them or they accidentally hit the contacts. If your tool’s handles are not insulated then you can dip them in liquid vinyl (Plasti Dip is the main brand for doing this in the US).

I found this factory sticker on my Honda Insight hybrid battery pack pretty funny, I rebuilt this 144v pack from scratch after it was 10 yrs old and saved thousands of dollars (and didn’t die in the process)

The most dangerous time working on the lithium battery is when you take the plastic covers off. Then the welded contact flaps are all exposed and if you drop a metal tool or touch anything conductive between the metal tabs you can get a lot of sparks and arcing and possibly an explosion. Please don’t do this. I only took the plastic covers off long enough to mark them and cut them to the proper lengths. Once they were cut I broke off the plastic tabs that stick straight up and covered all the holes with Gorilla tape, then I put the lids back on.

Here is the final result for my farm truck “Ghetto Power Generator”, you can see the two 22v packs tied together in series in the center to make a singe 44v pack. Notice that it’s all held in place with … a single zip tie on the two seatbelts (safety third)

Use large wood clamps to keep the packs together when replacing the threaded rods

The only tricky part of reconfiguring the volt packs was replacing the long threaded rods. I recommend draining the packs to 50% power or lower when you do this so that the lithium pouches will not be ‘puffy’ making everything you try to do harder. When you pull the threaded rods out the packs will expand slightly and you will need to put wood blocks on the end and a large wood clamp to pull it back together so you can push the new threaded rods through the pack and put nuts on the end. I used 1/4″ threaded rod that I bought from the local hardware store and you can use a hack saw to cut it down if you need to.

There are lots of cheap “Power stations” out there but none of them will run your large power tools and they have very tiny batteries (designed for charging your laptop or phone)

What is a ‘Power Station’

Many companies have started to design and sell small generators that either use battery packs for power tools (like this one from Ego for $1300) or large built-in batteries that are not removable. These are tied together with an AC inverter and you can use them as emergency power or power on the road in your RV or van life setup. The problem with all these setups is they are insanely expensive for how much power you get. The Ego Power station has 780Wh for $1300 which breaks down to $1.60 per Wh whereas the power station I created with the Volt pack is 11,500Wh usable for ~$1850 or $.16 per Wh or 10x cheaper than the Ego. Granted my setup is not pretty, nor does it have the safety features of the Ego setup, but even without a BMS it seems to work very well and the packs are staying balanced on their own.

Here is a beautiful custom ebike build using Chevy Volt cells, you can see more builds like this here on Electric Bike Action (sounds like a good porn site)

Will these packs work with my ebike?

Most 48v ebikes are designed to work with a voltage ‘range’ that goes anywhere from 39v to close to 60v. There are high voltage and low voltage cutoffs on any quality ebike controller to protect it from damage. Since the Chevy Volt chunks are 44v nominal they should work with most 48v setups on the market. The problem with the Volt packs is that they are not particularly light. If you are using them for ebikes then I recommend that you leave the steel plates off the ends as they add a lot of weight and no real functionality. You can still expect that the packs are going to run about 40lbs per ‘chunk’. In answer to my above query with Larry’s trip to DC I think that you would burn through about 1kWh per hour so you would need to carry all 320 lbs of battery with you to ride for 12 hours without stopping (so you’re looking at getting a beefy cargo bike). If you then wanted to charge overnight you would need close to a 1000 Watt charger to get fully charged before your next morning ride. I’m not aware of any cheap lightweight 44v nominal chargers that do 1000W so if you know of one, please let me know in the comments below. I think if I was going to build a long-distance ebike like that I would start with a cargo bike frame that could carry a lot of weight down very low on the frame.

There are a variety of 22v and 44v BMS’s on ebay for the Chevy Volt packs that have pre-wired plugs that are just plug and pray and run from $200-300 each

To BMS or not to BMS

There are BMS’s that are designed for the Chevy Volt pack that you can buy from ebay (like these here for ~$250), but I did not test any of them. It’s probably smart to run your batteries with a BMS as it makes them a lot safer, but since I’m working on a shoestring budget I’m opting to run without BMS’s. I haven’t had much luck with BMS’s in the past and I’ve lost several large packs (including a $1300 pack I built from scratch) from failed BMS’s so for now I’m going BMS free. If you do opt for getting BMS’s you will need one for every 48v module or a total of $2000 for 8 of them. There are many people on the internet who have been using Chevy Volt packs in off-grid homes for years and the packs are still ‘in balance’. The battery I got from the junkyard the cells and the 44v ‘chunks’ were all very much in balance and have stayed balanced while I have abused them for the last several months.

The Chevy Volt is much easier to reuse cells on because they are prearranged in 44v blocks already which is the perfect size for most projects

Don’t overcharge them & don’t drain them down too far without a BMS

If you charge the Volt packs over 51v the packs will get extremely volatile. I would keep the maximum charge to 50v just to be safe. I would also not drain the packs below 39v (resting voltage not under load) just to make sure you don’t damage the packs by going too low. I used a 48v Luna charger set to 80% which charges the packs to about 50.5v before shutting off. If you use a programable charger like this make sure it’s not set to 100% or the pack could well blow up if you charge it to 54v. Normal ebike 48v chargers will NOT work with the volt packs, they charge too high (and pack will go boom). I read somewhere that the total energy carried in this volt pack is equivalent to 2 sticks of dynamite, not sure I believe that but anytime you have potential energy storage you have risk.

If you break the packs apart you can see the large Lithium pouch cells, I don’t recommend doing this as you destroy the welds that tie the pouch cells together

You can tie together the two 22v nominal modules together to form a 44v nominal pack

It’s pretty straight forward to turn the two 22v chunks of the Volt pack into a 44v chunk. You have to remove both 22v chunks then put them together with wood clamps and threaded rod. Then put a bus bar between the positive and negative posts to make the two batteries run in series. You’ll have to cut a custom lid for that section of battery, mine ended up being two halves crammed together with a seam in the middle (which I covered with Gorilla Tape).

The Chevy Volt cells are neatly arranged in 44v chunks with very nice lugs to attach your power cables to, this makes repurposing these cells a breeze

Check the voltages before you tie the packs together in parallel

Connecting the packs together in Parallel is one of the most dangerous parts of the entire operation. If any of the packs are off in voltage by more than about .1v then you can get serious issues as the packs try to instantly balance themselves stopped only by the resistance of the wire. I make sure to use spark resistant XT90 connectors which helps a lot with arcing when putting the connectors together, but please use a meter to check each and every 44v chunk before you hook them together. I used a spider charging cable which saved me a lot of soldering and can be found here. You will want to cut off the banana plugs (obviously) and replace them with whatever connector your charger has.

Finding a decent 48v AC inverter that wasn’t crap

This was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I bought a ‘5000W’ inverter from AliExpress for $115 shipped (from China), but it turned out to be pretty much crap. Sometimes I can get it to do 800W continuous, but most of the time it resets if I try to pull more than 700W and forget about powering anything with a motor that pulls a high startup current, it just doesn’t work. I spent $323 on this 3000W inverter from and I have to say I’m extremely pleased with it. It seems to run all my power tools including the table saw, chop saw, and circular saw without issues. I put XT90 female connectors on the inverter and then I can plug them into my medusa charging cable. If you want your inverter to regularly carry lots of power then use more than one cable (I used 3 so that each cable will never carry more than 1000W continuous). I find it’s much easier to use multiple smaller wires that run in parallel than to try to use one really thick wire.

Using several wires is easier than using one big thick gauge wire

Crimping vs solder filling lugs

With high voltagehigh power applications, some people use crimpers and some use solder-filled lugs. I tend to use solder-filled lugs because in order to have a really good solid crimp you have to have a large powerful crimping tool that can put the right amount of pressure (which I don’t have). I used a clamp to hold the copper lugs upright and heat them with a propane torch and fill the lugs about 3/4 full of solder then I heat the wire quickly and plunge it into the hot solder. Don’t move the wire for about 30 seconds to make sure that the solder cures without cracking and then you have a very solid connection. A small amount of heat shrink tubing is used to cover up the lug and only leave the eye hole exposed. You can get 100% copper lugs on eBay for pretty cheap, I tend to get them from people who sell them for large high power audio car systems, as they tend to be the highest quality. I also get my 300 Amp fuses from these suppliers as they are cheap and effective.

I spent hundreds of hours online reading about people who had reconfigured a Chevy Volt pack before I pulled the trigger. I hope that this article will help inform and inspire others to take the plunge. At $130 per usable kWh these packs are some of the cheapest cells you can get and the engineering behind the Chevy Volt is quite good. My friend Steve who works at Borg-Warner as an engineer told me that GM spent over a billion dollars on research when building the Volt and it shows. Although I am not a GM fan, taking apart this battery and using and abusing it for my own purposes has made me realize maybe GM it’s the root of all evil.

Ride On.

As a side note, I just bought a BBSHD with a Ludicrous controller from on their Black Friday sale here. Normally it is impossible to get the Ludicrous controller without buying an ebike from them so this is a great time to do it if you’re thinking of upgrading.

These are the 100% copper lugs I bought on ebay here, I prefer using 100% copper because I find I have the least amount of issues with getting it to conduct well

There’s not a lot of information yet on this system, but it’s pretty interesting, so I’d still like to show what I found.


So far, about all I could find out is that it uses a 48V system (good, no wimpy 36V) and that it uses the Effigear transmission, so…let’s start with that.

The Effigear gearbox.

The Effigear system is listed as being able to house from seven to nine gears, but since it’s weight and cost are already going to be an issue for a lightweight upscale mountain bike, I suspect the most popular version will be the 7-speed.

I mention mountain bikes because the configuration that typically would make this appealing to an upscale customer is someone who takes big jumps and hits rapid-fire moguls and berms. In that situation, it’s beneficial to make the rear wheel as light as possible, so that a sophisticated spring and damper can keep the tire in contact with the ground for every split-second that is possible. So, you move the weight of the gearing and shifter to the center of the frame…

The Effigear Gearbox in a 9-speed configuration

If you’ve ever hit a hard bump and the rear swingarm was bounced up off of the ground, you can’t make effective inputs until the tire is touching the ground again. On a high-speed downhill run, a more effective suspension system can make the difference between an exhilarating “personal best” run, or a crash.

As you can see from the pictures above, the Effigear uses constant-mesh gears, similar to a cars manual transmission. Systems like this are sealed in a housing and run in an oil-bath. This means the transmission should last a very long time, even if the rider uses it for frequent aggressive downhill runs.

The Effigear Shifter

Of course I was curious how the shifter worked, and it uses a sliding gear selector that runs down the center of the primary gear-shaft. When you stop it at a certain gear selection, three radial “dogs” are lifted outwards, which is very similar to the well-known “Internal Gear Hub” (IGH) like the Nexus or Sturmey-Archer. The dogs connect the shaft to the particular gear-set you want.

In this way, all of the gears are always spinning and meshing, but the input shaft is not connected to any of the seven gears until a certain gears’ dogs are lifted. If such a system is well-designed and uses quality materials, it can be surprisingly strong. If you want to see more illustrations of a dog-actuated system, check out our article on IGH’s by clicking here.

The rear wheel on a Valeo drive ebike.

Im sure that most of the companies offering the Valeo drive on one of their frames has a chain as an option, but since this is going to be an upscale-priced product, most of the PR pics on the web show it with a Gates belt-drive. Although belts are more expensive to replace, they typically last three times longer. One performance benefit is that they squeeze-out the snow, mud, and debris that might clog a derailleur. To be fair, a belt and pulley can still get jammed-up, but…just not as often as a chain.


Valeo in France

Of course I was curious about the other things that Valeo might be developing, and they have done some work on mild-hybrid car designs. They don’t make cars, but hope to market add-on systems to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions.

A Valeo Mild-Hybrid booster motor prototype installation

In Valeos version of a mild-hybrid system, a booster motor helps the car accelerate, which is the time when a gasoline engine is loaded the heaviest. When simply cruising along at a stable speed, gasoline engines (and especially diesel engines) can provide decent fuel economy and fairly low emissions. By only adding a booster motor, the motor doesn’t need to be very large, and the system doesn’t need a huge amount of watts. Also, the battery pack for a system like this does not need to be large or heavy.

For several years now, European auto manufacturers have been toying with the idea of raising the cars electrical system voltage to 48V. Doing this would allow the starter motor to be smaller and lighter, along ith several other benefits. In anticipation of this, the Valeo mild hybrid designs all use 48V, so far.

A Valeo full-sized hybrid motor.

Their most ambitious project involved making the booster motor larger and more integrated into the drivetrain. Although it is not powerful enough at its modest size (and using only 48V) to be the full-time power-lant at highway speeds, it is powerful enough to have an “electric only” range of 200 kilometers when driving at at city speeds. This was demonstrated in a small light commuter car, to cross all the way through Paris.


The Effigear transmission has been around for a while on pedal-only bicycles, but Valeo is the first to engineer a motor with it into an integrated housing.

A “Bakfiets” style cargo-ebike, with the Valeo drive system.

From the outside, the housing “suggests” that the motor has a reduction gear to allow it to spin at higher RPM’s than the driven pedal-shaft of the bike. This is good, and it allows a motor to run cooler while converting fewer of the batteries watts into waste-heat. It also appears to drive the pedal shaft (no doubt, through a one-way clutch-bearing). If that is true, its good because it gives the motor the use of the seven gears, and that provides great wheel-power from the smallest possible motor.

Of course the downside is that the transmission is loaded by the motor when power is applied. There are two IGH’s that are well-known to take a severe beating and survive, the similar 3-speeds from Nexus and Sturmey, and the 14-speed Rohloff 2X7. The 3-speeds accomplish their robust performance with beefy dogs, and the Rohloff accomplishes it with the strongest possible materials combined with a shear pin, so…the easily-replaced pin breaks before the gears or dogs.

A hardtail off-road frame with the Valeo drive.

I suspect the transmission from Effigear has been designed and manufactured with materials that will stand up to a motor driving it (instead of just two wimpy 200W human legs), but….only time will tell.


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets December 2020

Sondors started out with a couple of stumbles a few years ago. Their first product was a simple rear hub fatbike, and once they got on their feet, everyone who ordered one got their product.

Sondors was an early adopter of shipping ebikes directly to the customers house, to avoid the cost of a brick-and-mortar store, and they were aggressive at passing the savings on to the customers. Their first ebike was under $1,000 which is pretty nuts, since thats the price of many ebike kits, not including the bike, plus the kit assembly.

It was no hot rod, but an entire industry has sprung up around upgrading them. Sondors provided a huge service to the ebike community, because many people who were interested in ebikes were also uncomfortable risking $2,000 for something that they might not even like. Once hundreds of people bought a less-expensive Sondors, they soon bought a more powerful ebike for a higher price from someone else.

Which brings us to today. Their business model is to wait and see what types of ebikes are on a steady sales curve, and then jump in with a high volume commitment. He now has credibility with customers and manufacturers, so he has a certain amount of “brand credit” when he says he is going to do something.


The Sondors Cruiser

I’m going to start with the $2,000 step-through “Cruiser” model (The website says its $1,999…LOL) It uses 3.0 inch wide street tires, which are in fact my favorite street-tire size for a commuter.

Here’s what Sondors got right.

All three of these mid-drives have an aluminum frame.

All three use 48V and a 21-Ah battery pack.

All three use a well developed Bafang mid drive.

They are clearly going for the USA street-legal market with these 750W motors, but they do admit that these can be set to run as high as 1150W @ 25 amps (I assume for offroad use only). All three of these can run at the recent US rules of 28-MPH.

It can be handy to have all of your ebikes using the same voltage (all three of these are 48V), so if one charger goes out, you can use the other charger while you wait for the warranty claim on the bad unit. I also have a long history of encouraging the use of 48V / 52V packs because in an emergency, you can use these to run a 120V AC inverter.

Since the frame is aluminum, these integrated mid-drives can actually use the frame as a heat-sink, so using a modest 750W means they should never overheat. Since the motor has 7-speeds to choose from, even with a top-speed of 28-MPH it also means it will still have great hill-climbing when it’s in the lowest gear…

Available in Black and gray with white-wall tires, Platinum white and black with white-wall tires, and the two-tone red shown with black-wall tires.

Electra Lux Fat 7D, with a BBSHD and battery from Luna Cycles

The bike above is what I have been riding the most for the past five years. Its a $700 aluminum Electra Lux fat frame, and the 7D means it has a common derailler with 7-speed freewheel. I put a smaller 36T chainring from Luna on it and the 1500W BBSHD can climb any hill I have ever tried it on, without overheating…It is a climbing beast.

Other than the smaller chainring, my favorite additions have been a Suntour NCX suspension seat-post, which really smooths-out any potholes in my local streets. If you get one of these Sondors hardtails (like the Cruiser or LX hardtails listed here), I highly recommend a suspension seat-post.

I also added a leather handlebar bag and a left-side bar-end mirror to be able to see the cars that are trying to kill me from behind. Speaking of zombie-texting drivers, these three-inch tires I use are firmer on curves than a common 4-inch fat tire, but still cushy enough that twice (so far), I was forced to bonzai onto the street curb to get onto the sidewalk away from a car, and…even at full speed, it did not damage my rims.

I’m showing you what I have been riding for five years, so you can have confidence in my assessment of these particular Sondors models.


The Sondors Rockstar

I haven’t ridden the $2600 Rockstar, but…I have ridden several bikes that have similar components and specs when I was at the last Interbike (RIP, Interbike…).

Sondors Rockstar

The wheels are the popular 27.5-inch, and it has 3.0-inch tires, which are the current hotness for off-roaders.

I’m going to make some suggestions, which have absolutely no basis in a hands-on review, because my filthy hands have not touched this model even once. Sondors in the past has spec’d solid mid-range components. None of them have been accused of being “great” components, but they also haven’t hurt their brand by using crap components.

That being said, the most likely upgrade you can swap-in is…a more expensive rear shock. Every offroader I’ve talked to has said that’s the best bang-for-your-buck. Most riders should be happy with the stock forks, but that is another area where “some” riders choose an upgrade (then sell the stock ones).

Colors are Supernova yellow, Slate gray, and Matte Black.


The Sondors LX

The LX is the one that I think will sell the best for Sondors, out of these three. It’s the same $2,000 price as the near-identical Cruiser, but it has an elevated stay above the chain. You may never need to do any work on the chain yourself (I never hate on ebikers that use a bike shop mechanic). However, if you ever need to swap-in a new chain (as we all do eventually), the elevated stay makes it super easy.

Another important feature of an elevated stay is that it allows the option of switching to a belt-drive, which Sondors has done in the past, so…look for that to be an upgrade option in the future if you choose the LX.

Sondors LX

The tires are the massive 4.9-inch (26-inch fat rim). These are ideal for snow, sand, and potholes, but…if you want to run them on the street, I would keep speeds below 16-MPH. When the stock tires wear out, you might try seeing if the 3.0-inch tires would seat on these rims. I am certain they will, and 3.0-inch is more appropriate when taking a fast turn at 25-MPH on pavement.

Sondors LX

Another reason I really like the LX, is that it comes with a front suspension fork. It may be a basic mid-range model, but…I have hit unexpected potholes many times, and any suspension fork would have been welcome.

If you keep speeds modest, the stock brakes should be safe and adequate, but I occasionally ride faster to stay away from car traffic, so I am very happy with the larger 205mm front brake disks I upgraded to. The common brake upgrade kit I found uses a simple adapter to move the caliper farther away from the axle, so the stock caliper fits onto the bigger-diameter front disc.

As I mentioned before, a hardtail frame like this benefits greatly from a suspension seat-post. I loved my Thudbuster, but the Suntour NCX can sit slightly lower, and I like a low seat when I am at a stop in traffic. The low seat-tube on the LX here looks like either of the seat-posts I mentioned should work fine.

I also ended up getting handlebars that sit up higher so I didn’t have to lean forward when riding, and…be aware that doing that also means you have to get longer brake cables. Even so, that was easy and affordable.

Colors are Arctic white, Black, and the Aventador Blue shown…


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, February 2021

This isn’t a fancy well-thought out article with clever word-play and the perfect pictures to get the major points across. I just heard about this and I’m getting this out as fast as possible.


A tax credit is better than a tax deduction. A deduction means that lets say you make $40,000 a year, and after all your income is added up, you get to calculate all your allowable deductions from your taxable income.

This tax credit is for “up to” $1500, so lets say your income bracket puts you in a 15% taxes owed on your income. For $40K of income, that would be $6000 in taxes owed. If you can lower your taxable income, then you would pay less total taxes. If you qulaified for the full $1500 as a deduction, then your taxes would be calculated on $38,500 instead of $40,000.

In a 15% tax bracket, that would save you $225 more in actual taxes. So you would owe $5,850 instead of $6,000.

A TAX CREDIT means that (in this case), you get to remove the full $1500 from the $6,000 tax that you would owe, meaning…you would now owe $4,500, instead of $6,000 (hopefully your paycheck taxes with-held would match your taxes owed, so you “break even” at tax time).

Here is an article from Elektrek, about tax credits for electric cars, so the infrastructure is already in place with the state and federal forms (click here)

As stated, you might get “up to” a $1500 credit to defray 30% of the cost of an electric bike. This means you can buy an electric bike costing as much as $5,000 or more, to get the full $1500 credit.

Of course, a more realistic and common ebike price of $3,000 could mean a tax credit of $900…and a $2,000 ebike might get you a $600 30% credit.

This is just a tax proposal at this stage, and we can all help to make this happen.


The form I found is here (click here!), and and its simple to fill out and ask your elected official to support creating a 30% tax credit for ebike purchases.

This tax credit doesn’t exist yet, but if you’ve read this far, even if you already have an ebike, this could be a huge boost for ebikes across the country.

WARNING! I am not a tax lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.


“…The Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act would relieve 30% of the cost (up to $1,500) of a new electric bicycle for consumers.

Electric bicycles have the ability to displace car trips by keeping people moving with efficiency and ease, no matter their age or physical abilities. An all-in approach to reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change must recognize the ability of electric bicycles to take cars off the road and keep people moving, active, and connected to their communities.

Use this page to encourage your representative to co-sponsor the bill. If your representative is already co-sponsoring the bill, a thank-you note will be sent instead!…


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, February 2021

If you are old like me, you remember how Betamax was a competing format against VHS, when it came to renting video-taped movies (this was during the ancient era before web-streaming, when the ships were wood and the men were steel). Sooo…who will win, and become the champion of future EV formats? Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up…


Long Range, or Fast Charging?

The USA is home to the rugged individualist, or at least…people who WANT to be a rugged individualist, or…they want other people to “think” they are rugged individualists. Either way, the rest of the world has been dragged kicking and screaming into a more hive-like existence that rewards the collective society.

Young idealistic tree-huggers may voice an interest in green tech, but one of the ways that “forward thinking” countries have “encouraged” their populace to do what they feel is “the right thing” is by taxing bad fuels so the alternatives don’t seem so bad. As of March 2021…Portugal, Norway, and the Netherlands have the price of gasoline at roughly $5.92-$8.58 per gallon (1.60-1.90 Euro’s per liter).

The Netherlands in Winter. The windmills pump sea-water out of the marshes, so they can use the flat-lands that are near the ocean (the entire country is very flat). They are probably the most-bicycle friendly culture on the planet…and gas is $8/gallon.

You may have thought that the reason the Netherlands have invested heavily in a fantastic and comprehensive light-rail and bus system is simply because they are smart and thoughtful (plus, they have the most extensive bicycle path system in the world).

Maybe they do simply care more about the Earth than the rest of the countries around the world, but…I think that they vote for tax dollars to build social transportation infrastructure because their government has been able to hold fast on maintaining the tax that makes gasoline $8/gallon (don’t worry, the current administration in the USA is doing their best to bring expensive fuel here too…).

Electric buses being delivered for export to the world, in Shenzhen China.

You may be wondering why I wrote the previous few paragraphs first, before getting to the meat of this article, but…figuring out their motives can often clarify the differences concerning what the big countries are going to do next.


100V, 400V and 800V

I wrote an article a while back about recent exotic cars that were either hybrid or pure EV (click here). After collecting the data to write the article, one thing jumped out at me. Some of these cars were using about 800V. Enough of them did this that it couldn’t be a coincidence. I believe there are two reasons. First, higher volts means that any amp-limited system can get the same performance with fewer heat-producing amps. This not only affects the output performance, but the max-amps the battery can flow also has an affect on the charging time. Higher volts are able to charge faster, when public charging stations are limited on the amount of amps they can provide.

It’s obvious that most EV’s will have a significant charger installed at the owners home. Also, most electricity for the grid is consumed during the day, and the electrical generating grid is designed to handle the maximum loads experienced during the summer peaks. This means that in the cool winters, and also at night…there is an excess of electrical capacity just idling away. The best place and time to charge up an EV, is at home when you are sleeping at night. That way, there’s no need to build more of the expensive generating plants…at least for now.

This is where the European Union / EU and the USA go in different directions. The Tesla cars and Nissan Leaf have a design that emphasizes a large battery with lots of range (over 300 miles per charge is common). Of course Tesla has invested heavily in building an extensive charger network across the US, but very few people drive more than 300 miles in a day, and sales indicate that US customers are OK with 300-ish miles between charges. If they want to go farther than that, they will have to stop at a charging station halfway, and eat at a nearby restaurant, while their car is getting a “fast charge” to rapidly fill half its max range (a full charge slows down near the end). 300 miles at 65-MPH is a 4.6-hour drive…

In the EU, the big picture seems to indicate they are leaning towards having a smaller car battery with a higher voltage, and being able to charge rapidly. This lowers the cost of the battery, and also makes the car lighter to help its performance. That being said, there are still many 400V-capable public EV charging stations in the EU, to service 400V cars.

I mentioned that there were two reasons, and here’s the second one. The EU is investing heavily in electric buses (click here). and if you want to accelerate a 40,000-lb / 18,000-kg vehicle using modest amps, you definitely NEED to boost the voltage as high as is practical. Apparently, an input of up to 800V is what many EV-bus manufacturers have settled on. The Chinese bus manufacturer BYD has configurable batteries using the “fire safe” LiFePO4 chemistry in voltages from 380V up to 700V, to allow charging from both 400V and 800V nodes, depending on the local markets where they are purchased.

Here, an electric bus gets an 800V induction charge onto it’s roof, which still works fine even in a hard rain.

Exotic cars in the EU can take advantage of 800V fast-charging stations across the EU that were installed for buses and work-trucks, in bays that have EV car chargers.

This brings us back to those stubbornly independent Americans. The best-selling EV’s in the US by a large margin have been the Tesla cars, and the Nissan Leaf. Also, early sales deposits on the small and affordable Chevy Bolt indicate it will likely be a popular model. I mention these three in particular because they all use a voltage near 400V.

None of these voltage choices were based on safety, because anything over 100V can be lethal under the right circumstances, and the higher the voltage the easier it is to kill you. So, if only 100V will kill you, why not make the voltage as high as possible? More volts equals less amps, right? Tesla and Nissan have some very smart engineers working for them, so…why not make the voltage 500V, 600V or 700V? There are many factors and conflicting needs that have to be addressed when making a big decision like that, so let’s take a look.

Its true that in the EU system model, using 800V means you can get great performance at lower amps from a smaller battery, and you can also charge up faster. However, you can either choose to only drive short distances (European cities are fairly dense, instead of spread out), or you can charge frequently on a long trip. So…why not park your million-dollar 800V Koenigsegg once in a while, to use the restroom and get a relaxing espresso as you pass through Paris?

However, American cities (and many of the places we like to travel to) are somewhat spread out. And regardless of the reasons, American EV customers prefer paying a little more to get a longer range. Once you insist on having a large battery, the voltage can be lower to still get “X” amount of watts of power, because a large battery can easily put out big amps. Tesla knew from the beginning that the bottom half of an empty battery’s charge can accept a high-amp rapid-charge to replace half of its range in a fairly quick amount of time [The final top half of charge must be provided at lower amps because of heat].

You can now cross the entire USA with an electric car, due to the number of charging stations, which continue to increase every week.

Tesla’s fast “supercharger” station cables and their vehicle’s on-board batteries both have active cooling. Of course cooling the battery while driving allows you to pull massive amps without getting the battery too hot, but having a cooling system on the battery is also beneficial for faster charging too.

Why 400V? There are common transformers in the US that can convert the 20,000V grid power to 440V, and it is more efficient to drop voltage down slightly from 440 to something lower when converting AC to DC for charging, compared to running a boost circuit from 220V to a higher voltage. A small consideration, perhaps, but…sometimes a small rudder can change the course of a fairly large ship.

220V was too low, and 800V is un-necessary, especially in light of the American EV bus stations NOT being available to the public, so…400V it is.

I also added 100V in the title of this section, and that’s for Zero motorcycles. They use 28 lithium cells in series (28S), and I think they missed an opportunity by not configuring their battery as two 14S batteries in series. Common inverters can convert 48V/52V batteries into 120V AC to power for your home during an unexpected power outage (See: Texas February 2021).

If the nominal voltage of a single lithium cell is 3.6V, and it is fully-charged at 4.1V per cell, then…28S is 100V at a 50% charge, and 115V when fully charged. This allows for a fairly efficient charge from a 120V AC outlet that is found in most American garages.

A Zero engineer told me that using fewer cells also simplified the Battery Management System / BMS, which they considered very important.

Every Zero motorcycle comes with a small on-board charger that is potted for impact resistance and water-proofing. However, it is fairly slow due to it’s modest size. A larger “Tier 2” charger can be installed in your garage if desired, to speed that up. This means you can always start the day with a full battery when you wake up, and then top it off a bit at work, or where-ever you find a common 120V AC outlet.

The orphaned full-sized Alta “Redshift” electric dirtbike. It was reported to be able to keep up with gasoline-powered 450’s

The now-defunct Alta motorcycle used around 350V, and the performance was great, but…it was pricey, and their efforts early on were focused on trying to get a military contract. Their main product was an off-road version, and the higher volts allowed them to use a smaller high-RPM motor, since they chose to go with a low-amp system design in order to maximize battery range (no power outlets in the desert).

Our article on Jeff Dahn’s battery research (click here), showed that a while back, Tesla already knew about what they were going to be doing with batteries in the near future (today), and that includes a dramatic increase in the amount of amps that their cells could provide using the “tabless” internal configuration.

Also, there might not be any significant improvements in the capacity per volume in the near future, so…the big picture route suggested leaning towards lower volts and higher amps. For better or worse…Tesla, Nissan, Chevy, and Zero have taken this path, and so far it seems to be paying off for them in the US.

The Honda/Panasonic 48V “Mobile Power Pack”, with two of them located under a PCX scooter seat.

Speaking of lower volts and higher amps, Honda and Panasonic recently rolled out a hot-swappable battery pack system for scooters in Indonesia. The country of Indonesia is actually the third largest market in the world for 2-wheeled vehicles (population, 270-million), with a focus on light motorcycles and 50-MPH scooters.

Years ago, 48V was considered barely adequate for an electric street-driven scooter, with 72V being the popular upgrade for better performance. With higher amps now being available in these smaller battery packs, Honda chose 48V as their system voltage, and also the “fire safe” LiFePO4 chemistry (partially because it does not need the problematic Cobalt or Nickel).

In this system, you purchase the scooter (shown above), but you don’t buy the battery. Instead, charging stations are located almost everywhere, so you simply swipe your credit card, and swap the old battery for a freshly charged battery.

The Honda/Panasonic Mobile Power Pack system. A UTV on the left, a 120V AC inverter in the center, and on the right is a flat-top robotic wheeled chassis which can be adapted to a variety of uses…

I’ve mentioned 48V being used to run a power inverter in the past (to provide 120V AC in a power outage), and this system has had these inverters available for purchase from the start. And for those who believe that 48V is way too low for a serious application, two of them can provide 96V in series.


The Plug Wars

The plug types that have stayed in the race are SAE J1772 (a simple engineering designation), CHAdeMO (which stand for “CHArge de MOve” but don’t ask why), and CCS is the “Combined Charge System”, with all three seen at the top of this article.

SAE stands for “Society of Automotive Engineers”, and the J1772 number is the name of a plug type. It was first introduced in 2001 as a 6.6-kW capable interface. The introduction of the Nissan Leaf at a reasonably affordable price in 2010 prompted the SAE to vote on an upgrade to the plug standard to 19-kW and 80A in 2010, by adding two larger DC pins at the bottom. The companies that agreed to include the upgraded J1772 socket for their near-future EV’s were Chrysler, GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Tesla.

The SAE J1772 plug Type-1 in the top half, with the two fat “high amp” Type-2 pins at the bottom that were added in 2010

CHAdeMO is a 2005 plug standard from the Japanese electric power conglomerate TEPCO, and companies that agreed to adopt it were Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Hitachi, and Panasonic. However, with the huge EV markets in the USA and the EU, this plug has been declining in use, as other formats allow customers to take advantage of growing public charger availabilities in those regions.

The CHAdeMO plug, which is declining in use.

CCS started in Germany in 2011 as an agreement by Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche, Volkswagen, Ford, and General Motors, to reduce public charging conflicts with plug types. The original 7-pin top half of the CCS plug was called the Mennekes AC plug, and adding two large DC pins under it is what became the CCS Type-2 standard, which can charge at up to 63A. This remains popular.

The most recent CCS Type-2


Tesla, the 500-lb gorilla

When I was a kid, there was a joke that went something like this…”Where does a 500-lb gorilla sit?” And the answer is “Anywhere he wants”.

The Tesla proprietary plug

Tesla has gone with their own design of plug and socket, however they do have adapters for their customers around the world who want to access CHAdeMO, J1772, and CCS public chargers. Tesla’s that are built in China will have a dual-socket interface, with one of them being the completely different Chinese “GB” socket.

The dual charge sockets on a Chinese Tesla. The Chinese GB socket is on the left, and the CCS/Mennekes Type-1 plug is on the right.


Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric car in the world, but sales in the US make it only the second highest selling here, after the very popular Tesla Model-3. The Leaf comes stock with a CHAdeMO socket, and also a J1772 Type-1 socket.

The Nissan Leaf has two different charging sockets under the nose-cap. The J1772 type-1 is shown on the right side. The CHAdeMO is under the cap on the left.


There have been other system voltages and plug types that have fallen by the wayside, and these types of things have a way of consolidating over time, as they are now. For instance, as of March 2021…KTM, Yamaha, Honda and Piaggio have agreed to partner on developing and using the exact same swappable battery, voltage, and plug type for their off-road dirt bikes. Last summer, Suzuki and Kawasaki had expressed interest in joining-in, but are not contractually committed at this time.

I have heard an interesting story about the momentum of interface standards. When the Space Shuttle was being designed in 1969, the decision was made to have the two solid-rocket boosters made at Thiokol in Utah, and they were to be transported to the Florida launch-site by train. This meant that their diameter was limited by the width of the railroad tunnels along the way. The tunnels were very expensively dug out of the rocky mountains to barely fit the locomotives.

The width of the modern locomotives was dictated by the width of the two rails on the train tracks, made to fit the older steam locomotives. The two rails for the older locomotives were spaced to match the horse-drawn wagons of the day, since hundreds of trails across the US had been forced to use dynamite to just barely remove enough large boulders from tight passes. By using an existing trail width, it saved on extra work and cost.

Wagons had been built to a width that set the wheels into common road ruts that had been worn into the trails for decades, helping them to avoid sliding off to the side in slippery conditions. But…who decided on the best width of the early wagons in the western expansion? Wagons were built to the width of two side-by-side horse-butts. A narrower wagon with the horses in-line would be unstable, prone to flipping onto their side. And wider wagons would not fit narrow trails.

The diameter of the space-shuttle solid rocket boosters is the width of two horse-butts.


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, March 2021

The subject of recycling the thousands of EV car battery packs that are no longer in use is a something that I have thought is a huge opportunity, and now somebody is doing something about it.


Rather than try and hide some “secret sauce”, the new start-up Redivivus has recently done some interviews online, and they spelled out their methods.

You may have seen bins at large hardware stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Menards) for turning-in worn batteries from cordless tools that no longer hold a charge. However, the volume of battery packs from EV’s (that will be reaching the end of their useful life) will soon be a flood, which will grow every year.

A variety of methods have been used by metals recyclers who are trying to deal with this new waste-stream that they were unfamiliar with. Redivivus has tackled this challenge by first freezing the batteries and running them through a recycling grinder of the type that can shred metal. This is a brilliant decision, because the batteries arrive at their R&D facility in various states of charge. Measuring the state of charge and draining them into a dummy load would be time consuming, and by freezing them, they are virtually inert and fire-proof.

The grinding process results in shredded bits and pieces that are small. They have acquired a similar shredder that is so large it can swallow an entire Tesla battery pack from a wrecked car, without needing to break it down into smaller sections.

A small recycling grinder during the initial proof-of-concept phase, shown here shredding some 18650 cells

In the pic above, a recycling grinder is breaking down common 18650-format cells from cordless tools. As soon as Redivivus shreds the frozen cells, the bits drop immediately into a neutralizing solution to ensure they do not react chemically or thermally.

Checking a batch of shredded 18650’s for heat to see if they are reacting.



I worked for over a decade with several company’s that cleaned up hazardous waste sites (OHM, Shaw, IT), most of which were old landfills that did not meet the modern standards. This includes moving the waste to a newly constructed landfill with a liner at its base to prevent rain water from percolating through the trash and leeching chemicals into the underground water table.

Some of the jobs involved digging up old abandoned underground storage tanks (UST’s), a few of which had rusted through over the years, leaking gasoline and diesel into a plume under the tank location. We would dig up the contaminated soil and spread it out in a shallow bio-reactor pit, then cover it, and it would be sprayed with a special bacteria that eats hydrocarbons. Remediation is a fancy word for cleaning up the hazardous mess, and using bacteria to do the heavy lifting is a cheap and safe way to perform “bio-remediation”.

As futuristic as this may sound, there are actually bacteria that will eat and conglomerate the chemicals that we want to pull out of the shredded lithium cell mass. Bio-reactors have been used before to separate copper and gold from recycled (shredded) electronics, and also to pull out hazardous metals from sewage sludge (like cadmium, arsenic, lead), so…the science behind this method is not new or dangerous.

So, what are the resulting products from Redivivus’ process? The nickel needed for the cathodes of the NCA/NCM lithium cells in the battery pack of Tesla cars needs to be of a very high purity. However…the steel shells that make up the case of the cylindrical 18650 and 2170 cells are nickel-plated, and the 99.9% pure nickel coming from Redivivus is “clean enough” for a wide range of industrial uses like that. Nickel is one of the components needed to make the stainless-steel skin of the Tesla Cyber-truck, so even nickel that is “only” 99.9% pure has a huge market for every pound of nickel that Redivivus can produce.

Cobalt is another critical element. From the beginning of the EV boom, cobalt was identified as a bottle-neck material that was a useful product in the manufacturing of the cells that Tesla uses to get great performance and long range. Cobalt is found in few places, and mining it is a very “dirty” process that is bad for the environment (as well as there being humanitarian abuses by some mining companies in Africa), so cobalt will remain in demand for the rest of our lives. The Tesla cars built in China will be using the LiFePO4 chemistry specifically because LiFePO4 has no cobalt or nickel in it, so they can make as many batteries as they want.

Although Lithium, steel, aluminum, and copper are also recycled by Redivivus, their proven ability to re-capture 92% of the Cobalt and Nickel from their lithium-battery waste-stream is what guarantees their success.


Luke Workman

The CEO of Redivivus is Erika Guerrero, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting personally, and I came away very impressed. However, the reason the news of Redivivus caught my eye is their chief scientist, Luke Workman. I have known Luke for many years, since he was a frequent poster on, and (which covers all EV’s, especially electric bicycles). His web-name is “Live for Physics”, or LFP.

Luke’s resume is too long to list here, but he was a senior battery engineer for Zero motorcycles when they doubled their range by transitioning from cylindrical cells to flat Farasis cells in their Z-Force pack (click here).

Luke Workman, the wild man of the EV world. He has an endless supply of positive energy, and he has worked tirelessly for years to promote electric vehicles.
A 7-minute interview of Luke by from 2015

Here is a written interview of Luke in 2016 by New Atlas (click here for part-1).

And here is part-2 of that interview (click here).


The Redivivus Interview

Here is the youtube of the 44-minute interview with Erika and Luke that just hit the web this week.



Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, March 2021

I’ve always liked the style of vintage vehicles, and there is a growing trend of converting old gassers to an electric drivetrain. Jim in Virginia has done a beautiful job, and fortunately for us he took lots of pictures.


Piaggio Vespa PX 125

I have read of projects many times where the builder bought a running used vehicle, and then sold the engine and transmission for close to the price of the whole purchase. Most of the time, if you find a good deal on something, then the engine will have a lot of miles and be barely running, if it runs at all.

Worn cylinders and piston-rings create low compression, and also oil blow-by. This fouls the plugs and makes the exhaust smokey. With worn tires and brakes, old scooters like this can be found dirt cheap.

Vespa is Italian for “Wasp”, and it was designed by Piaggio & Co in Pontedera Italy, with production starting in 1946. After WWII, Italy was in shambles, and most people could not afford a car. The nimble Vespa was stylish, but it’s main benefit was that it was cheap and provided excellent fuel economy with it’s simple air-cooled 98cc one-cylinder engine.

Jim’s Vespa PX125 on the day he bought it for $750

The rear swingarm only uses one shock absorber, and the front fork only has an arm on one side…also with only one shock. The body panels cover the wiring for a sleek appearance, and it has a surprising amount of lockable storage.

There are two distinctive features that are worthy of mentioning. First, it has an open leg bay instead of a “top bar” that you might expect from most types of motorcycles. I have heard in the past that this made it easier for women to ride these when they were wearing a dress, but a deeper dig revealed the original designers felt the open bay would reduce leg injuries when a car hit the scooter from the side.

The second thing that stands out is that the deluxe models had an electric starter as well as a type of “automatic” transmission, which do not require the rider to operate a clutch. These things made them very easy for anyone to learn how to ride safely in a very short amount of time (Jim’s had a clutch and a 4-speed conventional transmission)

The engine, clutch, and transmission are built around the rear wheel, so…there is no external chain, which eliminates the common oiling and adjustment of any chain as it wears. Since the finned air-cooled engine is fully enclosed, it has a shaft-mounted fan to blow air onto it (part number 7), and this design has worked well for many decades. The body panels covering the engine also made it run quieter, which made it feel more civilized.

A 1946 Vespa. The headlight was soon raised to the handlebars to make it more visible to a car in front of the Vespa. The wheel-mounted headlight was designed to illuminate the direction you were going in a turn, and I think it would be good for them to have both.

In WW-One, Piaggio went from being a lumber yard to producing parts for wooden airplane frames. During WWII, Piaggio was pressed into service by the Italian government to produce modern aircraft parts. As a result, the Vespa was designed by aircraft engineers, resulting in it’s innovative rounded shape, which was not only considered aerodynamic, but it was also visually appealing. The distinctive large curved splash-guard on the front was very innovative at the time, and much appreciated by riders when it rained.

Another feature used by the aircraft engineers was a monocoque construction. This is where the frame is made from curved sheetmetal sections that are riveted and spot-welded together, rather than having a separate frame and body. Doing this made the Vespa lighter and less expensive. Both are good features, but…because of this, rust can be fatal to a restoration due to how difficult it is to repair properly. You can’t just take the sheet-metal on an old Vespa body and make it pretty, it must be repaired strong enough to support all the stresses of a vehicle frame.

The 1952 movie “Roman Holiday” showed the world that a Vespa was a cheap and easy way to get around.

The biggest sales promo for the Vespa was Hollywood. In 1952, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn rode through Rome on a Vespa in the hit romantic movie “Roman Holiday”. Sales figures showed an immediate and significant up-tick in global Vespa sales volume.

Millions of Vespa’s have been sold over the decades, and Piaggio continues to produce a classic version. However, they also have developed their MP3 3-wheeled high-performance scooter, and in 2014, they developed a mid-drive electric bicycle.


Tear-Down and Cleaning

Once Jim had the Vespa in his garage, he researched which hubmotor and controller he thought would work well, and then ordered them. While he waited for those to arrive, it was time to get busy tearing everything down, and cleaning up all the parts.

The 125cc engine and transmission can usually be sold for parts, on a scooter forum. Jim’s engine and transmission were running, and he sold it for $550
Separating the body sections and removing all the paint
Filling the digs and dents with red plastic body-filler
Sanding the body-filler smooth

In the pic above, you can clearly see how the Vespa does not have a conventional separate frame. The central square tube on the floor-boards is all hollow sheet-metal.

The motor, controller, and other bits arrive!
This is a QS hubmotor from China. Since the motor is big and the tire is small, it doesn’t need spokes, and Jim ordered the version with the rim directly connected to the hub.

Jim chose a Quan Shun 205 / 50H hub motor, rated for 4000W at 72V, specifying a model that accepts 10-inch tires. QS has been making electric motorcycles in China for many years, and we featured them in a large hubmotor index back in 2015

The stock Vespa uses front and rear drum brakes, which is fine for a low-speed light-weight scooter, but this beefy rear disc brake is a welcome upgrade. These are NOT bicycle parts.
The width and power of the 4000W hubmotor required Jim to fabricate a custom steel swingarm to mate it to the frame.
The Rear brake caliper and axle pinch-bolts

In the pic above, Jim has mounted the disc brake caliper bracket and shimmed it to a perfect location before welding it on. The stock Vespa drive does not stress the wheel axle, so swapping to a powerful hub-motor requires a very strong frame drop-out to be added, and Jim has also included a beefy pinch-bolt to both sides.



Painting seems to attract dust by electro-static fields generated in the air. The DIY solution is a HEPA air filter and a portable booth in your garage. $65 from Amazon.

I’ve seen this done before, to keep dust off the wet paint.
The first phase to a durable paint job is a good layer of primer.
Jim chose a bright white for the body
This shade of turquoise is very eye-catching
These two panels normally cover the engine and transmission, which act directly on the stock wheel-axle with no external chain
The front drum brake cover and steering arm were painted with “rattle can” aluminum.



The tear-down, cleaning, repair, and painting phases are often filled with unexpected surprises, but hopefully when you get to this point, the re-assembly goes smoothly, and it is definitely the exciting part.

The fun part begins
The Kelly controller and beefy power-on contactor were located in the left-side compartment. Inside and in the back of the under-seat storage is a bronze-colored DC-to-DC converter which provides 12V, for running the lights and accessories.

For charging, he chose an XT90 connector set, but for the power from the battery to the controller, he is using beefy polarized Anderson PP180 connectors.

Kelly KBL96251, 24V-96V, 250A, BLDC Controller/with Regen

HWZ-9612 Series DC/DC Converter 48V-130V to 12V @25A

CNL 500A Fuse

 Emergency cut-off Contactor KEMG-250A, with an additional 250A breaker

Here is the basic electrical schematic Jim used to get the re-assembly started.
The wiring is the hardest part for me. Street vehicles must have a headlight, tail-light, brake lights, turn signals, horn, and others…
The front cover hides the horn and wiring.
Vespa’s come stock with an attractive lockable glove-box.

In the pic above, you can see that JIm cut a rectangular hole in the top of the glove-box to mount an electrical system dashboard.

An bright LED headlight

Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) can provide the same amount of light, while drawing much less energy from the battery (compared to an old-style filament bulb). A gasoline-powered Vespa has an alternator to generate electricity, but an electric Vespa needs to save as much energy as possible to extend the battery range.

The Vespa uses a common size of scooter headlight, so an LED upgrade is readily available.



After some research, Jim decided to go with a 72V system, provided by a battery pack using 20 lithium cells in series (20S). In the pic below, he mocked-up a box that shows the largest shape that can fit inside the stock under-seat compartment.

Performance-wise, a frame-mounted motor would be ideal for the suspension, when hitting potholes in the street. However, scooters don’t have anywhere to mount a motor on the frame without significantly intruding into the only realistic area to put a battery pack.

For this reason, I’m still seeing builds for low-speed street use that use hub-motors, since it simplifies the layout for home builders, and allows a monolithic block shape for a large single battery.

Using Cardboard-Aided-Design / CAD (who needs computers?)

Below is the custom-ordered 72V / 20S battery made from 2170-format cells, and the size ended up being 38-Ah.

The battery pack, with BMS mounted on top
The pack fits, but it’s too bad there wasn’t room for one more row…
The finished product

Jim has a wonderful garage that is perfect for tinkering with a winter project.

A few small Generic Chinese scooters have embraced the vintage style, but you can tell they don’t quite capture the beauty of an authentic full-sized Vespa.

The turquoise on white color scheme really pops

Jim took a LOT of pictures (which is fortunate for us), and he detailed the process of this build in a forum discussion. For more details click here.

Vespa’s come with a U-shaped center-stand that allows you to jump on and simply drive forward to get it to fold back.

Below is a retro-vintage sign Jim found. I love this style!

You can find this sign for sale by Googling “Electro Scoot”



This conversion easily leaps up to 50-MPH, and on flat land with no wind, he even reached 60-MPH. The zero-to 50-MPH is where electric drive really shines because motors have full torque available from the first RPM’s.

In stop-and-go city traffic, Jim went from a 94% charge to 38% in 57 minutes, reaching a distance of 24 miles (average speed over the course of the run was 27-MPH while keeping up with traffic).

The bike weighs 210 pounds, the rider weighs 275…

Lithium batteries have a fairly flat discharge curve, so getting 24 miles from 56% of the battery pack means we can “estimate” his 72V 38-Ah pack can provide roughly 2.3% of the battery per mile, or…43 miles taking a full battery down to a completely discharged pack.

And here’s a short video showing some people zipping around on Vespa’s.


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, March 2021

Back in April of 2019, we wrote about an electric fatbike where the owner wanted the new powerful Bafang Ultra Max G510 drive, but…the few frames that came from the factory with it were either too expensive, or didn’t have the features he wanted. So, what’s a man with an angle grinder and a TIG welder supposed to do in that situation? Hack up a perfectly good frame, of course!

Well, the factories in China that make ebikes with these drives have caught up with the production orders, and first-year exclusivity clauses in the contracts have expired, so now the factories are selling every frame they make direct to the public. One builder in Belgium decided to order a frame that would accept the Ultra Max, and fortunately for us he documented the process.



The builder is “Daxxie” in Belgium, and the ebike we are featuring just below is his 7th build. He wanted a titanium frame, so he went to a Chinese website that allowed him to chose the dimensions of the frame, and they built it to order. He bought it on Alibaba, which is the Chinese “Ebay”, so buyer beware. That being said, the factory he chose was BJCSTI (and there are other titanium frame factory options)

A custom-ordered titanium frame from China.

Dax: “Parts I ordered for the bike:

Magura MT5 + MT5e (I only want a brake sensor on the rear brake)
203mm and 180mm brake discs. I also found a nice “cheap” secondhand wheelset from DT-Swiss with Fatsno Pro-4 hubs. Sizes 150×15, and 197×12. The wheels came with 4.0-inch wide tires, and I ordered some 4.8’s…

…I borrowed the Bluto fork and SRAM X9 derailleur from my Scott fatbike, and later, I will find another Bluto fork in a different colour…”

Assembling the parts
A lot of details on this electric fatbike are very eye-catching

OK, it’s time to start crawling down the rabbit hole and see where it leads…Why go to so much trouble to use the Bafang Ultra Max G510, you ask? When it comes to the amount of copper mass in the stator, the G510 is the reigning king of power potential. On top of that, Bafang included a smooth and sophisticated torque-sensing PAS (Pedal Assist Sensor). This allows you to program in a seamless transition of power being added when you pedal.

Off-roaders really like this so they don’t need to manipulate a hand-throttle. There would be a more abrupt power-on pulse if they had used the less expensive “speed sensing” style of PAS (that’s the common type that’s found on most kits). Torque-sensing is an upscale feature when you are precariously tackling a difficult technical obstacle up on a mountain trail. This way, your hands are completely free of any throttle duties, so they can concentrate on braking and steering.

Pulling the side cover off

Take note in the pic above of the three fat Blue/Green/Yellow (BGY) motor phase wires.

Daxxie wanted the option to use 72V on this drive, so he pulled out the stock controller to see if he could fit something inside the case. If that didn’t work out, of course, he could have mounted a controller on the outside, but in this case, he found a solution that worked for him.

The skinny-wire bundle. Red and black are the 5V positive and negative power wires to the Hall sensors, and the skinny Blue/Green/Yellow wires carry the signal from the three Hall sensors back to the controller. The sixth white wire is an auxiliary, which can be used as a tachometer signal or sometimes for a temperature sensor.
Test-running a Phaserunner

Dax was already familiar with the Phaserunner controller, so he wired it up to see if it ran with the Ultra Max, and it did.

You can’t really see it from this angle, but Dax had to trim a few millimeters off of the controller to get it to fit inside the Ultra Max case. He also had to grind away some of the aluminum in the case-body to be able to get the cover closed.

The Bafang Ultra Max G510 unit was purchased from Luna Cycles in Southern California, and the 72V Phaserunner controller is from Grin Tech in Canada.


The Battery

Daxxie wanted a 72V battery pack, and since he didn’t find anything that appealed to him, of course he decided to make his own. Below, you can see the 3D-printed side panel to the battery case that he designed and made.

The 3D-printed battery pack side-cover.

To get 72V, Dax is using 20 groups of lithium cells in series (20S), and the higher voltage means that he might be drawing fewer amps…if he can take it easy on the assist level!

I was surprised to see he went the “high volt / low amp” route, because one of the places where the G510 really shines is in how many amps it can take without overheating.

20S / 5P

“…Been driving it for over a year now. I love the frame and the Bafang Ultra…”


Daxxie’s Ninth build

Based on his experience with the previous G510 frame, Daxxie decided that he wanted another one, and he decided that his next frame would be aluminum. He shopped around and ordered a frame from the brand Seroxat, based in Shenzhen, China. The retailer was

It took a while to arrive straight from China to his driveway, but here it is, fresh out of the box

Dax received the frame, and immediately sent it off to be powder-coated a light gray color. Power-coating is a process that covers a given part with a very hard ceramic, and it comes in a wide variety of colors. I’m told it’s much tougher than paint.

Time to get started assembling
3D-printed cell-holders

Dax was surprised at how cool the previous Ultra Max ran, so this time he decided to use 52V and six “high-amp” cells in parallel (6P). Using 52V is 14 cell-groups in series (14S)

Fully assembled and ready to go

“…Frame was $350 USD + $250 USD shipping (to Belgium)
I ordered two frames for the same shipping price:
$700 USD + $250 USD = $950 USD and then I sold one as soon as they arrived. So it cost me $475 USD

Changed the chainring to 46T, and I also got some shorter Miranda cranks. Officially it has 144mm rear travel if you use a 190/51mm damper. But, by installing a 200/57 damper you will get up to 160mm. I changed the air springs on the front shock. They are now also 160mm...

I posted some pics in the Facebook group, and someone asked if it was for sale. I have some ideas for a new project, so I sold it…”


Dengfu E06 Carbon Fiber Frame

The first two Bafang Ultra frames were titanium and aluminum, so I looked around for a build using carbon fiber, and…I found one by forum member BeachRider2016, from North Carolina

The ultra-light carbon-fiber Dengfu E06

If you want to search for these, it’s E-Zero-Six, not E-Oh-Six (why do they do that?)

3D-printing cell holders

“OF course” BeachRider 2016 wanted to build a custom battery with cells that he had selected (for high amps), so the pic above and below are his 3D-printed cell holders.

14S / 52V and only 3P to keep it light
A beautiful beach scene in North Carolina.


I’m fascinated by innovative vehicles, and 3-wheelers have been around for a long time, popping up here and there. They never seem to take off and stay in production, but I think this one might just have a chance, so let’s take a look it.


Tadpole 3-wheelers History

There have been 3-wheeled vehicles since the beginning of the gasoline engine, starting with the Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1885. However, there is one quirk to the three-wheeled layout, and that is…do you put two wheels in front? or two wheels in the back? Well, the TV show “Top Gear” demonstrated the weakness of placing only one wheel out front (The “Delta” configuration), back in 2010 with a Reliant Robin (click here).

When driving downhill, if you need to suddenly make a sharp turn, the vehicle has a tendency to roll onto it’s side. Even in the United States, this is widely considered to be “bad form”. So, every vehicle in this article from here on out will be using the “tadpole” configuration, where the axle with two wheels is out front, for stability.

1931 Shotwell

There is only one Shotwell, it is currently owned by Jay Leno (click here), and it has a fascinating back-story. During the great depression (starting in 1929), a 17-year old Bob Shotwell from Minnesota couldn’t afford a car. He grew up on a farm, and from a young age he was involved in complex repairs to farm equipment.

So…he did what any resourceful Minnesotan would do, he simply fabricated one from scratch. He salvaged a 4-cylinder air-cooled Indian motorcycle engine, and built it up from there.

The 1931 Shotwell


The Morgan company is based in Worcestershire, England. Their name is somewhat famous for their 3-wheeled “cycle-car“, and they made their first one in 1909. The definitive models using an air-cooled V-twin engine were made from 1911-1939. Not only were they affordable and provided great fuel economy, but…their impressive power-to-weight ratio made these vehicles a lot of fun to drive.

The 1911-1939 Morgan

The reasoning behind making a 3-wheeled car still applies today. They are much more stable than a 2-wheeled motorcycle. It can be lighter, less expensive, have less aerodynamic drag, and…better fuel economy than a 4-wheeled car.

I’ve seen many examples of a tadpole motorcycle being sold these past two decades, and I’ve thought that if I ever found one with a worn out gasoline engine, it would make an excellent base for an electric conversion. If you are curious about the current batch of tadpole 3-wheelers that are available, I’ll list a few here, by category.

If you want a fairly narrow scooter or motorcycle, you could check out the Niu TQI , the Microletta, the Piaggio MP3, and the Yamaha Tri-city.

The Piaggio MP3

One of the reasons I like the tadpole configuration is because of its stability, and this next category is made from models that have a wide stance with the two front wheels. It includes the Elio, The Vanderhall Carmel, Campagna T-Rex, Can-Am Ryker (one seat), Can-Am Spyder (two seats), and the Polaris Slingshot.

The Vanderhall Carmel

This final category is made with ELECTRIC 3-wheeled tadpole vehicles. The Corbin Sparrow is a fully enclosed vehicle with electric drive. It only has one seat, and it is most famous for it’s cameo in the comedy movie “Goldmember”. Sadly, the company went out of business.

The Corbin Sparrow

The Aptera is very futuristic-looking, and it has the most aerodynamic shape of any vehicle here. Although they have had a rocky start, they are still in business.

The Aptera

The Vanderhall Edison2 is definitely available for purchase, and it appears to use two Zero motorcycle motors to provide it’s front-wheel drive system. This system should give the driver excellent handling, and the price is listed at $34,950. It is essentially an electric version of their Carmel model.

The Vanderhall Edison2

The Arcimoto uses two seats similar to a car seat (but in tandem), as opposed to a motorcycle-style of seat. The driver has handlebars like a motorcycle. It has all the benefits of electric drive, and a price tag of $17,900. They are also promoting a package delivery version with only one seat.

The Arcimoto


The Nobe 100GT

And now we get to the EV feature of this article, the Nobe 100GT. There are several things I like about this, first of which is the retro style. Back in 1989, the Mazda company believed that the market was ready for a small reliable car that resembled the sports cars of the 1960’s, especially the 1962 Lotus Elan. It was a BIG hit.

I believe it was the one car that started the steady flow of retro-styled cars, such as the 1997 VW Beetle, 2000 Mini Cooper, the 2005 Ford Mustang, 2007 Fiat 500, and 2008 Dodge Challenger.

The founder of the company is from Estonia, a small eastern European country that gained their independence from Russia in 1991.

The Nobe Targa Top. The removable roof section can be white, or clear. This is my favorite model.

One outstanding feature that grabbed my attention is that the Nobe uses AWD, which makes them absolutely phenomenal in slippery conditions, like snow. They accomplish this by using three hubmotors, which also saves space in the main body for the battery and controller. The video below shows the Nobe ripping through snow, so it’s not just a theory.

Of course I am wondering what kind of heater they use to keep the front window defrosted, so I will keep looking. I assume it’s electric, which could cut down on the claimed range.

There are other features that I like, even as much as I like the style. It uses a composite body. Hopefully that’s one of the things that will keep the price affordable, and it is definitely one of the things that keeps it light.

I grew up in Southern California, where the weather is typically mild. But when I lived in Chicago, I was exposed to the practice of “salting the roads” which is done to prevent ice from forming. I saw cars that were not that old, and they had a horrible amount of rust in the wheel-wells from the salt, which is very corrosive.

If it was up to me, many more vehicles would have the option of composite body panels, rather than steel or aluminum. At the very least, the bottom 1/3rd of a car would greatly benefit if their body panels were composite. If you live near the oceans’ sea air, or anywhere that cars have a problem with rusting away, the Nobe should last a VERY long time.

The Nobe 100GT from the rear

I haven’t seen a rear this nice since the 2012 Olympic games in London.

The Nobe 100GT

It’s has a $2500 reservation fee, with $29,000 as the full price. Their advertising claims a top-speed of 68-MPH (110-kph), and a range of 136 miles (218 Kilometers).

The Nobe interior, with a simple elegant retro style


Nobe has been getting a LOT of interested feedback. A few people have mentioned how their platform was specifically made to allow a variety of body styles, and I really like the front of their “Next Model” prototype drawing.

The Nobe Next Model

The Nobe 100GT now has Munroe and associates as a US dealer, and that was the one thing that made me feel this was the real deal.


Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, April 2021