Do you think building your own ebike makes sense?

calvin

Active Member
It had occurred to me, before I bought my Motive Shadow, to just build my own ebike. After spending some time at endless-sphere I decided that I wasn't really interested in learning all the "how to do this or that" nor spending the hours necessary to build what I could just buy. All I really wanted to do is just ride.

That being said, a few hours ago I met another ebike rider who was riding his own build. He said that it was not hard to do. He had spent $500 on a 48v battery from pingbattery.com and $400 on a 48volt 1000 watt gearless rear hub motor. His bike did not have a LCD display, a pedelec sensor or a twist throttle. In fact, the bike was an older Schwinn model. He said that his bike would do 35 mph, and that he used it strictly for transportation. Our conversation lasted about twenty minutes.

As he left, I was stunned by the sling shot acceleration of his bike. Whoa! He got up to his speed in a snap! Now I am reconsidering my original decision, and have started to want to build one too. Have any of you guys tried this?
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hey calvin! Great question... I agree that the speed and power of an unregulated custom build is attractive but it's the only real benefit I see. Even though people say you can save money doing a kit in my experience it costs about the same, looks way worse and doesn't offer nearly the same quality, longevity or resale as a mainstream electric bike.

I'm not a hater here, I've just come to appreciate the refined products that are finally making their way onto the scene. With your Shadow for example, just being able to have the battery weight low and center like that is a huge deal. As you know, there's a huge conversation going on about the legality of ebikes in NYC and these modded bikes are essentially illegal in all states and could put law abiding ebikers in a negative light.

For me personally, 20 to 28mph is plenty of speed and the ride quality, balance and clean aesthetic become the focus. Even riding the Stealth ebikes (which are probably cooler and more powerful than the bike you saw) felt dangerous. Yeah, we had fun tearing it up for an afternoon but it's not something I'd ride on my own, especially for commuting purposes. Since I don't have a ranch with jumps or some other open space to ride, a bike like this would just be an expensive toy.

Other thoughts:
  • Efficiency drops significantly when traveling over 15mph on an upright bicycle.
  • Larger systems are much heavier
  • Custom builds may strain your bicycle frame (not built or tested for larger loads and forces of electric drive)
  • Speed wobble can occur when riding at higher speeds 25mph+ (where your front wheel becomes unstable)
 

calvin

Active Member
Yeah, Most of those points are what I've thought through already. Especially aesthetics... If we are being honest, we would all probably admit that riding a good looking bike makes us feel good. Thats a big deal. There is no way can I make a good looking ebike. In my mind, that darn battery doesn't look right no matter where I put it. But that speed thingie...
 

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Here's a good example of a half and half ebike that's sold as a complete solution but really uses aftermarket parts. I think it's capable of reaching those higher speeds etc. and has achieved the low/center battery pack design. It's not the prettiest thing (and I kept hitting my knees on the case) but it's a good example of what you can do if you put your mind to it.


Having been knocked out twice on my snowbard (human power alone) while I was using a helmet... I'm okay taking things a bit easier. Even 25mph starts to feel fast when you're not surrounded by doors, windows and airbags.
 

Aushiker

Active Member
I probably have a slightly different take to Court. I have pretty much gone from buying a new bike back to converting a bike I already have and this has come about because for me to get an e-bike with what I would consider a half-decent specification (seven speed no-model Shimano drivetrains is not a decent specification and frankly should only be found on $200 BSO IMO) means having to speed $3,000 + whereas I can convert my existing bike for around the $1,000 to $1,500 and hopefully do it in a tidy manner.

recumbent-bicycle.jpg

Now my bike for conversion is problem not quite some main stream as I am looking at converting my Bacchetta Giro ATT 20 (its on the market but no bites of note so might else make use of it). It has good bike components so ticks that starting box for me. I think I can do a reasonable job of converting it and achieve a fairly tidy outcome and do this under $1,500 or maybe a touch more if I decide to convert the seat over to a more upright riding position down the track, e.g., like this one below. Hopefully a win win for me.

bionx-powered-recumbent-ebike.jpg

I think if I could have got a diamond frame bike with a decent specification for a more reasonable price I might have gone that way.

Regards
Andrew
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
I probably have a slightly different take to Court. I have pretty much gone from buying a new bike back to converting a bike I already have and this has come about because for me to get an e-bike with what I would consider a half-decent specification (seven speed no-model Shimano drivetrains is not a decent specification and frankly should only be found on $200 BSO IMO) means having to speed $3,000 + whereas I can convert my existing bike for around the $1,000 to $1,500 and hopefully do it in a tidy manner.
I think if I could have got a diamond frame bike with a decent specification for a more reasonable price I might have gone that way.

Excellent work, Andrew.
I have bookmarked your website and you have some wonderful info and resources.
What ebikes are you riding now?
 

Aushiker

Active Member
Thanks Ravi. No eBikes for me, yet. This forthcoming build will be my first. Still researching and researching but close to narrowing down the first pass at the final spec. Will post the details for input once sorted.

I am currently off the bike plus work is killing me so not rushing this.

Andrew