Monday, September 16, 2013

Out of Gas and in charge

Electric Blue GSX-R, Out of Gas and in charge

By Mark Cernicky

Since moving to southern California from Pennsylvania in 2000, Seth Mader, a 34 year old from Spring Valley, CA. wanted an electric vehicle capable of getting him back and forth from work, fast enough to safely navigate southern California freeways.,
 “I have been using a motorcycle as my primary source of transportation and have become accustom to not waiting in traffic, getting the best parking spaces, and going straight to the head of the line at stop lights. So, making an electric motorcycle seemed to be my best option.”

Seth started online research and found hundreds of people who’d built their own electric motorcycles decided to his bike after an electric Yamaha R1, converted by Electric Motorsport ( in Oakland, CA. Initially thoughts where of converting 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 250 he previously owned because of its weighty another one cheap; but after committing to costs involved preferred to have a bike that looked nice and he’d be proud to ride. Not that he didn’t have a blast riding 250 Ninja; it was just that the 6’ 5” Seth felt like a circus bear on a bicycle.

After considering selling his 2006 GSX-R 600 and buying a bike with a blown engine to convert had a hard time finding with body all in decent shape. He decided to part out all the gasoline components of and converted it to electric power, since Seth already had all the plastic and got $600 bucks for his 600 motor. Yes, he built it himself with a little tech support from Google and Electric Motorsport. It took Seth about six-months to complete, four where spent on waiting for various electrical parts.
“I only wish I had found someone who built a 06 GSX-R 600, who could have helped me out with all the gory details.”

 Mr. Mader bought most of the parts from Electric Motorsport in Oakland. The electric motor and motor controller, as a set cost him right around $3000. They carry several different types of motors but the type our man “Darth Mader” settled for was custom made by two guys who live near Ontario, CA. They take a five-horse power golf cart motors and custom “wound” them into the 45 horse power 3 phase AC motor Seth purchased.

He currently has Electric Blue geared for a top speed of about 80 mph give or take five mile-an-hour depending on the street’s incline. Tallish gearing equates to a modest but completely acceptable acceleration. Some electric sport bikes are advertised as capable of doing 0-60 mph in 3 seconds and having a top speed of 100 mph. Hard to imagine possible without a transmission.
“I also have a 72 volt battery pack and a motor controller set to max out at around 300 amps. I could change out the battery pack to run the motor at a higher voltage (say 84 volts) also turn up the motor controller to run at 500 amps which would make the converted GSX-R go faster, but obviously not go as far.”

Mader commutes 20 miles—plugs in at work—each way but on weekends like to take it on a 34 mile ride route. Mader told, lithium ion batteries take about two hours to fully recharge.

So far Seth has ridden 40 miles on a charge, at – 65 mph– freeway speeds and the battery wasn’t completely dead. Riding at 30 to 40 mph– where the electric motor is more efficient– he was able to go 60 miles to a charge fairly easily. Seth is anxiously awaiting the use of super-capacitors for energy storage in electric vehicles as an eventual replacement for batteries. But for now, is satisfied with the cost and performance of lithium batteries.

Comparing gas cost to electricity Mader remains amazed more people aren't more interested in using electricity for there commuters to get to work. By his calculations gas powered 600cc motor gets 40mpg, gas is currently $2.30 a gallon. So, the same 20 mile ride that cost $1.15 petrol, it takes 0.31 kWh of electricity on Electric Blue. The Electric Company charges $0.25, during peak hours per kWh and $0.15 cents during off peak times per kWh. So during peak hours, 0.31 kWh costs $0.08 cents to get to work. Therefore, Seth could ride to work 14 times using electricity before incurring the same cost as driving with gas. 

“I’d guess it is about 75-100 lbs heavier. But I’m still able to lift it up off the road after someone inadvertently hit me in 5 o’clock traffic on the freeway.”

 There is no comparison… the gasoline engine is much faster, however, is due to several variables, specifics, mainly volts, amps, and gear ratio/transmission. Like Seth’s Electric Blue, as with many other electric vehicles do not have a transmission. So the only way to change gears now is by swapping sprockets to change final drive ratio.

“I could change the sprockets so it would have killer acceleration but then the top speed would only be around 40 mph.”

No plans to build another electric bike any time soon. He’s currently busy paying off the loan I took out to build Electric Blue. Seth hopes that if all goes well, the industry may catch on and start making more electric bikes, so he wouldn’t have to build his own.

In our closing conversation Seth started talking about finding a used, Hayabusa stretching it adapting two electric motors and super-capacitors to make himself a real lighting bolt.


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