Voltzilla: DIY Electric Motorcycle Made from Forklift Parts

Our post about the DIY electric Kawasaki motorcycle was pretty popular, and the owner, Ben Nelson, even dropped by and left a few comments.

But he's not the only one converting old bikes! Russ Gries is a fellow DIYer, and his electric motorcycle is centered around parts from an old battery-powered forklift. He got it for free from the company he works for, and after acquiring the carcass of a 1976 Honda CB550 for $50, he got to work. After about 120 hours and a net cost of $15.61 (that's right, he got money for recycling the rest of the forklift), the result is Voltzilla. See below for specifications, photos, and videos, including the first ride.Specifications of this DIY Electric Motorcycle
It's a bit different from most electric conversion, in good part because of its forklift ancestry:

  • It is running on 24 volts. Most others are 48 volts and up.
  • "the transmission was retained, because Gries wanted the flexibility of variable gearing for the hills where he lives (most other converted bikes are direct drive from the motor to the rear sprocket)"
  • It has a reverse, just like the forklift
  • The four batteries are from golf carts. They are used 6 volt 220 amp models. Most other conversions use smaller batteries with less capacity
  • Current top speed is around 35 mph (56 kph), but after a drive pulley swap, he should be able to get 60-65 mph (100 kph)

Because of the heavy batteries, Voltzilla weights about 740 lbs, but its center of gravity is very low and it is well-balanced, so it's not a problem.


Not Finished yet: What Still Needs to be Done

  • Rebuild the front brake
  • Fix the speedometer
  • DC/DC converter to run the 12 volt systems from the 24 volt batteries
  • Panels to cover the electronics
  • Disassemble, clean, paint, and reassemble

Ultimate Goal for this Electric Motorcycle & First Test Ride
Gries wants to use it to commute to work, a 24 miles (38 kilometers) round-trip.

You can see a 10 minutes video that includes his first test ride below:

And here's a photo slideshow of the conversion:


Thanks to Darin Cosgrove for the tip!
Update: Honda and Yamaha to Make Electric Motorcycles in 2010-2011
::ForkenCycle: dirt cheap, DIY electric motorcycle made from forklift parts
Update: See also the Air-Powered Motorcycle by Jem Stansfield.

See also: ::DIY Electric Kawasaki Motorcycle, ::Electric Motorcycle Breaks Speed Record, ::Lightning Lithium Superbike: No Emissions

Tags: Transportation

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