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Thread: Is a DIY Zero powertrain from aftermarket parts possible?

              
   
   
  1. #1
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    Is a DIY Zero powertrain from aftermarket parts possible?

    This is a general question, not a request for a parts list.

    The current Zeros seem to me to be a good benchmark for a usable e-moto. However, the prices for recent ones are way outside what I'd want to spend on a project bike, and I'm not too impressed with the motorcycle parts (and I don't need someone else's idea of what should be in a motorcycle chassis). Buying a used Zero and parting out the chassis probably is unlikely to make much economic sense. A Zero powertrain would be a good starting place but it doesn't seem like people are totalling their new bikes with great frequency and then offering the remaining parts for sale.

    Is it possible to put together a controller/BMS/battery/motor using readily available (and less expensive than Zero) aftermarket parts that would be functionally equivalent to a higher-spec Zero SR with Power Tank? And would it have equal quality/reliability/support?

    If iI was doing an ICE project I'd know where to look in the aftermarket for quality pistons, rods, cams, valve train etc. I've looked at the electricmotorsport and thunderstruck-ev and evbatterycenter sites and see various packages on offer but I'm not clear if any of those might offer a Zero level of performance. with good reliability.

    thanks,
    Michael

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    Empulse R #24 frodus's Avatar
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    They've got a good motor, that is power dense, that is going to be hard to beat. The ME1507 is "close", but may not match the power levels or sustained power of the 75-7 motor.

    Right now, the closest to the Zero drivetrain is an ME1507 + Sevcon Gen4 Size 6 (shameless plug, I sell these as kits on my site). The ME1507 is pretty much the same exact footprint, just a different rotor. Paired with the Sevcon Gen4, it should be just as reliable as the 75-7 and Gen4 in the Zero.

    The BMS is a topic that is debated by people lots of places. Do you need it? how much can you spend? Are you ok keeping an eye on cells once a month to see if they're in balance? Otherwise, to get an integrated BMS, you'd want to go Orion or Elithion, or something similar for $$$.

    For battery, there's lots of people using Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf batteries, which are pretty easy to wire up and mount. I think those would be your best bet for most builds.

    Getting something that is turnkey? Nothing really out there. You'd have to inquire with Zero, and I'd doubt they'd sell a drivetrain, as it's a nightmare to walk someone through how to wire everything, and integrate properly.

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    Thanks for the detailed reply. I'll check out your website, I'm fine with dealing with "informed hobbyist" side businesses since I've had one of my own.

    By turnkey I mean "these parts make a known-good package that work together well and have support for the build". I'd gathered the automotive batteries were the items of choice at the moment. I mentioned BMS because I kept seeing reference to it and presumed it was part of a well-spec'd build. Plus, I tend towards "put it together right and then don't mess with things if avoidable." I've done a couple of "empty cabinet" CNC mill control conversions so I can deal with wiring, it's the magic smoke inside of electronics that I don't understand.

    I don't know if Zero has a lot of hugely effective secret/proprietary tech in the powertrain or if it is more a case of "we've chased the bugs out, added some minor tweaks, and offer some level of warranty/support with a motorcycle attached to the electrics".

    I've got no problem with them making a profit on their efforts and so they can stay in business, but at their retail or even used prices for current models I am not in the Zero target market. I'd want a project that mostly is for fiddling, not something I can buy and immediately ride across country. But I don't like fiddling with stuff that is so obscure/arcane it can't be done by normal people, and I want to fiddle when I want to fiddle, and not by the side of the road.

    My current street bike project is based on a Honda CTX700 with the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). 45 honest horsepower is plenty, and that's in a 500 pound bike that sounds like it may have (with the DCT but a not very sporty state of tune) similar performance to a Zero. If I want a go-fast race project, I've already got one of those (and have built them before), and I'm not in need of bikes that have 2-4X more power than I can use.

    You can see some of my current and past projects from this page on my website:

    http://www.eurospares.com/other.htm

    cheers,
    Michael

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    Member Duck-Stew's Avatar
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    http://elmoto.net/showthread.php?t=4362

    I'm at a cross-roads and considering selling the exact set-up that frodus is proposing to you, but since I've bought it and it's sat in my garage for a few months, it'd likely be cheaper. I even have a '10 Zero S which can go with it (clean title too).

    --Stuart
    '10 Zero S project

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Moore View Post
    Thanks for the detailed reply. I'll check out your website, I'm fine with dealing with "informed hobbyist" side businesses since I've had one of my own.

    By turnkey I mean "these parts make a known-good package that work together well and have support for the build". I'd gathered the automotive batteries were the items of choice at the moment. I mentioned BMS because I kept seeing reference to it and presumed it was part of a well-spec'd build. Plus, I tend towards "put it together right and then don't mess with things if avoidable." I've done a couple of "empty cabinet" CNC mill control conversions so I can deal with wiring, it's the magic smoke inside of electronics that I don't understand.

    I don't know if Zero has a lot of hugely effective secret/proprietary tech in the powertrain or if it is more a case of "we've chased the bugs out, added some minor tweaks, and offer some level of warranty/support with a motorcycle attached to the electrics".

    I've got no problem with them making a profit on their efforts and so they can stay in business, but at their retail or even used prices for current models I am not in the Zero target market. I'd want a project that mostly is for fiddling, not something I can buy and immediately ride across country. But I don't like fiddling with stuff that is so obscure/arcane it can't be done by normal people, and I want to fiddle when I want to fiddle, and not by the side of the road.

    My current street bike project is based on a Honda CTX700 with the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). 45 honest horsepower is plenty, and that's in a 500 pound bike that sounds like it may have (with the DCT but a not very sporty state of tune) similar performance to a Zero. If I want a go-fast race project, I've already got one of those (and have built them before), and I'm not in need of bikes that have 2-4X more power than I can use.

    You can see some of my current and past projects from this page on my website:

    http://www.eurospares.com/other.htm

    cheers,
    Michael
    Zero used to sell their power train components to private individuals, but not their battery packs, as I recall. However, they seemed to have stopped doing this a few years ago. Probably due to liability concerns by the lawyers and insurance companies. However, they still will sell their components to some small EV motorcycle manufacturers, aircraft and water sports developers, but I suspect that they have to enter into formal agreements and hold Zero harmless if something bad happens to the customers of these products.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2011 Royal Enfield 500, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior.

  6. #6
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    Richard, I'd be surprised if Zero wasn't advised by their attorneys to not sell components with the liability issues in these modern times, especially if it looks like they are helping potential competitors.

    Stuart, I grew up in ABQ - 5th grade through UNM, back in the days when to go dirt riding I just drove 10 minutes to the north edge of town (or the White Wash on the east edge) and unloaded and rode as long as I liked. I took a quick look at your thread and I need to look at the links in it too, but right now a lot of the part-specific nomenclature is coming across as "that sounds interesting, I wonder what it means?".

    I've just finished a 15 month project of emptying 500 sq ft of warehouse space of all my vintage bikes, so the garage is in a bit of a shambles as I try to find space for things that I kept and I'm also trying to figure out where do I go from here after calling a halt to the kinds of bikes I've ridden for the last 45 years (no more dirt bikes either, I live in the wrong place for dirt riding).

    I'll drop you a PM and we can chat about what you have, but it may be a bit premature right now while things are in a state of flux (see, I'm trying to make electrical/magnetism jokes ). I'd like to have some more knowledge before I expend significant amounts of money.

    It occurred to me that a good example for the OP would have been to say that I was asking about the availability of an e-moto equivalent of a small block Chevy crate motor. Proven stuff, everyone knows how to deal with them, decent power, take it out of the crate and drop it in your hotrod and ignore it afterwards other than routine maintenance.

    I appreciate everyone's comments,

    cheers,
    Michael

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