View Full Version : An Electric Moto Film.

15 October 2011, 1139
Hi guys!
I'm interested in advice and opinions to help me with a feature film I'm shooting. Unlike what most people expect when they hear I'm shooting this movie, "Oh a documentary, cool". What I'm working on is a dramatic, Scripted film. Its based around a guy who builds his own electric bike and goes on to race it in an Electric League.
Definitely an exciting story, and something that I hope will really cast a good and exciting light on the whole Electric Bike motorcycle-scene.

Currently we're working on the design of our 'picture bike'. I have a few routes I've been exploring, as with any indie film we are limited by budget but have been gaining funding in small leaps.

I don't want a chain driven bike, I'm need to differentiate this as much as possible from the other electric bikes involved in our race scenes and especially from gas bikes. This needs to looks as though propelled by magic.

Drive Shaft
Hub Motor

Hub motor, would make conversion somewhat easier, it would also allows the use of a 90's Sport Bike with full fairing which we would then add minor conversions + additions to.

Drive Shaft, there is a shortage of Sports Bikes designed with shaft drive. Getting an 80's Honda of some kind then modifying and slapping on full race fairings seems a more complicated route. Also the adapting of the electric motor to the drive shaft gear I'm concerned of, but that is the question.

Which route in your guys opinion is more feasible and realistic.
Drive shaft route appears cheaper.
Again for the film we don't need extremely high specs. We do need something that will run for 15miles-20miles and has a top speed 60/65mph.
The only scenes we actually have the fully built electric bike running in are: a few test runs done by the lead actor. And the final race.

In a sense we could just rent a bike from someone, as a 3rd option. But I'll have to see if there are any interested parties in the Northern New Jersey area.

I hope my long explanation has helped give you guys an idea of where I am coming from and were I am looking to proceed. Thanks for the great resource this forum provides!

15 October 2011, 1220
I think you might find rental a far more practical option - especially if you need a group of electric motorcycles racing.
One of Markcycle's hub motors would be far less mechanically challenging to implement than a shaft drive.

15 October 2011, 1502
Cool idea! If you haven't seen it, check out the documentary Charge. There's not much on the website right now, but I know you can get the DVD (because I have it).


Definitely hub motor. Shaft drive is never going to be seen on a performance electric motorcycle (they're too inefficient).

Good luck!

15 October 2011, 1526
Hey Pete, good to see you over here. I hope we can help your movie, it sounds like an exciting project.

15 October 2011, 1617
Welcome Pete, drop a PM to elmotomaster, the site owner. He's in the film making business and I'm sure would be a big help.


16 October 2011, 0759
i'm in the process of finishing what i hope will be the fastest steet legal ELECTRIC dragbike in the world! that is quarter mile / 1/8th mile / one mile and top speed! not sure but sounds like it might fit? or are you more toward a road racing end of it? this bike has a longer swing arm and lowered with full bodywork. i will be doing all of the custom bodywork and paint to match the bigger version of my twin motored dragbike the PREDATOR. let me know if it helps?

16 October 2011, 1123
If you want to convert a drive shaft bike , you can use a good looking Daytona Moto Guzzi (or a 1100 Sport) , if you read how that engine was made is already a movie :D :D You can add some more pathos if you make something like the son finding the father's lost bike or something like that.
Moto Guzzi are somehow cheap if you don't use some rare model , and Guzzi community is very proud of carrying their bike to new adventure , maybe you can find someone that will give you the bike for free (if you can convert it back to original when you have done the movie.

Moto Guzzi have a central single frame so there is a lot of room for creating some ""artistic"" conversion and also if you convert some well know brand like a 999 Ducati everybody will just see a converted-DUCATI , using a lesser know brand (in sport) like Moto Guzzi will make easier to make some more connection with the past (just think about Agostini and all the names connectet with Moto Guzzi) ..

In short word --
Hub motor = Cheaper , Easier , you can use any bike (Like Ducati 999 or similar)
Shaft = Expensive , Hard , Complicated , but you can create hype on movie by using an historical brand like Moto Guzzi like in the movie "The World's Fastest Indian"

16 October 2011, 1222
I'm sorry to say.. but the Guzzi's won't do.. The motor is a main stressed member or basically acts as the frame, in which case it would fall apart if you removed the engine. (Sorry to be a party pooper :) )

If shaft drive is a must, then you should considure using a Honda NTV, I had originally intended on conveting one of these, It is almost identical to a NT650 which is a cult bike for street fighters with its single sided swingarm and angular frame. Personally I would think it more dramatic if you could see the electric components when racing.

Yet I aggree that using a hub motor is waaaay easier and would make for a much simpler conversion. the connecting rods and reductions gears for converting a shaft driven bike would easaly end up at $2000 or more.

19 October 2011, 2240
Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the replies! Its a major help for me.

Yea the drive shaft seems like a good "in theory" type idea. Too expensive and too limited on bike selection.
Though I dig those NT650's, I'll have to look around for Honda NTV's just for curiosities sake.

The multiple racers needed for the race scene is in interesting puzzle piece. That one is still a work in progress in arranging, as it'd be nice to get as many people involved in this as possible. From well-knowns to regular guys. It also depends on what track we're able to secure, so I'll definitely keep you guys up to date as that goes.

Markcycle has some great work, affordable too. Kellycontroller.com has an intestering array of hub motors. But Markcycle's appear to be higher quality, and from what I've seen they're mounted on some rather nice rims most of the time :cool:.

Hey Jon! Thanks for your help and guidance in some major early inspiration. I've been checking your build threads on and off various forums. Really like how its been going.

Dice, I'm going to PM you, I have a few things I want to ask you about.

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with the board, and achieving this goal of taking peoples electric expectations to the next level! Making Electric viable. If people show interest, manufacturers respond.
That'd just be a dream, cheaper more available batteries and parts.

Peter C.

22 October 2011, 1542

the BMW R 1100 S is a nice bike with drive shaft BMW R 1100 S (http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/bmw/bmw_r1100s%2001.htm). Problems might be the price and the fact that the motor is part of the frame (maybe replacing it with an equally stressable battery-pack holder)..


22 October 2011, 1817
Wow, that is a really wonderful bike. I never knew about these older 1100S' being shaft driven, but your right, the whole engine as a stressed frame member is a isssue I want to avoid.

Even for hub drive conversions thats obviously a problem as a lot of really nice modern bikes are built like that.

So far I've had a few fishy offers from craigslist. I just put up a want add, and got reasonable offers for a Kaw Vulcan and a 92 Ninja (sans title). Unfortunatly need the title, and the vulcan brings me back to the fairings issue I'm hoping to solve with just buying a sports bike. Minor mods seem easier the complete mods.

I just got a droid last week, finally had a chance to play with it today. There are some really great Craigslist and Ebay apps available for free. I'll be using them a lot in the next few months for all parts of this film.

Small update to come in the next week.

23 October 2011, 0325
the whole engine as a stressed frame member is a isssue I want to avoid.
I dont know your budget, but in some sense, if the motor is a part of the chassis this could be regarded as a feature and not a bug^^. After all it gives you the possibility to build your frame around the battery and not vice versa (especially in a race bike where you are not restricted to laws that imply leaving the frame as in the original.)


Edit: Here a cup version of the BMW (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:ZweiRadMuseumNSU_BMW_R1100S.JPG)

26 October 2011, 2033
The first thing I thought of when read shaft drive was the BMWs, I am glad sokon brought them up. The problem is that I believe the shaft drive won't work at all because of the gearing. You can't put a giant sprocket on it to get the gearing right. You could make a reduction gear drive, but that would really make things even more complicated. I am not sure about your bias against a chain final drive, but but yep, a hub motor is your only solution that I can see.

If you can get past the chain issue, Brammo has their 2 race bikes from the first TTXGP at the isle of Mann. I bet you could rent those. You can put what ever fairings or paint ob you want on them, and Brammo gets some publicity. As far as racers and tack time, why not organize with the TTXGP and film during warm-up or practice or something? There are even one or 2 local electric classes in the country that may be able to help.

Just brainstorming.

26 October 2011, 2101
Thanks jazclrint, I'm thinking the same thing. I've been so focused on the story and the bike to look into the race part yet. But really shooting during a ttxgp warm up run would be ideal. I'm sure there are some smaller events that would be possible to integrate with, but at the moment the stand out idea for me is using a track in the off season. Possibly March or February if possible, that way we have a closed set and can do as many takes as we need at our own pace.

I thought about renting a real race bike, but your right they are chain drive. And to avoid crazy work in post production, there is a thematic element to the story that kind of precludes us from using chain drive.
Shaft Drives are great, but the gearing would require some major intellect.

Quest for the base bike continues, I'm looking forward to following up on a few leads.


27 October 2011, 0902
My brother in law is a motorbike mechanic, he worked at a BMW workshop until recently. If you want I can ask him about the transmission ration between the shaft and the rear wheel.


27 October 2011, 0931
Sokon, im rather new to the electric bike scene. From what ive observed all bikes have enlarged sprockets to optimize power i assumed. Wouldnt a similar methodology be required in order to get the most of a shaft drive bike?

27 October 2011, 1003
This would be a cool set-up but it is a little pricey for what you are trying to do.


27 October 2011, 1617
I vote the hub motor concept too, if you want to keep it scientifically believable, something I would greatly desire. Maybe even 2 of them.

OR you could borrow/rent/buy someone's bike here, modify it with a nice race fairing, fancy paint, and make it very believable.

Just my total knowledge on the subject.


28 October 2011, 0031
first, I am new to the scene as well....it seems to be a good advice to take all that I say with a grain of salt^^. However, power is given by your motor/battery. A typical transmission ratio used on electric bikes (depending on motor rpm range and wheel size of course) is from what I have seen, between 1:4 to 1:5. When I look at the bmw drive shaft, where it is attached to the rear wheel, the diameter of the shaft relative to the diameter of the "sprocket" on the rear wheel looks about "right" (http://www.ochen.de/kardan/technik/kegelradschraeg.jpg).
I know that chain drive is said to be more efficient than shaft drives, on the other hand the efficiency of the chain seems to depend quit a bit on the rpm (which makes sense since high rpm on the chain induce more work in rotating the chain links). I dont know whether efficiency of shaft drives depends on rpm as much?


28 October 2011, 0507
Unfortunatly need the title,
That has piqued my curiosity. Why would title be needed on what's essentially a prop vehicle / track bike?

28 October 2011, 0556
hey billmi. There are a few written driving scenes around town, 'de-bugging' the bike if you will. As the lead character builds it. Though your right,if we rewrote that in a different way then it all i'd need is a base bike no title. I've had a few offers for those. I'd then feel a little more comfortable getting a salvadge title. In the end the benifits gained are saving $300-500 (Depending on the bike) and not worrying about registering + insuring anything. Its something to consider.

Anyone have any luck with Salvadge titles? I had a guy pushing it like it was the best part of the parts '92 Ninja he was pushing.

Very good point Sokon. I'm still thinking about Hub motors. They seem like a very easy fit. Pretty much 'bolt on'(or Volt on should i say) and then assembling the controller and batteries. The fact the I can use it on any bike is the best part. Ive been looking at some 90's CBRs and Kaw. Katana's. They go for a good price, and really have a close to MotoGP style look. I may have to swap out some on the rear seat section and make the fairings a bit more aggresive, but they're part way there. Unfortunately a finished electric one of those may cost as much as the base BMW bike, short of some miricle title-less bike. or something along those lines.
What kind of bike do you have sokon?

28 October 2011, 0904
Salvage title is ok, but make 100% sure it's got a title and it is in Your hands and signed to you when you buy it. I learned the hard way. Luckily it's easy to get another titled frame.

I'd just get one that hasn't been wrecked. Cheaper in the long-run.

28 October 2011, 1243
hey billmi. There are a few written driving scenes around town, 'de-bugging' the bike if you will. As the lead character builds it. Though your right,if we rewrote that in a different way then it all i'd need is a base bike no title.

I wasn't thinking so much with regard to the story being limited to the track, but that typically prop vehicles aren't registered, so they don't need titles because shooting permits negate the need for registration/licensing, street legal compliance, etc. It's just like how you'll often see a film shot in California, with a rider not wearing a helmet - despite the fact that California is a helmet law state. Cops won't shut down production to issue a ticket due to the shoot permit. Not to mention, a race bike won't have lighting to be legal on the street anyhow.

Whether your buy with or without title, it's a good idea to call your local PD and have them run the VIN, to make sure there are no warrants out related to the bike, that it's not reported stolen.

Now if you're planning to have an electric motorcycle to ride when the film is over, or want to sell it to recoup some of the production costs, then for sure, make sure you've got a title that can be used for registration in your state (in some states registering a vehicle with a salvage title is much harder than in others).

28 October 2011, 2051
Thats true, the permits do give you carte blanche in a lot of ways. I really try to minimize the amount of permits necessary, and in the past have really lucked out with getting access to shooting on private roads, and residences. This time I think its going to be a 50/50 mix of permit/non-permit. It would be beneficial to have it registered and insured I Think. That is a great point though Bill.

Keeping the bike after the fact would be nice but not necessary.

Got offered another bike, this one a 83 KZ700, full title. Extremely cheap so in the case of a rental it would be a great prop bike to demonstrate the states of the build. Breaking down to frame, 1/2 way rebuilding.

Cant wait to show you guys the first footage. Nothing shot yet, but we've been spending months assembling this camera kit and doing our test shoots. We've got a wicked Canon 7d / 5d set up, Using late 60's Nikon Lenses. And a few trick lenses we've originated. We're working hard to get this thing solid in every department.

btw what kind of electromagnetic radiation comes off of these bikes? Anyone fry their cellphones or discharge their credit cards?

28 October 2011, 2303
The only problem I have heard of is the MotoCzysz bike would generate enough interference to mess with the timing transponders at the track. But that is a 200hp motor with a big pack.

Really interesting question though.

29 October 2011, 0310
Yeah... the start of the latest lynch mob for EVs angle. :D

I'm wondering if the transponders are responding to the EMF (electromagnetic field) or the RF (radio frequency), or is RF created by EMF, or should I just shaddap about stuff I know nothing about? :D :D

29 October 2011, 0539
Great article. Thats wild about the MotoCzysz bike! haha, rather incredible.

Interesting thing it made me think of is my boss at work, He's sensitive to EMF. We found that out when we had to go the fix breakers in the circuit breaker room on my floor. Its a small closet that I've walked by a million times but we opened it to reveal big breakers on each wall. For whatever reason it generates a ton of EMF. This guy said if he spends anytime at all in there he'll be sick the rest of the week. Light headed, nausea. I was in there for a few minutes taking care of the problem, and afterwords sure I felt strange but it was more of a searching to see if I felt what he felt. I wish I had been in there blind the first time to see if I had felt strange before knowing about the issue.

anyway Sensitivity to EMF maybe a problem for some in the long run. They talk about some sheilding options, I wonder how effective or how much of a burden they are on the vehicle. 10,000lb lead sheild on a 100lb bike haha.

29 October 2011, 2231
I'm wondering if the transponders are responding to the EMF (electromagnetic field) or the RF (radio frequency), or is RF created by EMF, or should I just shaddap about stuff I know nothing about? :D :D

Well, if you'll grant me the same latitude; maybe its that the EMF is inducting voltage into the circuits of the transponder and not screwing up the RF signal itself, but scrambling the data or code it is trying to send into something that the receiver doesn't understand, maybe? Hopefully an EE will speak up and set us straight.

What I remember is that at Miller one lap didn't record for the MotoCzysz bike. I over heard Micheal Czysz talking (to I believe Shane Turpin) about it because people were claiming he ran a few seconds faster that one lap (which I believe was later proved false). Czysz told Shane that sometimes the bike would interfere with the transponders. I believe this happened to him at the Isle of Mann, but I'd have to re-watch the dvds to confirm.