View Full Version : Motorcycle Design (Ideas and Inspirations)

Ted Dillard
10 September 2018, 0843
I'm putting this here in Fight Club because ultimately any discussion about what motorcycle is more beautiful than another always turns into a, well, heated discussion. :O (...that is, with the proper application of adult beverages, at least.)

So I've been thinking a lot lately about why motorcycles are beautiful to me, and it gets back to a story I read long ago where the writer was talking about motorcycle design, and how motorcycles are the epitome of form-follows-function, and they were simple, clean, industrial design that, because of their honesty, were beautiful aesthetic creations in and of their own. (I sincerely wish I could find that piece, he said it so much better than I just did.)

Think 1972 Norton Commando, if you want to see what I'm talking about. There's not a thing on that bike that doesn't need to be there to make the machine work, but it's all beautiful.

So, on electric motorcycles, my whole goal was to build a bike that had that kind of honesty, and maybe some beauty too. I'm not going to flatter myself and post them here, but I like 'em. The biggest challenge for me, personally, is the battery pack. How do you make a pack that's simple, clean and honest, but has some degree of "pretty" to it? The two bikes that I can't get out of my head are the MotoCzysz E1pc and the Brammo Empulse. They're both amazingly beautiful solutions to the battery problem.



(I know, some of you may be shocked I like anything Brammo. It's true, I do. I did then, and do still now think it's a beautiful bike.)

That pack on the E1pc is made up of removable modules, and was their design for the first TTXGP when they thought that removable, swappable packs were how things were going to go. Michael later told me the abandoned the idea because TTXGP dropped the "requirement" (though nobody that first year besides Czysz built such a pack) and the hardware was just too bulky. (Czysz, for those who weren't on the forum back then, was actually a member here...)

The Brammo pack was built right into the unique central channel frame, and they used that idea through both the Empulse and the Enertia. I really never got to fully understand the effect on the center of gravity on the bike, but it was an idea that I thought was a great solution. Brian Wismann was the guy who designed it, as far as I know, and he was also on ElMoto back when he started with Brammo.

The other bike that I love is the one I featured on the cover of the book - Hugues LaLiberte's E-Cruiser, but for a different reason. That there is a custom build that can hold it's own against any custom build on two wheels, anywhere. I generally stay away from all the fairing and covers action, just because rather than being a form-follows-funtion thing, it's just dressing, but lawhdy, it's gorgeous dressing. Here's a shot of that:


You can read more about his bike here: https://evmc2.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/the-electric-garage-hugues-lalibertes-e-cruiser/ and there's more about bikes that caught my eye in my blog category The Electric Garage: https://evmc2.wordpress.com/category/the-electric-garage/ And yeah, Hugues is still a member here, as far as I know, and oh, by the way, that was his first build. You read that right. His first. :cool:

Also, I always like to see what's over at BikeEXIF - a great mix of history and cutting-edge sensibilities: http://www.bikeexif.com/

So dive in - what bikes do you look at for inspiration?

Ted Dillard
10 September 2018, 1229
Oh yeah, the Hammarhead Volta is a bike near and dear to my heart...


Everybody was REAL excited about this bike, and it was a pretty neat use of a hub motor. Though the fairing covered up the battery pack, it was still a great tribute to the old roadracers of the '70s and before. They just kind of vaporized...

I leaned on their design pretty heavy for the R5e. At one point I was considering putting that fairing on it, but opted for moar batteries instead. ;)

Link to my post is here: https://evmc2.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/the-electric-garage-hammarhead-volta-102/

10 September 2018, 1306
that Hammerhead is a beauty!


12 September 2018, 0602

Yeah. I lusted after that Hammerhead too.

Checking out your Electric Garage...Lady Florence Norman's front drive scooter is a hub motor, but a gas powered one. The crankcase, cylinder, spark plug, and muffler are giveaways.

Ted Dillard
12 September 2018, 0645
Yeah, that was pointed out to me almost immediately, but I thought it was cool so I left it.

There's another bike - I got it confused in my aging brain with the Volta - the Brooklyn Motorized - that got a huge amount of attention at the time, and showed a lot of promise, was a cool concept but faded into oblivion:


Link to my post on that here: https://evmc2.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/the-electric-garage-brooklyn-motorized/

If you remember a guy named Clark who used to post here (and did some amazing machining for me under the Gotham Machine name) he actually knew those guys kind of, and gave me a hint of the gossip behind the bike's demise. Of course, I can't remember anymore... :rolleyes:

12 September 2018, 0818
We designed and built the Volta for Hammerhead He got into money problems and disappeared We even started new designs Then he left me hanging. I think we did really well with old school LIPO4 large format batteries
7952 79537954

Ted Dillard
12 September 2018, 0825
WOW! Wish I'd known that... I'll have to put that in the update of the book!

Yeah, he built custom gas bikes, didn't he? Sorry to hear you got left holding the bag, but do you have any of the frames and stuff around still?

12 September 2018, 0928
No all I have are pictures

12 September 2018, 0933
No all I have are pictures

Ted Dillard
12 September 2018, 0957
Ah, too bad. I'm making a note to hit you up if I should ever feel masochistic enough to do a Second Edition, and maybe we can include some of them! ;)

20 September 2018, 0615
"No all I have are pictures"

Too bad, but heck, I agree, there is always a Second Edition.

22 September 2018, 0836
Art Gallery introduction of the Bike

24 September 2018, 1629
I have to give a shout out here to Noah Podolefski, and his GSX-E. It was this bike that got me started on building my own electric motorcycle.

When many DIY Elmoto builds were looking like this:

7981 7982 7983

Noah said this on his build website (https://www.colorado.edu/physics/EducationIssues/podolefsky/electric_motorcycle_1.html):

"From the beginning, I wanted it to be a cool custom motorcycle first, and an electric motorcycle second. I wanted a great looking, eye catching bike that showed off that it was electric. Much like the Tesla roadster, I wanted this to be a way for people to see that green vehicles don't have to be slow and ugly. They can be as bad ass as any custom bike out there."

And he built THIS:

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I'm not sure what it was exactly about this bike that pushed me over the edge, I guess I always thought a motorcycle should look tough and cool. The 4 car batteries bungy'd on a moped deal was not that. On the contrary, it seemed very nerdy, and the polar opposite of what a motorcycle should be. Sure, racing teams were dumping hundreds of thousands into badass race bikes, but the home built genre just wasn't super inspiring to me at the time. When I found Noah's bike, it changed my mind. If it wasn't for his GSX-E it's unlikely I would have ever started a build. So thanks Noah!

Once I was welcomed here at ELMOTO, and discovered more great builds, then inspiration and encouragement was plentiful. I was honoured to be able to ask questions and wean advice directly from Noah, and all of the other experienced DIY builders here. Now there's a whole murder* of elmotos that grew out of this forum that are impressive and inspirational. Hopefully I can get my ass in gear this winter, finish up my build, and join that crowd.

*(I totally think a group of electric motorcycles should be called a 'murder')

Ted Dillard
25 September 2018, 0621
Where the hell is that duct tape kid? He was awesome.

Edit: ahhhh, that's right. Jake Saunders: https://evmc2.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/mounting-the-batteries/

Looks like he's all graduated and the surfing beat out the EV stuffz... lol


25 September 2018, 1029
Never underestimate the strength of wood or duct tape! After the Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles, many reinforced concrete freeway overpasses were temporarily shored up with timber until retrofitted.

I agree... Many of those early builds were very inspirational! I remember discussing building an electric mc at an old enduro riding friend's 60th birthday party in 2009... that's when I decided to try making one!

Michael Moore
25 September 2018, 1819
If you look at strength/density a lot of materials come out pretty similar. Wood isn't dense, so you need a lot more of it to have similar strength to steel/aluminum etc, but then you also have benefits from the larger second moment of area.

26 September 2018, 1004
I'm waiting for duct tape to be made out of graphene. NowTHAT will be the shiz!:p