When I started writing for electricbike.com, one of the things I wanted to accomplish was to expose some of the great custom garage-builds to a wider audience. Each one has some aspect that is useful for explaining a design principle in its best form. This article is an index of the custom builds that we’ve featured so far.
The ebike world has been evolving rapidly over the last five years, so lets start with the most recent and work our way back.
#1, Laprise Boardtracker
As of February 2018, this was the most recent build we featured.
To many casual readers, when a builder copies the style a vintage motorcycle? it’s a lot of extra effort for no performance benefit. That being said, I have to ask…is life really only about a cost vs performance ratio? I believe that passion is important when it comes to feeling as though you are doing something worthwhile. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but…putting extra effort into making something that you feel is beautiful continues to be something that inspires the artistic builders among us.
(click here to see the details of this beautiful electric boardtracker)
#2, Tango QS
Although This build doesn’t copy “vintage” motorcycles, it still has a custom motorcycle vibe. The drive system is as simple as we have available today, a direct drive rear hubmotor, using a lot of watts. This entire build is more about style instead of sophisticated performance, but…a simple drive system is also the most reliable that you can choose. Of course, the standout feature is…the ghosted flame paint job…simply stunning!
#3, Patrick’s RC mid drive
This build is from the very flat land of the Netherlands, in the EU. Normally, we wouldn’t see such a high-performance power system in a hardtail frame, but this builders commute is across very smooth roads that are well-maintained. High performance builds that use RC components are lighter, but the super-high RPMs have a certain high-pitched noise that some love, and others hate. Me? I love them all…
#4, The Wolf-e Dyno
The Dyno frame is no longer in production, but it’s graceful curves keep it in demand whenever a “used” Dyno comes up for sale. The builder made this as an actual daily street commuter, to make his short hop from home to work into a fun ride, instead of just driving a car to work…
#5, Maxwell Cycles XO1 2017 NAHBs ebike
The early boardtracker motorcycles from the 1910’s didn’t have any suspension, which added cost and weight. This tribute from Maxwell Cycles moves a simple and reliable direct-drive hubmotor from the rear wheel into the center of the frame, for a better weight-distribution. The early boardtrackers used bicycle pedals as a starter system for the gasoline-burning motor, but…most modern boardtracker “tribute” ebikes use this fact to make their version into a street-legal “electric bicycle”.
#6, Davinci Drive Twin-Astro Qulbix Raptor
Matt Schumacher of “DaVinci Drives” has had more custom builds featured by us than any other builder. He is constantly creating something new each year. Most of his builds use Astro motors, which are small and light. This complex mechanism mates two Astros to a full suspension frame to see how far he could take that idea…
#7, muTant-E 2.0 from Russia
One of the things that I am proud of is that we have been able to feature custom builds from around the world, and this sophisticated example from Russia is exceptional. It features a motor located in the frame, along with a transmission in the frame. That alone makes it note-worthy, but the fact that he was able to integrate the custom powertrain into a high-level full-suspension frame is quite exceptional.
The builder could have been forgiven if it ended up a little ugly, due to the milestone nature of the performance. However, he also took the extra effort to ensure the final product has a very professional finish
#8, Deven’s Norco Revolt mid-motor
RC motors are small and powerful, and they get this level of power from their very high RPM’s. This builder chose to extend the wheelbase to make enough room so he could insert the largest RC motor he could find onto the swingarm.
The extra frame length didn’t just make room for this custom drive, it also helps reduce this ebikes tendency to wheelie, which it can do at any time that the rider desires…Although full-suspension builds are typically used on off-road trails, this is a street commuter, and the suspension soaks up the road irregularities to make a plush ride at high speed…
#9, Ben’s Big Hit / Lightning Rods Mid drive
When pumping high power into a lightweight motor, heat management limits how far you can go. This custom build cleverly inserts the inrunner-motor from Lightning Rods Industries into a popular aluminum off-road full-suspension frame. In effect, it makes the frame a heat-sinking element that absorbs motor heat and sheds it to the air stream.
It also places the battery weight in the best possible place, the downtube…
#10, Matt’s lightweight full-suspension mid-motor
As I mentioned before, Matt has built quite a few hot rod ebikes…this isn’t his first rodeo. This time, he was curious what it would feel like to build up a full-suspension ebike with every component maximized for the lightest weight possible, while still providing his minimum acceptable level of “hot rod” power…
#11, Lee’s HPC Revolution mid-drive
High Powered Cycles (HPC) started out making pricey high-performance ebikes when most ebike companies were selling mild “street legal” generic China bikes. Then, they decided to produce an aluminum off-road full-suspension frame to their spec.
Most of the HPC Revolution frames used the easily available rear hubmotors, but a builder named Lee decided this aluminum frame was the best starting point for the lightweight custom mid-drive ebike that he envisioned.
#12, Juicer, King of the Boardtrackers
If you’ve read this far, you may be getting tired of seeing boardtrackers, but…when it comes to custom builds, many of the builders who want to create something in their garage?…they are inspired by the early days in the evolution of motorcycles. If you are interested in custom builds, even if you like a different style than this…this ebike is a special star in the constellation of custom builds.
Be careful reading about builds like this, it might cause you to buy a tube bender and a welder…
#13, Matt Park’s Basman Cruiser
The Basman frame has inspired many garage builders, especially in the EU. Using this frame takes care of most of the work when you want to build a street cruiser. The best part of this build was the way he detailed every aspect of designing and making the faux “fuel tank”, which houses the controller and battery, for a sleek look.
#14, Electric Moped with a QS hubmotor
I’m not going to call this ebike “pretty”, but…he details how he took a robust moped frame and removed the gasoline engine. Then…step by step, he built up this electric version that uses components that are very safe when riding in traffic while using a very high level of power.
#15, Mark’s Cromotor Phatrod
At first glance, this ebike looks like it “only” uses a simple hubmotor. It’s like saying Michelangelo “only” put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The result is reliable and powerful…along with having a stunning look. Love it or hate it, this ebike will never be accused of being “the same old thing”…
#16, Hellcat Cycles’ Sparky
This ebike is not sophisticated. Its a simple rear 72V hubmotor. However, the builder actually rides it to work often on the streets of New Zealand. One of the things that grabbed me was…he kept the patina on the vintage Stelber tank graphics.
#17, Zlatko’s CBM
Our friend Zlatko is an engineer in Croatia. This was his second build that we featured (see the first below, at #25). Zlatko has ridden powerful ebikes on the streets for quite a while, and he wanted to build his version of an ebike that is a great commuter, but still capable of running off-road. Full suspension (of course), and a huge rectangular battery for both high-performance, and also long range…
#18, Hannes’ mid drive Kona
Hannes lives in Austria, and he decided that he wanted to build his version of the ultimate mid drive. The battery and motor are located in the downtube, and the quality of this build just blew me away.
#19, Matt’s 20-inch Astro Hooligan
When you are riding on streets, using smaller-diameter wheels does have some advantages. Matt Schumacher from DaVinci Drives decided that he wanted to see for himself how much of a difference 20-inch wheels would make on a street-fighter ebike. So…he squeezed monster power into this compact package.
#20, Deecanio’s Astro mid drive
Deec is in the UK, and this was one of the builds that made me want to write about custom builds. If you can visualize some version of an awesome custom drive, somebody else has probably already built something similar. If only someone (like me?) would write about them, then future builders could benefit from the lessons that were hard-won by the original ebike gangters, back in the day…
#21, Roy’s eCortina
This is another of the early ebike custom builds that just knocked me out. Not only did it have great performance, it was beautifully finished.
#22, Paul’s 2014 NAHBS mid drive
Paul Daniels is one of the ebike hot-rod pioneers. NAHBS is the National American Handmade bicycle Show. As soon as I saw this ebike, I knew I had to write about it. The fact that is was from “Paulie-D” was just icing on the cake…
#23, Ben’s Duty Cycle AWD
Ben Chiu is a genius, and I don’t throw around that term lightly. We are fortunate that he is interested in ebikes, and that he built one up to showcase his vision of a great ebike commuter. He likes to occasionally take day-trips up into the mountains of Taiwan, so…he decided to design a folding electric commuter that he could easily load onto the local train.
The steep terrain meant that he would be needing either a large single motor using high watts, or…two medium-sized motors for the added traction of AWD. Ben went with AWD, and the result has absolutely stunning performance.
#24, Nick’s eTownie
The ebike I ride the most to this day is a stretch cruiser with a comfortable and relaxed posture, just like the ebike that inspired me to build one…Nick’s eTownie. He used a large rear hub (the modern choices were not available at the time), but we both use a large centrally-located battery, and upgraded brakes on fattish tires, along with a suspension seat-post.
#25, Zlatko’s Mental Manno
Zlatko is a really smart engineer in Croatia. Fortunately for us, he likes ebikes, and he decided to make one for himself. He likes vintage motorcycles, so he wanted it to have that style, while also having great performance. It has full-suspension, and the battery weight is in the perfect place, low and in the center of the frame. This has to be one of the great street ebikes of all time…(If you missed it, go back and check out #17)
#26 Teklektiks dual-motor Yuba Mundo
If someone asked me about how to build up the ultimate commuter to reliably get to work and back every day, this is the first article I would link to. The builder is an electrical technician, and he spelled-out every detail of what components he used, and why. It is a virtual guide-book on how to design and build an ebike.
#27, Miles’ eMouton
Although this ebike isn’t a folding frame, it is one of the ultimate city-ebike builds ever put together. The suspension doesn’t have a very long stroke on the front or rear, but it does actually have a full suspension system designed into an extremely lightweight Moulton frame. The power system has a fantastic and well-researched component-set, with a build execution that is as professional as any ebike I have ever seen.
#28, Rodgah’s Big Hit FSR
Today, it is taken for granted that a high-performance off-road ebike will have a light and strong frame with a sophisticated and well-designed suspension…along with the weight of the battery being located in the downtube.
Of course, many modern off-road ebikes have a fairly small battery, but…what if you wanted both high power AND long range? Rodgah lives in Australia, and his build was the blueprint for many ebikes that copied his lead…
#29, MattyCiii’s Norco Aline
As soon as I saw Matty’s build, I was impressed by the quality of the build. It may seem unusual now for someone to place so much effort into mounting a non-hub drive right next to the rear wheel, but…Matty wanted more power and lower weight than the selections at the time provided.
It was also unusual at the time for someone to mount the battery onto the front of the bike, but…the result was so powerful, Matty needed to shift some weight to the front to keep from popping a wheelie all the time!
#30, Drunkskunk’s XL full suspension fat bike
Drunkskunk is a big guy…VERY big. The problem was that…no ebikes that were available fit him. Fat tires and rims had recently come out (at the time), but…he still felt a little cramped on the few selections available. So what should an enterprising and capable guy do in that situation?…maybe…build a custom frame to make an exact fit? Plus post pics on how he did it?
#31, Aussie Jester’s blue cruiser
Kim in Australia is the king of the early days of hot rod ebike builds. His build is not #31 because it’s at the bottom of the list…he is #31 because he was doing this long before anyone else. He bought straight steel tubing, then cut/bent/and welded it up with his own hands. Plus, the battery box is completely custom.
Aussie Jester inspired me years ago, and I want to do what I can to show this to as many people as possible…
#32, Paul Brodie’s 2013 NAHBS “eBee”
I already mentioned NAHBS above, and this is one more example of one of the early electric entrants. Off-road ebikes handle better if the weight of the motor and battery are located as centrally and as low as possible. Master frame-builder Paul Brodie took those concepts to the extreme, and this is the fantastic result.
#33, Patient Zero
When there is an outbreak of something that infects everyone who comes in contact with it, the authorities try to find the first victim, who will be harboring the most unmutated version of the virus, and that person is called “Patient Zero”.
Years ago, this custom ebike was built when ebikes were a new thing, and…I have to hand it to him for seeing that long ago that there would be a growing interest in these.
#34, Nik’s Spider MTB
This ebike from Italy may not seem to be that special by today’s standards, but…it was put together back in 2012. Six years is a lifetime when you consider how far ebikes have come since 2012…
#35, Jean-Pierre’s Ultralight “Montanara Volta”
This ebike wasn’t written up as a “custom build” but…it’s as custom as they come. The frame is fairly stock, but…this fit engineer from Switzerland chose to take the lightest carbon-fiber road-bike frame that was available back in 2011, and design an electric-assist drive that was as light as possible.
#36, Matt’s 50-MPH Hot Rod yellow recumbent tadpole trike
This was the first ebike (etrike?) that we featured from master hot-rodder Matt Schumaker. Has it really been SIX YEARS!!
#37, Ben Chiu’s Dogati Super Electric
Ben Chiu is a creative genius, and he has been an inspiration to anyone who was lucky enough to have gotten to know him (see his “Duty Cycle AWD” at #23, above). This is one of the first custom builds we wrote about, and Ben not only designed it, he built it. It was inspired by the high-performance motorcycles of Ducati from Italy.
#38, The Appel Cruiser
This is the best example I’ve found so far of using a hubmotor as a non-hub build. Its difficult to integrate that idea into an existing frame, so this fabricator brazed a custom frame of his own design.
How to get featured as a custom build?
We can post as many articles as we like (when we find some time to write after work!). So…if you have a custom build, or know of one…send us a link. If there is something exceptional about it that impresses us, we will put it in the line-up for a article at some future date, and then add a link here.
(note: I’ll be back soon to add a few more)
Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, February 2018