Top 10 Famous Utilitarian Ebikes

May 9, 2013

Last week’s top 10 list featured the Most Elegant Garage Builds Ever. Most home built electric bikes weren’t built to look pretty.  This list celebrates the ebikes that let it all hang out. Function over form, the cheaper to build the better, these ebikes were built to serve a purpose, not to win a beauty contest. Electric bike builders are an eccentric group, and these bikes are the most eclectic electrics of the bunch.Despite the rugged looks of these ebike, they have become iconic in the DIY community.  This is  the 10 most ghetto bikes to become famous list. And make no mistake about it, every bike on this list deserves its place in an ebike museum.  Collectors: Go out and make offers on these precious bikes, they are worth their heavy weight in GOLD.  As great as these ebikes are, so are  the eccentric group of guys who built them. Most of these builders are considered true heroes of the ebike DIY community, and if Ebike had a church, these electric  saints could be its apostles. The fact that their creations are so different, speaks volumes on how “out of the box” these guys think. To kick it off here is a barnyard ebike build with 800.000 views on youtube which is in the spirt of this story. 
Luke and death bike

1. Live For Physic’s Death Bike

This electric bike was originally built by Liveforphysics and team in one weeks time from steel tubing (not a conversion bike) with one purpose in mind: to win races against gas powered bicycles.  It served its function perfectly, winning many races,  and made #1 of our 10 Fastest Electric Bikes Ever with its 85mph top speed.  Liveforphysics is not a “car polish” kind of guy, and can care less if his ebike’s guts hang out a bit. In fact the uglier the better for this guy.  He made #1 on our list of most influential people in the ebike revolution by setting a standard for many DIY builders of raw horsepower and speed being #1 most important over beauty, safety, elegance and lightness.


2. Amberwolf’s CrazyBike 2  (R.I.P.)

Amberwolf is a hard core recycler and built his “Crazy Bike” mostly from junk yard parts welded together. He built this bike on a shoestring  budget, and showed what is possible to build on limited resources. He used this bike as his daily commuter, saving thousands of dollars. (read how ebikes can save you money). Unfortunately this bike was lost in a house fire in May 2013, along with his beloved dogs and most of his material possessions.

Read the Crazybike 2  build thread  on Endless-sphere.

Amberwolf  is #9 on our most influential ebike people list


3. Naeem’s Pakistan Mid-Drive  Ebike

Naeem was inspired by Amberwolf’s builds, and on just a $200 budget built a 40mph electric bike, literally scouring the salvage yards in Pakistan. This bike uses a radiator fan motor from a Toyota  tediously rewound by Naeem to provide more  power and efficiency, a complicated gear reduction system made up of recycled gears and sprockets, and lead acid batteries which are one of the few parts he had to buy new.  Naeem used this bike daily for its mission of commuting to work , and saved him thousands of dollars and also saved him from riding in a crowded and uncomfortable Pakistan buses. This electric bike got Naeem a lot of notoriety and he won several science contests in Pakistan. This is the only bike on this list to be a mid-drive that goes through the bicycle transmission.

Read our story about Naeem.
Read the Very Low Cost Electric bike from Pakistan build thread



4. Justin-LE’s Canadian Trekker

Justin Lemire Elmore is one of the true leaders of the ebike revolution.  He first made his mark on the ebike universe by building a rugged and comfortable ebike to take from coast to coast 4000 miles  across Canada.  The cargo bike was redesigned as a recumbent with a front 9c hub motor, a home built controller, and 1,400 watt hours of lipo battery.  It was capable of 30mph.  One of my favorites stories in this epic tale is after riding 1000 miles on rugged pot hole roads  his generic inexpensive rear wheel gave out. He spent $160 on a bike store spoked rim which didn’t last 100 miles.  He then had to comb a junk yard to find a replacement wheel which he made work for the rest of the trip. Saved by the Dump!:


Read about Justin’s Cross Canada tour

Justin is #2 on our list of most influential ebike people


5. Kingfish’s Going to California Ebike

Kingfish is an engineer who spent many months designing and building the above bike to put up with the rigors of a 1500 mile road trip from Seattle to Northern California and back. It has a top speed of 40mph and has 130 amp hours of Hobby King liop giving this bike a 3oo mile range.  Notice the aerodynamic touches.  The elecric bike utilizes 2 9c motors built into the front and rear wheel (awd)

Read Kingfish’s review on the 9c motor

Read Kingfish’s review on saddles

Read the entire thread about Kingfish’s journey on Endless Sphere


6. Live for Physic’s  Pinky

Liveforphysics deserves to have two ebikes on this list. Pinky was built in 7 days time to compete in the San Francisco Hill Climb, a race put on by Of course Pinky went on to crush the race with a 70mph top speed.  Many people were injured that day, and one of the crashes was caught on tape, making the most famous electric bike video to date. Pinky was later sold for big money to a wealthy Hong Kong business man.



7.  Itchnacker’s Pikes Peak Crusher

Itchynacker converted the above bike using an oil cooled 9c motor to tolerate climbing a steep mountain grade continuously at 35mph.  It uses Hobby King Lipo in a triangle bag and a hot-rodded controller and hub motor.  Not only was this the first hub motor to climb Pikes Peak, it beat a team of  Optibikes to the top (Optibike had dominated the race in previous years). The cost for a 1100r Optibke = $15,000.  The cost of Itchnacker’s home build $1,600.  Beating a bunch of lycra clad Optibkers to the top of  mountain peek in shorts and a t-shirt = priceless.

Read about Itchnackers victory at Pikes Peak 


8.  Cedric Lynch’s Feet-First Streamliner

Cedric Lynch developed one of the worlds most efficient small electric motors, but small being about 30 pounds, small enough for a motorcycle but not a  bicycle . However several bikes on this list use that motor, including Pinky and the Streamliner feet first pictured above. This bike will do 60mph and because of its aerodynamic shape will do it efficiently. Cedric Lynch would do a daily 40 mile commute in this vehicle.


#9 Shelby’s Green Cut

Shelby, and engineering student,  started a lawn care business called “Denton’s Green Cut”  to help pay for his schooling. He uses an electric bike to tow his  mowers around, saving 10,000 miles on what he would normally have used on his gas burning truck. His ebike can do 30mph even while pulling a heavy trailer carrying his mower and supplies. Shelby’s next project…building a DIY electric lawn mower.

iLearn More about the  Shelby’s lawn care ebike



10. Behemoth

This is the most elaborate electric bike ever to not even contain a hub motor. The electrics on this bike (solar powered) went instead to power the guys ham radio, CB radio, computer, satellite phone, etc. This ebike is definitely the most expensive on this list, costing over $500,000 to build.

Read more about the Behemoth electric bike


behemothwiscThe Utilitarian ebike list would be complete without the Trike Truck which started out as a build in Bill Stites garage. It is now in its 3rd version and is being offered as a product in Portland Oregon. It features dual hub motor rear wheel drive, and a unique pedal front wheel drive. Now that’s a cargo bike!

Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


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