"Up-Cycled" The beginnings of the Garbage Bike

Sunday morning, deep in the redwoods on highway 9 just north of Santa Cruz about a half hour from the hum and hustle of any major population center. Faintly, in the distance a whistling noise, quickly becoming louder... Louder... What is this thing coming? It sounds like a turbine. Is it the sound of the future? Some marvelous new machine? It's near now, the sound of sticky tires flying over the hot blacktop... it's rounding the last corner, coming into view. There it is! Its... made of garbage?

While the bike may not be literal garbage, it is built mostly from spare parts which were never intended to share a chassis. The Project started with a 2013 Zero S frame, wheels, suspension (bad suspension anyway), a motor (more on that later), and a controller. That's it. Luckily I happened to have recently made the acquaintance of a few electric motorcycle nerds. I should perhaps clarify, maybe because I just called the owner of this site a nerd, that I mean nerd as a compliment. These guys got me into electrics and answered my stupid, occasionally not stupid questions, and where more than happy to just vomit valuable information at me all day. During the next few weeks, mostly over weekends, I began reassembling the bike.

2013 Zero Motorcycle Pikes Peak Race Chassis
2013 Pikes Peak Race Chassis

The bike needed basically everything. I decided to start with the harness (every bike builders favorite job) since without that it would not matter how many fancy components I had in the frame, none of the angry pixies would have anywhere to go without a harness. At this point I should probably arrest the idea that may be building while you read this, no i did not build an entire harness sadly I'm not that good... yet. I had a 2015 S harness to put into the bike but since the motor is a 2013 the controller had to be mounted in the frame "backwards" compared to how Zero now mounts the larger Sevcon size six controllers today as the motor leads are too short otherwise. This means the encoder plug was now too short to reach the encoder wires coming off the motor. So the encoder plug needed to be extended, which is not that big a job... unless you decide to extend more than just the encoder wires since its your first time doing this and you over estimated the amount you would need to extend the harness...

Zero 2013 Pikes Peak Electric Motorbike
Garbage bike in it's native habitat, the historical garbage someone would love corner.

Many, many crimps later (seriously I got real good with a crimping tool during this process) the harness fit in the frame and reached all of the components. Next came the monolithic task of, fitting the monolith (yeah I'm a little proud of that one) a job which involved lifting the frame of the bike over the battery and dropping it (carefully) down. Of course it was important to put the battery on a jack before putting the frame over it, which we definitely did the first time... yup. Okay so now the battery is in the frame, jacked up, and the bolts are all in place. Alright monolith in place, harnessed up and ready to rip... Okay maybe not rip just yet... but soon. The next day or so was spent placing all the various other components into their respective slots on the harness and attaching them to the frame. Dc to dc converter, Main Bike Board (MBB), fuse block, various controls (a non psychotic throttle), display, and probably a few other bits I'm forgetting but that's the gist of it. Oh and that motor I said I would tell you more about? It is a "holy motor" or perhaps more aptly "hole-y motor" that has been ventilated meaning the casing has been milled open so that the rotor can suck cooling air through the motor helping to keep it nice and cool.

2013 Zero Garbage Bike
Huzzah! It lives!!

So now the bike is together, and technically ride-able but there is one (okay at least one) small problem with it, and it is kind of important for an electric bike. I had no way to charge the bike. Now at this point, I could have just grabbed a.... *shudder* ... Calex, but that would have been lame and slow. And slow. So that idea was out, like way out... way out back, and shot... repeatedly. Well, remember those nerds I mentioned? Turns out these guys have not only been into Zeros for a bit, but charging is kind of "their thing", to massively understate it. With some really great technical guidance, and a bit of mocking, I wound up bolting together three 3.3 Kilowatt ac chargers. So that's 9.9 kw of theoretical on-board charging. Which I should mention the nerds overclocked. I have actually managed to pull 10.6 kw on occasion.

10.6kw charger for the garbage Zero Motorcycle
A charger with far more power than the bike should handle.

As with all projects I get my hands on, the bike is still developing, so you can expect more updates to the saga of the garbage bike! But until then these clips will have to suffice. The first is a quick overview of the bike, though a few things have changed since filming. The second clip is of me (behind the camera) and a certain previously mentioned nerd, Bandon Nozaki Miller, giving the garbage bike a tune up.


- Callum

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