E-motorbike round the world trip (and construction)


1 µW
Oct 25, 2018
About me:
I owned a cheap Chinese e-shooter in china a few years back, I have built a drone and have general knowledge of materials and technology, I have 3d design skills and prototyping skills, but I never built an e-motorbike. I owned and done some basic mechanical job on my ktm 625 smc for a few years now. Overall I am a curious newbie.

The project overall:
I with my girlfriend are planning to make an around the world trip on two e-motorbikes, the project is aimed at promoting and proving the concept of long distance travel on EV more info on http://e-aroundtheworld.com/ . We are trying to gather technical sponsorships and partnership to complete it but also will influx our own resources where needed. The best scenario will be to have two ebike shipped to my front door but not sure that this will happen, I have contacted some producers with no great luck. Therefore I am considering to convert two lightweight cheap used Honda (or other) motorbike to do the job.

The project in details:
From Italy to Italy in one year, crossing about 40 countries and 35.000 km. an average of 100km a day.

Why I am here:
Your guidance, help, suggestion, tips, critics, products, materials, etc. will be of great value for the project.
What is the idea so far (very much open to suggestions)

Solar panels:
We will carry five photovoltaic panels for each bike, in order to charge the battery in remote areas, each set of panel weight 4 kg for a total of 260W and is composed of 5x 52w which are flexible monocrystalline panels dimensioned 60 x 50 cm. here the link https://www.solbian.eu/en/sp-series/24-sp-52-q.html (this company is may be willing to help us in the project providing the panels)
The idea is to have one of this panels on each side 52Wx2 of the bike mounted facing outwards to help to charge the battery during the journey. During long stops in areas with no plugs, the other three panels will be deployed in the ground to try to get as much energy as possible.

The Battery:
We are considering using about 300 18650 cells to have a good range ideally around 100/150 km; we are not looking at great speeds around 100km/h max. The cost of the batteries is a problem, but maybe part of them could be recycled. Also as they are pretty much a standard, I was thinking of being able to source them along the trip if needed.

Charging the battery:
Ideally, the battery should be: removable to allow easier charging in various and unexpected environments. I think having regenerative braking will be a plus considering the various environments. As I mentioned before the battery should be able to be charged by PV panels both while riding and during stops. Also, the (wall charger) should be of course as fast as possible, reliable, and adaptable to various countries’ grid voltages.

The motor:
I have done some research on the topic but not really sure here, I know the selection of the motor need to be evaluated according to a number of parameters, we will need something reliable not super fast, able to climb well, I was considering a 5KW BLDC Motor from goldenmotors or a smaller 3KW motor.

The electronics:
I have realized the importance of the motor controller and the charging controller, I am reading about them, but I am not an expert. Ideally, I would like something easy to use with near zero programming and reliable.

The donor bike:
The bikes should be lightweight, simple and tough, I have learned from long distance sailing trips that the less is more. Fewer things there are in a system fewer things are likely to fail, plus while traveling in remote countries simple things will be easier to fix. I was considering something like a small 250cc enduro or dirtbike Honda, or similar; A bike like that without the old motor and exhaust should weight around 60/70 kg.
I am thinking of building two lateral bags holder which also have the solar panel mount system, in carbon fiber or aluminum.

Legal issues:
I think the donor bike should be street legal to be then re-legalized once converted to EV? Or I can start from a let’s say a racing dirtbike and then legalize-it?.

This is pretty much the current situation, I am planning on starting the trip next year.
Thank you all a lot for taking the time to read this
Nice plan, good luck! Will you only use a year😃 Some stops to enjoy it must be in the plan too?

Just a thought:
300 cells won't take you 100-150 km in speeds of 80-100km/h.. You'd need double that pack to get there. If you're in a remote area i'd guess you also might need the 150km range, even after the pack has done the 500 or so charges you'd be likely to do.

Let's say you have a 300 cells at 9wh so your pack is 2700wh with the discharge rate needed to keep the speeds. You'd come 60km at 45wh/km which i guess is reasonable.
A 1h stop of solar charging will only give you 4mins of riding at 4kW.

My guess is that you should aim for a lower power / speed system
Thank you a lot for your reply,
I will be constantly but slowing moving,
you are definitely right I have overestimated the power output per battery, so let's say I have this 2700wh battery pack, coupled with a 3 kv motor, will i be albe to aim at the 100/150 km range?

yes, solar charging is slow but in some places, it will be necessary I probably could get up to 312 W panels that should be 10 hours to charge fully a 2700wh battery in ideal and (unrealistic) condition right?

I am still researching as you can immagine

Thank you for your reality check and tips
Hi Filippo, we share the same dream, kind of.
I gave up on e-motorbike in favor of e-bike, here's a few reasons.
The logistics of freight (air or sea) between continents is hugely different.
When you run out of battery you can still pedal.
Speed kills range. 100km/h becomes a big design hurdle.
Bicycle parts can be found almost anywhere.
Licences and registrations become a non-issue.
You can access more areas (lift everything over fences, locked gates, under bridges when it rains)
You will remember more people and places.
Your 100km per day average will take 4-5 hours in the saddle. If you do that in 1 hour you'll have a lot of time to kill / spend money.

And you mention converting two used, lightweight, cheap Honda bikes. These are probably not designed to do 100km/h, even without all your camping gear strapped to it somehow. (you don't mention camping. Are you? Or is this a credit card tour?)

If I was going in a group, or maybe even with just a partner, I would consider dumping most of the solar and taking a Honda eu1000 generator, with three high-amp fast chargers (satiators). You'd need a trailer to carry the 12kg generator.
Yeah I know it's an petrol-sucking ICE and that negates some of the perceived 'environmental friendlyness' but I'm doing it for the real-life experience, not some airy fairy public recognition.

Donor bikes, look at Surly's touring models, troll, ogre, ecr. These are designed for the heavy long haul, and have all the braze-on mounts for fenders, racks, bottles, etc. And fork out for two rohloff's, you'll never regret it.

Motors, I'd go with 2wd for each bike. Bbshd to drive the rohloff gearbox, and the Grin all-axle on the front to provide regen braking and redundancy if something goes wrong.

Anyway, that's just me, best of luck with however you do it. Great to see the initiative taken. Keep us posted.
it's a nice dream isn't it?
Have a look at this http://www.ubcobikes.com/
its not really a motorbike it's slow but that range should be feasible right?
camping gear included ;) of course,
I am not a fan of the generator, if I had to carry one I would just get a Vespa and go no need to pedal at all or on the other extreme no need to carry batteries and just pedal 100 k a day, but I see your point, I am not into greenwashing either...
What do you think of this one (as a reference not just to buy and go for 30.000km, I know that is probably not reliable)

Good luck to you too and thank you for your inputs, let's keep sharing ideas
best filippo
I had seen the Ubco years ago, but back then it wasn't registerable... but now it seems to be! Nice.

Yeah the generator is good for bigger groups to recharge everyone at lunch and the end of day, not so much for smaller groups, although I did a solo 4-day trip along the beach about a month back, it was great. Solar would have worked theoretically being in the full sun, but the wind would have destroyed whatever pv array I had. So horses for courses, lots of options is good.

I also like bicylces because I can work on them with a handful of tools, and get spare parts from any local dump or garage sale. I'd be nervous taking an Ubco into the remote places I like to go. But breaking down is always memorable, so maybe I'll save my dollars. They want $8000 kangaroo dollars though :shock: I'll let you get one first. Let me know how it goes :wink:
Hahaha, I like the concept and the numbers they show, but not going to give them 8000 kangaroos for that thing, when you can convert something like that https://www.subito.it/moto-e-scooter/piaggio-bravo-anni-70-verona-271709119.htm
trying to source used batteries and a donor vehicle now.
Nice. I used to ride one of them around Bermuda.

Sounds like a fun journey. Makes me wanna pack.

I'd try to keep your two bikes as similar as possible. Being able to swap parts, diagnose noises, etc, is a big advantage.