Build Your Own High-Performance Hybrid Electric Bike

We recently featured the high-performance electric Optibike, which was mentioned in a New York Times article. Well, apparently you can build a equivalent electric bike for much less (for around $1,600). See the video for more details, and see notes on the bike’s design after the fold.

The designer, Russ Finley, explains how he put the bike together:

  1. I chose a full-suspension mountain bike frame because the roads and even the bike trails here are so bad. I wanted to isolate the batteries, controller and my butt from the shocks. I also jump off curbs a lot.
  2. I wired pairs of 36-volt Dewalt power tool batteries in series to get 72 volts and then wired each of these pairs in parallel. I can carry two, four, or six battery packs, depending on how long the trip will be.
  3. I replaced my 36-volt, ten-amp controller with a 72-volt, 35-amp version. It also has immediate start, which means the controller does not wait until the wheel is rolling before it puts power to the motor. This lets me get through intersections faster and safer (although I have to be careful or my front wheel lifts off the ground).
  4. I used a rear wheel motor because front wheels here tend to get bent by potholes and fixing one can be expensive if you have a motor mounted in it.

By doubling the voltage I gave this bike twice the power of my first one. That is a 100 percent increase in torque and speed. It is an incredible machine — efficient, fast, carbon neutral, and flexible.

Via: Grist

Comments 7


  2. There are several well designed quality electric bikes now in production but the best brand of the bunch, in my opinion, are the eZee models. Value for price is excellent relative to the other bikes we have seen.

    The quality is excellent, they are using the latest technology (e.g. Although “Lithium Ion” batteries are considered to the best power source by most, eZee (which had used Lithium Ion) has now gone to the new “Lithium Polymer” on most if not all of their bikes which delivers better performance, equal battery life, yet weighs approx. 35% less.

    My wife and I have just purchased two of them; the “eZee Cadence” for myself and the “eZee Slope Step Thru” model for her. Both are of similar weight and performance. We have put many miles on them and couldn’t be any more pleased with our investment.

    The Ezee’s offer the choice of three modes of operation 1. pedal only, 2. throttle controlled electric motor power assist while pedaling, 3. throttle controlled electric motor power only. The top speed is 20 MPH with a range of 20 to 30 miles dependent on rider weight and the terrain.

    Many “hardcore” bicyclist like to knock the electric bikes and I understand their philosophy, but for the remaining 95% of us who are out to get exersize while enjoying benefits of nature and the great outdoors, (while not concerning ourselves with elapsed times) these bikes are ideal. How many of you have ruled out a particular path or road because of an extra steep or long hill. With these bikes you can choose to pedal the hill using just enough power assist to allow you to make it to the top.

    We got our bikes at “Electric Bikes LA” in El Segundo, CA. 310-640-2453


  3. People if you want a great electric bike that makes use of the bikes gears for huge power and TORQUE like the opti-bike at well under $2000 then goto http://www.edealsbargains.com.au and you will find exactly what you are looking for…. or call dean on (Australia 0404977013) (int. +614-0497-7013)

  4. Nice set up with the Dewalt packs. I have a Crystalite 408 bike on 48v NiMh’s and was about to start on a new 72v bike similar to yours. Your setup seems to have the best bang for the buck by far. What kind of speed and range do you get with 4 packs and did you fabricate a drop in connection set up?

    Great video

  5. Please e-mail me regarding the batteries you use. I went to Home Depot & Dewalt. No one there could tell me about batteries,& all they had was 18volt. I am looking for 48volts????? Thanks Russ, Jeff

  6. I have an electric wheelchair/trike & I have questions about 36v & 48v lithium ion batteries or what ever the lightest new batteries are?Do the Dewalt batteries work with a 48v brushless motor on the most awsome trike anyone has ever seen.There is none like mine that I can see. Soon I will post a picture for everyone to see.Thanks for any help I can get making my trike lighter. thanks again,Jeff

  7. Thanks for the post. We need more electric bike designs that don’t look like they are for the elderly and the infirm. They need to become hip.


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