Classic Electric Motorcycle


I was surprised when cruising eBay for Classic Motorcycles when I see this Electric Motorcycle. These days with the new full electric cars just coming to show rooms near you, motorcyclist will soon have the options available. Bikes like the The Lightning Motorcycle Superbike setting a 200+ mph record at Bonneville are leading the way to consumer available electric motorcycles. This motorcycle gives you and idea of the where it may have started for electricity and motorcyclist.

This appears to be something ahead of its time.

 You are bidding on a very special custom built electric motorcycle. My Physics students and I  built it and entered it in the Clean Air Car Race which was a trans continental race from Boston to Cal Tech in Pasadena,CA. The year was 1970. My students have rebuilt it twice since that time. This amazing custom motorcycle held the World’s record for speed at 65 mph for 30 years. The motorcycle needs some work to make it drive again. It needs new wheels and tires, power batteries, twelve volt cycle battery and shocks. The Curtis electronic speed controller ( the chopper) and the Norton three speed transmission still work. Instrumentation includes a digital thermometer, center reading +/- 150 ammeter, and 120 volt DC meter. There is a 500 amp kill switch wired in for safety. The permanent magnet motor is about 8 horsepower.

 This would be a very cool project for someone who is already involved or is willing to learn more about electric vehicle technology and needs an inexpensive project like this one in order to get started.


Now the idea of an electric motorcycle for a project seems like a solid idea. But the technology used on this bike is from the 1960’s and if you tried to make it roadworthy you might end up discarding everything that makes this unique. The seller implies that it would be a good learning tool, but what would you be learning? If you wanted to make a classic looking electric motorcycle today,  I can see starting with a Norton Featherbed frame from the 1960’s, but using current battery technology and all that would be needed to get the power to the road.  This could be a great restoration project, but you would really want to restore the technology and save the history to use as a display in the evolution of the electric movement.


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