Suzuki Electric GSX-R600 | Me & My Bike

Up To Speed

Photography by Greg Milne

Name: Greg Milne
Age: 51
Home: Santa Barbara, CA
Occupation: Electrical Engineer

"Converting a motorcycle to electric drive was an inevitable project for me. As a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, I'm an insatiable tinkerer. And as an electrical engineer with Lockheed Martin, I know a thing or two about electronics. The engineering and fabrication challenge are what sparked my interest in the project, but a reduction in my 'donations to the Middle East' is what kept me motivated! I was also really excited by the possibility of commuting to work on a homemade EV (electric vehicle). In total, it took about three months and 200-plus hours of labor to complete the conversion.

"I found a suitable platform on Craigs-list: a 2000 Suzuki GSX-R600 with a spun main bearing. The first thing I did was gut the bike, removing the ICE (internal-combustion engine) and all its components. Then I picked up a DC-series motor and 300-amp programmable controller and fabricated the motor bracket. I bolted everything up to the original motor mounts, and as a rule avoided drilling or modifying the stock frame in any way. I also kept the kickstand safety switch, ignition switch and kill switch operable.

"Four AGM lead-acid batteries serve as the main power source, and because of their weight, I placed them low in the frame. A wrecked Prius donated its NiMH battery, which I dissected and rewired into a 55-volt slab that resides under the fuel-tank shell and serves as a reserve. Cramming the batteries into the stock Gixxer bodywork was the most difficult and tedious task, but the resultant Rubik's Cube of tiered cells fits well and helps keep the weight as low as possible.

"To prolong battery life, I replaced the inefficient incandescent tail lights and turn signals with LEDs. HID headlights cut down on power draw even further. Because there is no transmission, I had to install a 68-tooth rear sprocket to get the right gearing. The bike will hit 60 mph and cover about 20 miles if I'm easy on the throttle. Too bad my office is 25 miles away-just out of range! All I need are some better batteries and I'll be able to make the commute. The LiFePO4 cells look like the up-and-comers.

"There are still a few modifications I'd like to do, like converting the tachometer to an ammeter, but the bike is pretty much done. Just looking at it, it's hard to tell it's not a stock GSX-R. The only thing that tips people off is the missing muffler!"

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