It’s not just four wheel drive retro electrics that we love here at R-E.uk. We originally spoke to Russ Sciville about his fantastic E powered Lotus Elise, which you’ll find covered elsewhere on this site.
However while chatting he mentioned a Ducati that he had been working on, so we asked him to tell us more!
The bike started life as a 1998 Ducati 600 SS, the SS stands for super sport, though in reality the 600SS in original form was one of Ducatis less loved bikes, a result of poor power output making it no match for the Sv650 and Bandit. Infact, the 600SS struggled to make 50bhp from it’s 600cc V-twin engine. It did, however, have a decent chassis.
Russ’s bike started as just a frame and wheels that were usefully already registered as an EV bike, a 1998 Ducati 600SS which had suffered some damage to the fairings. Russ decided to change it to an unfaired bike and closer to the Ducati Monster style.
Russ purchased a Lynch motor from the owner of the bike that are normally used for converting ride on mowers. These motors are of an original design from an interesting and clever brit called Cedric Lynch.
They are powerful yet compact and used in a number of medium power applications such as go-carts, boats and motorcycles. Known as “pancake motors” as they are flat and disk shaped rather than elongated as most are, these motors can achieve 90% efficiency, making them perfect for small light motorcycles. producing around 11kw (15bhp)
Whilst doing the deal for the motor Russ asked if he was selling anything else, as soon as he discovered a job lot of motors and bikes were on offer, he snapped up the lot
It turned out that the seller had been fairly central to the development of an electric racing motorcycle that was used some years ago by Cedric Lynch and his partners from “Agni” who used to build the motors under license. This was used successfully on the IOM TT races a few years ago when some limited EV bike racing was introduced.
Russ lapped up as much information as he could from the seller
The bike originally had two motors powering it but Russ decided to install just one, as the original two motor design needed to be fitted facing each other, which would have left one sticking out on one side.
It turned out that a fair bit of work was needed to convert the wiring loom to suit the new layout, the power supply in particular, which now utilises a DC – DC power supply which isolates and drops the 80v battery down to 12v for the bike electrics.
A particular feature of this power supply is the option to leave it connected to the 80v battery and to switch its electronics on and off with the bikes keyswitch thereby no 12v battery is required.
Russ admits he is pushing his luck though, as the power supply input is rated 36 – 70v and the bike is well over that. However, the last few months of continuous connection has seen reliable running, so hopefully its components are conservatively rated. It is also protected by a 2A fuse.
The motor is controlled by an oversize “Kelly” DC motor controller purchased from the same supplier as the motors were, the controller has speed control from a modern Ducati electronic twist grip sourced secondhand via Ebay from Italy which converts the twist grip rotation to a 1 – 4v signal.
The hardest part of any Retro EV conversion is the choice of battery. Russ spent a lot of time mulling over various scenarios and after trolling a few web sites found a company in China via AliExpress who make bespoke battery packs.
The one chosen is a 50Ah 72v nominal pack with an inbuilt BMS protection board and a 2kW charger. Although sold as consisting of 18650 cells, it has been built from 20 large format pouch cells which is possibly why they couldn’t shape it as advertised.
Although they were supposed to have made it to a shape Russ specified, allowing it to hang under the chassis, it arrived as a rectangular shape and smaller than expected, which fitted inside the frame in a more protected area. The IP65 rated charger fits very nicely under the frame where the battery was to go.
All the HV electrics for the battery pack have been installed on a small hinged aluminium plate which include DC contactor, fuses and battery SOC controller.
The charge point is a Type 1 J1772 socket, chosen because it is smaller than the more common Type 2 socket and Russ has a coiled extension lead under the seat with a Type 1 plug at one end and 16A blue plug and adapter for a 13A socket at the other to allow for any unexpected charging needs.
To allow a display of the state of charge, voltage and amps Russ used a relatively cheap Ebay sourced display (Juntek VAT1100) with WiFi connection to a separate measuring board, setting the display in the tank where the filler would go, after all, this is no longer needed!!!
To finish off the bike and keep its techie image, Russ installed an LED headlamp and found a rather expensive multifunction speedo/display which uses a matrix of red and other colour LED’s to display speed, rpm, indicators, main beam etc and a host of other functions
The bike is now awaiting an MOT, when the lockdown allows, Russ will be heading to the local test centre and is confident of a pass.
Once is street legal, Russ intends to test the bike for performance and battery for range. It should be enough to easily allow for an hour or so of continuous riding and Russ promises us a full updates as soon as this has happened.