A Look Inside the Guts of My Ultimate Electric Bike, “Das Wampyr”!

Long time followers watched me put this bad boy together piece by piece over the span of a year. Now that it’s (mostly) complete, for the sake of newcomers I thought I’d do an overview of all the bits, bobs and doodads that went into building this electrical monstrosity.

Unlike some of the newer pseudo-moped ebikes coming out with elaborate, bespoke frames, this one is designed for ease of maintenance. Both sides pop right off after you remove 8 bolts. They don’t even need a tool as they’re designed to be turned with your bare fingers.

Inside you can see the main 1.1kwh battery pack used for propulsion. But also a smaller, secondary battery bank which powers various amenities I’ll cover shortly. The charger is also packed inside the frame, saving me from having to carry it separately.

Here’s the high voltage relay that connects to the “ignition” switch. Can’t just wire it directly in between the battery and controller, the current would melt the wires. It needs this special dealie to safely make and break that connection. These modern ebike batteries are scary powerful.

Because the charger is onboard, I can use a standard extension cord to charge it. The port is a weather proof outdoor male 110v socket with a handy rubberized cap that keeps rain out. The accessories battery charges by a USB cable poking out the front. To simplify my life, I used zip ties to bundle both a 10ft USB extension cable and a regular 10ft extension cord together, so it’s a cinch to plug in both batteries.

The white capsule is of course the hamster cockpit, so one of my hairy little bros can enjoy a bike ride with me. The overbuilt shocks are soft enough that it’s a smooth ride for both of us. The adjustable phone mount includes the PCB from a wireless phone charger that I added, so that I can use my phone for GPS navigation with the screen at full brightness without draining the battery so quickly.

That’s one of the amenities I talked about earlier which runs off the smaller, secondary battery. Eventually I’d like to tie it all into the main battery, but I’d need a somewhat pricy passthru transformer type dealie for that. You might notice the handle is thick and plush? That’s because the handles are electrically heated by the accessories battery, to keep my hands nice and toasty during winter rides.

Here’s the rear light cluster. It includes turn signals, not strictly required by law but a wise inclusion. Also flashing hazards if ever you need them, and interestingly, laser lane guides! That’s right, this thing shoots two laser pointers at the road in front of you to mark out where the center of the lane should be when it’s dark.

Here’s the wireless, handlebar mounted controller for the rear lighting cluster. I have the light itself hooked up to the accessories battery so I never need to manually charge it, but this controller dealie runs on CR2032 lithium air hearing aid batteries. It’s a bit frustrating as I’d prefer to go all rechargeable, but it supposedly only needs new batteries once a year.

Here’s the inside of the rear storage pod. It includes light gloves for autumn riding, the garage door opener (still looking for a way to mount it to the handlebars) and a special electric tire pump that runs off the bike’s own battery. This means if I get a flat, I can wait for the self-sealing slime tubes to repair the puncture on their own, then fill it back up with air.

There’s also rubber gloves in case I come across any small wounded animals on the trail, as happened last year when I found this injured bat. There’s no way to know for sure, but if I didn’t have to return home for a container to put him in, I might’ve gotten him to the audubon society a little bit sooner.

Would that have made a difference? No idea, but I decided I’d never again give myself reason to wonder that, and going forward I’d carry everything on my bike needed to be prepared for similar encounters in the future.

Now if I find a wounded bat, mouse, squirrel, frog, bird, etc. I can stash the compressor and other items in my pockets or backpack and use the pod itself as a safe, comfy container to transport the animal home (where I’ll prepare it for delivery to the local wildlife authority).

Lastly, here’s my persistence of vision LED bike wheel video screen. It works like those metronome style LED clocks that create the appearance of the current time floating in the air. But this one is full color and can display animated gifs. Sadly I haven’t yet been able to make it work properly.

The main issue so far as I can tell is that it uses a rare earth magnet mounted to the fork to determine how fast the wheel is rotating. It was designed for a standard bicycle fork though, not the beefy downhill DNM hydraulic fork I’ve got, so finding a way to mount the magnet correctly has been a challenge. Maybe 3D printing a special mount is the answer? I don’t know yet.

Anyways, that’s the whole enchilada! I’ve got my nice electric car now so I don’t bike as much as I once did, but that’s changing now that I live next to a 40 mile loop of bike trail. The gravel sections really give me a chance to put the suspension to good use!

Besides the self-healing slime tubes it’s also got ribbons of kevlar both between the tube and the rim, and between the tube and the tire. This protects from the spoke tips as well as thorns, screws or any other sharp thingies I may run over. It’s been rock solid reliable so far.

In case you noticed there’s no chain or derailleur, that’s because it makes the bike harder to steal. It’s 80lbs and needs a key to use the motor, so it’s dead weight without the key basically. This, plus the sticker on top which advertises the fact that it contains a GPS tracking device, actually prevented it from being stolen my first night in the new house.

@amandarichards found it sitting halfway out the open side door of the garage. Whoever meant to steal it must’ve seen the sticker once the motion activated lights outside that door came on. That, plus the heaviness and lack of a chain, ultimately prevented the theft.

I’ll also add a motion activated alarm to it as well pretty soon, which can be armed or de-armed remotely by a key fob. When you put $2,500 into building a bicycle, understandably it’s a good idea to spend a couple more bucks to prevent some thief from running off with your hard work.

As ever, though they don’t pay me to, I’ve got to plug Luna Cycle. They sold me many of the critical components for this build and are the leading name in high quality, hand built 18650 based battery packs for electric bicycles.

They use common Chinese battery cases for maximum compatibility with the widest possible range of eBikes, but they put top quality Panasonic, Samsung and Sanyo 18650s inside as well as high end BMS to keep the cells balanced.

I cannot recommend them enough. If you’re interested in building your own eBike, Luna Cycle is the place to start your journey. Anyways that’s all for this time! As always…

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