Switching classic cars to electric power is almost common. There are companies and kits that can electrify everything from old Land Rovers to Rolls Royce. Ford is involved in the game, giving the Mustang the Mac E GT motor as a ‘crate’ engine. And if you have money to save, Jaguar’s own recall section also leaves an i-pace motor for your vintage E-Type.
Electric motorcycle conversion kit for BMWs
Motorcycles are a different proposition, though. There is less room to hide a dirty battery, technology tends toward four-wheel drive vehicles, and as a group motorcyclists receive less power than the average car driver.
This makes the Look Muis an outsider, as he has just developed and released a kit that converts BMW airheads into electric motorcycles. You may have already heard about the look: they are Dutch product designers, the founders of LM Creations and the most famous of their Indian scout babes, Hasty Flaming Buffalo.
Based on the R-Series framework, Look has created a bolt-on electric drivetrain that replaces the existing engine – but keeps the gearbox and the rest of the driveline. And it looks so amazing.
The prototype shown here uses the BMW R80 Donor Bike. But Luuc believes that all R-Series bikes built between 1969 and 1995 are capable of bolting the system – in some cases with only minor modifications to the upper tube.
One of the most interesting aspects of this conversion kit is the way it incorporates the look of an electric motor. They reverse-engineered and cast new engine cases using 3D scanning with internal mounts to adjust the motor, controller and wiring.
“We took a comparable inspiration for the battery pack,” he says. “We 3D-scanned the original R80 gas tank and frame and designed a flexible battery pack with no welding of the frame.” (For the R100 frame, you may need to remove some brackets.)
“It is definitely doable to mount all the extraordinary engine components to the modern day casing, cross lower back the airhead to its unique look, but it presents plenty of useless weight!”
The power unit is the most commonly available ‘QS138’, rated at 72V and 11kW. Along with the clutch adapter, it is housed in a new aluminium body that bolts into the gearbox just like the original combustion engine. The unit consists of an integrated controller and a DC converter that plugs into the 12V wiring system.
“The electric powered motor has a functionality of 7,500 rpm, so the fee is just like the actual engine – it is redline at 8,000 rpm,” says Luc. “The torque curve is of course different. But the riding experience is very similar. The gearbox is still working.
The 4.3kW battery pack mounts in the same frame as the original gas tank. “Battery energy is able to calculate a city of eighty km,” says Luk. “It weighs about 24kg, slightly more than the weight of a full 22-litre R80 fuel tank.” It is rated for 2,000 charging cycles, totaling 160,000 km (about 100,000 miles)
The 230V charger has two options: 1.8 kW or 3.3 kW. The fastest system charges the battery to 80% in one hour and 100% in another hour. The 1.8 kW system takes about twice as long, but since that charger is small enough, it can be mounted on the bike rather than on the board in the garage.
The battery cover is smooth fibreglass, complete with primer and paint. “It is possible to control the unique fuel line tank and fit it in a battery pack, although it is really helpful to connect the fuel line tank with non-conductive material, ”says Luc.
Why not put batteries in the famous boxer ‘cylinders’, we wonder? “We believe in it, but we can’t make it a smooth and stable system,” says Luk. “When the cylinders hit the ground, we did not count on it turning out to be good – because in reality 72V hurts!”
Other modifications are as simple as possible.“We favored cognizance at the EV part, ”says Luc. “So we eliminated the cylinders, carbohydrates, consumption and the front engine cover. But we attached a low profile top engine cover to give it a little ‘body’.
The R80 frame is suspended behind the monoshock, parts of the wrecked R100RT frame, and the new YSS shock. All unnecessary mounting brackets are removed from the frame.
There is at least a subframe with a little kick-up to support a simple custom perch from the MJ seats and a single Kellerman Atto rear / brake light array. All the framed components are freshly crushed in glossy black.
Front suspension From KTM 390, the BMW F650 is hooked up to the front hub. The wheels have stainless spikes laced to the F19 / R18 and aluminium rims. “We attached the widest possible tire to the rear without making any modifications to the swingarm or offsetting the rim,” reported Luc. Michelin Roadmaster Classics: “Use the city’s best local tire as a bike!”
Despite the complexity of the kit, installation is relatively easy and Luuc can deliver video to customers. And the next step is to certify the conversion kit to the EU R100 EV safety standard — which enables owners to change registration documents and officially be listed as an electric motorcycle.
Components of the kit can be purchased separately, but LM Creations sells you the full package with a 3.3 kW charger for € 9,450 (US $ 9,945) (or slightly less than 1.8 kW with an onboard charger). And for an additional € 1,450, the Lulu crew can install the kit for the R-Series Airhead of your choice.
For people who like the idea (and acceleration) of electric motorcycles but can’t stomach the design of commercially available offerings, Lulu’s structure should tick a lot of boxes.
If you’re far from riding Berlin, head to Reload Land this coming weekend — this is the first festival dedicated to electric motorcycles and the BMW R00 will be showcased.