ArtDeco eBike Build

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Feb 17, 2018
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This started out as a pandemic project. It was only on paper in the beginning but I decided to make it a reality. It is completely hand built. It runs with a Bosch electric assist Performance Line Speed motor running (2) 500 watt batteries. It's mated to a Rohloff Speed Hub using a Gates Carbon Drive belt. The 14 speed rear hub has electronic shifting plugged into the Bosch motor. It's running on Schwalbe 27.5 x 2.40 650B Super-Moto tires. Paul Component Engineering supplied the mechanical brake calipers and front hub.

I designed the frame with influences from Elgin Bluebird, Dayton Safety Streamline, Shelby Speedline Airflow, and Elgin Miss America as well as many custom builds I see on this sight. I integrated the drop stand into the flow of both front and back double fender stays. This was influenced by the Elgin DecoLuxe. The frame is Chromoly with Paragon rear dropouts and motor mount. I used different equipment and techniques to roll the various curves to match my drawing. I modified the vintage Monark fenders to get a smooth full wrap on the tires. All the other panels are hand formed using 3003 aluminum using (english wheel, bead roller, shrinker/stretcher etc). Of course I couldn't resist using the Schwinn front fender light. I think it fits the overall look. I designed the badge and had master jeweler Jennifer Green make it out of brass, copper, and nickel. She does great work!

It's a blast to ride. You can do 28 mph all day! With 1000 watt total I can get about 85 miles per charge. I'm happy with the geometry too. It handles quite well at speed, especially on those tires.

I have many process pictures for each step but I was not good at posting while I was building. So here is the result of my process but I can go into more detail if requested.
I hope you enjoy it!

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Wow what a beaut! If you hand-worked/fabricated all of that I applaud your work.

I see this is your first post (and a great one) but I'd love to know more in the 'new members' sections. Do you work in engineering/fabrication?

I wonder what the geometry (sizing) is.

Hello All,

I am an avid cyclist. I am a vintage car and motorcycle aficionado. I'm an artist and craftsman.
I have restored vintage cars and motorcycles but have never built a bike from scratch. Until now.

This is my build. It started out as a pandemic project on paper but I decided to make it a reality. My intention was to build a pedal-assist eBike with a mid-drive motor, Rohloff Speedhub, and Gates Belt drive. I studied bicycles and motorcycles produced in the late '30's and pulled elements from various models including the Elgin Bluebird, Dayton Safety Streamline, Shelby Speedline Airflow, and BSA Gold Star motorcycle. I set out to refine my drawing, dial in the geometry, and search for the right parts

Here is my journey.
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The foundation of this bike had to be the wheels and fenders. I found a vintage set of Monark deep fenders that defined the look I was after. I had CycleMonkey build a set of 650B wheels using a Rolloff Speed hub rear and a Paul Components front hub. I purchased Paragon Rocker dropouts and modified them. I fabricated mounting points with a chain stay break for the belt drive and went with a Bosch Gen 4 for the motor mount. I rolled various diameter chromoly tubing to get the shapes. I enlisted master craftsman, Curtis Inglis, to help me TIG weld. He made the truss fork which is icing on the cake!
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Originally, I had envisioned a chain stay that carried out the back and wrapped around the fender just like the seat stay. I would then install a kick stand below the bottom bracket. What evolved turns out to be a better solution. I fabricated mounting and swivel points off the rocker dropouts to incorporate a drop stand that carries out the back just like the original drawing. It works fantastic!
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The vintage fenders needed some attention. The rear fender need to be extended. I fabricated a section using an english wheel and bead roller to make 2 sides and then welded it together and grafted to the original. The front fender had factory pressed indentions for the original narrow fork. I was able to hammer those out, shrink the metal, and maintaining the original shape. The front fender stays I made were trial and error but I feel like the end result is perfect for the bike.
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The goal for the rear rack was to keep the battery mounted as low and far forward as possible. I wanted to incorporate the curves without competing with the flow of the seat stay. The end result holds true to the original drawing. This feature was influenced by the ’39 Elgin Miss America.
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The aluminum bodywork is the key to the design of the bike. I set out to fabricate a buck for each piece before the actual metal shaping began. There are basically 9 unique panels that needed to be fabricated. I found that each panel presents it’s own challenge and the sequence on how I shaped each piece was most important. The whole process was a bit of a learning curve but the satisfaction of all of the work is coming together.
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Form Follows Function: The aesthetics of most all mid-drive eBike motors has always been a problem to me. The irregular and angular shape of the motors and mounts do not flow with the lines of a bike. There is no continuity of this shape with the rest of the bike. One of the main concepts of my original drawing was to encapsulate this mechanical necessity with a casing or shell that is aesthetically pleasing with the rest of the bike. Metal shaping these two center panels really sets the stage for the Art Deco feel of the entire build.
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Shaping an aluminum panel from a flat sheet is quite rewarding. I work out a design in my head and on paper, then I proceed to teach myself how to get the end result. The key is patience. I go into forming each piece knowing that it’s probably not going to be the one I use. Each piece is a prototype. After spending a couple hours manipulating each panel I learn something about the process, or the fit, or a tool, that I can take with me to the next panel. It gets dialed in closer each time and the process becomes a bit less challenging. Slowly it’s coming together. Schooling!
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I made the rack shroud or battery tray in 3 pieces. I shaped each side panel and then welded them together. The rear piece was formed with a recess to incorporate a tail light. I then welded that on the back. The shroud then snaps over the tubular rack. The battery nests in perfectly!
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As I am nearing the completion of my build I realized that there is an inherent problem. The bar ends hit the frame and the truss fork hits the aluminum side panels when turned completely, not unlike any bike. You always see tank bikes with big dents in them. I set out to engineer stops in the head tube to eliminate this issue. I inserted bar stock in the steerer tube and tapped it out for a 5mm bolt. I notched out the sides on the head tube, fabricated stop plugs and brazed them into the head tube. Then I drilled a hole in the back side of the head tube to allow access to screw in a machined bolt to act as the stop. It works great!
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