Flying Yankee 1.0-

Flying Yankee 1.0- | A Foldable, DIY Electric Bicycle | Objective- | Criteria- | Platform Components- | Hub Motor- | Speed Controller- | Brakes- | Torque Arm- | Thumb throttle- | 36V 12 AH SLA Battery. | Data Logging/UX | Beta Test Data | Update-7/20/12 | EBike Log Database-

A Foldable, DIY Electric Bicycle


  • Create an affordable, medium- range (20 Miles), motorized mobility alternative compatible with other transportation modes.
  • In Storage the compact form must fit into-
    1. The trunk of a subcompact car
    2. The baggage hold of an intercity motorcoach
    3. The ruggage rack of a passenger railcar without requiring special accomodations
  • Range must be sufficient for 20 mile one way trip before 6 hour charge


  • Must be affordable
  • Must be simple enough for a moron (i.e. me) to build
  • Must be Modular
  • Must be constructed out of easily accessible components
  • Must be easily customizable

Platform Components-

Folding Frame-

Schwinn 20 Inch Wheel Folding Hinge Bike
Found on Craigslist for $50... Craigslist is a great place to look for folding bikes as many people buy them for a specific purpose and either no longer need it or never use it... The Schwinn Hinge Bike is a great affordable option for relatively flat areas with good flat, pavement. Most areas in Maine however, are quite hilly and bumpy so I will probably be upgrading to a geared platform with shocks.

Hub Motor-

The Direct Drive Front Wheel Brushless Hub motor- Description from
Hub Motors are 30% more efficient than a brushed motor. This means 30% more range/distance. Also brushed motors lose much of their power due to heat loss at the brushes that rub on the shaft [....]The hub kits added on to your bike will drive you about 1,000 miles for the same price as a gallon of gas and not produce the gasses your car or truck puts off. All of the designer brand name brushless hub motors are all basically the same with the exception of the windings and bearings. The windings inside the motor simply determine torque or speed, much in the same way gears do and the only other thing was the bearings....
Came as part of the 20 Inch Front Wheel, Direct Drive SLA conversion kit sold by AmpedBikes
Hub motors can be bought separately from distributors in China. This option would fit the affordability criteria but ensuring the correct electrical connections requires expert knowledge so purchasing as part of a kit makes the most sense at alpha stage...

Speed Controller-

The Speed Controller is the main innovation behind the E-Bike revolution! More from
The main reasons that brushless motors are more efficient is that they are microprocessor controlled in the same way that the magnetic levitated trains are, the microprocessor reads where the motor is and tells the next electro magnet to push it along.

From a DIY perspective the controller is also where the potential for innovation is greatest. This is because it can be based on an open source Arduino Microprocessor platform, which opens up boundless possibilities!
Most stable applications using Arduino Controlled Brushless Motors are meant for Remote Controlled vehicles such as the advanced R&DIY projects over at However, several efforts to produce a stable, dedicated E-Bike application for Arduino are underway.

Developing an Arduino-Based Open Source Motor Controller is a major goal for build 2.0!!

Brakes- embedded micro switch that cuts power to the motor when you apply the brakes.
Brakes require constant adjustment due to lack of shocks. A new bike frame will probably be required for build 2.0

Torque Arm- prevents the Axle from spinning out in the dropouts. That extremely small 10MM area of the axle will twist at 1,000 lbs so Torque arms are highly suggested!

Thumb throttle-

AmpedBikes kit throttle includes basic battery charge indicator.

36V 12 AH SLA Battery.

Comes with mini 1.5A charger. Takes about 6 hours for full charge. At 25 pounds the battery is very heavy. This requires constant attention to tire pressure and weight compensation on the front tire for traction.
The LifePo4 Battery weighs only 5 pounds the ampedbikes model can be mounted directly onto the bike frame in the water bottle cage. At over $600 each they come nowhere near the affordability threshold for the time being.
As the technology develops however, prices will come down. LifePo4 batteries can be purchased for nearly half that price from Chinese wholesalers, but the connections are often incompatible with manufactured brands. A custom-built controller would be able to meet this problem in version 2.0.

Data Logging/UX

Now we get to the real reason any hackers are interested in this project... How do we use the data?!

The Scooterputer

Probably one of the most impressive DIY projects involving e-bikes/scooters is a project called the Scooterputer
The Scooterputer is made up of some of the same components used for other Arduino projects in development by CarFree Maine, but the tutorial was posted in 2010 and has not been updated since. In a project this complicated this would likely entail a good deal of custom code, probably about the same as starting from scratch. However, its nice to see such elaborate schematics already posted.


The big player in the E-Bike Computer market is known as the Cycle Analyst. The C.A. is well known for excellent support and is updated often. However, the minimalist interface is geared much more to the electrical engineer crowd and might be somewhat difficult for an average user to navigate. It also scores low on the affordability criteria at $150 dollars each before adding all the necessary sensors...


Another more recent player on the market costs about the same as a stand-alone C.A. but has a much more user friendly interface by utilizing a smartphone app rather than dedicated hardware. Speedict Technologies seems to be growing rapidly and is adding new features every day. If I could ever scrape up $100 this would be well worth a shot. With the addition of the Arduino Android Development Kit (ADK) it is much easier to build Android Apps that interface directly with an Arduino microcontroller so this seems to be a great starting point for FY 2.0

Speedict Sensor



Google Tracks/Fusion Tables/Maps/Drive

Google is making things easier for lifehackers every day so long as you can keep up with them. With the recent release of Google Drive we suddenly have large amounts of Cloud-Based hosting at our disposal. Meanwhile apps like Google Tracks have added support for a variety of sensor data and Google Fusion Tablesoffer great new ways to visualize both batch data and real-time...

Beta Test Data

5/27/12 First 14 Mile Test (Half Way to Brunswick, Round Trip)

View 5/27/2012 5:20 PM in a larger map

5/31/12 First Successful Trip All The Way To Town!!!!!

Battery Indicator at Half Charge- (No Watt Meter Reading Yet)

View 5/31/2012 4:41 PM in a larger map
5/31/12 E-Bike After Successfully Riding 14 Miles To The Nearest Transit Connection in Brunswick!


After first successful E-Bike Test in May, the Bike has not broken down once! Data Collection has finally been formalized to the point where we can reliable collect information measuring Voltage, Speed, Temperature, Distance, Elevation and even more! The initial logs published above used Google MyTracks which is a fantastic Open Source app for most purposes, especially because of easy integration with Google Fusion Tables. Despite its utility however, it is still primarily designed for standard cycling and makes for no easy customization inputs to measure voltage, amps, draw, battery charge etc...
As interesting as it would have been to build a sensor using an Arduino, it began to seem that for every step I'd be able to make, the guys over at Speedict were ten steps ahead already. Finally I relented and purchased a Speedict Sensor and have not regretted it since!
It took some time to customize settings to the point where I can use it but Danny (the Inventor of Speedict) has not only been on top of every question I've had, but he's eagerly added features when I've requested them. It was for this reason that the latest version of the Speedict PC Suite includes .CSV export! So as of today I will be able to keep track of all EBIKE data measured on the Speedict (Power, Battery Life, Speed, Elevation, Distance, Location etc...) in Spreadsheet and (hopefully soon) visualization through Google Fusion tables!

EBike Log Database-