A review of Build Your Own Electric Bicycle by Matthew Slinn
The book has been out for a few weeks now, and it shows the current state of electric bike technology. Electric bike technology is kind of a few years off being mature, and at the moment is a great place for hobbyists, and if you think you can just buy a bike off the shelf and live happily ever after then good luck to you. But the reality is that bike shop owners who’ll touch an electric bike are few and far between, and you’ll soon have to be a hobbyist yourself.
As someone who has bought a commercial electric bike, and had to do a few fixes myself over the year or so that I’ve had it, this book would have been a great help through most of that.
The book is not written for idiots. It is written for clued up individuals who are not afraid of getting out the spanner set, the spoke tool, and the soldering iron. It will guide you to being a hobbyist in no time.
Firstly the book is comprehensive. It tells us what motors and batteries and controllers are. It doesn’t shy away from graphs and circuit diagrams and the odd equation. It isn’t like a university text book, but it’ll help if you’ve read a few of them along the way. Saying that, a clued up older teenager could get through the book.
There is a good chapter on the types of electric bike you might want to build, such as a long-range commuter, or a short trip folding commuter, or high-powered bikes.
There is a chapter on building your own e-bike from a hub motor kit. There’s guidance on how to lace a wheel around a hub motor. Then there is how to make battery holders, and how to try to make the components stealthy so they don’t get nicked.
The chapter on repairing e-bike components is pretty good, and there is much depth on how batteries and motors work. He even tells us how to repair a controller with broken FETs, which admittedly would be beyond me, and I’d just get another controller. Then there is how to fix battery packs.
Most amazingly he tells us how to make our own battery packs, but this involves welding right onto the batteries!! His battery pack looks really like a bad plot twist in a spy movie and the bomb squad would not know which wire to cut, and then the pretty girl cuts the red one with her nail scissors and the bike doesn’t explode or something.
Then there are some interesting projects to finish the book off, such as heated handle bar grips, and high intensity lights powered off the battery.
It really is a great book for giving you confidence (and over-confidence) for whatever project you want to try. If you are thinking of putting a hub motor kit on a normal bike it is probably worth the money. If you are thinking of buying a commercially available electric-bike you might like to see what you’re up against when it comes time to fix that inevitable first fault. If you are building an electric bike from scratch you’ll definitely get a lot out of this book.
The photos in the book are all black and white, and some of the circuit diagrams are like they were drawn in Windows Paint, and then saved to a jpeg to reduce the quality.