With their planned Land’s End to John o’Groat’s run fast approaching, we called in to Fred at Spaven Engineering to see how he’s getting along with his electric bike; the Charging Bullet.
Since our visit last month, the bike has come a long way yet looks like he’s back at square one! Following the successful dry build and testing it has now been stripped right back for painting and powder-coating ahead of the final assembly. The only evidence of the hard work to date are shelves of batteries and electrical gubbins. Quite a few of the smaller parts have been finished now, such as a set of aluminium covers for the various battery boxes and the vital homemade ‘state of charge’ meter (the finished bike’s fuel guage) sits on the bench awaiting one final resistor.
To keep everyone up to date on the project they have just launched an Instagram , Facebook and of course @chargingbullet Twitter account so click and ‘follow’ them for the latest updates!
There has also been a lot happening outside the workshop and filmmaker Finn Varney , who is documenting the build and long distance adventure, has been back getting the final shots for the next short update film. As Fred rides the length of the country he will be visiting fellow engineers he has met while researching and building the bike, and filming their projects to show how much progress is being made in cleaning up our transport infrastructure. If you would like to support the making of this film (and receive some exclusive Charging Bullet goodies in return) check out their kickstarter crowdfunding page or for regular updates keep an eye on:
A lot has happened at Spaven Engineering in the last few months and the Charging Bullet has progressed from a collection of parts to something vaguely resembling a motorcycle. The plan to convert an old 350cc Enfield Bullet to pure electric power and ride it from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s is coming together, slowly but surely.
Since we last spoke to Fred, he has finished welding up the main component; the subframe which bolts to the original Enfield engine mounts to hold the motor, batteries and all the electrical gubbins. This has now been mounted in the 1961 Enfield Bullet Frame, the motor and a small, tester battery pack was installed before wiring could begin and tangles of multicoloured spaghetti began pouring from the bike.
Finally, with the bike up on stands to keep the rear wheel off the ground the ‘ignition’ switch was flicked. The Battery Management System (BMS) went through it’s obligatory cell checks before turning on the main contactor (a giant relay) a half a second later. This satisfying clunk signalled that the battery power was ready to be unleashed and a gentle twist of the grip sent a swarm of electrons down the hefty 350 amp cable to the motor. With the bike still largely unpainted and still lacking (among quite a few other things) a front brake, it was time to wheel it outside for a spin around the yard.
The best way to describe the ride is: easy, the Enfield’s laid back handling works perfectly with the zero fuss electric drive. The clutchless operation doesn’t take much getting used to but I did keep feeling my toes reach for a gear lever that isn’t there! Handling was excellent and, at least up to 25mph or so in the yard, the bike felt stable and controllable just as it should. Of course brand new bearings, tyres, forks etc. help enormously and everything felt tight and new making for a very confident ride. It’s never going to win races but the easygoing feel and lack of fuss make the bullet a really user friendly machine and it should fit the bill as a daily commute down country lanes or city streets.
The bike is far from finished, however, and Fred’s still got a lot to do before the big Land’s End to John O’Groat’s run later in the year, from fabricating covers that will keep the Scottish rain away from the batteries to fitting the instruments: a speedo and State of Charge Meter, effectively the electronic ‘fuel’ gauge.
For more information and updates or to get in touch check out: www.charging-bullet.co.uk
With the New Year now firmly underway, we called in to Spaven Engineering to see how their electric Royal Enfield project – The Charging Bullet – was coming along.
In spite of moving workshops over winter, work has not slowed on the project and the bike is coming together nicely. After a bit of a wait for the charger to arrive from China, all the main components were in the workshop by early December and the final design could be sketched out on a wooden board slotted into the original Enfield frame.
Over Christmas this design was drawn up on CAD before being printed out at 100% scale and re-inserted into the frame for adjustments. This process was repeated a few times until everything was exactly right before the drawing files were sent off to Hereford’s ACL Sheet Metal to be laser cut from sheet steel. Fred picked up these ‘engine plates’ and, due to the careful checks made with the printouts, they fit the frame perfectly.
And just in time too, as last weekend was the first day’s ’shoot’. Freelance film maker Finn Varney has got wind of the project and is going to film the build process and subsequent ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats, to craft into a half-hour documentary on the electric transport revolution we are all watching unfold. The loosely assembled frame and parts provided the perfect starting point for the film.
We’ll call back in on Fred soon to see how he’s getting on fabricating the rest of the subframe and wiring up the main components into a working bike ahead of the big trip. For more regular updates, check out the project’s dedicated blog: charging-bullet.co.uk
Having watched the recent rise of electric power with interest, we have decided to get involved in battery vehicle project to see what all the fuss is about. Local engineer Fred Spaven is building an all-electric Royal Enfield Bullet to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s next summer and we are helping sponsor the build.
Fred Spaven, of Spaven Engineering, has been restoring classic cars and bikes locally for some years now but, after graduating from Cambridge University, initially went into a career in superconductivity research – the perfect background for an electric vehicle project! After looking at the electric bikes on the market he decided none had quite enough vintage style and a half-completed Royal Enfield restoration was commandeered for the conversion.
To retain as much character as possible the bike’s frame will remain unaltered, with a new subframe fabricated and bolted up in place of the original engine and gearbox. This will hold a dozen Nissan Leaf battery modules to provide power for a British-built Saietta motor capable of 22hp at 48V. The resulting bike will have a similar balance, weight and power to the original Enfield except with no maintenance, fuel costs or oil drips: the ideal commuter bike!
With a few road miles of testing under the tyres, the bike will then be ridden from Land’s End to John O’Groats; charging along the way at public charging stations, campsites & hostels and they might even pop in here for a top up! For more details and regular updates on progress, check out the project website: charging-bullet.co.uk
We’re hoping that the lessons we learn working with Fred on this project will help us understand this new world of battery vehicles, including Morgan’s eagerly anticipated EV3 electric three wheeler.