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She Built An Electric Plywood Bike
British university student Evie Bee combined modern manufacturing methods and materials with traditional construction techniques to build an e-bike from scratch out of plywood.
Bee based her design on an off-road motorcycle. She married it with e-bike technology, specifically a 36V 15Ah Downtube battery from YOSE Power and a direct drive 250W hub motor from Golden Motor that she mounted in the front wheel.
“Golden Motor makes one of the simplest kits to install,” says Bee. “The controller is built into the motor, and all the connectors are gathered into a single block.”
One set of components she didn’t make was the forks and head tube for the front wheel. These were salvaged from a donor bike and were heavy-duty enough to handle a front wheel motor hub.
Other DIY and commercially-made wooden bikes vary greatly in design and species of wood. “After researching different types of wood, I decided to use plywood,” says Bee. “It’s less expensive and has incredible strength-to-weight characteristics, which vary between softwood and hardwood plywood.”
To maximize strength and minimize weight, she went with poplar plywood for the center layers of the frame with strong and vibration-resistant birch plywood as exterior layers.
Bee used Rhino 3D software to design her frame, head case, seat, and other components.
Her first step was to print out full-scale pattern pieces on paper and transfer them to layers of cardboard. These were cut out and laminated to create a mock-up of the frame and head case that allowed her to mount front and rear wheels and the donor bike forks and head tube. As metal components were fabricated, they were added to the mock-up.
Satisfied with the design, she used Fusion 360 software to create files for CNC machining to cut out the plywood layers and drill weight-saving holes in the alternating frame sections.
She laminated the inner layers of poplar plywood with wood adhesive and clamped them together between two layers of MDF board. Bolts, passed through the weight-saving holes, secured the laminated sheets in place for curing.
Two stainless steel layers (with matching dowel holes) were epoxied into the middle of the wood layers. Two more sandwich the head case top and bottom. The sides that are bolted into the frame were also layered in stainless steel.
Bee also made her own seat. She chose brass pipes and copper rods for the seat frame, topping it with a layer of foam on a backplate of polypropylene, and enclosed it in faux leather fabric.
The completed bike she calls her Electraply is an impressive piece of machinery and woodworking art.
Bee’s web page includes other projects the young designer/maker has completed. Each is backed up with full documentation, as with the Electraply.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Evie Bee Designs (ph 07455 817 117; eviebee4@gmail.com; www.eviebeedesigns.co.uk; www.instagram.com/evie.bee.designs/).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2