Failed Scooter Proves The Worth Of Modular Design

Like many mechanically inclined parents, [Tony Goacher] prefers building over buying. So when his son wanted an electric scooter, his first stop wasn’t to the toy store, but to AliExpress for a 48V hub motor kit. Little did he know that the journey to getting that scooter road-ready would be a bit more involved than he originally bargained for.

She cannae take anymore, Captain

Of course, to build a motorized scooter you need a scooter to begin with. So in addition to the imported motor, [Tony] picked up a cheap kick scooter on eBay. Rather than worrying about the intricacies of cleanly integrating the two halves of the equation, he decided to build a stand-alone module that contained all of the electronics. To attach it to the scooter, he’d cut off the rear wheel and literally bolt his module to the deck.

[Tony] goes into considerable detail on how he designed and manufactured his power unit, from prototyping with laser cut MDF to the final assembly of the aluminum parts that he produced on a CNC of his own design. It’s really a fantastic look at how to go from idea to functional device, with all the highs and lows in between. When the first attempt at mounting the battery ended up cutting into the 8 Ah LiPo pack for example, and treated his son to a bit of a light show.

With all the bugs worked out and his son happily motoring around the neighborhood, [Tony] thought his job was done. Unfortunately, it was not to be. It turned out that his bolt-on power unit had so much kick that it sheared the front wheel right off. Realizing the little fellow didn’t have the fortitude for such electrified exploits, he went to a local shop and got a much better (and naturally much more expensive) donor for the project.

It’s here that his modular approach to the problem really paid off. Rather than having to redesign a whole new motor mount for the different scooter, he just lopped the back wheel off and bolted it on just as he did with the cheapo model. What could easily have been a ground-up redesign turned out to be a few minutes worth of work. Ultimately he did end up machining a new front axle for the scooter so he could fit a better wheel, but that’s another story.

Scooters would seem to be the unofficial vehicle of hackers, as we’ve seen a long line of hacked up two-wheeled rides over the years. From relatively low-key modifications of thrift store finds, to street-legal engineering marvels. We’ve even seen scooters fitted with trailers, so even the tiniest of proto-hackers can come along for the ride.

17 thoughts on “Failed Scooter Proves The Worth Of Modular Design

  1. Just like with multicopters (or “drones”) – something fun used by minority of nerds got ruined by bunch of retards on chinese pieces of junk. This summer most countries in EU are either completly outlawing electric scooters or at least are making them legally too cumbersome to use.

    1. Going to be a shock for places like Paris where you are almost tripping over them on every street corner. but i have to admit they’re were an excellent way to see the city!

    2. Funny enough, Germany has designed laws for electric scooters, that allow people to use them.

      Said law probably falls under the cumbersome category, those things aren’t allowed on pedestrian sidewalks or in pedestrian zones. They have to follow the same laws as bicycles (I said have to, not implying that anyone does), which means bikepaths or – when none present – the roads.

      1. Not cumbersome at all!

        The issue is what speed the (thing/vehicle) goes, and which traffic/pedestrian stream it best fits in with. Putting e-scooters in with bikes seems like the only sensible solution, honestly. If you were on the sidewalk, you’d have all those people in the way. On the street, you’d get hit.

        Moves about as fast as a bike, put it in the bike lane, IMO.

        1. And when you dont have bike lanes ?
          Do I use my 16mph limited electric scooter on the road or on the pavement ?
          I know which I’d rather be doing, but I’m sensible enough not to try and run over pedestrains but actually slow down for them rather than treat them like they are an apex.

          Same goes for cyclists on pavements who think pedestrians are mere obstacles, but a recent court case in London is changing that view.

          What about mobility “scooters”.
          4 wheels, sit down ride things.
          They can move at jogging/slow run pace. Why ?
          No license to drive them, but get freedom to use in shops, on pavements, they are a total menace, especially with an entitlement culture.
          But totally lethal to use on the road as limited to 8mph or so.
          Sure, if ineeded for disability but still have some rules like a hard cut speed limiter.
          But most seem to be driven by morbidly obese people – that should be walking in the first place !

    1. Why would somebody want to walk chickens? But normally you walk dogs. And a “dog walker propulsion system” could be nice: The dog(s) walk (or run) and pull the ride. Like sledge dogs/huskies :-)
      But that goes far away from electric drive.

      1. Years ago, I had a friend who’s hip was broken while riding a bike and walking his dog.
        The dog, a Black Labrador, decided to chase something off to the side, pulling the bike over.
        A year later he still needed a cane to walk.
        (Therefore, I have never walked one of my dogs while riding a bike or wearing roller blades)

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