The Spin Cycle: Washing Machine Motor Converts 10-Speed To E-Bike

The “Spin Cycle” is an amazing electric bicycle built using a motor salvaged from a washing machine; when the puns are this perfect you have to roll with them. [jimminecraftguy’s] creation is one of the most hacked-together yet functional electric vehicle we’ve seen in a long time.

The drive train of this bicycle starts with a brushless DC motor from a washing machine. It has been slightly modified to run on 48 volts, and is installed inside the triangle of the bike’s frame. It has a chain driving the bike’s crank, retaining the original chain and gearing setup (unlike many electric bike hacks that utilize hub motors). The crank has also been specially modified to include a freewheel, a necessary feature so that the motor can operate without spinning the pedals. Everything except the motor has been custom fabricated including the mounts and the electronics.

[jimminecraftguy] reports speeds of 110 kph which is a little crazy for a 20-year-old aluminum frame bike, and we’d guess it’s not street legal in many jurisdictions, but we can’t really find much fault with this build in general based on the amount of innovation required to get this working at all. A few more improvements for the build are in the works, including improved batteries and a cover for the sides to keep the local law enforcement from getting too suspicious. We can’t wait to see the final version.

75 thoughts on “The Spin Cycle: Washing Machine Motor Converts 10-Speed To E-Bike

  1. “[jimminecraftguy] reports speeds of 110 kph which is a little crazy”
    I think so. If the brakes stay the same maybe one day the driver will needed to be hacked too.

    1. With such a light bike and a high centre of mass any better brakes are going to try and throw you over the handlebars with great gusto, or immediately lock up and shred your tyre (this latter option is almost certainly going to be the result but maybe you have racing slick super sticky tyres)..

      That said I’d ‘upgrade’ to bike disk brakes won’t really change how fast you can stop controllably as the limit there is the contact patch on the road and the pendulum effect of your mass over the handlebars but it will wear better and shouldn’t need as much adjustment – those rubber blocks wear down pretty badly and need you to adjust the cable tension so they still work well rather often where a disk brake will just work till the pad is entirely used up (and probably afterwards while wrecking the disk in the process).

      1. You can counter the force that throws you over the handlebars by sitting back behind the seat.

        Actually, doing that with a fender and sitting lightly on the fender does a lot to help with braking on downhills.

      2. Bike brakes are not designed to deal with a lot of repeated high-speed to zero stops. They’ll wear super fast or just plain fail. There’s also the rim heat to deal with… It’ll cook the bead of the tire off if not managed. Regen braking would not be possible in this xonfig…. So even more worries. However, I doubt that much of this would be a concern as lots of high speed running would limit range anyway. And extra speed would be handy as long as you are careful

      3. You’re telling me the standing coefficient of friction is greatly different between rim brakes and disc brakes and that one launched will launch the rider over the handlebars and the other one won’t. A new level of stupid belief based knowledge is achieved !!!!
        Amazing stopping power can be achieved with quad piston disk brakes, or salmon/ red rim pads on aluminum rims, or yellow on carbon, or green on ceramic. If you can stop and skid the front wheel you have excellent/ excessive braking power. Which should not be equated to rotating over the front wheel because of poor rider skills during hard braking.

        Correctly adjusted rim brakes will not cut a tire. They will wear and cut the rim, just like disk pads will wear and cut rotors.
        Either is bad.

        1. I am saying nothing of the sort – I’m saying that IMPROVING the braking performance on a bike is limited by the tyre/road interface and how high your COM is.

          At a fast human cycling pace locking your front wheel up is only going to graze a small amount off the tyre surface before it does stop you. Double that (and more?) and lock up and you are going to trash that tyre on the road surface really damn fast as you have put so much extra energy though it!

          Or assume a nice sticky tyre and its going to grab the road properly and because you have so much extra kinetic energy with nowhere else to go over the handlebars is a certainty. Much like motorcycle sidecars are bloody lethal things if you aren’t prepared for it and turn the ‘wrong’ direction at too great a speed. You can easily at normal human cycling speeds brake hard enough to lift the rear wheel even as you lean to compensate on some bike tyres, going that much faster and doing the same isn’t improving the brakes its just throwing you off the bike (I don’t see that as all that likely as I don’t think any bicycle tyre will actually have enough grab – I’m expecting it to skid and be ruined by that instead if you try to improve stopping distance).

          Bicycle brakes are bicycle brakes – really doesn’t matter which ones you use they all stop you in pretty much the same time. I know damn well you can lock up with the simple block brakes, in fact I’d call it easy to do (though they do tend to require more human effort to work at the same level than the disk varieties). My point on the block breaks is only that they wear rapidly under hard use and as they wear you need to adjust the brakes to keep them working where the disk brake varieties have a very thin wear pad and should never need adjusting just replacing the pads once they wear out and that they wear out stupendously slowly (I wore through many many block brakes on my old bike, the most recent one came with a disk and its still got life on it after greater use and because of its nature I’ve not once had to adjust the pads to keep it working!).

          1. I’m not sure I agree about being able to lift the rear tire on a standard (adult) bike even when leaning to compensate. The fear of going over the handlebars comes mainly from people’s memories of riding bikes as a kid. The smaller wheelbase and relatively higher centre of mass make it easy to go over the handlebars on a child’s bike. On an adult bike, the longer wheelbase and much lower centre of mass actually make it very hard to lift the back wheel unless you move your weight forward of the seat or are on a relatively steep downward slope. If you lock the front wheel, it will just skid. Watch any stunt cyclist doing a stoppie, they have to lean way forward to get the back wheel up.

            I do agree this may become more of an issue with this bike. The higher speed, higher centre of mass combined with the motor place directly in the centre and adding its rotational momentum in the wrong direction seem a big problem.

          2. Perhaps that is just me Lord Geni, I’m tall and unlike many tall folk also very very broad shouldered so my COM is very high anyway (and adult bikes stop getting as much longer in wheelbase for at the higher frame sizes as well it seems). I certainly wouldn’t say going over the handlebars would be easy on the flat at human speeds as an adult but lifting the rear wheel while braking happens every time I have to really brake hard. Not sure if that would happen on every bike/tyre as being forced to rapidly stop fortunately doesn’t happen very often and its not something I’ve gone out of my way to test on every bike I ride. Might well be helped too by the fact I tend to cycle a mountain/hybrid bike but with road style tyres – so very wide smooth tyres for a bicycle which probably increases the traction available to stop quite a bit above normal. (I’d love to have a proper road and off-road bike, but storage, the poor roads and price make having two bikes seem silly so I’ve always gone for the tough offroad bike and put up with its high mass and gearing choices on the road)

      4. Not to mention standard bike brakes don’t work at all in the rain. Like…at all.. They’re called “suicide breaks” for that reason. I’ve got straight through red lights because of them before.

        1. I live in a frequently damp to wet island nation.. I’ve never had that problem, does it take more effort in the wet, absolutely but not that much. Both disk and block breaks on a bike function fine in the wet (best argument for disk’s IMO is they are not much effected by being coated in slippery crap even lubricants (Don’t ask)).

          The big issue will be that your kinetic energy hasn’t changed but now the road is slippery! So just like every other wheeled object you have to work to your grip level! And with bicycle tyres your well advised to move to one that is more ‘off-road’ style in heavy weather (though the extra thin hard road racing tyres cut through water rather well too).

      5. you’ve clearly never ridden a bike with large hydraulic disc brakes…apart the raw stopping power they also allow for much finer and quicker control then the rubber shoe ones, which unless you’re really ham-fisted allows you to stop quicker without using your face as the friction material.
        That being said, the bike in the vid can not be upgraded with disc brakes. Apart the missing tabs to attach them, the front fork is way too weak to withstand the forces without buckling.

    2. Not just the brakes… the pants. That little flap at the bottom will go in the gears at some point. Its uncomfortable at 25kph. Can’t imagat 65kph or 110kph.

      Guy probably doesn’t use a drill press with a long sleeved shirt, either and just overlooked rolling his pants legs up, or stuffing them into his socks.

    3. Hacked, or scraped, vacuumed and spare pieces picked up? 110kph (68.3MPH) on pavement or gravel and no mention of appropriate protective gear. Someone pedaling is going to be putting out body heat, discouraging wearing of motorcycle leathers etc.

      1. “I says, Earl, “I’m not the type to complain
        But the time has come for me to explain
        That if you don’t apply some brake real soon
        They’re gonna have to pick us up
        With a stick and a spoon””
        Wolf Creek Pass -C.W. McCall

    4. Well, remade it into velomobile with regenerative braking and properly cooled high voltage battery pack with robust housing and 150km/h on highway will be like a lucid dreams.

  2. What a beauty! This basically combines the power and speed of a small motorcycle with the absence of a suspension and almost nonexistent braking power and the fire hazard of high power electronics outside without enclosure. I salute this guy to his mad genius!

    1. You forgot the absence of any kind of guard around all the whirling bits. We could start a betting pool on which of the hazards starts the final disaster’s cascade.

      Or maybe he’ll build a better one.

    2. That guy is a Mad Scientist !! The Genius of what he did seems to be entirely lost here. W/ Bikes & e-bikes & even Trailers the measurements & all the pieces that have to work (Even off by 1mm can make something not work) Bikes are very unforgiving. I’m sorry everyone putting they’re “Spin” on a pretty much miracle doesn’t do it justice…!!

    3. Indeed its a superb creation.. That really doesn’t make much sense. A ‘real’ motorcycle frame for the grippier tyres and better COM or more reasonable power limit so the brakes won’t seem so inadequate.. But then it wouldn’t be as much fun.. Infact it could even be boring, and we can’t have that!

    1. “had to be modified for” 48v. Odds are good that it was 120 or 208/240v originally. A BLESC is indistinguishable from a Variable Frequency Drive when the voltage handling goes above about 80v, and is the only reliable way to control the speed of synchronous AC motors. This is different from the TRIAC pwm phase chop used for brushed AC/universal motors, which are voltage dependent, frequency agnostic.

      1. These motors are not traditional synchronous AC machines and don’t run directly off of AC. They can, technically, but I won’t dare you to try because the effects would be rather dramatic.

        You can find the motor from spare parts suppliers with the code WD-1465FD (rotor sold separately) and various others. There’s three phases in a star configuration, wrapping around the motor with all the coils in series, and the controller in the washing machine uses a two-phase hall sensor communicating at 10 Volts to detect the motor position so it can tumble the laundry back and forth slowly. It’s a really big BLDC outrunner motor much like you’d find in a computer fan or a drone.

        This is in contrast to a traditional VFD which hasn’t got motor position feedback and for that reason can’t start up a synchronous motor under load. VFD is more typically used for induction motors which operate with field slip. It’s rather more appropriate to say that when you add a position encoder to a VFD to drive a synchronous PM motor, it becomes a “BLESC”.

  3. I was thinking that we electric lawnmower might be a good source for components. It comes with a chunky battery and a motor meant to compete with a few hundred cc gas unit.

    Speed controller would still be up in the air though.

      1. Correct. The powerplant of my 48V electric string trimmer drains a 6AH battery in almost exactly an hour (I mow the whole yard with it). This suggests it puts out just shy of 300 watts. A 50cc 4-stroke puts out about about two kilowatts. But the electric also has max torque at low speed and other advantages, and could be adequate with a lightweight system.

        1. What sort of grass do you have that requires trimming at near zero RPM? Lawnmowers usually spin fast so they would actually cut instead of just sweeping the grass down.

  4. I could be wrong, but this bike may meet the criteria (in the US anyway) of being considered a moped (powered bike with functional pedals), but there may be more to it than that and I don’t have the desire to go looking it up.

    The need for a freewheel in the pedal hub reminded me of a bicycle I had when I was a kid, a 10-speed bike made by a company called Ross. The reason given for having the freewheel in the pedal hub instead of the wheel hub was so that the rider could change gears while coasting. Looking back I’m not sure if it was a gimmick or a decent feature, but it got me a few extra cool points with the other kids in my neighborhood because my bike was “slightly better” (it wasn’t actually better, just different). In use it was only slightly different than a regular 10-speed.
    It’s weird how human memory works. I haven’t thought of that bike in years.

    1. “I could be wrong, but this bike may meet the criteria (in the US anyway) of being considered a moped (powered bike with functional pedals), but there may be more to it than that and I don’t have the desire to go looking it up.”

      State rules may play a role.

      1. I just watched the video, and that’s definitely not in the US.
        I’m not sure where it is (I couldn’t identify the license plate on that Citroen), probably Europe or Asia (Gee, that narrows it down…).
        State rules won’t apply, at least not US states. :)

          1. … they would have the ability to get themselves into some *extremely* dangerous situations, likely without appropriate safety gear, lighting, effective brakes / braking (no good to have strong brakes if they flip the bike over forwards), turn signals, lighting, …

  5. 110 km/h with an unmodified bicycle frame and brakes is Colin Furze levels of sketchy. Rather impressive, but something capable of those speeds on public roads should be planned out as if you were building a homebuilt motorcycle.

    1. Why is everyone so focused on the brake and safety and obeying the law thing get out and live if someone can ride a jet pushbike at 300 then get out of the way cars

  6. Do none of you have ~80cc conversion mountain bikes running around where you live? It seems like I see these on the street almost on a daily basis before the pandemic. I don’t see this as much more dangerous. I always figured it was for people who got their license revoked. Source: central Illinois, USA. Yeah, dumb, but my hands are no where near my pearls.

  7. Sheesh!!! Back off and let a guy pay his own stupid tax, if he wants!!! Doesn’t seem like a huge threat to society to me!
    He probably wasn’t wearing seatbelts or a freaking rona mask either!!!

  8. The speed eell exceeds moped and elec motor driven or assisted speeds in US. It would require a reg & plate. As homemade an inspection then must preceed. Without paper-specs saying otherwise, the brakes would snafu it. Lights req’d. Bearing lube and inspection would come to fore in my mind – temp checks via IR gun. Backpack w reserve battery. Some safety PPE, gloves, light helmet. Hope no screw holes in that frame. KPH is commonly accepted. Not bad… I have a strong sense of self-protection but suma you seem to have been born 90 years old. Daily driver, sure, up to 70 kph – until / if caught. 80 to pass. 110, v rarely. Same as 100 mph on a 50cc frame. System unbalanced. Strong here, weak there. That makes it a slight danger, to others. Otherwise, many hacks here have strong and weak points. This is their worthy equal.

  9. What a creative vehicle hack! I love it!

    It is a pity true hackers do get demotivated by laws so often. Or by safety and security monks.

    There is so much Life in this build, and I’m sure, somone being able to build this knows the limits and addresses them accordingly.

  10. I build electric e-bikes and motorcycles for a living. I’m head of research and development for an electric bike company. Yes you can build electric bikes out of a lot of different kinds of electric motors the problem is they’re not efficient. Which results in a lot of wasted energy even though the bike goes fast it’s not efficient. You also should install some kind of brake kill switch so the motor will turn off when you apply the brakes otherwise your brakes will fail very quickly. This is your extreme weak point right now. I could easily build an electric bicycle that goes well over a hundred miles an hour. If I wanted people to go out and kill themselves on it. With our new extreme off road test bikes we’re getting 75+ miles an hour and over a hundred and twenty miles on a single charge. Weight, speed, power and torque have to be balanced for the efficiency to be there. Want to build a bike like that you’re looking at about $16,000us. Want to buy it built you’re getting closer to $20,000us honestly it’s more of an electric off-road motorcycle. The frame and strength of the components are made to handle the speed and torque. Traditional mountain bike components would be destroyed as they would not be able to take the extreme pressures. The teeth on your sprockets alone start to snap off. And that’s just the start. Build them but build them strong. Don’t die from a weak point in your DIY build and Be careful don’t electrocute yourself some of these new batteries are high voltage and we’ll kill you.

  11. Wow i didn’t know this got so much exposure, i just checked my youtube channel and found out about this. Thank you all very much for the support, i will take in the criticism you gave me and ill try to improve things as much as i can. Since some people are interested i’ll post more videos about it (please mind that i’m not a youtuber and i dont have the programs and hardware required to make a high quality videos).

  12. I’d like to buy this kit and put it on my own bike I’ve got a few stingrays I can imagine it would be a head turner what’s the chance of modifying my crank and getting a check to rebuild this washing machine hot rod thank you

    1. This is not a kit ( at least for now ). There are many reasons why this can not be a kit though. Bike frames vary in sizes and shapes and these motors are kinda hard to come by and make them spin and stuff (unless you build one yourself).

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