audrey xie
not a jack of all trades, nor a master of one. i prefer just being a lazy bum.
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Thanks Craig — EV Moped Conversion pt. 1

The real cycle you’re working on is the cycle called yourself. (Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

After reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I got caught up in the ideal of owning a two wheeled, motorized vehicle. Somehow, I thought it would be a good idea to take an old gas moped and convert it to electric. As a person who has some very minimal mechanical knowledge, it shouldn’t be too hard right?

I was able to find a red colored ‘76 Puch Maxi who’s frame was in fairly good condition. The original lead-acid battery for the lights were gone and it hadn’t been run in five years, but either way, it was cheap.

The Puch Maxi was produced throughout the 70s/80s and was popular due to its fuel economy. All models were outfitted with a single cylinder, 50cc, two stroke engine. Some earlier versions used a pedal start mechanism, while the later ones have a kick start lever. Moped is a blend of the words “motor” and “pedaler.” So as the name would suggest, when the engine is disengaged, the Puch Maxi moped can be ridden like a bicycle. I think it’s cool in concept, but imagine having a 110 lb bike; it would be a nightmare to pedal.

Original moped

The engine and transmission were attached to the frame by three bolts. They were very rusty, but a bit of WD-40 and an impact driver were all that was needed to loosen them. I realized that the kickstand was connected to the engine, so the moped had to be flipped over in order to remove it. Later on, this move proved beneficial because I discovered that I had forgotten to drain the oil. After I narrowly avoided spilling motor oil all over the ground, I was finally able to detach the engine and transmission from the frame.

E50 engine and transmission still attached to frame


Flipped moped

Engine and transmission removed

Engine and transmission not attached to frame

Since I wanted to use a hub motor for this EV conversion, I had to take off the back wheel and replace it with one that was laced with a hub motor. The process was extremely simple. I just unscrewed everything that was in the way, and then the wheel was easily removed from the frame.

Nuts holding the wheel in place

Frame with engine, transmission, and back wheel removed