This is an elaborate article that details the top 10 steps to build an electric bicycle. It talks about the electric bicycle manufacturing process and can be used as an outline, or an electric bicycle manufacturing guide. If you’re one of the many EV enthusiasts who have written to us asking us ‘how to make an electric bicycle’, this blog is for you. Read on to learn the basics and find out how to build an electric bicycle.
Design, refine, redesign
Whatever is made is first conceived and imagined. The first step in making an electric bicycle is to start designing it, knowing full well that the first design will be far from perfect. Now you may wonder about how to design an electric bicycle.
We start off with different ideas, making assumptions at first to simplify all calculations. Once we have a working design, we try and play around with different parameters. We try and consider if the final product will work as we want it to. When we see something that can be made better, we change the design just a little bit.
After all the adjustments, the refinements have consumed the design. When we change one factor, when we shift one component it affects other components. At some points, refining the design results into a stack of edits that is unworkable. This is the time to redesign. We look at the current edit, we see what changes we had to made, what placements were our priorities and start again with that knowledge in mind.
The entire first design is discarded out of necessity and all that remains of it is what it taught us. When we began the first design, we started off with all that we knew, but the devil lies in the details. When we start the redesign, we know exactly what matters. We know what has to be our priority from the beginning, and then we embark on the journey again. The mistakes from the first draft will guide you as regards how to redesign an electric bicycle.
The proof of the pudding lies in the eating. The proof of a good design lies in its working. The only way that we can confirm if the design is good is to move ahead with actually making a bike of that design. So we try and make a single electric bicycle based on the design. Our objective is to test the design, to see if the electric cycle that we have as a concept can be made to mass scale. If it can, what will the problems be?
A prototype is physical; we get to work with it in the real world. Yet, it shares with the design a very basic similarity that one of its objectives is to teach us what will not work. We wish that we can make a prototype work on the first attempt, but in reality, a couple of problematic prototypes are very successful endeavours. They easily turn our attention towards what requires our focus.
What we achieve in this stage is confidence and clarity. We started off with designs and ideas, and now we are looking at a physical implementation of the design. We come across issues and considerations that we could not foresee at the design stage. An idea has now turned into a commitment at the stage of the prototype.
Component Procurement for Developing an MVP
Now that we have had our reality checks, we head out to develop an MVP. It will have to be as close to a production model as possible while being focused on the functionality. The most important step right now is to find out the components required to make the MVP from the market, and see how close we can get to what we require in an ideal scenario. In the end, it is the available components in the market that will define how the electric cycle can be manufactured.
So we start talking to vendors, find out information about the components. We communicate our needs to them, we assess how different components fit into the overall design of the bike. We observe if there is any peculiar signal the market is sending us. Attention is given to the MVP as well as the supply chain and the component set.
It’s the first time that our work requires such extensive communication with people outside the team, and it is a welcome experience to know professionals with different backgrounds, working on different things.
Development of an MVP
The first three steps of the prototype have been all about getting our ideas out of our head and to see what works. The processes are humbling. We learn what doesn’t work and we learn just how much time anything takes. However, now that we have designed, prototyped and have the components, the MVP development begins.
This is the part where we experience thrill and not humility. Exhilaration is the emotional undertone and stubbornness to persist.
This thrill carries us through the process and at the end, what we have is a single instance of what would be the precursor to hundreds or thousands of other electric bicycles made in its image. This one thing that we built will be the genesis of an entire line of product. It is hard to imagine the significance of the moment even as you stand beside an MVP.
There’s still cause for patience, but we are really far ahead in our journey by now. It’s time for the nitty gritty of engineering.
Testing of the MVP’s mechanical components
Every item used in the MVP has to work. We have to see that the items work under all conditions. There are several technical testing procedures delineated to test the materials and their strength. Apart from the materials themselves, there are the moving components and the physical material. They have to be aligned, working in complete harmony and keep working at different speeds.
The idea here is that we will put the MVP under all possible stresses. We will test the mechanical components in all possible situations to observe test parameters. If any parameter fails, it means that the components or their arrangement does not fulfil the requirements of production level.
The testing of the mechanical components is prioritized with their functions in mind. They have to function together. They have to function in all foreseeable situations. They have to pass stress tests. They have to pass impact tests. They have to survive all physical stimuli that they might have to endure in most rides.
Testing of the MVP’s electronic components
Now that we are done with the mechanical components, we are one step closer to taking off. The tested mechanical components will contribute robustness. The next step is testing the electrical components.
We have the electric motor, switches, battery, throttles, Multi Feature Dynamic Display and wires that form the component set. These have to work under different battery levels, in conditions of varying temperature and moisture and at different speeds.
The electric components have to work together in unison, and have to have perfect coordination. We have to test for functionality, responsiveness, stress tolerance. They have to be tested to find exceptions, when the components and the assembly both might break down.
If there is a faulty component, we have to procure a replacement component. The devil lies in the details, and we can practically see the devil’s horns by now.
Figuring out best possible economies of scale for launching the MVP
The components fit together, work together and last long. We have done it. It works. The idea has turned into designs and designs into prototype. Now we have a product that we are excited to launch into the market. It’s time to test not for components, but for economies. We need the product to be profitable at scale.
We have to make the product and the process work for everyone. That includes us, our customers, our vendors, the banks and insurance. What do we require to launch the product? How much capital will be held? How will lines of credit work, and which ones are viable? How many cycles should we sell so that after all the sales capital is settled, we can book a profit after paying every one of our vendors and suppliers?
The entire process is interesting in a way, nerve wrecking in another. This part of making the electric bicycle gives us conditions that tell us what can make or break us. When we started off with a design but it didn’t work, we still had the option to learn and design again. However, if we are unable to make the economies of scale work, there is no scope for learning or redoing. This will be the end. It’s the same level of finality that also gives us confidence, that if we are through this stage then the next steps are just going to be cruise control.
Deciding on final colour schemes for the electric bicycle
Ideas, design, learning humility, meeting others and expanding our horizons, getting down and dirty into engineering and then facing the realities of making a product profitable: we have gone through all these stages. Now is the time to relish these experiences and grab the chance to sprinkle our individualities and our tastes on the electric cycle.
We get to choose the colour schemes and the graphic designs for the e cycle. It’s not the functioning or the experience of riding the electric cycle that people will notice first – it is how it looks. If something about the colours that we have chosen just grab your attention and speak to you in a way, we have succeeded.
Assembling the electric bicycles in larger quantities
We’re in the business now. We have put our bets on what works. We love the electric bicycle. We know it is worth our trust. Now we assemble them in batches, each individual e cycle being a testament to our belief that the e cycle will work as intended, and deliver its promises to our customers.
This process involves labour and strict care in the assembling procedures. There is no scope for an error in assembly or wasteful components. Both of these missteps can cost the company hugely.
With these precautions in mind, we start rolling out the electric cycles. Each electric cycle as it is assembled is ready to be the manifest of our dream. Each of them is getting ready to take their place in the world at places and homes hitherto unknown.
Quality check of each bicycle before dispatch
This is a fascinating part of the process, one last step before the e cycle goes out to the world. Each of the electric cycle is tested on several quality parameters to see if they will works as intended and as long as intended.
Such a quality assurance process is of paramount importance to the company. Without this step, errors can multiply. E cycles that might not be at their optimum functioning levels can end up with a customer – who will have a bad experience with it. Such an occurrence does not bode well for the company – and quality checks are how product companies prevent this eventuality.
Each electric cycle goes through rigorous tests on several parameters before it is certified OK. And then, off it goes…