American builder converts Honda CT90 moped to Electric, here’s how it went

Josh Chauvet, an Action Sports specialist who assisted in the creative design and construction of venues for top winter events worldwide including ESPN X Games, Burton EU Open, US Open, Japan Slope Style and many others, is a serious EV enthusiast. He’s not one who engages in following and commenting on the news but desires to build a reliable electric car in his workshop to use every day. We chanced upon Josh’s conversion project with the Honda CT90 (one that is similar to the Honda Super Cub) on his Instagram page and reached out to learn about more. Josh told us that the CT90 is the first step in the ladder to convert his old Land Rover, and his previous knowledge in rebuilding or modifying projects such as the 1971 Suzuki LJ10, 1974 Land Rover, RC car track and dirtbike track came in quite handy!

Here’s the project in the words of Josh Chauvet who spoke to us from his base in Nevada last week:

Why did you pick the Honda CT90 and what was the idea with the build?

I saw some posts from Shanghai Customs which does conversions on vintage Hondas. And they had posted that they wanted to do the CT90 but didn’t have a kit. I thought that a cooler version without the plastic shroud; this one didn’t have any plastic. I did some research and saw different people were doing online and what the possibilities of the style are. Then I started looking for a donor bike and it was relatively easy to find one here in Marino. I was on Facebook Marketplace on a daily basis and one popped up; I believe I paid $50 for it and it was in a pretty rough shape. It was missing some parts; the motor was there but someone had taken it apart. But it was a great donor for what I wanted to do as a starting point.

Once I got the donor, I started looking for different conversion parts. I bough everything off of Alibaba and I started checking with different motor manufacturers, seeing which ones have good prices and good reviews. Then I worked with a battery manufacturer on Alibaba to get the spec battery I wanted. I wanted a relatively large battery that was 35 Ah because I wanted to have a good range and I went with a 3000 W motor. I wanted to have the top end of things. I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t want it to be underpowered or it to have a short range. The battery is custom-made to put it in the space I had. I worked with the battery manufacturer and went back and forth a lot. I almost had to build a custom battery box to get the size that I wanted. It was a bit challenging to try and figure it out. I built a rough model according to what the manufacturer told about the battery. So when I ordered the rear-wheel-motor, it was disc-brake. So I had to put a disc brake mount on the bike. I designed and built a mount for it.

When I specced the front wheel, I wanted to keep the original look of the drum wheel. I ordered it and worked on getting the hub on the left side of the bike. It took several months to get the battery because it was right when the COVID-19 struck and shipping became very difficult. Then the battery came and the size was a little bit different. I had to make a couple of small modifications to the box to encase the battery. Once I had the battery in the wheel and had the front wheel all figured out, I started working on cleaning out the frame. I cut off the rear foot pegs, the air box mount, motor mount etc. as they are different. That’s pretty much it.

Along the process, I ordered headlight that I thought would be cool and have that modern look; I ordered the handle bars, re-manufactured seat because I didn’t want to have the stock seat look. I needed the place to put the controller and I was able to modify the gas tank to put the controller in there. Once I cleanup up the frame, I sandboxed it all down and used a bit of body filler to clean up some rough spots on the frame. Then, I primed it, painted and clear coated it.

I did do one pre-assembly with 90 per cent of the parts before I sandboxed just to make sure everything was actually going to fit and work. I did come across one little issue. When I moved the brake mount from the right side to the left side, the bracket that I had built was hitting on the fork. So I had to make a new bracket for that.

I assembled the motorcycle and had to fabricate new parts. I had some kinks o work out. The 3000 W motor is pretty powerful and it wanted to spin. There were some brackets on the axle that I didn’t make mounts for and I had to work on them after I painted the frame. I am yet to make it street-legal, which is pretty easy process in Nevada as long as I have the proper license on it.

Have you taken a ride in it yet and what is the maximum speed of the motorcycle?

I took the old speedometer bracket off and welded a new mount that fits the old profile and I liked the way it looked. This bike goes up to 80 km/h and top speed could be higher. It has a lot of acceleration; it doesn’t have a fancy sin wave controller on it and it’s jumpy. It definitely throws you back and the acceleration is amazing.

Total amount spent on the project?

It took around 35 to 40 hours to build the motorcycle and a total of around $2,000 including shipping costs.

ItemDetailsUnit CostShipping CostTotal
Bike1967 CT90 (I believe this is the actual year of the bike based on the VIN)$50.00$50.00
Rear wheel motor, controller and display3000 W 72 volt Ebike conversion kit$260.00$158.00$418.00
Front wheel and hubFront drum brake wheel and hub$55.00$56.00$111.00
Battery72V 35ah Lithium battery. Custom size$588.00$125.00$713.00
ChargerStage 2 charger$105.00$50.00$155.00
PlugIEUYO Quick Connect Plug$14.00$14.00
Tires & Tubes2 Shinko SR241 2.75×17$93.99$93.99
Front lightNilight 15016F-b Led 3000LM$14.53$14.53
Rear lightAnkia 40 Led brake & turn signal light Smoke$18.99$18.99
Rear brakeShimano MT200 Hydraulic brake set$45.99$45.99
Front brake lever7/8 universal black lever$9.89$9.89
Front brake cableAlpha Rider Motorcycle front brake cable$13.66$3.80$17.46
Nuts and boltsAce Hardware$20.00$20.00
Handlebars7/8 22mm Drag handle bars Tracker$20.99$20.99
SeatTrail 90 Complete seat reproduction$95.00$95.00
paint, primer and clear finishRestoration Shop – Silver Blue Metallic Acrylic Enamel Auto Paint, Complete Gallon Paint Kit, Single Stage High Gloss$139.00$70.00
Raw metal for fabricationBattery box and Rear disc brake mount$10.00$10.00
Rear shocks13.5 inch with adjustable spring$56.00$56.00
DC ReducerGolf cart Dc reducer$16.99$16.99
Side plate tool sideRemanufactured Side cover unpainted$11.99$11.99
Side plate battery sideRemanufactured Side cover unpainted$15.99$15.99
Sub Total$1,674.92Total$1,998.72

Are you planning to make few more and sell them or is there a larger plan to this?

I wanted an electric bike that had a bit more style and I & my wife can ride around. That was partially the inspiration. The other inspiration is trying to learn about electric vehicles. So, through the process I was able to learn a lot more about it. We have a gondolier bike that has a bucket on the front of it. I made that an e-drive bike. I started learning more about controllers, hubs and other electric stuff when I did that. I wanted to learn more about it and it kind of led to this project. I would like to do a bike with non-hub motor, which is probably the next project. And ultimately I want to do a car. I have a vintage 1967 Land Rover that I would like to convert. I feel like that these are the learning steps of figuring and eventually do that.