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This isn’t the first electric PX we’ve covered on ScooterLab but it is the first home-built one. It comes from Turkish SLUK reader, Burak Kazar and was built to enable him to get to work quickly and efficiently.

Burak takes up the story…

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It all began in the summer of 2018. I was living in the suburban area of İstanbul before but after my marriage, we moved to a more central district. My home is 5 km away from Kadıköy, which is the cultural and economical centre of the Anatolian Side. It’s not so far away but It takes 20-35 mins to go there by public transport or car. Finding and paying for the parking place and the stress are extras.

There is also a scooter sharing option but It’s slow and is also the most expensive solution. Then I started to think ‘What if I have a more compact personal mobility product?”

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My options were different kinds of two-wheelers but electric power was where I would like to go. Then I saw this ’93 Vespa PX200E on a website. It was legally ‘scrap’ and there was no way to use it in the traffic with the gasoline engine. It’s not legal to use a scrapped vehicle in Turkey, but I took the risk and decided to start my project!

when you say the scooter was legally “scrap” is that because it had been in an accident or because of emissions restrictions in Turkey? By scrap I mean there is no traffic registration. Maybe the correct terminology is “removal and disposal.” As far as I know, the previous owner is dead and his children didn’t want to pay taxes for their daddy’s old motorcycle. However, they didn’t want to get rid of it at all. There was an incentive program to remove old, polluting and unsafe vehicles from traffic. So they removed all legal papers from the traffic registry to benefit from government incentive but keep the motorcycle as it is. They kept riding it in country roads where traffic rules are more ‘flexible.’ The petrol engine was running well until I removed it. However, it was illegal, since there is no license plate.
Is it road legal now? After the electric conversion, it is still not 100% according to the book. Since the top speed is limited, you may use your e-motorcycle by putting a license plate that states “it’s an electric moped”. If you use all protective equipment, obey the rules and create no risk for yourself and anyone else, there is a slightly low risk by using it in daily life. But I need to underline this, I took my own risk and don’t recommend it to anyone else. Police have the right to ban your vehicle from traffic and you can get a traffic fine.
Regarding emission laws, we are aligned with the EU. The emissions are not effective for taxes, only the engine volume.
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I bought the Vespa, transferred it to the basement of my home and started working. First of all, I disassembled everything on the body and separated the parts that I needed and won’t need (yes readers, we have asked about that spare 200cc engine…).

I started working on the body by removing the old paint to see if there was any hidden rust. Since this Vespa lived his 27 years in one of the driest places in Turkey, there was almost no rust at all!

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After removal of the engine and gas tank, the curb weight of the body was almost 50kgs. Thus I should’ve decided the technical properties of the electrical system accordingly. I didn’t calculate any power need but benchmarked a couple of other products in the market and decided on:

  • 2000W nominal/4000W peak powered rear hub engine
  • 60V 27.5Ah Li-Ion battery pack
Also, where did you buy the kit and swinging arm from? I didn’t buy a kit. The electric motor and controller are shelf products and sold separately. Li-Ion battery pack is designed by me and produced by a local technician. The swingarm is also specially designed by me and a local custom motorcycle maker. The same custom builder also built the swingarm for me. Unfortunately, I don’t have that comprehensive workshop.
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I ordered the equipment and a rear swingarm, which seemed to fit into the rear part of the Vespa. However, there was a big problem. With the new swingarm, the wheel was not in the correct position and was unable to connect to the rear suspension. After two weeks of modification and trials, I decided to scrap it and work with a local motorcycle customisation professional.

VIDEO | Burak's excellent videos are in Turkish but you can add subtitles in your own language

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I sent the body to the body shop for small repairs and a paint job, finished the rear swingarm, produced a cafe-racer style seat and assembled everything together. I also designed and 3D printed a front honeycomb grill and made it more unique.

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In the end, my electric Vespa has a 50km/h top speed with a 50km range and weighs 80kgs. The electric motor is located in the rear wheel, the battery pack and controller is at the place where the gas tank used to be; under the seat. So the rider still sits on the power source. I can reach full charge in four hours.

Have you been involved with classic scooters in the past or is this your first one, if so why did you choose the Vespa? I’ve never owned a motorcycle before, this is my first and only one (for now). I think the scooters are more than a vehicle. It’s like a catalyst for being social. If you want to go somewhere, meet with friends or do some daily job, scooters make it easier for you. There is almost no reason to feel lazy with a scooter!
And Vespa is the best-known one. It represents the lifestyle I described above, very well. In addition to that, there are plenty of Vespas in Turkey, especially the PX series from ’90s.
How much did the scooter cost to buy? I bought Vespa for 3500 Turkish Liras / 473 GBP, and sold the engine for 1250TL /150 GBP.
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Yes, the pandemic affected my project and caused some delays. But I got it finished in the end and I’ve ridden the bike for almost 150kms now and It feels very satisfying!

VIDEO | Burak takes us for a spin

I’m riding a retro-looking modern vehicle that everything has been done by myself, tailormade. I’m proud to have it and hope I’ll continue working on new projects.

Words and photos: Burak Kazar

Burak’s build gallery

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