Best of the ‘Gest … meet SB Allan”

Silverback Ron, Muskegon SBs

[What makes a great Silverback? Bravery? Strength? Ability to protect the troop? Size of the harem? Nope, it’s the willingness to take on ambitious, foolish projects without regard to the impact on bank account, reputation, or perception of sanity.

Last fall, the Digest introduced you to Silverback Ron who builds, and rides, outrageous bicycles.

Now, allow me to introduce Silverback Al of the Ridge Road SBs who has set the bar of Silverback achievement even higher by building his own vintage eBike. Here, in his own words, is his story. ]

“At 75, How Fun is Life?”

“Just completed my vintage e-bike build … and this bike rides like a dream … super quiet and smooth … had it up to 32 MPH thus far. Took one of my vintage bikes out of the collection, a chrome 1972 Schwinn Paramount.  In 1972, these were the most desired racing bikes, painstakingly hand built in Chicago.  Having only the best bikes in my collection, the chrome Paramount is the pinnacle, and I have them all, every Italian machine of the day, the Cinelli, Colnagos, etc., so a great item to convert to an E road bike. (currently have 9 vintage Paramounts in my collection  including a 1936 and a 1941) . The lugwork (frame building attachment details) as shown in the picture in website are a work of art.  Mostly, these were built in the USA by an artist.  Today, I doubt there is any bicycle built in America.  Containers from China? 

Many hours re-machining the motor to fit a narrow vintage 10 speed frame.  Most e-bike motors are made to fit wider/new style frames so custom machining required.  Had to also make some stainless steel brackets (polished) for the added torque of 1200 watt motor in order not to break the lightweight vintage frame. 

Used a 1200 watt hub motor on this.  Polished the motor to go along with the chrome (special order) Paramount frame.  Changed the racing handlebars to street bars for the “senior” rider.  The most work was hiding the battery, not putting it on the frame downtube. 

I hand fabricated (+ hours) the aluminum carrier rack to perfectly match the 52 volt battery.  Then wrapped the battery in a leather pouch to disguise it….or to have people think it’s my lunch and water inside.  Also had to upsize the tires for the motor and battery weight…well, I am not as lite as I used to be when I was racing bikes as a youngster.  I bought/ordered one of these for myself in 1972, so I am slightly partial to 1972s’.  All the e-bike additions are added without permanent attachments so that the bike can be restored to non electric status. 

The dashboard.  Used to set the pedal assist level and the motor, mileage, and speed info.  Again, much time in hiding the electrical wires best I could. 
Vintage bikes were mostly 10 speeds, so is this.  Next e-bike project is to design the motor into total hiding.  Hard to do with a vintage steel frame, most modern e-bikes do this with designing the carbon frame around the battery to disguise the battery.  Of course I charge my e-bikes from out solar panel system. Lots of e-bikes these days, but never see a vintage bike conversion.  Runs so quiet, I fool some e-bikers….and if the old guy gets tired, he uses more electric power to get home.
Hiding the wiring is one of the challenges


This is a off road e-bike I built previously.  Took a 10 year old carbon suspension bike and converted it into a e-bike.  Did the same leather battery bag on special holder but placed motor on bottom bracket.  With me, it’s the project, not the results. Projects are good for the hands and mind. At 75 years old, how fun is life?”

Silverback Allan Wilker

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