Berlin broke my AliV2 electric scooter and how I’m planning to fix it 🛴

After my previous review of the AliV2 ended mostly positive, I’ve now been using it for a few more weeks and it looks like I broke it. Time for repairs.

It started about 8 weeks after I had bought the scooter. Somewhere near the front wheel, something started to creak, especially when I was pulling hard on the handle bars.

I contacted Airbike World, asking whether I should send it back, but I got no reply. So I did what any completely untrained engineer would do and started to take the thing apart. This can’t really be more complex than a bike can it?

Taking it apart

First step: remove the plastic caps from what I would call the fork. I wonder if I could add any sort of suspension here. 🤔

With the caps off I got access to the front axle, which in fact looks the same as on a bike — except for the cable that goes into it to power the motor in the wheel.

The fork is held in place by four screws. All looks very solid.

This rather massive block of aluminum holds the fork/wheel in place. Makes sense, since there’s probably quite a bit of load on it, right?

And this other large piece of aluminum connects the steering column to the board.

Now let’s get to this rather flimsy-looking piece of plastic (!). These four screw go into another piece of aluminum inside the tube. Together, they hold the steering column in place. Which means there’s quite a bit of compression load on the plastic.

Too much it turns out. The plastic is too soft. The screws push into the plastic, the plastic gives way and becomes thinner. Now the carbon fiber tube — instead of being held in place by the friction of the entire plastic piece on the outside and the aluminum on the inside — starts to move, only restrained by the screws. As you can see, the metal of the screws has started to eat into the softer carbon fiber. If I was an actual engineerI would probably say something like weak point now (?).

Going further up: this cable has seen better times. Something must have hit it. A lot. I wonder what it could be…

… uh oh. Maybe this part. Once (a few weeks ago), this had been screwed to the underside of the battery pack. Now it’s been shredded to pieces. Guessing from the sounds coming out of the steering column when going over rough terrain (a.k.a. Berlin sidewalks), the battery pack was able to move within the tube, hitting this piece of rubber and plastic with every bump in the road.

The underside of the battery pack. Still intact thanks to the part in the previous photo. The batteries are of the 18650 kind — the same format used by Tesla for their cars. At a rated capacity of 262Wh, it’s about 1/380th the size of a Tesla 100D pack, so slightly smaller.

Everything else was still pretty much intact, except this charging cable that I managed to rip off, so now I have to find a replacement for this plug.

One other screw (they are all Allen) won’t come out anymore, so I bought a set of torx screws made of titanium (there are also a few rust streaks here and there).

Major Repairs

The biggest problem is obviously the plastic that was supposed to hold the steering column. My plan is to take a few measurements and then create a 3D model for a slightly larger replacement part made out of aluminum. I’ve never done any CNC routing, so at the very least this should be an interesting exercise.

More on that soon.