eBikeology Part 2- A personal account on electric bikes

eBikeology Part 2- A personal account on electric bikes

I had a bunch of problems that crept up using the 408 and the 36v 25A system.  The weight of the hub motor and battery pack on the rear wheel caused me to bend over 4 rims and break serveral spokes in a 2 year period.  Also, the bike was heavy and handled differently.  What really sealed it for me was the Pelican case, the latches cracked and broke off.  I can only guess that they aren’t resistant to UV exposure.  Lastly, the throttle had a battery indicator, and the covering for that was starting to peel back.  I really wanted to do some long rides, but the current setup wasn’t up to task.

Enter the Bafang geared hub motor.  I had some hesitation about using a geared hub motor because so many riders had gears go out.  But with that said, I also saw some demos of these motors really moving a bike.

There was one problem with the Bafang rear hub motor, I couldn’t source a reseller in the US at a decent price.  I did find a reseller in Seattle called Clean Republic in early 2010 that had kits for front hub motors.  I seriously considered purchasing the kit and was about to until the price increased.  I wasn’t prepared to pay more than I had for the 408, when I wasn’t sure of reliability, especially after a near loss with my cell order from EV Components.

Finally I found a source, but it was going to be a leap of faith on my part.  I was going to have to order from a reseller in China called EV Assemble.  They had Bafang rear hub motors for $85 each.  I figured it was worth the gamble and I made the order.  The shipping cost was more than the order.  It took 5 weeks for the items to arrive.  When I opened the packaging I was blown away by how much less it weighed compared to the 408.  I had also ordered a 24V 15A controller and 3 thumb throttles.

There was some more work to do before installing it on the bike.  I still had to build the wheel.  I ordered an Alex rim from Niagara Cycle works along with some Wheelsmith spokes.  I also wanted to modify the connectors on the hub motor and motor controller.  I had good experiences with Anderson powerpoles that I purchased from Powerwerx.  Once all the other parts were ordered and they had arrived, it all sat in a corner.

That year I rode the 2010 STP, Seattle to Portland classic.  I was spending alot of my time in the early part of 2010 riding without any assist, preparing for the ride.  A couple of months before the event, I purchased a Fuji from Performance Bike.  I never seriously bought a bike before and for that I was not taken seriously by the sales folks.  The bike was poorly fitted for me, but I bought it all the same.  This would haunt me 75 miles into the STP when my right knee finally was too painful to continue the ride.  Just 2 weeks earlier I had finished a 180 mile ride in 2 days and didn’t anticipate problems.

Anyway, that ride was done and it was late July 2011.  I was ready to get back to my postponed project.  I finished the work putting everything together.  My 36V headway pack had failed a few months back, a couple of the cells had gone bad.  To my good fortune, I was able to use the remaining cells and build a 24V pack.  I also found another local seller called Headway Headquarters.  They had decent prices and are based out of Issaquah, WA.  I had new cells within a week.

I has plotted a ride north, from Seattle into Marysville, Wa.  Everything was ready a couple of week before when I noticed my bottom bracket on the Schwinn going out.  I was done with Performance Bike, so I took it in to the Alpine Hut and had them replace the part.  I picked the bike up Friday, just before Saturday’s ride.









That morning I set out with my gear and smart charger.  I was planning to do a 100 mile ride, averaging 12mph.  This was my first long haul ebike ride.  I figured I recharge it somewhere in Everett and again in Marysville before heading back to Seattle.

I was blown away every time I checked my amp hours.  I was averaging 10 mile per Ah.  When I got to Marysville I decided not to recharge before heading back.  I had traveled 50 miles on a 10Ah pack and I only used 5Ah thus far.

When I got back into Everett, just over 75 miles, I was getting cocky about it.  The day was getting late and I was eager to get back home.

I started to notice a drop in speed after 80 miles.  I started to throttle back a bit, anticipating the LVCO.  I managed to get another 5 miles before it finally went out.  The ride was rewarding.  I had the fact that I could get 85 miles to a charge on a fresh 10Ah headway pack.

The test of time proved to be another reward.  I was able to continue to use this exact setup for the next 2 years.  I finally had to retire the Schwinn bike for my current Raleigh Talus, sold to me by the folks at Recycle Cycles who took the time to fit it correctly.

This means that the following items stood the test of time and the daily abuse of my riding.

  • Tubus Rack – over 4 years of steady use, awesome hardware.
  • Ortlieb Bag – It’s the only thing that didn’t look goofy and remained reliable.
  • Headway Pack – I’m getting an average of 30 miles per charge now, still going.
  • Bafang Hub Motor – I have yet to see it show signs of wear, I’ve got 8000 miles on it so far.
  • Alex Rim – Yes, it hasn’t bent yet.  Did I mention 8000 miles already!
  • Wheelsmith Spokes – I’ve had about 1 break every 500 miles.
  • Cateye Enduro 8 – This thing has been with me for 12000 miles.

I’m expecting something to fail at some point.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.  I do have a small tear in the Ortlieb bag.  I’ve got a second Headway pack and whopping 20Ah Thudersky pack.  I also ordered 3 more Bafang hub motors a few months ago.  They still sell the DM18 Alex rims at Niagara Cycle works.  Sometime in the not so distant future, I’ll be building a couple of wheels.

Since the bike is new I figure early fall I should plan on replacing the wheel before winter.  I’ll just say it’s been an excellent ride.

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