Archive for February, 2010


February 19, 2010

yes my workshop/corner of the garage is a mess...

My grand father was a carpenter but unfortunately he wasn’t the mentoring type and I didn’t pick up much from him. He mainly made formwork anyhow. but I’ve got a couple of his tools. These are pretty easy to make with or without power tools, I used a cheap jigsaw and a belt sander and powerdrill which made the whole thing pretty quick, maybe 3 or 4 hours start to finish.

It has been hot lately (up to 41deg C the other day) with lots of evening storms and rain perfect weather for disappearing into my cool basement garage to do some woodwork.

I bought some 6mm hoop pine plywood but I wished I had time to look harder for some 2nd hand stuff, you don’t need much. The 6mm stuff is very light (the top deck and the side loaders combine to just over a kilo). The 6mm is fine for the top deck as its well supported along its length but its a bit flexy for the side loaders. It would be quicker just to use thicker ply, but I just screwed and glued an extra “stringer” of ply underneath to increase the strength. However standing towards the inside edge is still pretty flexible.

Just trace around the side loaders and cut with a jigsaw

It’s tricky to figure out exactly where to drill the holes for the mounting screws (which are already on the V3 Mundo). I just clamped the boards into position and it left an impression in the wood showing where I needed to drill. I also greased all the mounting bolts so they don’t rust into position. The heads on these hex bolts are notoriously easy to strip.

These are the dimensions I got for the top deck but measure for yourself!

I used some leftover Tung based flooring oil to seal the boards; 3 coats. It created a beautiful yellow-gold matt finish which I think suits the bike well.

boards getting oiled - stringers on sideloaders

As well as the top and lower boards I put some side boards to keep my boys feet out of the spokes and allow me to easier mount some kind of foot rest for my younger shorter fella. I drilled some holes in these to allow strapping points for cargo and to keep the weight down (shaved a whole 200gms off, yes I am embarrassed to say I did weigh them…), plus it looks funkier!

I’m kind of glad I’m still waiting on the rear brake as it has made me focus on the boards this weekend. Test ride was great all tight and good. There was a weird reverberation off the lower boards from the drive drain, just sounded a bit weird.

I’ve now got some Yuba soft spot seat which seem pretty good and sturdy. With these you don’t need a topdeck, they have a thick flexible plastic base. I was going to drill some cutouts in the topdeck to allow the pannier bag to fit but I’m just going to go with the soft spots without a deck. A pity it looked great with the deck!



February 17, 2010

Here’s a quick video with sound, of the Elation motor working  just so you can get an idea of how it works and how loud it sounds. Compare it to the ticking freewheel at the end of the video to get an idea of the volume.

Note that despite the spinning pedals you don’t need to pedal when the motor is on.

One little thing with the Elation it that backing up your bike is a little more difficult as it works against the motor. Although it kind of works like a parking brake if you use a single kickstand.

Elated 2

February 13, 2010

I finished fitting the Elation Kit. It was pretty quick (quicker than fitting mudguards anyway!) of course there were a couple of small hiccups.

The main strap mounts are great and seem very secure. There is also an adjustable “torque” bolt on the left side designed to run from the plate up to the seatpost to aid in keeping the motor from slipping. It is one of those adjustable double threaded rods you find holding the mast of a sailing boat up or on wire ballistrading.

I could not get it to fit right (without bending the torque bolt) to attach to the clamp on the seatpost so I ran it further back to a bar behind the seatpost and attached it with the smaller clamp (needed to shim the smaller clamp with a bit of old inner tube). Seems secure.

Elation Torque Bolt not fitting

Elation Torque Bolt fitting!

My problem with the battery mounts was that the plastic plate didn’t have holes drilled. I drilled some as Allan at Elation suggested I could, but the bolts were too loose so I just used some other nuts and bolts I had hanging around (you guessed it, more skateboard stuff!) and it fits fine.

So I fitted everything up, hand grips, accelerator, zip tied everything securely and went for a ride….a short ride.  I broke the main bike chain (not the motor drive chain) about 1k from home. Bugger…my fault I guess, Im not too experienced at breaking and rejoining chains and I guess one of my links was poor and a side plate had slipped loose.

While it went, it went great. I can’t give you any speed data as it was the middle of the night and I couldn’t see my speedo!  I have a lot of steep short hills near my place and it climbed well, I did need to pedal to do it at any speed of course, but for 200 Watts it went great.

My first impression, having come from a bike with a hub motor, was that it did lack the simple elegance and smoothness of a hub system.

The most difficult thing was changing gears, or should I say sensing when a gear change was needed. The motor takes away that sensitivity you get through the pedals to sense when to change up and down. I was more like driving a car listening to the note of the motor or just noticing how fast you were pedaling to pick the changing point, rather than feeling that change in effort through your legs.

It was also a lot noisier than the hub motor. With the hub lots of people would look curiously then ask if I had a motor. I’ll get no questions about the motor with this one, you can see and hear, it clearly has a motor! I’m not talking about a 2 stroke offensive kind of sound, just an obvious whirring noise.

All up an Ok first experience, but I’m keen to get out again when the chain is mended.

Not much let to do now I need to tension the threaded headset (any hints on how I could do this without buying another tool would be most welcome). Finish making the wooden boards, and sort the rear brake out (still waiting on this from Yuba, they say it was sent 11 days ago). Then I need to fit some stoker bars for my passengers.

The life electric

February 11, 2010

For those of you tuning in for the electric bit of this blog I guess this is feeling like an episode of “Lost” where all the twists and turns don’t give you the payoff you want.

Well I’m pretty close to finishing the Elation kit now. I just wanted to get the basic bike up and running before adding the motor. In the next few days hopefully. In the meantime I though I would like to review my experiences with electric bikes thus far. If you want more details on electric bikes in general check

About 2 years ago I moved into inner west Sydney about 3-4ks from the city after 6 years living 20ks to the south west. Living out there I used the train as much as I could but the location of my boys school, near the city, made this option difficult so I ended but driving a lot, and sitting in heavy traffic on the M5 freeway a lot too, bikes were really not a good option for transport other than maybe the local shops. So the new house is about 2ks from my boys school which is a fine walk but that then leaves me at the mercy of public transport to carry on to my work in nearby suburbs. So even with only 2ks to school I again ended up driving a lot more than I wanted to.

I tried riding a skateboard for a while and combined with public transport this works pretty well. Also a normal bike without electric motors could work too. But I work in a medical office environment with no showers etc in my workplace and lets be honest once you have tasted the convenience of stepping out of you cool clean car into work, riding to work and needing a shower at the other end in order to function in polite company, leaves a bit to be desired.

I think climate change really is an inconvenient truth and that 80% of people will not sacrifice their own comfort even if they understand all the risks climate change poses. People need to be convinced on other grounds like their own hip pocket and their own convenience.  I suppose, to be honest, I’m no different and need more motivation than moral superiority to do the right thing

So a couple of test rides to work on my old cheap Kmart style Malvern Star bike proved the principle (albeit with a few cans of deoderant!) and the search was on for an electric bike. I considered the Elation kit at the time but I didn’t have a suitable bike to put it on. So after a bit of research I decided to purchase a” Greenewheels” bike through ebay. Its hard to trace the origins of these bikes other than all coming from China however it is very similar to a Whisper brand bike with a Bafang geared hub motor. It has a 36volt system and is a neat and tidy looking ebike.

The purchase went smoothly and the bike arrived in good condition just needing pedals etc fitted. Charged it up and it was great! The motor on the flat with no pedaling would sit on a solid 28-29kph. It was a dream. My son would ride on the cross bar in front, which I padded, and we could chat and joke, and I was at work in no time after a not so sweat inducing ride.

No license no insurance no traffic jams plus I’m getting a little exercise everyday. I would have paid 3 times what I did for this thing….except then it began to break down and no one wanted to know.

First it was little things like quickly worn break pads, no problem I upgraded these. Then some broken spokes which were of a particular size, got em eventually from the original supplier and worn bottom bracket bearings, the originals were very poor quality.  In the process I went to at least 6 different bike shops who varied in their reaction from just can’t help to almost open hostility when they found out the bike had an electric boost.

Business wise this just confused me. OK, I didn’t buy a bike from them but that’s not to say I wouldn’t at some future time if they tried to help me with this.  Sometimes they did help, a bit, but the attitude was tough to take. The least attitude I got was from Cheeky Transport in Newtown, whom I have used for parts of the latest, many thanks to Nick.

Overall I think bike shops must have it too easy or something because they sure don’t seem to want my money.

OK so now the big problems began. The Hall effect sensor wiring on the motor melted and I needed a new motor (can be corrected with a sensorless controller too)  and about 10 months later the battery needs replacing. To be honest I think I cooked the battery by running it too low for the first few charges, shortening it’s life. But for me this just shows that owning an ebike is not as straight forward as a car or motorbike. At the time I just didn’t realize this could be a problem.

Anyway these are all things that with help from the net ( I was capable of fixing myself but if I didn’t develop these skills then the bike would now be junk with no local repair option.

Why did I persevere at all? Ebikes are great to ride, simple as that.  People who make negative comments most likely haven’t ridden one.

But unless like me you like staring into an electronic abyss of melted wiring, spending hours on the net sourcing obscure parts and repair information, then I can’t recommend them, at this point, to the average commuter. I hope this changes sometime soon with local shops embracing ebikes as a new sales stream rather than turning up their nose at them.

Its not all bad this bloke seems to have had much better luck with his almost identical bike.


February 9, 2010

I’m certainly getting pretty sick of driving to work.  We have to get a park and walk my little 3yo fella into the school. It was easier last year with my older boy and doing what we call “drive by” in Australia where you just pull up and they jump in or out (so yes for my US readers my son was involved in a “drive by” everyday!).

Anyway the whole drive by thing is getting old fast and can’t wait to make it ride by!

So I’m pretty much finished the Mundo save for the rear brake (waiting on the Yuba adapter) and the running boards and top deck (under construction) and I need to correctly tension the headset (I seem to need some very large and thin spanners for this so might get this looked at at the LBS).

So just a quick update on the electric Elation kit.

I fitted the Elation kit yesterday and really it fits like a glove! the bolts tension perfectly (you may remember I was worried about this in a previous post), the chain lines up great and the battery mounts…..well the battery mounts look like they should work well but my kit seems a bit incomplete. Missing some nuts or something, however I’m sure Allan at Elation will sort this out for me fine.

Elation looks like its made for tbe Mundo!

I’m surprised cyclone kit owners haven’t taken a lead from the Elation and built chain straps for their kits. They clearly work great and look easy enough to make with a couple of old bolts and some bike chain. The Elation does however have a nicely designed mounting plate which would be harder to knock up in the back shed.


February 9, 2010

Ok fenders if you insist.You know I found this one of the slowest and most fiddly jobs on the build so far. I work pretty slow but it took me a whole afternoon.

I have some Planet Bike 60mm full length plastic fenders and they look good but I guess I should have googled fenders and disc brakes before I started to fit them.

I suppose generally fenders and disc brakes don’t go together, fenders being a commuter thing and disc brakes being a down hill mountain bike thing.

The front has the common problem with the disc rotor getting in the way of the lower “stay”. I thought about bending the stay in a visually attractive manner around the disc (an old coat hanger works great to create template for this) but my stay wasn’t long enough to allow for all the bends. Check this for a nice how to guide.

In the end I used a 185mm BB7 disc brake post mount adapter for which I had no other use to extend the mounting point below the disc brake. So far this is working and looks Ok but I might need a bit of lock tight to keep the whole thing in place.

The rear was another matter. The rear should have two stays each side running up from the Mundo mounting points near the drop outs up to the mudguards.  When both stays and the mounting bolt are installed the whole thing protrudes in towards the wheel a fair bit. No prob on the right side but on the left it fouls the disc brake rotor ( this is likely no matter what size rotor you have by the way!).

The solution was to only run with one of the stays and attach the mudguard at other points, thankfully not a big issue on the Mundo with a couple of zip ties attaching to the rear carrier. However with the standard Planet Bike mounting bolts it still fouled the disc rotor. I dug out a low profile bolt and it now clears the rotor by 3 or 4 mm (actually I used a standard 1 inch skateboard truck mounting bolt, skateboard stuff comes in so handy!).

Drive side with standard bolt , no problem

Disc side with low profile skateboard bolt (blurry sorry!)

A small point but these 60mm guards look a bit  narrow for the Fat Frank tyres when viewed from the top, but it’s only an aesthetic thing, I’m sure they’ll function fine.  In general however I love the look of the black guards, wheels and tyres and think they highlight the orange frame nicely.

Lastly you need to mount rear guard as high as you can or the top of the chain line may catch the guard in very low gears. They have a cutout to suit in that position you just have to watch out how high you mount it . In fact my chain pretty much touches the side of my rear tyre in low gears, A factor of having a long frame I guess.  It’s not too bad especially as my tyres have no knobbly tread to catch the chain; the only solution I can see would be narrower tyres or a slightly wider bottom bracket.


February 7, 2010

As you may know the Mundo has those big 14mm dropouts on the rear.

I have had word form others that a well tightened quick release using the 14mm adapters will hold it just fine and mine did hold Ok eventually on a recent test run. However I thought I would try to devise some better means preventing the rear wheel slipping in the dropout.

Firstly, I looked on the net for some burly splined washers as I don’t have alot of time to get to bike shops except Saturday morning, which is not a good time at bike shops! But I think I will still try to source some of these at a local BMX place at some point.

The first issue with adding extra washers to a wheel with quick release (QR) skewers is that the skewer needs to be long enough to accept the extra width. The Mundo frame is already extra thick at the dropouts and this can limit the depth of bite a skewer bolt gets into the “nylock” bit of the  skewer nut.

I ordered some extra long skewers made by Halo called “porkies” made to fit bikes with thick dropouts (by thick I mean the thickness of the steel, not the extra big 14mm dropout slot). These are Ok about 5mm longer than standard but are all alloy for lightness, so I’ll keep looking for a steel alternative a well.

Also, a washer designed for a 14mm dropout has a huge hold in the middle compared to the thin QR skewer, so it might tend to float around a bit. I tried making my own washer from “Mudguard Washers”  which are big and have a smaller hole in the middle. I tried to punch divets into them, and drove holes into them in an effort to make a grippy surface, but really the metal was too weak and offered little extra grip when in position.

Finally I dug out a couple of large “cup washers” from my longboard skateboard gear ( It is alloy but the cup shape gives it rigidity. I drilled 2 holes to size and screwed in a couple of  “sprigs” from my new platform pedals. The sprigs bite into the frame offering grip (which can be adjusted with a small allen key), I might even drill a couple of shallow holes in the frame to give these some more grip. These are really like “tugnuts” without the tug!

Drawbacks could be the the light alloy washers tearing or the cup shape working “sled like” to negate the extra grip, however it test rode fine in a high gear standing up on the pedals applying lots of pulling force. We’ll see how it hold ups.

Brake 2

February 4, 2010

I have a new 185mm rear disc for the rear of the Mundo. Word has it that the 185 BB7 works with a 203mm BB7 disc adapter.

So I test fitted with the 203mm plate and 185 disc. The pads do grip the disc  but not enough to slow the wheel to any extent.  My rotors are the BB7 Roundagon shape so it is possible that a perfectly round disc might seem to grip and work better but I doubt it would work well enough and you would still get uneven pad wear.

Ben at Yuba (after a few emails finally) has confirmed for me that the adapters they are sending me are custom made by yuba to suit the BB7 185 rotors. Adapters are $30- (brakes were onlyabout $60-). So it sounds hopeful that I’ll have rear brakes and a “Brake 3” post soon!

Why didn’t I just buy a 160mm disc….? Clearly I enjoy self flagulation.

I’ve got a spare 203mm BB7 Disc brake I’ll probably put on ebay. The Aussie dollar is so good that not counting shipping I’ll  likely get my money back! But let me know if you want to buy them $55Aus- free shipping in Australia!


February 1, 2010

I guess it is the nature of documenting a project like this that it will appear to be a list of hiccups and problems. But really I’m enjoying the process.

Tonight I fitted a chain and tried to fit the side loaders. The Mundo uses about 1 and a half standard SRAM chains. Chain went on Ok. Used the large ring to large ring plus 1 inch fitting technique. but on middle chainring some gears  made the chain very seem loose. Will see how that one goes.

Side loaders – Well the side loaders arrived with the bolts screwed into them about a 1/4 inch, just so they didn’t get lost I guess. They were totally jammed and on removing one I bent it pretty badly so I’m on the hunt for some replacements. I tried to fit the other but found it impossible to start. I now feel in a small way for you guys who had to build up a V1 or V2.

Cranks –  These are the Elation 4 ring cranks. The chain guard seems to have been hot glued into place and fell off with one little touch of my foot. Looking for another option here too.

Handlebars – riser bars scavanged from one of my other bikes, heavy and a bit flexy but I like the position.

Brakes – waiting on a new 185mm set for the rear but I fitted the front. Tensioned the mount to the IS tabs and didn’t notice that the bolts went right through and were biting on the disc, slightly scratched a groove into the disc. I shimmed the bolts out with a couple of washers. I guess the Mundo mounting tabs are thinner than standard?

Seat is temporary I have a Brooks B67 on the way.

So I went for my first “ride”. No brakes, no gears, no worries! It rides great. it really does not feel a heavy bike to ride at all.

I was stuck in top gear and on cranking down on the pedals the rear wheel slipped in the dropouts a few times until I cranked down on the quick release alot tighter. I have some better longer skewers on the way too so will try and improve on this too soon.

Next, I’ll fit all the cables, when I can find my dremel tool…I hope to have it ridable in about 10 days or so depending on how many late nights I can manage!