Posts Tagged ‘ebike’

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.

Advertisements

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 http://endless-sphere.com/forums/.

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 (endlesssphere.com) 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. http://blog2.zog.net.au/category/electric-bikes/greenewheels/