1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

DIY stage 7: first ride !! :)

Discussion in 'Electric Bicycles' started by daniel.weck, Oct 8, 2009.

  1.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    Table of Contents:

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/ele...ved-bafang-tongxin-kits-photos.html#post59183

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/ele...li-ping-lifepo4-battery-photos.html#post59988

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/ele...ge-3-motor-testing-fork-photos.html#post60039

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/ele...6-wheel-lacing-building-photos.html#post60153

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/ele...ing-fitting-electricals-photos.html#post60345

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/ele...k-hub-torque-protection-photos.html#post60504

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/electric-bicycles/4786-diy-stage-7-first-ride.html#post60641

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/ele...tage-8-continuous-improvements.html#post60991

    http://www.pedelecs.co.uk/forum/ele...-a123-nano-battery-pack-photos.html#post88165

    ------------------------------------------




    I love it !! :) :D

    I first used my Merc to test the wheel build on the road (the Merc is a cheap 1990's Brompton clone, with an alloy frame instead of steel). I "dumped" all the electrics into the front touring bag (clear sunny day). No pedelec, no brake cut-off, just the thumb throttle and the 3-"speed" selection (it's actually a power/current limiter).

    The Merc only has 3 hub gears, yet I rode 5 miles on all the local hills where I normally struggle with my 6-speed Brompton, and I didn't break a sweat ! You still need to pedal of course, which is fine by me as I love cycling ! It's just like having bionic legs, or just like living in a flat country (Cambridge comes to mind). I use the motor only on the hills, as I ride faster on the flat than the max motor RPM anyway (let's not even talk about going downhill, where the motor is totally pointless).

    The 3-speed switch and built-in electronic regulator in the controller is great !! I don't know if it helps saving battery life (although it probably does decrease the consumption indeed), but it's just a nice feature to have: the first level is only usable when walking next to the bike, or when maneuvering REALLY slow around car parks, etc. The second speed is usable whilst pedaling, and it's good enough for small slow hills or to help moving forward from a standstill (with human pedal assist of course, as always...I mean, it's not strictly necessary, but I make a point of not stressing the system...a behavior which will be needed with the slipping gears of the Tongxin). The third level is full power, and it really pulls the bike on the flat (I don't know the max speed, but it's not much), and it's necessary for any serious hill. That's why these levels are not "gears": they limit the power output, so there is no need to "switch down a gear" (e.g. level 2) hoping that it will help climbing a hill. The torque from the motor is constant, and the full power output is needed to climb anything serious.

    The Bafang is noisy, and it has drag. Nothing new here. It's a compromise I can live with given how it "flattens" the landscape for me ! Now of course I must try the Tongxin before I make my mind up. That's probably for next month, as I won't have time to finish the Tongxin and I intend to ride the Bafang for some miles first.

    So, do I want more power: well, actually I'm happy with this level of power, as I am a keen cyclist. I love to pedal, and I don't want an electric scooter. However if there was something to improve: yes, less noise and less drag please :) Maybe the Tongxin will deliver this ! :p

    PS: following the test ride with the 3-speed Merc, I immediately moved to the 6-speed Brompton which is my main bicycle. Apart from the fact that the real B is a better bike (an updated, more modern version as well), the above remarks are all valid. Although I constantly pedal in the highest gear at low cadence, it is still nice to have 5 other gears to play with in situations where I don't want to or can't use the motor (low battery, etc.).
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2010
  2.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    I've covered approximately 20 miles with the Bafang now, with lots of short but steep hills (and conversely, many fast downhill stretches).

    Climbing serious hills requires human effort, but it's nothing compared to how much sweat and puff I would need to produce without the electric assistance. I never need to stand-up on the pedals, and I usually climb in the highest gear. When the motor struggles too much, I just drop a few gears (I've got 6 in total) to up the cadence. When the speed decreases past a certain threshold, I drop down from the third power level to the second: this way, I am not stressing the motor, I just get the same amount of torque with a lower maximum velocity. As I said before, the first level of power is only good for starting from a standstill, or to help pushing the bike whilst walking next to it (plenty of torque, but very very slow speed). I quickly got used to the assistance and became quite lazy in the hills (it's like you are pretending to pedal, but actually your physical contribution is minimal). As a consequence, I am actually quite happy that the motor is "not that powerful" in the hills. This way, it reminds me that I love pedaling and that I should put more effort into it. Brilliant ! :)

    On the flat, being able to hear the "whizz" is actually very useful, because otherwise it is very difficult to tell which level of throttle control to apply. I suppose that is where real pedelec e-bikes shine (crank-driven with "clever" electronic sensors). I'm often confused trying to find the ideal balance between cadence and throttle control. But then, I am still learning :) Overall, I use the throttle on the flat only when I am facing wind, or whenever I feel that the motor has "something to offer" (when it can make me go faster than with just pedal power). It is easy to determine: I just switch the motor off, and if I feel like I am pulling an elephant then I know I should be enjoying the extra e-power ;)

    Downhill, the motor gets in your way instead of helping, as the max speed with leg-power is much higher than the legal e-bike limit. So I just let the throttle spring-back to the "off" position.

    So, to conclude: the whizzy noise is actually helpful to determine how much stress I am putting on the motor and how much I should help with human power. The drag is definitely here, and the added weight on the bike means that cycling without battery power takes a toll on the rider. But then, I am not a strong cyclist to start with, so I can only improve ! :)
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2009
  3.  
    jerrysimon

    jerrysimon Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,010
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    Daniel,

    Man you built that wheel quick! Def want to see some pics.

    The first ride after you fit the kit is a blast. I had a smile on my face after I did it when I fitted my Alienocean kit to my MTB.

    Its been great to watch your progress. I think you have pretty much come to the same conclusion I did re the Bafang. That said I was hoping and the newer Bafang fun would be quieter and have less drag than the previous model. I had been told that this was the case. Maybe it does, but I doubt it is like the Tongxin in this respect.

    Regards

    Jerry
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2009
  4.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    I've just added more feedback in my second post. And here are photos !

    As you can see, the world-renowed (and unmatched) Brompton fold is preserved (only slightly wider):

    [​IMG]

    The extra handlebar controls do not interfere:

    [​IMG]

    All the controls (electric and mechanical) are within comfortable reach of my thumbs:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  5.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    I have decided to move the battery and controller to the rear of the bike ! (my original plans were with the front touring bag)

    [​IMG]

    The rationale behind this major design change is that a front-heavy Brompton makes it really hard to go over kerbs, steps, etc. Displacing some of the weight at the rear balances the bike, and the handling is greatly improved. The key is in designing fixings and electrical connectors that make it convenient (remember, the rear rack is used for parking and rolling the bike when folded).

    UPDATE: scroll-down to see more photos of the rack-bag packing.

    The rear bag also has folding side pockets, which are fantastic (perfect size for the Broomie). Here is my e-Brompton in full touring mode (the immense front bag is totally available for proper luggage space):

    [​IMG]

    As someone asked about the motor cable routing, here is a close-up:

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  6.  
    barrycoll

    barrycoll Finding my (electric) wheels

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Messages:
    195
    Daniel your build up looks fabulous....I like your rear mounted pack, and the availablity of the front bag for proper 'kit'..
    from the pics I cant quite see where the power thumb shifter is on the bars, and you are obviously going to dispense with the brake lever cut outs..
    I used my wifes nano Brompton to cycle 10 miles to Earls Crt show today, and it was quite briliiant. Like you, I like to add my 2 penny's worth to the effort, and I found that I only used the 2 top gears...the low one for easing away, and then powering myself up to 13/14 mph, and then up to my legs and 'top gear'. Hills and headwinds I added just a tad of thumb to sort of flatten the effort, but getting the feel of just the right amount of thumb is tricky..
    it was interesting to chat to the Wisper folk, plus have a poke about on the Cytronex stand...speaking to the main design chap on the Brompton stand, one gets the feel that a nano is on the way...without doubt an ideal nano set up is a light weight 2 speed conversion..
    I very much like their new 'easy roll' jockey wheeel conversion, which really does allow an easy roll on any surface, and they also have some proper quality brake levers on the way..apparently they cant incorporate any changes until a new 'model year', pampering to the dealers in the US market...maybe even some seat post markings are on the way,as at the moment its a tad hit and miss before every use...
    keep up the excellent reports Daniel, and some daylight pics of the Brompton would be good to see more of the detail
  7.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    Thanks Barry !

    I have reduced the size of the rear bag by re-arranging the layout of the battery, controller and cables (no more "puffy-ness"). I have also used the elastic cords slightly differently to pull the bag rearwards, in order to avoid hitting with the heels whilst pedaling (it's a known Brompton caveat). Finally, I have decided that water-proofing (well, splash-proofing to be accurate) is better achieved with a rain cover on top of the rear rack, rather than trying to stuff everything in the bag itself. The bungee cords secure the cover pretty well.

    As for the controls, I have swapped things around and I am now really happy with the ergonomy ! I have also installed the brake cut-off, rear only (left), because I wanted to keep the better-quality lever for the stronger front brake (right). As you'll see on the photos below, I have the thumb throttle on the left, as well as the 2-speed mini-derailleur lever (easy to switch with a thumb flick). On the right hand side, I have the switch for the 3 power levels, all within immediate reach of the thumb. The main 3 hub gears are on this side as well (they require more force to change than the derailleur), so I can control the throttle whilst changing gear. Typically: climbing up a steep hill, suddenly needing to change a gear down to up the cadence (to add more human power), without slowing-down to a halt.

    Enough talk, photos now:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  8.  
    Barnowl

    Barnowl Just Joined

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2008
    Messages:
    954
    Daniel - As a Brompton owner myself I have to say you've done a sterling job there. Looks great :)
  9.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    Improved rear rack-bag fitting (smaller, tighter):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
  10.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    Thanks, I really wanted to keep the lines clean, even though my M6R+ is one of the least lightweight and least elegant Brompton models ! :)

    I was not very happy with the puffy-looking rear rack-bag, check out the latest photos to see how much neater it is now :)
  11.  
    jerrysimon

    jerrysimon Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,010
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    Get that wet bike off the nice clean hall carpet :eek:

    Looks fabulous. I must admit the Brompton has sparked my interest. I can see a new project on the horizon :p

    It would make a great second ebike and I might get my wife to come out with me on it whilst I ride my Cytronex ;)

    Maybe after I sell off my Alienocean kit and or MTB with it fitted :rolleyes:

    Regards

    Jerry
  12.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    Hello e-bikers !

    Small update about my e-Brompton:

    1) Just like I planned, I had to re-adjust the spokes tension to ensure that the wheel is true. Easy job: bike up-side-down, using the brake pads as a reference (lateral truing), and "pinging" the spokes with the fingers to hear the resonance pitch and to make sure that the tension is uniform across the entire wheel (I must admit, I have not used a tension-meter at all...all from intuition and recommended good practice, e.g. Sheldon Brown and other online tutorials).

    2) I've ridden another short but hilly trip (just under 10 miles) that normally makes me sweat a lot and makes me really exhausted (the Brompton's 6th gears simply doesn't allow enough cadence for me to cope). What a wonderful experience ! The e-Brompton assists just enough for me to conquer the climb. Even though the motor feels like it could come to a halt at the peak gradient, I am satisfied with the power delivered. It gives me an incentive to pedal and to contribute with human effort, rather than being tempted to use high-assist all the time. I love it ! I am still learning how to avoid putting too much stress on the Bafang in those steep hills, by using the power level #2 and by dropping gears on the Brompton to up the cadence.

    3) Currently, both the battery and the controller are in the rack-bag. It's a neat arrangement, but it makes folding the Brompton a little tricky (I don't have to undo all the wires to remove the rear bag, but I must be very careful not ripping the cables off. I found a solution: I am going to use a small waterproof frame bag to store all the "messy" wires and the controller, whilst the rack-bag will only host the battery. To fold the bike, all I have to do is to disconnect the battery (one easy robust connector instead of many tiny fragile ones). It's a new product on eBay...I'll let you know how it goes ! :)
  13.  
    jerrysimon

    jerrysimon Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,010
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    Thanks for the update Daniel.

    I think the Bafang can take more abuse and you perhaps don't have to be as carefull with it as the Tongxin. After all the Bafang will start you off from a standing start.

    I've been looking at Bromptons and looks like I just sold my Alien kit :p

    Regards

    Jerry
  14.  
    barrycoll

    barrycoll Finding my (electric) wheels

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Messages:
    195
    thanks for commenting on my pics Daniel, and apologies for no reply, as it ended up in Spam unfortunately..
    my front rim is the same as the one you are lacing for the Brompton, so it will be interesting to hear if you had problems getting the last bit of the 'bead' onto the rim...and if not, what is the secret???

    I am wondering if you placed some sort of cable protector over the entry point into the motor, to allow the Brompton fold, but to stop the electrics getting caught, or to stop any rubbing at least...

    the rear electrics work well with the Ping battery shape, but I think that for myself, a smaller capacity front mount is the best way, but not a 36v10a/h taking up 2/3rds of the front bag capacity...
    this was a bit of a weight in my backpack, carrying it around the Bike Show for a couple of hours, and in the light of very little power being used on the 20miles round trip to the show (from 2 green lights showing on the battery (out of a possible 3) at the start, down to one)...this is the main problem in using the bike, that the battery always has to be carried after locking up..
    any ideas here, anyone???
    at the end of the ride back to Muswell Hill from Town there is a short but 'bitter' 1:4 gradient, that reduced me to my granniest gear on my Specialised Rockhopper, and a less than walking pace...the nano went up at 10mph, with a very small amount of assistance, and not even full 'throttle'
    bloody brilliant!!!!!!!!
    if most bike shops had a nano Brompton demonstrater available to the buying public, they would sell in droves
  15.  
    jerrysimon

    jerrysimon Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,010
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    He's currently using the Bafang. I can't wait to see how he gets on with the Tongxin.

    It seems if you want to go to a smaller (or should I say lighter) battery then the only answer is NiMh or maybe that other nano kit posted on here a while back. Apart from that kit, I have not seen any 36v Lithium batteries that come smaller than 9ah. A NiMh battery would have to be a DIY job using 3*12v power packs but make sure you buy decent quality ones. One of the Lithium sellers might make you up a smaller pack I guess if you asked them.

    My Cytronex has a 2kg (water bottle size and shape) battery that is 36v 4ah (NiMH) which I take off and carry without a problem.

    Regards

    Jerry
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2009
  16.  
    Barnowl

    Barnowl Just Joined

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2008
    Messages:
    954
  17.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    True. Maybe I am over-cautious. :p

    Well done. Have you sold the bike as well ?

    Regarding Bromptons: they are expensive bikes, but the combination of amazing folding, good touring capability and great handling (for a 16"-wheeler, that is) means that I have never regretted the purchase. The B wasn't even on my short-list when I first started to look into folding bikes (because of the high purchase cost). But then, after trying several cheap asian brands I finally had a go at the Brommie...and never looked back ! :) Bromptons tend to last forever, they are very well built. Furthermore, the second-hand market is very active, and used B's tend to keep their value. I am also happy to own a machine that was created and is still manufactured locally.
  18.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    I have no idea, as I don't have a bike computer.
    It's probably just 15mph though, as the motor is designed for 20" wheels (the Brompton has smaller 16" wheels). Side note: I am hesitant to purchase the Cycle Analyst (100 GBP)...but then to achieve similar functionality I would need to buy a computer (20/30 GBP) and a Watts-Up (40 GBP) or Turnigy power meter (30 GBP)...so maybe I should go ahead with the CA...

    To be honest, using the motor to help me going fast is not what I am after (I can ride much faster than the legal e-bike limit anyway...just with human power). Sure, sometimes I am a bit lazy and wished that the motor was spinning a little quicker so I have less work to do at higher speeds, but most of the time I am just delighted by the hill-climbing support at snail pace.

    I never use the electric assistance without pedaling. I always produce human effort, and I only activate the throttle when I need help. Granted, help is needed more now than before the conversion, because of the added weight and drag. But it still feels very much like riding a bicycle, not a scooter.

    Cheers, Dan
  19.  
    daniel.weck

    daniel.weck Pedelecer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    1,205
    No worries :p

    Brute force. Well, in a controlled manner, of course. :D Next time, I will use this:

    Find Bikes, Components, Clothing and Accessories at Dotbike

    My Brompton still folds very small. The handlebar requires fiddly adjustments, but the control layout I am now using is both ergonomically-efficient and folding-friendly (see photos in one of the threads).

    I don't see any worrying rubbing points.

    The Freedom e-bikes batteries fit in the rear vertical pockets of the front touring bag. Maybe you should consider them:

    Freedom E-Bikes - Home

    Apparently, higher Ah batteries are preferred not only for the provided cycling range, but also because they handle large current draws much better than smaller packs (i.e. during hill-climbing).

    Well, Bromptons being a prime target for thieves, I tend not to leave mine out of sight for very long (even locked). When I park the bike and walk away, I carry my front touring bag with a shoulder strap (surprisingly comfortable), and I usually leave the battery in its rear rack-bag.

    The battery aluminium case is locked (with the frail standard keylock), the rack-bag itself is locked (with a Samsonite padlock on the zip bits), and the rack-bag is attached to the frame using a cable-lock ! :D

    I can also carry the rack-bag with a shoulder strap, but it is heavy. Depending on where I go, I can ask staff to keep my bags securely behind their desk (e.g. shops, hair-dresser, work office, gym, etc.).

    Problem is: there are lots of cheap rubbish bicycles out there, so people tend to mentally associate cycling with pain (bad riding experience, ownership issues, etc.). The same applies to e-bikes: the supermarket-type heavy and low-powered badly-assembled products put a bad name on e-bikes in general, hiding the true nature of "electricity-enhanced cycling" :D

    Regards, Dan
  20.  
    AndyOfTheSouth

    AndyOfTheSouth Just Joined

    Joined:
    May 15, 2009
    Messages:
    338
    Thanks for the detailed account, Dan – it is already a very worthwhile resource. Just keep it coming!

    On the subject of batteries…

    I emailed Ping (pingping227@hotmail.com) to ask about the smallest battery he could supply and it is 5Ah. However, he did raise the question of whether it could supply enough current for the task – I’d said I was thinking of the new Bafang and said it’d be used for hill-climbing. He wanted to know the peak wattage, but I couldn’t tell him.

    Andrew of freedomebikes.com has, I think, said that he sometimes used two of his batteries together when climbing the very steepest of hills on his Brompton.

    In neither case, though, does it actually rule out the small battery strategy. When the current demand is likely to be high, more than one battery may be desirable. I would prefer to travel light unless I have to do otherwise.

    Two other small batteries are those of the Cytronex and the Powabyke X-Bike. Is there a reason why they can’t be used by DIYers?

Share This Page