Panda Pro/Orbit Orion Conversion

Discussion in 'Electric Bike Conversion Kits' started by Warwick, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    This will probably be an episodic thread, as it has already proved complicated!

    Tempted by their offer, I bought a 700c FWD Pro kit from Panda. It arrived sooner than promised, although I later found out the PAS was missing. Oliver at Panda sent one out the next day.

    The bike it's going to be fitted to has been off the road since my Electric Bike Conversions kit went belly up. I knew it needed work, but I'd forgotten how much! The brakes needed recabling and the steerer star nut isn't playing ball, so I'm at a bit of a hiatus until then. The bike itself is a good one. Light, but strong aluminium frame and some tweaks I've made, including a stem riser and some On-One Mary bars. The colours are all very uncoordinated, so it will look a bit of an ugly sleeper once it's ready. Thief deterrent, hopefully. There's an 8-speed Shimano Alfine hub on the rear that worked well with the EBC kit. Much better than my Nexus one of 20 years ago.

    I didn't go for one of Panda's batteries, but chose BGA to work their magic after speaking to Jimmy there several times. £375 had a 17Ah one with Panasonic cells delivered to my door.

    First impressions of the kit are positive, although no instructions came with it. I'm looking forward to fitting the plug and play connectors and the snap-on PAS.

    Proving that my garage needs tidying, I saw a Marathon Plus tyre and fitted it to the wheel only to find it's a 40mm one that rubs ever so slightly on the mudguards. I'm fairly sure I meant to fit a 35mm one which lies hidden in the murky depths. That in itself will take some locating and then I'll have to take off the 40mm and fit the correct one.

    More to follow once I get the bike itself fit for purpose, should you be interested.
     
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    #1 Warwick, Jun 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
  2. Benjahmin

    Benjahmin Pedelecer

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    Think you can download Panda instructions from their website, just select the kit you bought.
     
  3. rich_r

    rich_r Finding my (electric) wheels

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    I fitted a Panda Pro kit last week - very straightforward. And yes, those connectors are good. The PAS disc needed a cable tie to keep it straight on my bike, but that's purely down to a chamfered bit on the shaft where the pedal crank sits.
     
  4. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    I've watched the fitting video and all seems straightforward. This is my third conversion, so I'm optimistic all will go well. I have to get the headset fixed first thobut. Hopefully tomorrow.
     
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  5. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    Not much to report, except I found the 700 x 35 Marathon Plus & fitted it to the front wheel. I've ordered an expander cap for the front fork instead of having a shop fix the star nut.

    I don't want to go to the trouble of fitting the kit when I can't ride the bike once it's ready. Hopefully the cap will arrive soon, so I can get a move on. I need the bike ready for the 27th and I'd rather have it ready long before then so I can have a few test rides and make the necessary tweaks.
     
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  6. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    OK, partial success!

    I managed to find time to fit the kit. I unwrapped the BGA battery which looks the part. I fitted the mounting and the battery fits just fine.

    I'd done most of the preparatory work; i.e. fitting the front wheel & brake levers, so it was just the wiring & PAS. Hmm... The battery's power cables looked a little short & so it proved to be, or at least for the solution I'm going to use. The controller box Panda supply really didn't inspire me with confidence as I fitted it. I doubt very much if it would withstand much rainfall, if any at all and the holes for the cables aren't really large enough. I decided instead on a rear saddle bag solution, BUT the power cables don't reach & I don't want to extend them to keep connections to a minimum.

    Anyway, the cabling went well & all fitted nicely into place on the frame. The front cable hanger is a nice touch. The easy-fit PAS went on easily enough and the pick up which I will probably glue in place given time. I switched on the battery once all the cables were in situ, turned the pedals and the front wheel turned. Success!

    I've ordered a largeish frame bag for the wiring to go into, hopefully that'll arrive in the morning so I can get the whole thing up and running.

    So, a glass half full morning's work. I know it all works and all that's needed now is some tidying up of the cables and slotting it all into the frame bag.

    Shame about that controller box, as the rest of the kit seems good quality.
     
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  7. rich_r

    rich_r Finding my (electric) wheels

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    Yes, I didn't think the controller box looked that waterproof -particularly as the only place I could fit it on my wife's bike was on the back of the upright, facing the tyre. But she doesn't intend on riding in the rain so it'll do for now. However the cables do actually fit in the cutouts (if you run two in each) and as my battery is on a rear rack, they're long enough. The excess from the motor and handlebar looms are just looped up in front of the rack and cable tied.

    I had to change a setting in the controller for it to pick up the PAS on mine, which is a bit odd. But it works a treat now.

    When I get a new battery I'll probably look at repositioning the controller and maybe running a bit of silicone round the box lid to make it more waterproof.
     
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  8. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    One thing I should add is that Jimmy at BGA did nothing wrong with his power cables; in fact they are the ideal length for Panda's controller box set up. They will fit nicely into the cut out I'll make in the frame bag. I'll bag up the controller just as an extra waterproofing measure.
     
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  9. Benjahmin

    Benjahmin Pedelecer

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    I also had doubts about the box, then the screw threads stripped. So I replaced it with one of these (from CPC, about £3.50 IIRC) comes with a gasketted lid and I drilled holes for standard 20mm cable glands with rubber seals. (You can see one on the front of the battery box). Made my own fixing bracket to suit. Plenty of room inside and easier to work with 'cause it's got straight sides.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    That's a really professional-looking bit of kit. I suspect my cabling will just be bundled up inside the frame bag.

    One thing I didn't mention was the expander cap to replace the star nut. It was fitted in minutes and has really done the job. £4 from Wiggle & my LBS wanted a minimum of £18 labour to fix the nut, so I'll call that a result.
     
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  11. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    Right, the frame bag arrived and I set to work on tidying up the cabling this morning. That was the work of a few minutes and then I drilled a few holes in the bottom of the bag to thread the cables through. Morrisons provide their bananas in nice, bubblewrap bags & I used one to protect the controller from the elements and minor bumps.

    Once it was all set up, I switched on the battery (a decent, proper rocker switch - thanks Jimmy) and turned the pedals. There was power at the wheel, but it was fighting against me. D'oh! I'd fitted the wheel the wrong way round. I had to refit the tyre to match the rotational direction and the torque arm. It didn't take long, but once all was done, I had run out of time.

    I've just now got back from the inaugural ride. I had it on the highest power setting and I had set the wheel size on the display correctly.

    Impressions:
    • It's a lot quieter than my EMate. I struggled to hear it on the road
    • It's smooth
    • It's not as fast as the Oxygen by quite a large margin. This doesn't surprise or disappoint me (much), as the bike is intended for a different purpose; i.e. a longer range tourer. It will get used on my commute from time to time though, I'm sure
    I'm going to be interested in seeing how far it'll go on a charge. Jimmy's 17Ah battery promises a very good range.

    The bike itself needs tweaking. The riding position isn't right & I need to adjust the saddle position and height. It's lacking a rear rack and I'll have to get a disc-specific one seeing as the rear brake is an Avid BB5. The Nexus hub's cable needs adjusting too, as it jumped a little in some gears.

    I'm pleased with it, yet a little disappointed at the speed, whatever I said up message. Whether that disappointment subsides once I tour on it is another matter.
     
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  12. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    Almost there!

    I swapped the bars over for something better suited to touring, although the stem is now a little long. I think I have another, shorter one in the parts bin somewhere. Trial & error...

    Panda wanted £25 for a throttle, but I found one on eBay for £10 & it works fine.

    The saddle has been adjusted and the pannier rack fitted, so it's ready but for the riding position.

    It's much easier to ride unpowered than the Oxygen I have. It's significantly lighter for a start and the tyres are much thinner and running at a higher pressure, which all help. That will be useful when the battery runs out and I have to pedal along unassisted on my longer rides.

    By the way, Tortec racks for disc brakes are the bee's knees! Simple to fit, light, easy to level and very sturdy.
     
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  13. D C

    D C Pedelecer

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    Maybe best to keep an eye on it in case it get's a bit hot with the extra insulation.
    Dave
     
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  14. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    Good point, I hadn't considered that...
     
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  15. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    I managed the commute of the bike today. 9.2 miles at an average speed of 16.6MPH. I had to do considerably more work than on the Oxygen, but I reckon if I keep the average speed down to 15MPH, that'd be ideal for a tourer.

    The lack of suspension will take some getting used to and I won't be off-roading on it, but it's a capable machine. I need to fit some bar ends to it - another hunt in the parts bin!

    Edit: Just got back from the ride home. I took a bridleway part of the way and still averaged 16MPH over 11 miles or so. I think I need to try out a pair of the 'bars I have in the garage. The MTB bars I'm using now are too straight. I'm hoping that goes some way to fixing the riding position.
     
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    #15 Warwick, Jul 14, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  16. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    I managed to feel the controller after a reasonably long ride and it was warm, but no more. No melting of the bag or anything like that.
     
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  17. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    So, the bars are now changed to some swept back, riser-type ones. That is soooo much better from a positional point of view. However, they are not straight and it was tricky trying to find a good spot for the throttle. In the end, I plumped for a position that's quite close to the left brake, but not quite close enough to push it without having to move my hand a little. A worthwhile compromise. (update: one final tweak of the bars & I think I'm there. Just done 10 miles on it over some undulating country roads & all seems well.)

    I've ordered a 22-tooth rear sprocket to lower the gearing on the Alfine hub. I'll be going up some hilly parts in August and will need some bump-friendly ratios. That should then be that, I hope.
     
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    #17 Warwick, Jul 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  18. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    Pah! I just loaded the bike up with my touring load & ping! one of the rear wheel spokes just broke! Very frustrating! I would take the Oxygen instead, but that's not much fun to pedal along unassisted. Plan B is to take my Birdy along instead.
     
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  19. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    Now the Oxygen has also gone belly up, today was time to sort out the Orbit. I thought about fitting a derailleur set up that used to be on the bike, but I couldn't find it in the garage! It's out there somewhere.

    Instead I decided to fit the SRAM Automatix-hubbed wheel I had on the Ridgeback I converted a while ago before the Woosh battery rack knackered. No cables required - simples! Except I forgot that that wheel is rim braked, the Alfine hub is disc braked. Luckily the cable from the Ridgeback was the perfect length for the Orbit and it was a simple swap once I had taken the rear v brake off the Ridgeback as well.

    It works and is better than nothing, but it's not ideal. The gearing is very high in the upper gear and rather too high from start off in the lower gear. There is a 40t chainring skulking in the garage and I really should go out and look for it to lower the gearing. We'll see how we get on on the commute in the morning.

    Update: I found & fitted the 40t chainring. That in itself was a challenge! A brief test ride proved that the gearing is now more friendly to my knees. I now spin out about 19MPH, but that's a small price to pay.
     
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    #19 Warwick, Aug 13, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  20. Warwick

    Warwick Pedelecer

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    So, an update:

    I haven't meaningfully touched the bike since my last post. The Automatix hub wasn't a good fit for my knees, so I tried fitting the derailleur set up, but realised the brakes didn't suit. So today I took the Alfine wheel into the LBS to get the broken spoke replaced and have the wheel trued. That'll get fitted as and when they get it done.

    On the electric front, I really didn't like the frame bag solution for the controller and wiring. I have a Topeak under-saddle bag that I inherited from another build that already has a hole cut in it for the wiring. It doesn't really fit under my saddle all that well, but it'll do. A workmate soldered up a new, longer set of cables to allow me to provide power to the controller - the ones Jimmy provided were too short for that location. I also got him to solder up the Kunteng bottom bracket PAS onto the Panda connector. (I don't know why those PASs aren't more popular, they really are a great and much neater solution.) I wired it all up, powered up the battery and all works as it should.

    I'll get the wheel back next week and fettle it all up and have it as a standby for the Oxygen. I think I have some 700C winter tyres in the garage somewhere and I'll have those ready for when the weather turns colder.
     
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    #20 Warwick, Oct 12, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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