Front hub conversion on vintage delivery bike. Battery suggestions and best motor query

Rocket Raccoon

Pedelecer
Feb 10, 2020
33
6
Hi. I am UK based and have recently purchased a vintage delivery bike for retoration and conversion to ebike for shopping trips and general road use. As I want the conversion to be as inconspicuouse as possible, current plans are to mount the battery pack and controller under / in the bottom of, the front mounted basket and fit the most powerful Bafang 250w front hub motor I can sensibly use as its a heavy bike. (Will be converting the front brakes to cable disc probably) Battery query is where to buy a suitable battery (a flatish rectangular pack would make most sense - suggested Ah I would need for intended use?)
Most suitable hub motor?
Thanks!
 

sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
3,063
2,308
One or more pictures of the bike would help; people may pick up potential issues they wouldn't think of otherwise. Also a bit more about how you plan to use it; how hilly it is around your way, how fit you are, weight of cargo, etc.

A BPM front might be a suitable motor. Look at https://wooshbikes.co.uk/?hubkits and search down to 'WHICH MOTOR?' for some information on various ones. Doesn't show as available on their online shop, though.

You probably won't be doing large mileage, so you might not need a high capacity (watt hours) battery. You may want quite a bit of oomph so you probably need a battery capable of supplying a decent current (amps) without suffering.
 

Rocket Raccoon

Pedelecer
Feb 10, 2020
33
6
One or more pictures of the bike would help; people may pick up potential issues they wouldn't think of otherwise. Also a bit more about how you plan to use it; how hilly it is around your way, how fit you are, weight of cargo, etc.

A BPM front might be a suitable motor. Look at https://wooshbikes.co.uk/?hubkits and search down to 'WHICH MOTOR?' for some information on various ones. Doesn't show as available on their online shop, though.

You probably won't be doing large mileage, so you might not need a high capacity (watt hours) battery. You may want quite a bit of oomph so you probably need a battery capable of supplying a decent current (amps) without suffering.
20220611_105629.jpg
 

Rocket Raccoon

Pedelecer
Feb 10, 2020
33
6
So there is lots of patina! - which is the look I want, but the frame and forks are sound. Wheels will be replaced and laced to a front hub motor and at the back I am thinking a geared hub with drum brake so as to keep the look as original as possible. Something like this: https://www.sturmey-archer.com/en/products/detail/rxl-rd5
I'm based in fairly flat NW Leicestershire so some moderate hills, pulling power needs to be as good as I can get though as I intend to use the bike for shopping trips etc. So yes, a battery pack that will allow heavy discharge makes sense but reasonable range too. Any suggestions?
 

sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
3,063
2,308
What size are the wheels? You may have difficulty getting a front wheel ready made up with motor of the right size, but perhaps you were thinking of building it yourself anyway?

If you fit a decent capacity battery under the front basket it is going to add a lot of weight on the front wheel. The bike geometry should be such that it can handle quite a bit of weight at the front, but the battery there will limit luggage weight. On the other hand, put it on the downtube or a back rack and it will destroy the look of the bike.

I suspect the bike was designed to be used at 6-8mph or so, with some daredevil butcher's boys taking it downhill much faster! You'll probably be going a lot quicker than that with a motor.

I'm not going to make any more specific suggestions about motor, battery etc as I could mislead you. I guess Nealh or a some other real expert will be along with suggestions.
 

Rocket Raccoon

Pedelecer
Feb 10, 2020
33
6
What size are the wheels? You may have difficulty getting a front wheel ready made up with motor of the right size, but perhaps you were thinking of building it yourself anyway?

If you fit a decent capacity battery under the front basket it is going to add a lot of weight on the front wheel. The bike geometry should be such that it can handle quite a bit of weight at the front, but the battery there will limit luggage weight. On the other hand, put it on the downtube or a back rack and it will destroy the look of the bike.

I suspect the bike was designed to be used at 6-8mph or so, with some daredevil butcher's boys taking it downhill much faster! You'll probably be going a lot quicker than that with a motor.

I'm not going to make any more specific suggestions about motor, battery etc as I could mislead you. I guess Nealh or a some other real expert will be along with suggestions.
Point taken on the weight, I considered hiding the battery behind a traditional sign in the frame triangle, but width might be an issue - opento suggestions. Re wheels, yes, plan is for two new rims laced to the drive and gear hubs.
 

Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
16,985
6,638
59
West Sx RH
I think the best thing is to get the bike road worthy first, then think about a kit. I know it means messing with the front wheel twice, though one can buy a built rim reasonably on ebay as used.
Pics of the fork drop out as the bike is old, it may even need new forks ?
 

Rocket Raccoon

Pedelecer
Feb 10, 2020
33
6
I think the best thing is to get the bike road worthy first, then think about a kit. I know it means messing with the front wheel twice, though one can buy a built rim reasonably on ebay as used.
Pics of the fork drop out as the bike is old, it may even need new forks ?
Will certainly be checking over and replacing/remanufacturing anything that needs it including brakes, bearings and frame/fork elements that need it.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
50,674
28,507
I used to ride one of these on Saturdays as an 11 year old in the 1940s, delivering weekend joints and collecting the money for the local butcher. This style of trade bike always had 26" wheels. The BPM motor that sjpt mentioned would be a good powerful front wheel choice, but the battery should definitely go onto a rear rack to give better weight balance. Those high front goods baskets do make them a bit unstable when loaded.

Weekdays I used to ride a very different trade bike delivering newspapers. That had a small front wheel with a flat goods platform just above, on which the papers were stacked.

How I would have loved to have motors on those two in hilly Bournemouth.
.
 

saneagle

Pedelecer
Oct 10, 2010
135
18
Telford
Your front brake won't work with any standard kit. You need a special rim and it's a special size too. It will be the same for the back wheel too.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
50,674
28,507
Your front brake won't work with any standard kit. You need a special rim and it's a special size too. It will be the same for the back wheel too.
The OP has said he will convert to new rims and brakes, a front hub motor with disc brake and if possible, a combined hub gear and brake for the rear wheel.
.
 

Rocket Raccoon

Pedelecer
Feb 10, 2020
33
6
Your front brake won't work with any standard kit. You need a special rim and it's a special size too. It will be the same for the back wheel too.
I am hoping to retain the original rod brake lever assemblies and couple to cable actuated disc on the front and drum on the rear. (Some additional bracket work behind the basket will be required.)
 

Rocket Raccoon

Pedelecer
Feb 10, 2020
33
6
I used to ride one of these on Saturdays as an 11 year old in the 1940s, delivering weekend joints and collecting the money for the local butcher. This style of trade bike always had 26" wheels. The BPM motor that sjpt mentioned would be a good powerful front wheel choice, but the battery should definitely go onto a rear rack to give better weight balance. Those high front goods baskets do make them a bit unstable when loaded.

Weekdays I used to ride a very different trade bike delivering newspapers. That had a small front wheel with a flat goods platform just above, on which the papers were stacked.

How I would have loved to have motors on those two in hilly Bournemouth.
.
I thought of a rack battery, but would be very obvious. Disguised with a pair of saddle bags maybe? In keeping?
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
50,674
28,507
I thought of a rack battery, but would be very obvious. Disguised with a pair of saddle bags maybe? In keeping?
Giant Bicycle in a model range intended for The Netherlands used slim twin pannier batteries which could have ordinary panniers superimposed to hide them.
.
 

Sturmey

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 26, 2018
286
129
65
Ireland
.....I think the best thing is to get the bike road worthy first, then think about a kit........
I agree 100% here. In particular, with old rusty frames, the seat post can be rusted into the seat tube, similarly handlebars quill rusted into forks, bottom bracket bearing shells rusted etc. Get these sorted (if necessary) first.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rocket Raccoon

Bonzo Banana

Esteemed Pedelecer
Sep 29, 2019
351
165
I've no suggestions to make on the build but hope you keep the thread up to date with progress and a few pictures. I've thought about making a shopping ebike out of a old post office pashley bike the type refurbished as Elephant bikes. So if one of them comes my way fairly cheap I will definitely be tempted to buy it. The patina is strong on that bike perhaps too strong. I have seen where people have pulled out on classic bikes from rivers and restored them, the high tensile steel is unbutted so thick in all areas and the corrosion is on the surface inside and out but still doesn't reduce strength that much. Same isn't true of classic road bikes with butted tubes where the thin butted sections can be seriously compromised in strength due to corrosion. It's always fantastic to see an old bike restored to use when we are in such a throwaway society.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rocket Raccoon