Giant Lafree problems

tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
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#1
My Giant Lafree is showing signs of age. The bike has done about 15 to 18 thousand miles over the last 6 years. Just took the bike in for a service as the chain is not running smoothly. I have been told that the front sprocket is showing a lot of wear. The bike shop is not sure what the part is, but will 'phone Giant tomorrow. Does anyone know whether Giant will be able to supply a replacement and if so, at what cost?
 

Tim

Pedelecer
Nov 1, 2006
770
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28
London
#2
My Giant Lafree is showing signs of age. The bike has done about 15 to 18 thousand miles over the last 6 years. Just took the bike in for a service as the chain is not running smoothly. I have been told that the front sprocket is showing a lot of wear. The bike shop is not sure what the part is, but will 'phone Giant tomorrow. Does anyone know whether Giant will be able to supply a replacement and if so, at what cost?
atob.org.uk now supply Giant Lafree motor sprockets that are supposed to be longer-lasting than the originals (and half the price)

A to B magazine, folding bikes, electric bicycles, trailers, sister publication to Miniature Railway magazine

they've given the website a major overhaul lately.
 
Oct 25, 2006
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#3
As Tim says, the A to B motor sprockets are the best bet, but if the chainwheel is worn as well, Giant do have those as spares.
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tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
299
0
16
#4
atob.org.uk now supply Giant Lafree motor sprockets that are supposed to be longer-lasting than the originals (and half the price)

A to B magazine, folding bikes, electric bicycles, trailers, sister publication to Miniature Railway magazine

they've given the website a major overhaul lately.
Thanks Tim, looks very useful but I don't think that this is the part that the bike shop said was worn. I think it was a chainwheel. I left the bike with them overnight, so cannot check. The motor sprocket may be worn as well though.

I have not seen the wear - does it sound reasonable that these parts will need replacing after 15,000-18,000 miles? I must admit that I have not taken huge amounts of care with the chains, just replaced them once per year.
 

tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
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#5
Hi Tony,

I think our posts crossed!

Is it worth getting my Lafree repaired, or should I seriously consider a replacement? I use the bike every day for commuting to work. I guess I want to know how long I can expect the frame to last or the expensive motor unit? I upgraded to a Shimano Nexus 8 speed hub years ago and from what I have read these are expected to out-last aluminium frames!
 
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Oct 25, 2006
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The motor sprocket is very likely to be worn, and a new chain won't run well on the old one. It's definitely worth replacing all three, chainwheel, motor sprocket, hub gear sprocket, as well as the chain to get them to run well together.

Your frame should last practically for ever, the question mark is always the motor unit. Some of them have run ever since first introduced in 2001, while others have developed the odd unrepairable fault after a few years, it really is a matter of luck.

I think the best bet is to replace the chain and sprockets which is not too expensive and just carry on in the hope that you'll get enough further life to justify that moderate expenditure. Then if you do get a more serious failure it could be time to start afresh with one of the later bikes and enjoy the added features like the high power mode and longer range.
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tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
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#7
Thanks for your reassuring advice Tony. I will replace all the sprockets and the chain as you advise. If the motor packs up I will sell off the bike for bits on ebay.

I have found a reasonably priced supplier of 9Ah NiMH cell packs now, so do not have a reason to replace the bike on that front.

component-shop.co.uk made me up a pack of the correct 7/6/7 dimensions for £125 including delivery. So far results look as good as the Giant 9Ah pack I bought for £250 a few years ago. My watt meter is telling me I am getting about 7.8-8Ah out of it before the red lights come on. This gets me about 20 miles with the power turned on all of the time. Only through 4 charge/discharge cycles so far though.
 
Oct 25, 2006
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That's good news on the battery pack, I'll add that information to my Panasonic website since it may help others.

Most NiMh supplies now are not as good as they were once, so even if it under-performs, the price is still good.
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tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
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#9
The bike shop I took my Giant Twist into seemed a bit reluctant to carry out the sprocket replacement for me. I just think the unfamiliarity unnerved them. They referred me to the Electric Transport Shop in Camden, but they only seem to be open 3 days a week.

Can anyone recommend a bike shop in London for this work? I live in Clapham, but don’t mind taking the bike into the centre or a bit north.

Alternatively, Flecc’s excellent site gives instructions on how to do this which do not seem to onerous, so I may have a go myself. Does anyone have the precise part number for the chainwheel? I would need to go to a bike shop to order the part as Giant never seem to want to talk directly to customers, so it would be good to get this exactly right.
 
Oct 25, 2006
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#10
There's motor sprocket change instructions on my site for the newer Panasonic as on the Kalkhoffs, but that's for the nine tooth modern sprocket. Details are similar though.

This illustration of the older unit shows the 14 tooth sprocket on the Lafree, together with the circlip removal tool in use on the chainwheel.

I don't have a part number on the chainwheel, but Giant only ever had the 37 tooth Lafree one, so as long as the Lafree Twist Lite model is specified you will get the right part. If you get any difficulty getting that, let me know. This link will locate your nearest Giant e-bike dealer to order the part, just enter your postcode and tick the "Hybrid" option below, then click Search:

Giant Dealer Page

Can't see any e-dealers in London though, so instead enter "London" for the location and tick the "Road Composite" option which will show you five handy dealers, some not far from Clapham.

If tackling the job yourself, the only difficulty is the cowlings, they come off ok but seem to be a different size when you try to get them back on! A bit of persistence and jiggling wins in the end though.
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tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
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16
#11
Thanks again Tony. I think I will tackle this myself once I check out all the tools I need and can find some time! Need a quiet weekend.

Is any maintenance required with a Shimano Nexus 8 hub? I will clean up the outside etc, but do I need to add any oil or grease anywhere? I thought that I read somewhere a few years ago that they should be left alone as adding oil can dilute the grease or something like that.
 
Oct 25, 2006
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#12
They can be opened up and regreased, the frequency depending on usage, maybe every two years with heavy use, but most users don't bother. Oil could be used, but it's more suited to the type of gear hub where it can be dripped in though a spindle entry from time to time at greater frequency. Greasing is better for longer intervals, but I don't know of any specific recommendations on the Shimano 8 types.
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PaulC

Finding my (electric) wheels
Sep 12, 2007
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#13
If a Nexus internal hub on a Giant LaFree benefits from regreasing every 2 years (if it is heavily used), does the same apply to a SRAM (Sachs) P5 hub on a Giant LaFree?
Paul
 
Oct 25, 2006
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#14
If a Nexus internal hub on a Giant LaFree benefits from regreasing every 2 years (if it is heavily used), does the same apply to a SRAM (Sachs) P5 hub on a Giant LaFree?
Paul
That couple of years is a general advice on hub gears Paul, so yes. Having said that, I've used the P5 hubs long term and have never stripped them. All I've done every couple of years is use a few drops only of medium oil dripped into the spindle entry after removing the shifter box by releasing it's rear screw and withdrawing the rod and sleeve.

N.B. Locate the twistgrip shifter into gear 2 before removing shifter box and replace the rods in that position also. With re-assembly complete, position the twistgrip shifter into gear 3 and realign the indicator lines in the clickbox window by adjusting the cable.
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tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
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#15
Step 1 of my Lafree drive train replacement is complete - replacement of the drive sprocket. Went fairly easily. The old one does not look that bad to me, but the chainring looks incredibly treacherous. I accidentally spiked myself when when cleaning with muc off.

I think the next bit must be that chainring, but how do I take the crank off? I removed what I thought was the retaining nut but cannot see what to do next. Is it just very stiff?
 
Oct 25, 2006
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#16
It's very tight taper fit and you need a crank extractor tool Tangent, from any decent bike shop. The details and how to use the tool with photos are at the top of this webpage on my Panasonic website.

You only need the section down to removing the cowling of course.
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tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
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16
#17
Crank removal tool - great, thanks Tony. I should read your site more carefully! I managed to get wriggle the cowling off without removing the crank. This allowed me to change the motor sprocket. I have not got a chainwheel yet as I wanted to see how bad the existing one was first. It clearly needs to be replaced.

Another trip to Halfords then. I need to go back anyway because I only bought one chain. I should have realised a standard length chain would be too short! I bought a 1/8" single speed/BMX Ta Ya chain, boasting tensile strength over 10,000N. I hope this is suitable. It seemed the best match from Halfords.
 
Oct 25, 2006
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#18
That chain will be fine, but as you say, you need two. Keep the cut off unused part as it will be ready for the next time them. Too late now, but buying a chain from an independent bike shop can sometimes enable you to get given an extra bit of chain from their cut-offs, left over when they fit chains.
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tangent

Finding my (electric) wheels
Mar 7, 2010
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#19
I think I may have found the problem with the chain clunking - there is a roller missing from one chain links. There is just a rivet without the roller. I wonder if this is likely to have increased the sprocket wear - the chain has been on for about 1 year for over 3000 miles.
 
Oct 25, 2006
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#20
These rollers can fracture off sometimes, and it will have increased sprocket wear. It's unusual for one of these Panasonic chainwheels to be badly worn at only 3000 miles, though the smaller sprockets and the chain can easily wear out in that distance.
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