How much water/abuse can an ebike handle?

flipsypaw

Finding my (electric) wheels
Oct 28, 2015
11
1
Australia
Hi all, we are planning to ride the Munda Biddi south bound ( Western Australia) with an e-bike. We will come across sandy path, water logged roads, fine gravel etc. this makes me wonder how much water can these bike resist. I did this off road MTB track North Bound already with a "normal" MTB. So I know that the bikes have to be able to withstand lots of abuse. Not only carrying 20kg + gear, heat and only every 2 days a town to charge the batteries. Soooo have you had to push/ cycle your bike trough a big muddy puddle of water and your electrics are still in great working order? How much abuse had your poor -bike been exposed to and still survived the trip? Thanks
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
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The better integrated crank drive motor units are the best for water resistance, especially when pedelec controlled. I've ridden a Panasonic crank unit through deep water with the whole unit submerged suffering no ill-effects then or later, though my feet got a soaking.

Hub motor e-bikes in general tend to be more vulnerable due the many interconnections between the scattered components of controller and battery, and with throttle control, the control itself and the brake cutout switches. If using a hub motor bike for this I'd spend time in advance ensuring all the vulnerable points are waterproofed as much as possible. Don't fully seal the controller box though since that could suffer from trapped water and condensation, so leave any low down vent open. Any especially vulnerable part can benefit from rigging a deflector plate to prevent road spray soaking them.
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flipsypaw

Finding my (electric) wheels
Oct 28, 2015
11
1
Australia
Thank you flecc. Surprising that the crank drive is the better choice since I believe it's located at the bottom of the bike? It will receive quite a bit of a beating from sticks, stones and tree roots. The housing must be strong to withstand all of it. What do you look for when choosing a good quality crank drive motor and housing? Will I have to build seal it myself to make sure it's waterproof? What brand do people recommend?
 

JohnCade

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 16, 2014
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Any of the main ones like Bosch or Kalkhoff Impulse or Yamaha will do the job. Most MBs have the Yamaha or Bosch, and only the Focus which is the MB sister Kalkhoff brand uses the Impulse as far a I know. Look up the off road thread here. Eddie PJ posts about his rides with a Bosch powered bike and he is a genuine mud plugger.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
46,108
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Thank you flecc. Surprising that the crank drive is the better choice since I believe it's located at the bottom of the bike? It will receive quite a bit of a beating from sticks, stones and tree roots. The housing must be strong to withstand all of it. What do you look for when choosing a good quality crank drive motor and housing? Will I have to build seal it myself to make sure it's waterproof? What brand do people recommend?
You won't have to seal a good one yourself, and John Cade has mentioned three of the best above. Here's a photo of one of the Panasonic crank unit motors, showing its robust cast alloy crankcase which contains all the electrics bar the handlebar unit and battery:

 

EddiePJ

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jul 7, 2013
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I've never wanted to submerge mine to find out, but it would probably pay to water proof the connection blocks that go onto the motor.
More of a concern long term, would be the bearings throughout the bike, and also the chain. Mid/crank drives are pretty hard on chains when used off road. The sand and water mix, is not going to be a good combination, and will increase this wear quite significantly. Also in the case of the Bosch system, water and mud collect at the bottom of the battery mount, which creates a swimming pool of sludge, and plenty of error codes. Bosch haven't exactly given the e-mtb side of things much thought in that respect.

If opting for crank drive to take on a ride such as that which you are planning, I'd want either a motor such as the Yamaha with it's bigger front chain ring, and broader selection of gears, or if using a Bosch system, go for a 15 tooth front sprocket, and swap out the rear cassette for one that has a 42tooth sprocket. These things aren't pleasant to ride off road unassisted with no motor, and you will want all the help that you can get in lowering the gearing.











I can also confirm that hub drive motors do not like wet muddy conditions, and definitely won't cope with the conditions that you are planning to ride in. Shame though, as I much prefer them.

 
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flipsypaw

Finding my (electric) wheels
Oct 28, 2015
11
1
Australia
Thanks for the pics EddiePJ, your e-bikes have been tested the hard way :)
Yep sand and water, not a good combination it's like sandpaper and chaffs happily away on every part it can get to. You are driving a BH Emotion at the moment right? It seems, following your entries at Pedelecs that it's holding up quite well? Seems like the hub motors are a no goer and that will shorten my choices quite a bit. Also Australia is still in their nappies when it comes to e-bike technology :( but have been catching up in last few years a bit. I have been following it but I am a newbie in this field too. This is on my first trip more mud then sand
P7120052.JPG P7120053.JPG
I am told it will be sandier the further South I am traveling.....
And of course it has to carry a full load of gear too

P7110026 (800x600).jpg

I've been looking at the Bafang 8fun motor 350watt too (which is available in November, here) but as you said it will take quite a toll on the chain.:( and I don't think it can handle the heavy load. The bike in the photos is the one I am thinking of using to convert but with my inexperience I might have to look at one already converted? Money of course is an issue too and the longer I wait the cheaper the bikes will get, the more advanced the batteries will be. I am rearing to go though and need to test the bike out, knowing how to fix it when things go wrong as much as I can before the planned trip. Can't do much on my MTB anymore as my stuffed up knee will not let me.:mad:
 

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Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
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Flipsy another member of the forum is down under and goes trekking/touring for days on end, I think he has BBS, on here he goes by the name of Aushiker.
The 350 BBS is very good bit of kit and robust.
 

flipsypaw

Finding my (electric) wheels
Oct 28, 2015
11
1
Australia
Flipsy another member of the forum is down under and goes trekking/touring for days on end, I think he has BBS, on here he goes by the name of Aushiker.
The 350 BBS is very good bit of kit and robust.

:D I heard of him in another Forum LOL small world this is...... but I did not realize he has converted to e-bikes.
 

EddiePJ

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Jul 7, 2013
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edit to my above post. I shouldn't have generalised about hub motors, and should have just put that the BH supplied hub motor didn't like the UK's wet and muddy winter conditions.

Ref the review of the Macina Lycan, I carried out a brief one a long time back, but really need to update it. Note to self. :)
 

Tomtomato

Esteemed Pedelecer
Apr 28, 2015
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Any of the main ones like Bosch or Kalkhoff Impulse or Yamaha will do the job.
On my Kalkhoff Impulse 2 bike, I think the bottom of the motor could survive being in water for a short time (seems to be well sealed). However, any water above the pedal axle would create some serious issues (various electric connectors, bottom of the battery etc).
 

JohnCade

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 16, 2014
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On my Kalkhoff Impulse 2 bike, I think the bottom of the motor could survive being in water for a short time (seems to be well sealed). However, any water above the pedal axle would create some serious issues (various electric connectors, bottom of the battery etc).
I don’t think anyone would advocate using one as a semi submersible. I was referring to any of the usual higher end bikes doing a job for the OP on wet and muddy trails, not riding in rivers; though flecc says he got his Panasonic submerged once I doubt if he would want to do it too often.

OP, if bikes like the KTM are very expensive where you are you could take up the suggestion by someone above and buy a BBS 01 or the higher powered version from China and fit it to your existing bike. People use them in all weathers and some off road in mud, so with a little attention to waterproofing it would probably be fine for you.
 
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Kinninvie

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 5, 2013
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Teesdale,England
I regularly ride my BBS02 through fords and streams where the motor is completely underwater and have never had a problem in over 3000 miles.
Its completely standard and has never been opened up.
 
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flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
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though flecc says he got his Panasonic submerged once I doubt if he would want to do it too often.
If only because my soaking wet feet were freezing for the rest of the ride home. It was 7 degrees C that day but to my tootsies it felt like minus 7 then!
.
 
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flipsypaw

Finding my (electric) wheels
Oct 28, 2015
11
1
Australia
Looks like a BBS02 is the go. Will do bit more searching and lurching on forums before I make my mind up. I do like the sound of those little motors though. Thanks very much for all the input. Oh and no I do not intend to submerge the bike under water if not truly necessary to get home/going on. I am not intending to swim with the bike either..... :p UK has way more rain then we ever see here in a lifetime ;) but when it rains it comes down like standing under a waterfall, fully wet in seconds, so the roads cannot cope and they turn into a river.
 

Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
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The BBS02 is 500w or 750w and illegal in Aus I believe so be careful if you don't want the bizzies (cops) fining you if your stopped. The BBS01 comes in 250/350 &500w, the most sensible option is to mod a 250w one with a programming lead to 18a then it becomes a 350w as they are identical except the amp rating .
 

flipsypaw

Finding my (electric) wheels
Oct 28, 2015
11
1
Australia
The BBS02 is 500w or 750w and illegal in Aus I believe so be careful if you don't want the bizzies (cops) fining you if your stopped. The BBS01 comes in 250/350 &500w, the most sensible option is to mod a 250w one with a programming lead to 18a then it becomes a 350w as they are identical except the amp rating .
Thanks for the heads up Nealh. Maybe 750w is a bit too fast for me anyway was more leaning towards the 350w which is the BBS01? Shows I have not done enough research yet. :confused: I am aware of the legal requirements here I don't see the coppers targeting a middle aged woman unless I Zip past them full speed Yehaaaa! :p
I am more afraid of having an accident with an illegal road e-bike as this can lead to a nightmare I will never wake up. It's dangerous enough to be on the road with a bike in the first place that's way I prefer MTB trips. Bushland, unsealed single track roads, only eyes on the road ahead not having to watch the idiots on my back, side and front. Love the "wild" outdoors :D