Ladies Raleigh Voyager + TSDZ2 conversion story

BikeSnail

Pedelecer
Aug 6, 2021
32
8
Sixty miles in it’s time to share this conversion story.

REQUIREMENTS
I was looking for a bike with a step through frame to carry my toddler and some shopping up and down 15-20% inclines. Short trips to town, playground, some short country rides plus a 2 mile commute to work. All on mixed terrain (road, mud, gravel) in a very hilly town.

DECISION TO CONVERT
I could not find a suitable bike in the 1-1.5k price range. In the summer of 2021 step through frames with Performance Line engines for a 5.3 ft female seemed rare and eyewateringly expensive. Shopping in a sellers’ market was proving quite a frustration (e.g. “Pay deposit to have a test ride” Trek salesman said).

DONOR BIKE
Raleigh Voyager GLX 2008. Very comfortable ladies bike but with not the most appropriate specs (v brakes, no bottle cage mount). An extremely chipped frame, worn out front tire and broken shifter. Local mechanics were not eager to take the job on, especially when kiddo was mentioned (liability). But… I have been riding this bike for 12 years and find it very comfortable and feel sentimental about it. I also did not want to splash out on a new bike as we don’t have dry or theft-proof storage. Conversion with a mid-drive kit seemed like the best option.

MOTOR
TSDZ2 250W, no throttle, VLCD6 (£234, AliExpress) because of the torque sensor and less wiring. Essentially I was looking to have a natural cycle experience but be able to climb those massive hills with a lot of cargo.

BATTERY
UniPowerPack Mini Bottle Battery 36V 6Ah (£144, Aliexpress). ~200W is enough juice for my humble needs and the battery is light and small enough not to overwhelm the downtube. I did not want a rack battery as this would lead to balance and weight issues with toddler at the back.

BIKE PREP
As breaking is paramount with kiddie, I bought and installed Magura HS33 hydraulic rim brakes (£130 for a pair on Bikester). This was a large investment and worth more than the donor bike but the frame has no disc mounts so my choice was limited. For those who find this bike + specs combo odd, note that ladies bikes with disc brakes are extremely hard to come by. The closest to my needs would be a new TREK Verve 1EQ for £675 which is expensive and… currently unavailable. Anyhow, the new brakes are awesome and I have no regrets. I also purchased a new tire and shifter but I would count this as a bike maintenance and not conversion cost.

CHALLENGES

(1) The bottom bracket was stuck. I spent over £30 on tools but ended up removing the BB in my local repair shop for £15.

(2) Battery-engine connection kept coming undone. My husband bought some connectors with pigtails, shortened the cables and soldiered on a watertight & easy access plug system. It’s hiding inside the cable tidy on the small horizontal tube. Easy access means I can take it out of the tidy and disconnect the battery whenever I fancy. No need to cut shrink wrap or unwrap sticky electric tape.

(3) Fitting the motor alongside an URSUS Jumbo double kick stand had me head scratching. Kickstand is awesome and very much needed with toddler who likes to bounce up and down (Jelly on a plate! Jelly on a plate!), but I had to rejig the motor mounting plate to fit it all in. Currently the mounting bracket pushes against the kickstand but is not bolted to the frame. Time will tell if this works in the long term or whether I need to modify further. I keep checking the bolts after every ride.

(4) The cable guide at the bottom of the frame had to go. I unscrewed it and the cable now resides in a narrow gap between the motor and the frame. It has nowhere to go and sits snugly in its place — I hope this will be alright in the long term.

(5) I was seriously scared of drilling the downtube for the battery mount but in the end this wasn’t that hard, especially using new and sharp drill bits for the job. Slight curve to the tube was a non issue. After drilling 3 x 7mm holes I installed M5 rivet nuts using some simple tools (see YouTube installation hacks). While the rivet nuts are firm they do look a bit ugly and misshapen (I can live with that). I might have overtightened them or messed up in some other way. Oh, If you’re drilling a bike at home put some plastic underneath the bike & vacuum well after. I got an aluminium splinter in my foot 24 hours later — not fun!

(6) The left crank arm came undone twice so far, and I’m now moving onto a better hex key and some Loctite. Time will tell if this helps resolve the issue.

RIDE
I love my new bike! It eats 10-20% inclines like candy. It’s quite heavy but the balance is excellent. The tweaking & testing has taken 2 weeks so far and I might take another week before riding with the sprog.

FUTURE
I’d like to address the black spots eaten by (now removed) rust on my stanchions. Once that has been dealt with a local enamelling company will do a sand blast and powder coat for £90.

What colour should i get? :D

7F5F35B6-2810-41CE-AA4A-725771414184.jpeg

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Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
14,661
5,681
58
West Sx RH
Bloody marvellous and a good job, new bikes aren't always the way to go.
A good choice with the brakes though quite dear they are well worth having over std cable pull rims brakes.

Deep lilac for a wild choice but the world is your oyster.
 
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Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
14,661
5,681
58
West Sx RH
The use of a small battery is ideal for local stuff and for about 20 miles, it's certainly worth having the lighter weight if it meets all your needs.
 
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BikeSnail

Pedelecer
Aug 6, 2021
32
8
The use of a small battery is ideal for local stuff and for about 20 miles, it's certainly worth having the lighter weight if it meets all your needs.
Thanks, I agree. Worse case scenario I can buy a second one for longer trips and carry it in the pannier bag but at this stage of family life I doubt I will need one for a while.

The key barrier to cycling here was my nemesis hill from city center to home - 1 km of 10% average incline with a 17% bit. I reckon a fully charged battery will allow me to climb it around 4-5 times at least, which is plenty.
 
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Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
14,661
5,681
58
West Sx RH
I have started to use smaller batteries as well.
My town bike is 12s 2p 6ah (264wh) and my gravel bike I can use a pair of 7s 3p 8.7ah(208wh), the spare I an carry in the seat pack.

I still have my Boardman cx for longer rides of 160k for which I have more wh.
 
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