Heresy or 2-Wheeled Bliss? - A tale of two E- Bikes

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by JDUBinCO, Sep 28, 2021.

  1. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    I don't know if this goes best here or in another Forum, but the Electric Bike thread seems to be mostly bike-shop bikes. I think this tale involves enough zip ties to warrant a spot here.

    First, be warned, this is not about perfection - its about getting the job done where the sum of the parts is greater than they have any right to be.

    If my work space grosses you out then you should probably not continue reading.
    upload_2021-9-28_13-52-35.png
    I intentionally made the picture small so you can't zoom in on details to criticize me.
    We'll cover the basics - who, what, where, when, why and how.
    Who? Well me, duh. I look a lot like my avatar except with a beard. The story also involves my wife. I have no idea why she married my ugly and balding self but she did and I'm eternally grateful for her patience and love! I try to keep personal details fuzzy because Facebook is creepy.

    Where? Mostly pictured above. I have a make-shift bike stand in there. But also lots of trail testing will be completed in this saga.

    When? Mostly between the hours of 10pm and 1am, 2019 to now and hopefully for a long time into the future.

    Why? Cause when it comes to wheels, 2 > 4 and motors are better than pedals but motors + pedals might be better than just motors. Maybe. We'll see. More on that to come.

    How? That's what this thread is all about.
    #1
  2. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    Lets go back to the why of this all...

    For about 10 years I've been dreaming of an electric bike kit that would augment the pedaling experience. Why? - I live in suburbia around Denver and have mountains within 30 minutes with tons of mountain bike trails but not many dirt bike trails. I LOVE dirt biking but didn't get out as much as I wanted because its an all-day affair. What if you could hoon your local bike park, session the elementary school staircase, and bomb around the neighborhood in near silence while looking like a mountain bike? Since I am a desk jockey, a husband, and a dad of young kids, the training time to become superman is just not there. Additionally, my wife likes riding and I like riding with her! I commuted to work when the weather permitted and stayed in reasonable shape but massive back country rides were always out of reach. I always thought that an electric bike would let us ride together as a performance equalizer.

    Why an e-bike? I tried MrsJDUB out on the dirt bike and it was just not her bag. An E-bike is quiet, rideable locally, we can use it to tow the kiddos in a trailer, and it can do commuter duty for me.

    About 8(?) years ago Bafang brought the BBS-01 to the market and the reports were that it was a great concept but fragile. Bafang followed it up with the BBS-02 that was rumored to be more robust but you could still fry the controller. About 5 years ago they came out with the BBS-HD. HD meaning Heavy Duty. Like 1,500 watts Heavy Duty - that's 2 horsepower This was found to be robust, with a great lifespan, good design, high tolerance for heat, and massive torque. Like 160 nm / 118 ft-lbs torque! 1500 watts is like have 3.5 Lance Armstrongs between your legs. :scratch:photog

    About 2 years ago I ordered 2 full kits from Luna cycle on their Black Friday sale. This included motor with included controller, Luna's Wolf battery pack, 42T aluminum sprocket, shift sensors, wiring, etc. I paid about $1,250 each.

    The kit came in a week earlier in a box that was made for Youtube unboxing stardom and I got to work in the living room in December. 8 hours later I had converted my Maverick ML7 and my wife's Santa Cruz Heckler into e-bikes.

    I just happened to get lucky in ordering the ebike kit for these bikes because there are very few full suspension e-bikes that can really support the BBSHD without deal-killing compromises. In case you don't know about bikes, Santa Cuz and Maverick are both boutique brands that make/made performance oriented bike for the discerning client. Both bikes were made around 2004, and at the time, were some of the top bikes available in the market. To some, electrifying these rider-focused pedal machines is HERESY.

    Here's what we ended up with

    upload_2019-12-27_16-29-51.png
    upload_2019-12-27_16-36-10.png

    End of story? Well not quite. Read on...
    #2
  3. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    On the first ride, my very skeptical wife began to pedal and the bike popped a wheelie and took off.
    She was a bit upset - I had ruined her bike and made it an out-of-control motorcycle!

    It turns out that the factory programming is bad, like really bad, especially for stop and start pedaling. In motorcycle terms, it pops the clutch and revs the engine, tearing off uncontrollably. Fortunately, I had ordered the programming cable. One of the advantages of the Bafang motors is they are open source and you can re-program them, even to the point that you can kill the controller.
    So I open the programming software and I'm greeted with a message stating that using this software will void my warranty. Well crap. I made it this far and it sucks because its too powerful and jerky. I click OK and download per some directions I found online, called "Karl's Secret Sauce" :hmmmmm I dunno about that name.

    Finish up the programming and it doesn't suck, but its not great. Karl's wife might be disappointed.
    #3
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  4. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    I bought the cheaper 5-levels of assist display. Here's the factory settings, where we got levels 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 9 as 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and a 5.

    upload_2021-9-28_14-32-15.png
    I go through about 20 iterations on the programming and finally end up with something that rolls the power on slow but strong. The Bafang has Pedal AssiSt (PAS) but it's not smart. It just has a sensor that senses you are pedaling and then applies the amount of power its programmed to give. The right amount of power for pedaling around the neighborhood is about 15% - 20% and conquering the Rocky Mountains happens at 60% - 70%. At 100% power your drivetrain is holding on for dear life and without pedaling the bikes will hit 33 mph on flats.
    PERFECT!!!
    #4
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  5. sruss67

    sruss67 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Devonport, Tasmania, Australia
    Thanks for the story behind your bikes and your riding.
    The Santa Cruz and Maverick come from a fantastic era of bicycles and are indeed still great bikes.
    Nice work on figuring out the programming of the PAS system, sure sounds tricky.
    I was working in the bicycle industry when the first mass-produced Specialized PAS bicycles were released, they were a hoot to ride :)
    Enjoy
    #5
  6. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    After a few rides a problem shows up and you likely already spotted it - my eyes were optimistic about the space between the wheel and battery and not only was the tire contacting, it was rapidly eating into the casing of a very expensive battery.
    Its not really a thing in the mtb industry to space the fork away from the frame. I think they call that the stack height and I was about to mess with it. I searched high and low and found nothing until I located a spacer that would press into the head tube. It was made to go above the frame to raise the handlebars but I was going to put it below. Santa Cruz is known as a beefy frame builder and I'm going to add a piece of metal made with aluminum alloyed with Chineseium and butter into the highest load area. Will it hold or fold like a flip-flop sending her lovely face into the pavement??
    upload_2021-9-28_14-54-22.png

    Spoiler alert - 2 years later and still going strong! Its still on my list of things to change but her petite figure and sensible riding style have surely added to the safety factor!
    #6
  7. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    The good news is that the fix worked and there's no more contact between the tire and the battery.

    Now onto the issues with the Maverick. Maverick's designer (Paul Turner, BTW, who founded RockShox and then founded Maverick) designed the crank-to-frame interface, known as the bottom bracket, to be a link, floating between the front triangle and the rear triangle but also held up by the rear shock. This puts pedaling-induced moment into the frame and resists pedal bob. **Huh?**
    Its physics Einstein, for every action there's a reaction.

    upload_2021-9-28_15-10-11.png
    Laymans terms: When you pedal down it pushes up (red) and keeps the riders effort from being wasted on bobbing the suspension up and down. Mavericks were known to be very efficient pedaling bikes.

    Clever! Right? Well not so clever when you put 2 hp through the drivetrain!
    See blue arrows. More force through the crank nearly locked out the rear suspension.
    I thought this might happen and this wasn't terrible because when hill climbing I was usually going slow and didn't need much suspension. When I pointed the tires downhill there was not power needed from the motor so the suspension worked as intended. But when using this bike as a high power bicycle or motorcycle on bumpy cross-country terrain the suspension doesn't move.
    More issues to come...
    #7
  8. mentolio

    mentolio King of the island of unwanted toys...

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,493
    I’m not a bicycle guy…at all…but I like your ingenuity and your writing style, so I’m in!
    #8
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  9. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    It didn't take long until I noticed a strange pop or two and noticed that I was breaking spoke nipples - front and rear! The extra weight of stopping the extra mass was breaking the front nipples and the torque from the motor was breaking the rear spoke nipples. I ordered a box of DT alloy nipples and started replacing them as they broke. Not being the most affluent buyer, I figured out how to true my wheels pretty well without a truing stand.
    Here's the procedure:
    1. Don't remove wheel from bike!
    2. Spin wheel really fast while holding sidewalk chalk against a stationary point on the frame until you come in contact with the wheel.
    3. Allow sidewalk chalk to mark the rim a few times to indicate high point.
    4. Stop wheel
    5. Tighten/loosen spokes as needed to bring wheel into true.
    6. Repeat steps 2-5 working the high spots down until there's a livable amount of wobble. :jack

    This wouldn't fly for a road bike or a bike with rim brakes but for my application it was fine.

    The final solution to this spoke breaking dilemma was two-fold. On the front wheel all the spokes had too much tension. I backed them all off 1/4 turn and no more broken spokes! On the rear wheel I picked up another Heckler or Craigslist for my daughter. It had been built for all mountain riding and was really beefy. I gave her my rear wheel and took the all-mountain wheel from it. I think it came from a Specialized Big Hit or Status. It has brass nipples so no more broken nipples!

    I also swapped my wife's old Fox Talas fork with 34mm sanctions for the Fox 36 with 160mm travel. Win-win! My daughter gets a lighter bike and sufficient fork and my wife get a beefy fork with lots of travel.
    Of note, when I switched my wife to the Fox 36 I also got her Shimano Zee 4-piston brakes and 203mm rotors and she immediately started riding better and with more confidence. Better brakes and better suspension with vastly improved damping gave her a lot more confidence on the trails.

    But wait, I'm not done with problems on the Maverick...
    #9
  10. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    *Intermission*
    There's lots of problems noted, but no real riding mentioned. After I got the programming worked out we started working on progressively more challenging trails and the bikes performed AWESOME. In the first year of ownership we logged well over 1,000 miles, and many were off-road trail rides.
    Here's some of the highlights because TLDR and everyone has a bit of ADD.
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    #10
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  11. JDUBinCO

    JDUBinCO Q-bald

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    905
    Location:
    Centennial City of the Centennial State
    Next up on the list of issues was the pivot bolts. The Maverick was a pure-bred cross-country race bike, made to appease all weight weenies. As such, they designed a big-bearing rear shock linkage that was great for durability until i put 2 hp though the frame! (This is a reoccurring theme :dhorse)

    This pivot bolt is hollow and as light as angel farts but no bueno for extra power. Mine sheared right where its machined down for the first thread.
    upload_2021-10-4_15-21-23.png

    Going back to that hideous man-cave, I found a set of long bolts. The donor? A swing set!:stfu

    I cinched down the hollow pivot bolt to the torque spec and then ran the long-skinny bolts through the center to create a steel reinforcement. So far this solution has held up!

    Before some ape in a garage vandalized this poor bike it had cool hollow bolts made of aluminum.
    upload_2021-10-4_15-39-45.png

    After said ape finished with it (red arrows). Alloy pivot bolts + steel bolts = stronger alloy (right?) :fpalm
    upload_2021-10-4_15-49-14.png

    In the red circle is where the rear triangle is bolted to the shock body and structural member.

    These two small bolts kept backing out, in spite of thread locker, again, 2 hp was not the design intent. This design "flaw" was later remedied with a welded rear triangle in the next iteration of this frame design but for me it would ultimately be the demise of this bike when these bolts both sheared off about a month ago.

    Attached Files:

    #11