Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
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skestans   10 mW

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Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by skestans » Jul 19 2019 1:38am

I live in a rather hilly area (Switzerland) and want to build an e-bike that will provide some assist while I pedal: I don't want a moped but rather a "bionic legs" bike. I don't want to go super fast (25-35 km/h on flat is plenty) but I do have pretty steep hills (8-10% grade). I want disc brakes because of the potential high speeds + going down steep hills + rain/snow.

I'm not sure how realistic it is, but I'd like to get 50-75km of range. That sounds like a lot for a hub motor, but I'm considering the TSDZ2 and I'm hoping that if I pedal normally as I would on a non-powered bike then it would drastically improve the range? I also can't decide between 36 or 48V.

My budget is around 1500 EUR for bike + e-bike parts. I'll use the bike to commute, run errands (groceries, will add a rack and removable paniers), or go for a ride on the weekend to the lake or on a forest trail.

Because I don't want to feel like I'm riding a moped, I am considering the TSDZ2 mid-drive along with the 850c display and the OS firmware. The OS firmware is an amazing project that the geek in me loves, and I like how much control it gives over the performance and limits of the motor.

To manage my cash flow, I'd first buy and use the bicycle without a mid-drive. Then wait until 11.11 (singles day, huge sale in China apparently?) to order the battery and drive.

Now, Switzerland is expensive so I'm planning on buying the bike in Germany. From what I could find, a used bike in Switzerland costs as much or more than the same bike new in Germany. I'd rather ride the train for 45 minutes and get a brand new bike with a warranty all else being equal.

Here are the bikes I'm considering:

1. Giant Escape City disc (https://www.giant-bicycles.com/gb/escape-city-2017)
520 EUR/460 EUR (after German VAT refund + Swiss VAT)
Meets my bare requirements: rack with the option to hang paniers off it, fenders, hydrualic disc brakes (160mm)
I wonder if the parts are good enough to handle the mid-drive though because it's clearly the budget/entry-level grade. Shimano Tourney/Altus + 160mm hydraulic disc brakes.

2. Trek FX3 disc (https://www.trekbikes.com/gb/en_GB/bike ... c/p/28474/)
750 EUR/645 EUR
I'm wondering if it's high quality enough to be converted to a mid-drive. It has a carbon fork (totally unnecessary but there is no option not to) and an aluminum frame (again, unnecessary but no configuration option). The drivetrain is Shimano Acera M3000, 160mm hydraulic disc brakes.

3. Radon Solution Sport 7.0 (https://www.radon-bikes.de/en/trekking- ... t-70-2019/)
800 EUR/700 EUR
I don't know this brand, but it seems to have better components than the Trek with Deore parts but the same 160mm disc brakes. I also think the frame is steel because they don't say anything to the contrary. I didn't have the best experience asking pre-sale questions to their customer service so I'm wary of this unknown (to me) brand.

4. Canyon Commuter 4.0 (https://www.canyon.com/en-de/urban-bike ... /1954.html)
1099 EUR/950 EUR
The most expensive, but the best looking and with superior (I think) components.
It doesn't have a front derailleur, which is good for the e-bike conversion (wont have to pay for a part I wont use) but also not so great in the meantime because I worry going up the hill will be tough even with the 10 speeds cassette. The downside is that it's an aluminum frame (not so good for e-bikes, although I think that only applies to hub motors and not mid-drives?), and I can't see what's the diameter for the disc brakes. I also worry this is absolutely not made for riding anywhere else than on paved, city roads and short distances.

5. Canyon Grail AL 6.0 (https://www.canyon.com/en-gb/road-bikes ... /2195.html)
1199 EUR/1050 EUR
Love the Canyon bikes, and I think this one is closer to a hybrid. But I don't like the "racing" position as I find it harder to ride in the city where you constantly have to look around and behind to not get hit. And with an e-bike, aerodynamics aren't *that* important. I'd have to stretch my overall budget a bit for this bike.

I know this is a long post, and I'd appreciate any thoughts more experienced e-bikers than me would have both on the donor bike and whether a TSDZ2 is right for me.

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Drunkskunk   100 GW

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by Drunkskunk » Jul 19 2019 6:26am

For your needs, 36v vs 48v almost doesn't matter as you rarely are needing the full power of the motor, except for climbing steep hills. And that's when you'll want 48 volts.

And probably half the people who get an ebike don't want a moped, they want bionic legs. But then they ride the thing, and the WAHOO factor takes over. I've never heard of someone regretting adding a throttle. it's just added fun, and sometimes it's very useful to be able to dump a lot more power into the bike in a real hurry.

The first two bikes you listed are ok, but none are great. Look at the trek website's Ebikes. All of those have heavier frames and larger wider tires, and with good reason. with a mild pedelec build like you're after, you're still going to be putting probably twice the amount of power down between you and the motor. And that's twice the power most bikes are built for. Second, with increased speeds and weight, you're going to need more traction. Skinny pizza cutter tires are useless on an ebike. you need more rubber touching more road surface both to handle the extra power going forward, and handle the extra energy needed to brake.

As for the last 3 bikes, they're not better, and they have dynamo hubs. A dynamo works like a hub motor in Regen mode. stealing some of your pedal and motor power to run a light. It's a neat bit of kit on a short range commuter, but it's an expensive and super inefficient way of taking power out of your battery the hard way around, and putting it into a bad light. if you want a light, buy a good bike light and a DC/DC converter to pull power from the battery.

An example of a good bike to start with would be a Trek Marlin 6, with road tires fitted.
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skestans   10 mW

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by skestans » Jul 19 2019 6:46am

Drunkskunk wrote:
Jul 19 2019 6:26am
For your needs, 36v vs 48v almost doesn't matter as you rarely are needing the full power of the motor, except for climbing steep hills. And that's when you'll want 48 volts.

And probably half the people who get an ebike don't want a moped, they want bionic legs. But then they ride the thing, and the WAHOO factor takes over. I've never heard of someone regretting adding a throttle. it's just added fun, and sometimes it's very useful to be able to dump a lot more power into the bike in a real hurry.

The first two bikes you listed are ok, but none are great. Look at the trek website's Ebikes. All of those have heavier frames and larger wider tires, and with good reason. with a mild pedelec build like you're after, you're still going to be putting probably twice the amount of power down between you and the motor. And that's twice the power most bikes are built for. Second, with increased speeds and weight, you're going to need more traction. Skinny pizza cutter tires are useless on an ebike. you need more rubber touching more road surface both to handle the extra power going forward, and handle the extra energy needed to brake.

As for the last 3 bikes, they're not better, and they have dynamo hubs. A dynamo works like a hub motor in Regen mode. stealing some of your pedal and motor power to run a light. It's a neat bit of kit on a short range commuter, but it's an expensive and super inefficient way of taking power out of your battery the hard way around, and putting it into a bad light. if you want a light, buy a good bike light and a DC/DC converter to pull power from the battery.

An example of a good bike to start with would be a Trek Marlin 6, with road tires fitted.
Thanks for the info. So I'd go for a 48V.

That's actually helpful because I was having a really hard time figuring out what bike to start off of. The Marlin has front shocks though and I wanted to avoid that out of fear that they add to the overall price of the bike while being a liability for maintenance. I also read that shocks on entry-price bikes are more prone to failure and don't really do their job well overall. I'd be curious to know what's your stake on this?

I also think I'm missing your point with the tires. You said I'd need thicker tyres to have more contact with the road rather than pizza cutters, but then you recommend swapping the tyres for road tyres. Aren't road tyres the thin, slick, pizza cutter type of tyres?

About the throttle, I'm not against it but unless I'm mistaken you can't have both a temperature sensor and a throttle on the TSDZ2. I would have thought a temperature sensor was preferable to avoid demagnetizing the motor, especially considering I'd be climbing a steep hill every day to go back home. I also think that the open source firmware lets you set how much assist you want and that's adjustable on the go, so couldn't I crank the assist level to the maximum to get that throttle feeling?

I'm sorry if some of these questions are obvious, I am very new to all this and while I tried to read as much as I can it's still all very confusing.

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by flat tire » Jul 19 2019 2:48pm

Suspension (front AND rear) is almost always a nice addition to any ebike.

Yes, cheap bikes suck and cheap suspension sucks a lot more (for a skilled rider who rides hard). On the other hand, if it's only for your comfort, cheap suspension will be OK as long as it's not broken.

If you have special organs known as testicles and they function I agree that you will probably enjoy throttle, and want more and more power as you keep riding.

skestans   10 mW

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by skestans » Jul 19 2019 3:13pm

flat tire wrote:
Jul 19 2019 2:48pm
Yes, cheap bikes suck and cheap suspension sucks a lot more (for a skilled rider who rides hard). On the other hand, if it's only for your comfort, cheap suspension will be OK as long as it's not broken.
That's what I worry about. Aren't they fragile, especially the cheaper ones? What's their life expectancy?

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by flat tire » Jul 19 2019 3:22pm

skestans wrote:
Jul 19 2019 3:13pm
That's what I worry about. Aren't they fragile, especially the cheaper ones? What's their life expectancy?
For the most part cheap suspension is heavier, doesn't perform as well and doesn't offer adjustment. All suspension requires service periodically. Seals wear out and oil thins down. But the difference between seals in high end suspension and low end suspension is more about friction and less about longevity.

So basically all suspension breaks and cheap suspension may not be that much more likely to break under light use although it does have other downsides.

But, you have to buy a cheap product that is intended to be used. Not a toy or something like the bikes Walmart sells in USA.

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by wturber » Jul 20 2019 1:01am

I'm not going to give any advice on the bike except to say that the speeds you plan on riding are typical of strong road bike riders. So anything from a fully rigid road bike to a full suspension can work fine. It just comes down to the kinds of roads you'll be riding and what you like in a bike ride. Rigid frames tend to foster active riding as you lighten the seat and grip to absorb irregularities or even bunny hop obstacles. Which brings me to what may be one of the biggest issues in the "feel" of your e-bike. Weight.

The weight of the motor, controller, and especially a long range battery adds up. And that changes how the bike feels. Some guys fight that by using a really rear hub motor and a small and relatively light weight LiPo battery that they carry in a backpack, using a connector that will disconnect if pulled moderately hard. These guys are generally fairly strong riders who look to the motor as an added boost only.

The more typical ebike rider will use about 20 watt hours per mile at the speeds you are talking about. That means you need a battery with a capacity of about 1000 watt hours to get the 45 miles (75 km) range that you want. Either that, or you need to pedal more than is typical and/or be prepared to finish rides without battery help.

When I commute to work, my bike and cargo probably weight about 100 lbs because I carry a lot of battery capacity (1250 watts and about 24 lbs), have a heavy hub motor, and also carry two locks and a potted charger. It all adds up. But even with all this weight, the experience is still very bike-like at normal cruise speeds because my motor will only power the bike if I'm pedaling. My PAS is not sophisticated, but it really doesn't seem to matter. I think this is because, out of habit, I tend to ride to a level of exhaustion/leg burn that fits my destination. Having the assist lets me err on the side of over-doing it because if I blow up I can just cruise home slower with mostly motor assist. My system has PAS power levels of 0-5 (0-850 watts in approximately 175 watt intervals). The PAS level I choose mostly determines how fast I get to my destination. Where the ride becomes less bike-like is at low speeds where the weight of the bike and the responsiveness of the PAS system are much more apparent.
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Genesis Andy   1 µW

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by Genesis Andy » Jul 21 2019 4:03pm

Hi Im new to this forum, but I was pointed here from another forum.

Ive just converted my Wife's new bike to an ebike using TSDZ2 with custom firmware. I bought a 48V kit from Electrifymybike in the USA. I sourced a 52volt battery from China through DH Gate website.

I can say its an easy conversion and the custom firmware is really useful to tweak settings I mounted the battery on the downtube. It really helps keeping centre of gravity low, I dont notice the battery weight because its central in the frame.

We haven't gone with the temp sensor, but like you say it would be a great addition to protect the motor on steep climbs.

skestans   10 mW

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by skestans » Jul 22 2019 1:52am

Genesis Andy wrote:
Jul 21 2019 4:03pm
Hi Im new to this forum, but I was pointed here from another forum.

Ive just converted my Wife's new bike to an ebike using TSDZ2 with custom firmware. I bought a 48V kit from Electrifymybike in the USA. I sourced a 52volt battery from China through DH Gate website.

I can say its an easy conversion and the custom firmware is really useful to tweak settings I mounted the battery on the downtube. It really helps keeping centre of gravity low, I dont notice the battery weight because its central in the frame.

We haven't gone with the temp sensor, but like you say it would be a great addition to protect the motor on steep climbs.
Good to know about your experience, thank you. How much did you spend on tools so you could install the kit, and what bike did you use?

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Re: Opinion on donor bike and overall plan for TSDZ2 conversion?

Post by Genesis Andy » Jul 22 2019 10:35am

Just general tools.

The bike is a Genesis Columbia RD ladies bike. I fitted the battery 52v 13.5Ah in-between the two down tubes- attached low res photo of battery motor and cabling
20190722_163812.jpg
20190722_163812.jpg (389.73 KiB) Viewed 255 times
I needed a square taper crank arm removal tool, a cartridge bottom bracket socket-omly a few pounds. The rest of the fitting was with allen keys and the supplied spanner in the kit. I bought several sizes of heat shrink tubing to feed loose cables and spare connections all tidy and give a degree of weather protection. I added a little bit of electrical tape over the ends of heat shrink to stop water seepage. I used copper grease on all bolts and threads. This is because steel into aluminium castings will galvanic corrode in no time without some form of protection grease. A regular strip down especially in wetter climate will stop bolts seizing Also I used blue thread lock on all the display and handlebar bolts/nuts

It literally could take 1 hour to fit and have it working. The only item I needed was a longer chain because the TSD comes with a 42t chain ring and my bike had 40t but not adjustment on the end stops. The bike has Shimano IGH Nexus 8 speed. The chain alignment was spot on with the TSD, no need to add shims

The setup we have is currently looking like we it will provide about 100miles of low level assist. My wife is making the motor produce about 80-120W assist power and flattish terrain, in windy conditions. I limited the max current to 10 Amps (approximately 500W) and lifted the speed limit just a little. My wife comfortably rides 14-16 mph using the levels and gears to maintain an easy 70rpm cadence. She can on descents easily ride upto 20mph, the motor cuts assist and doesn't seems to cause drag whilst not providing power

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