Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

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laminarflowca   10 µW

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Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by laminarflowca » Aug 14 2019 12:30am

Hi all,

Wondering if anyone would be able to help a beginner E-bike fan.....

So for reference i'm based in Canada (Vancouver island), im plan to be doing a 6KM each way daily commute on paved bike trails and roads with a few hills. The altitude varies from Sea level to 300ft above at the highest point. (roads not mountain trails)

I have a donor Norco Bushpilot 2004 I bought new and put 3000KM on it its first 2 years before storing it and driving everywhere like the fat bugger i've become.

The bike design is Alumin(i)um hard tail with cheap front shocks, 24 speed 3/8 Shimano Alivo derailleur and shimano V-brake rim brakes. The wheels are 26" and the frame is 22" frmae and just feels right to me (i'm 6ft and 230lb). The frame has mount points for disk brakes, but the hubs front/rear dont have 6 bolt pattern for switching to disk.

So my initial idea was to put a 500W rear hub on (probably Bafang). But now im consdering the BBS02B 750W mid-drive.

So my questions are:
  • Are Bafang the best of the Chinese kits, or are other ok too? I seem to see a lot of reference to the Bafang kits and assumed this was my best choice.
  • Anyone had success ordering to Canada? i'm concerned how people pick where to order. Amazon/Ebay/Aliexpress? are there trusted sellers? are some of the resellers on the platforms better known/trusted than others.
  • I was going with the Bafang Rear Hub, but I see the ones ebay don't support rim brakes So I need to put a disk on that hub for the rear brake at least. That adds cost, am I missing resellers who use a different rim and I need to keep looking? or is it all disk these days so rims dont support brakes anywhere? (considering i'm choosing the 26" wheel option)

Now in theory I could get by with my current rims and brakes with the 750W mid-drive but from what I read people warn that rim brakes wont cut it? Based on my usecase being commuting and probably sticking to the 32Km speed limits, im not off-roading, or downhill mountain trail and i'm no speed demon.

would people recommend hub or mid-drive based on my old donor and expected use.

Part of me wants to say screw it and just go spend $1900_tax on the Voltbike Yukon, however i'm one for hacking the cheaper option and the reality I see is that the bikes like those are still cheaper Chinese bikes with low level hardware and a Bafang motor. So why not use my low level hardware and Bafang motor and save a few 100$$

I apologize for the rambling but having read so much on the subject and found so many options/advice and 'm just trying to find a path that I could get into affordably to prove to myself (and my wife) that this is a viable solution to get me back on my bike.

donn   1 kW

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by donn » Aug 14 2019 1:34am

I'm using rim brakes, with a 1500W direct drive hub motor. Maybe it will catch up with me, but haven't noticed any problems yet. Back in the day, disks were for tandems and the like. Force = mass X acceleration (brakes decelerate, same thing), and a tandem is heavy. Bicycles have always been able to go much faster than 32 kph, down hill, and what's good enough for the ancient ones is good enough for me.

You might have a look at the conversion kits on ebikes.ca. They'll sell you a hub motor with Alex DM18 brake rims.

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by ScooterMan101 » Aug 14 2019 2:33am

What are the grades of the hills you will be going up ?
and
For how long , like example 5% grade for 1/2 mile.

For Grades up to 5/6/7 % a Rear Hub motor will work . Rear Hubs start to struggle at 6% or more but with enough power they will still go up them if it is that % for not too long.

I am using a DD rear hub , and go up 3% to 8% hills almost every time I ride it. Most are 3-6 % . DD Rear hubs will put out much more power than they are stated for , for short runs up hills.

The speeds you want to ride at will determine what voltage you will run the bike on. ( Grin has a great Motor Simulator )


Rim Brakes would work Ok if you keep the speeds down and used Regen with a DD hub motor , or Grin's new Mac motor that will do regen.

Living where you do ( wet much of the time ) Disc Brakes would be good.

You can pick up a inexpensive bike for conversion for 500 or less new ( U.S. $ ) bike shops have late summer sales that discount and there could also be a shop with last years bike for a good discount. For your first conversion getting a bike with 8 speed drivetrain will make things easier for you .

Study Grin's website for much of your answers . Grin Technologies in Vancouver B.C.
My first conversion ... Sold

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=71378&p=1077497&hil ... 1#p1077497

It's 2018 already, ( now 2019 ) lets get some real , improved e-bike / e-velomobile / e-motorcycle designs .

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by amberwolf » Aug 14 2019 3:10am

If your rim brakes stop you now, and you're not going any faster, there wont' be enough additional mass to make a significant difference to the energy you need to brake. So they'll work fine.

If they dont' stop you now, well, you need better brakes.

Koolstop pads (I've used salmon and "ebike gray" both the same) and good cables (jagwire, for instance) and levers and arms (I like the avid), will work just fine. I used them for my 500lb+ SB Cruiser trike (including me), and though I used two rim brakes on the front wheel because I had no mechanical brakes on the rear wheels, they worked just fine to skid the wheel (you can't get better braking force than that).


If you do have to get disc brakes, I'd go with Avid BB7, 180mm or 200(203)mm rotor, sintered or organic pads. After changing the fork (broke the other one) I went with disc for several reasons, and those work just as well as the Avid/koolstop rim brakes I used before.

Same tire with both, and same weight distribution, so same traction limits.

If you go disc, you'd need new wheels, if your present ones are non-disc hubs.



As far as "best" kit / motor goes, well, that depends on what you need to do, and how much hacking you want to do (or are ok with having to do) to get there.

The only middrives Iv'e personally used are ones I built, so can't help you direclty with any of the commercial ones. But I read the forum a lot, so:

There is the TSDZ2 that has opensource firmware replacement to give you features/etc that the original doesn't (or at least not the same way); I don't know that is available for the BBSxx systems. THe hardware has issues like anything else, but it seems to make poeple about as happy as the BBSxx.

Also, Bafang has a history of changing features and firmware and parts, etc., whenever they feel like it, without notifying *anyone*, even their dealers, so the system you actually receive may not operate the way it was expected to, and you won't likely be able to just easily make it do that (this is where hacking might be handy; it's been done to some versions for some problems/changes here on ES). Also, parts the dealers may already have available may not fit the new version, so when things break you may have a wait to get a fix.


If you don't mind hubmotors, Grin Tech right there in your area http://ebikes.ca has a lot of stuff you could check out, including a simulator that might help you pick the right system for your needs. (but you have to read the whole page first, then play with systems to see how it works). You can even stop by and check out systems they may have built up in the shop. :)

(I'm in hte middle of installing the pair of new Grinfineons from Grin Tech on the SB Cruiser to replace the mismatched generics I've been using, and rewiring to allow the TorquePAS via Cycle Analyst (also from Grin) to let me control either or both motors from the pedals or from either left or rigth hand throttle, independently or simultaneously, etc. )

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Drunkskunk   100 GW

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by Drunkskunk » Aug 14 2019 4:40am

Welcome to the forum.

The best Ebike dealer in the world is in Vancouver. Not on the island, though. Grin Technologies, A.K.A. ebikes.ca
it's not the first thing I'm going to recommend in your case. more like 3rd, but they are close to you and worth getting to know.

But lets start with the bike. That Norco would make a good first conversion. it's one weakness is the brake pads. But yours are 15 year old rubber anyway, right? Koolstop pads, as Amberwolf mentioned, will bring those up to modern standards. Rim brakes are fine for ebikes up to about 30mph (50kph). Everything else is serviceable and should do you well. But I do hate that Suntour XC60 fork. It's functional. It's not necessary to replace it, but if you want to upgrade, that's a place to start.

As for motors, Ebay or Amazon $200-$250 direct drive (DD) kits are perfect for what you're needing, if the hills are under 10% grade average. they are super silent, and nearly bulletproof, able to lug along under load for longer than geared hubs. Make sure you also get a torque arm. Grin Tech makes the best, but any will do. Don't buy your battery from Amazon or Ebay. It's counter-intuitive, but the quality of the battery is more important than the motor to make a successful ebike. A good battery can make up for a bad motor choice, but a bad battery choice leaves you walking.

A second option would be a geared hub MAC motor fromEM3ev.com. Geared hubs have more torque and weigh less, but make more noise and aren't built proof. The MAC is pretty tough, though. This can handle steeper grade hills, but for shorter duration. geared hubs can't handle the heat as well as a direct drive, so if you have short steep hills, this is the way to go. Also, EM3ev is my first choice for a quality battery.

Third option, as I said, is from Grin Tech. The Bafang G310. It's another geared hub, small and this one is quieter than most. They also sell an uprated version of the MAC called the GMAC, able to handle more abuse and can do regenerative braking. They also sell high end batteries, high end controllers, high end chargers, and a lot of parts and accessories you're going to want and/or need. Torque arms, for example. It's worth your time to drool all over your laptop browsing their webpage.


As for the BBS02, it's nice, And high maintenance, And overkill, And not the best motor for the needs you listed unless you have some epic hills and need a motor that can gear down to speed of snails on Valium. And then it would be the wrong motor because you'd want a BBSHD instead.
The BBSXX line of motors have their quirks, advantages, and disadvantages. It's not a motor to start with if you're unfamiliar with ebikes. And it's a motor that would benefit from a different bike than you have. And super expensive to set one up compared to that ~$200 eBay deal I first mentioned. Might be cool for your second bike. Almost all DIY ebikers eventually build a 2nd bike, and a 3rd, and...

As for Bafang, they're just this company, you know? They make a few nice motors and some real garbage too.There are a lot of other good brands out there too.
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
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E-HP   100 kW

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by E-HP » Aug 14 2019 9:22am

What you are describing sounds like it could easily achieved without much of an investment. I have the cheapest (~$150) 1000W rear hub motor kit I could find on ebay; it turned out to be a MXUS. I live on hill, and ride about 50% of the time between hills vs flats. I pedal a lot. I went for a leisurely ride on Sunday, and climbed about 1800 ft total, riding up and down the hills, with most grades between 6-7%, with some 15-17% sections. Monitoring the motor and controller heat with my hand, nothing got more than slightly warm, but I don't have Statorade, so maybe the hub would feel warmer if I did.

On the hill below, 300 ft climb in about a mile, I passed several bikers before reaching the top, riding at about 15 mph. The grade over the first 3/4 mile is ~7.5%. Motor and controller were barely warm.
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Grantmac   10 kW

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by Grantmac » Aug 14 2019 9:57am

What part of VI are you on? I commute 4-5 days a week in Victoria on a DIY ebike.

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by markz » Aug 14 2019 11:40am

A direct drive motor in the rear is better suited for your needs.
You can hide the motor behind pannier bags on the rear rack.
A hub motor is more easily concealed then a mid drive motor.
A direct drive motor matched with a sinewave controller = no noise at all.
Hiding the motor is good, you can not do that with a mid drive (m.d.) and m.d.'s are better suited for hills and lots of stop and go.

Leaf 1500W from leafmotor.com or leafbike.com is a good option.

I've purchased several hub motors from acessories on ebay which is the Canadian arm of Yescomusa, however their motors are all front, and you'd have to take off their rim and spokes, buy a 26" rim with matching spokes and get it laced or lace it yourself, which isnt too hard to do if you watch youtube. A bit of a hassle for $200cdn delivered but they ship quick. You get it as a kit, so no need to buy a controller, throttle, brake cut off levers etc. More then likely you'd want a kit ready to go, then Amazon/Ebay kits laced in a 26" is the way to go, but if I were you, I'd go with a Leaf motor.

Next up would be a geared motor like the MAC from EM3EV.com, and again you can buy everything from them, including a good battery.

laminarflowca   10 µW

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by laminarflowca » Aug 14 2019 10:06pm

Wow, thanks to everyone who replied. it's given me more information to help me get there in making my decision on what to order.

To answer some questions I'm in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. With regard to weather although it rains the route I used to ride seemed just fine with Rim brakes, and I used to carry quite a load in my Panniers even in the wettest weather.

The comments have also confirmed my plan to invest in the batteries even for a budget build. i forgot to mention in my original rambling that I planned to buy a pack from EM3ev.com. I figured quality batteries were important regardless of my other cheap project decisions. Plus the thought of these high power packs having issues or worse catching fire spooks me. although I do wonder should I get 52v or 48v... can these kits all take 52v or should I stick with 48V for my first bike?

Good to know BC has some great suppliers of kits and parts. However once I priced it up for this build its pushing the limits on my "Play money" set aside to try all this out. Maybe with my second bike I will invest more. As i said this is my proof of concept DIY build.

i also calculated my worst hill If I choose that rout is 1KM at 6% gradient. So from the sounds of it a rear hub should handle that if needed. But if I understand the Mid-drive will be better to allow gearing to deal with the gradients.

Tim to build a list with costs/scenarios and then get ordering. expect to do a build thread once I start, if only for my own documentation of the process.

thanks all

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by ScooterMan101 » Aug 15 2019 12:36am

6 % grade for 1km , at the most of all the hills .
Well
All you need is a 1500watt or more Direct Drive Rear Hub ( even the 1,000 watt ones will do that )

With 52 volt battery ,
and
Just spend a few extra dollars and get a 48-72 volt , 40 amp controller .
Then
You have almost all you need, ( with a good steel torque arm )
and
( Cycle Analyst and e-brakes from Grin Technologies )
With the C.A. and e-brakes , you can get by with the rim brakes , no need to go disc since you will now be using regen from the DD rear hub to slow you down and
it will even give you back 2-4 % of energy back into the batteries in your area . ( steep and long hills will give you more regen )
My first conversion ... Sold

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=71378&p=1077497&hil ... 1#p1077497

It's 2018 already, ( now 2019 ) lets get some real , improved e-bike / e-velomobile / e-motorcycle designs .

donn   1 kW

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Re: Beginner E-bike DIY in Canada (Vancouver Island)

Post by donn » Aug 15 2019 1:05am

Take the ebikes.ca eZee kit for a low end example hub, launch their Motor Simulator, and give it that 6% grade. Good for 1km? It's good for as long as the battery lasts at 26Wh/km, running at 83% efficiency and 30kph. You could take a 12% grade, as long as it's well under 10km. If you're like me and would prefer a direct drive, behold: same deal - basic kit can take a 6% grade for as long as the battery lasts, and it will use a little more battery but won't get as hot (geared hubs have more trouble with heating up.) You can run steeper grades than this without any trouble.

That gearing advantage is academic if you don't need it, and a motor in your drivetrain comes with some complications and reliability issues.

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