New Ebiker

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NaturalPath   10 mW

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New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 16 2013 11:46am

Howdy folks, this is my first post here. Recently, I acquired a used ebike for $140. I was going to buy a kit to convert my regular bicycle to electric, but that would have cost me a lot more, and this ebike was built as an ebike, so I figured that the bike, itself, would be more heavy duty. I'm retired, and on a fixed income, so I don't have a lot to spend on these sort of things.

Here is the bike I purchased;

Image

And here are the specs for this ebike;

Image

It doesn't have any manufacturers markings on it, or in the manual that I received with it. However, I have done some reading on this forum, and I believe that the hub motor would likely be a direct drive, but I'm not sure if it's brushed, or brushless. I do want to disassemble, and refurbish the bike and the motor this winter, although I can't spend a lot of money on it. At this point, I have a lot more time, than money, so I am willing to do any work that I'm capable of doing.

As you can see from the specs, the motor is rated at 180-350 watts. I'm not sure what this means, but I'm guessing that the wattage will increase, as required by the demand put on the motor. Is this correct?

When I have this ebike taken apart during the winter, I would like to make any fairly simple/cheap modifications to it in order to increase, or enhance performance. I'm not looking to sacrifice range for speed, I'm more of a range over speed kind of person. This is a single speed bike, so I'm not too sure how much can be done, besides possibly beefing up the wiring to the motor, if that's possible. I had a look at the controller, and it looks like a sealed unit to me, so I'm not sure if any mods can be made there.

Anyway, I just thought that I'd check in here, to see if anyone had any suggestions, since you guys know a lot more about these things than I do. Thanks, in advance, for any help you can provide.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by Joseph C. » Oct 16 2013 12:46pm

Welcome to the forum, Naturalpath.

The best way to increase range is to get rid of the lead acid. Chances are it is already on the way out if you got it second hand. Even if you replaced the battery with another 400 watt-hour battery (I'm not sure about the nominal voltage of lead acid) you would still get twice the range. Depending upon the type of lithium battery, it could be 1/3 the weight of what you are using now.
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Re: New Ebiker

Post by mvly » Oct 16 2013 1:00pm

I just raced this ebike the last time I did a range test on my ebike. It's pretty slow especially if you do not pedal assist it. It is a good ebike though considering how easy to get on and off and how to use it.

Definitely a steal at the price. But like what others are saying get rid of the Lead Acid and it will make a worlds of difference.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 16 2013 1:52pm

Thanks for the replies folks, especially amberwolf, for going into so much detail. Like I said, I have done quite a bit of reading on here already, I just didn't know how everything would work with this particular bike. Just a few comments from the replies I received;

amberwolf;

"(FWIW, the front fork looks exactly like one I used to have here off a scrapped bike, and it was completely worthless for suspension, and flexed so much that I was afraid it would come apart on any actual pothole, so be wary of that."

Ya, I've noticed that there's not much travel in these forks. When I take them apart in the winter, I'll see if I can fix that, maybe a lighter spring, or something.

"If it has two wires going into it, it is brushed (simpler, easier to use even without a controller)."

Yes, it has two wires coming out of the motor.

"Your best bet is to replace the 3 SLA batteries with something lighter and more capacity-for-weight (which will also require a new charger)."

Yep, I've considered this but, it's just not in the budget at the moment. Also, I want to get some idea of what I can do with the bike as it is, before I make any rash decisions to spend a lot of money on it.

Joseph C.;

"The best way to increase range is to get rid of the lead acid. Chances are it is already on the way out if you got it second hand. Even if you replaced the battery with another 400 watt-hour battery (I'm not sure about the nominal voltage of lead acid) you would still get twice the range. Depending upon the type of lithium battery, it could be 1/3 the weight of what you are using now."

Ya, as I said, these batteries are brand new, so I will be using them until they are no longer any good. These batteries only cost $150 for a new set, so not too expensive but, like you said, not a lot of range, or length of service.

mvly;

"I just raced this ebike the last time I did a range test on my ebike. It's pretty slow especially if you do not pedal assist it. It is a good ebike though considering how easy to get on and off and how to use it."

Ya, the simplicity of this ebike does appeal to me, and I'm really not interested in speed but, I want to use it for a while to see if it's worth putting any more money into it. The battery compartment is certainly big enough to put multiple lithium batteries in there, in order to increase its range.

Anyway, thanks everyone for your suggestions. I appreciate your knowledge about these things. Like I said, I'll take it apart this winter and see if there's anything I can clean up, or refurbish and, after I've ridden it for a while, I'll make a decision on whether to update the batteries to lithium, or experiment with the Ping battery setup.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by wesnewell » Oct 16 2013 2:38pm

Welcome to ES****Do this before your first post or now (it's retroactive)*****
Please go to the User Control Panel, select Profile, and then enter your city, state/province, and country into the Location field (country minimum) and save it. This will help people help you. Example: Wylie, TX, USA. Without knowing what country you are in it's hard to make any recommendations and you will waste your time and others. Thank you.

Assuming it runs, $140 is a great buy imo. Ride it a while and determine what more you want/need out of it and then come back with the info.
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NaturalPath   10 mW

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 16 2013 3:06pm

Thanks wesnewell, it does run just fine, will do.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by The fingers » Oct 16 2013 3:14pm

Looks like soon you'll have that ear to ear grin. :D
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Re: New Ebiker

Post by dogman dan » Oct 18 2013 7:21am

Interesting that it is a brushed motor. All I have seen before had a smaller motor diameter. This larger one should perform better than a small one, with less overheating. The larger cover is simply a bigger radiator.

140 with working batteries was a good deal. Much cheaper than the cheapest kit plus batteries.

The forks are alarmingly floppy, but in fact they are very hard to break. I worried too, till I dissected a set. However, compared to a good fork, they are a pretty useless pogo stick. Better than nothing though, IMO. Anyway, I would not worry much about them breaking off. Just look for obvious cracks at the welds, and if good, forget about them.

If you can scare up some cash later, then a 36v 15 ah lifepo4 battery would be a great investment. But if your use will never go further than 5 miles per charge, lead should work just fine for you. Pedal briskly if you want a bit more range, and ride about 10 mph.

NaturalPath   10 mW

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 18 2013 8:57am

Thanks for the feedback dogman. Like I said, I will be taking everything apart this winter and I will have a look at the makeup of those forks, to see if I can make any improvements. Yesterday, I stood right on top of the forks, with one foot on each side, and I couldn't get any travel out of them, so I'm wondering if they are seized. The older gentleman that I purchased it off didn't use it very much. He just carried it around, on the back of his RV.

As far as batteries go, I'm pretty sure that I'm just gonna stick with the SLA's for now. Even if I have to buy another set for extra range. I found a set of 3 12V-12ah of these batteries for $117. delivered to my door, so that sure beats paying $400.-$500. for a good lithium battery + charger, although I know they are better in almost every way. The SLA's just fit my budget much better.

I really need to get some experience on it before I can decide what I will do though. I'm just waiting for a crank puller I ordered, so that I can replace the existing cranks with aluminum ones I have on my bicycle. One of the pedal threads are stripped on the ebike, so I figured that I'd just replace both of the cranks and pedals.

Anyway, it's an interesting project. It's always a challenge to get the most out of something, while spending the least amount of money.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 18 2013 3:32pm

Also, I haven't seen much mention of using a small, one wheel trailer as a means to carry extra batteries. I know it means extra weight, but I'm wondering if the trade-off might be worth it. Anyone out there doing this?

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 19 2013 12:04pm

Dogman, your instincts were right, this is indeed a brushless motor, with 8 wires going into the axle. I've opened up the motor to check the condition, and it looks brand new in there. I don't think I'll need to do anything inside here for now. Take a look at the pics. If anyone can tell me, from the pics, or the markings on the cover or stator wheel, what kind of motor this is, I would appreciate it. I'd just like to know for my own information.

Image

Image

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 19 2013 1:26pm

Thanks amberwolf, I would be completely happy with 20mph, which is, in fact, the highest legal speed limit for an ebike here in Ontario, without a license. I also believe that there may be a limiter built into the controller that will restrict these ebikes to that speed. However, I'm not interested in getting more speed than that at all, I'm more interested in extending my range, without spending a whole lot of money. The first way to do that, is to make sure that the basic mechanical condition is at 100%, and that's why I'm tearing everything apart to check it out. If no one here can see any problems, or suggest any simple enhancements to that motor, then I'll just close it up and call it good for now.

I did find that the bullet connectors for the motor wires showed some signs of overheating. All three connectors were bundled together, with only the plastic coverings on the connectors separating them. I think that I'll get some heat insulating tubing to put around each separate connector, in order to alleviate some of the overheating possibility.

Other than that, I haven't found any other problem areas so far.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 21 2013 12:35pm

Thanks amberwolf, the wires, themselves, showed no sign of overheating, and the wires coming out of the controller side were much thicker than the wires going to the motor. However, I wouldn't say that there was a total meltdown, it just looked like they suffered some heat related deformation. There was another white plug in there that, also, definitely showed signs of heat deformation too. I don't know the complete history of this bike, so it's possible someone, in the past, did something to cause this damage.
I've put everything back together now, and I cleaned and separated the wires with the bullet connectors on them. I'll just have to keep my eye on things until I can get a handle on how everything is working.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by John in CR » Oct 21 2013 6:52pm

With deformed insulation on motor harness wires, it's really best to completely change them with new wiring all the way into the motor. That's because the insulation is more fragile now and hairline cracks easily develop, eventually resulting in a short which will blow things more expensive and harder to change.

Take the opportunity to increase the wire gauge while you're doing it. That will improve overall efficiency along with reducing failure risk. The heat that melted the wire insulation was all just wasted battery energy released to the environment without doing any work for you. Heat is our enemy, and it's really best if wiring never even gets warm.

That looks like a tank of an ebike with lots of battery space, so you got a great deal. Forget the trailer carrying more batteries. Just the cost and effort of the trailer will buy more lithium battery capacity than you currently have in lead. Save up for a while if you have to, and make the switch to lithium. I bet you could fit at least 100 miles worth in that battery bay and they'd still be lighter than the lead anchors.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 21 2013 8:48pm

I hear ya John, I may do some rewiring during the winter months. It doesn't make sense to me that the wires coming out of the controller are probably around 12ga. and, after the bullet connectors, they turn into something like 16ga, If anything, I will make these lines all 12ga, if they will fit through the axle.

Ya, I know I could get lots of range from lithium batteries, and I may eventually go that route but, until then, I still want to get everything I can out of the current setup. I've had the whole bike apart now, and I've gone over everything. All looks pretty good, except for the heat stressed connectors I mentioned. I will keep an eye on them, to see if they are getting hot, and if I notice excessive heat, I will discontinue using the bike until I can change the wiring.

Right now, I'm happy having only spent $140. on this ebike. I still need to put it through a load test to see how it performs as is. I'm just waiting for a crank puller, so that I can replace both cranks and pedals, with the aluminum ones that are on my regular bike. One of the pedals on the ebike was broken off, so I figured that I would just replace them instead of trying to fix it. If the performance is dismal, It may fuel a quicker transition to lithium than if it works good enough, we'll see.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 22 2013 10:00am

Here is a picture of a molex plug that has suffered some heat damage. These wires look like the mains coming in from the battery to the controller. I'm wondering if I should look for an exact replacement for that molex connector, or should I just find another connector that will work? These are pretty heavy gauge wires, so I'm wondering if, at some point, someone may have hooked something up wrong to cause this damage. The wires and the lugs look fine. It's just the plastic plug that was deformed by heat. There was similar heat deformation to the plastic coverings on three bullet connectors that go from the controller to the motor. Again, no actual damage to the wires or lugs themselves.

Image

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by John in CR » Oct 22 2013 11:21am

That was probably just caused by a bad connection, so high resistance caused the heat. Maybe the bike was made during rainy weather and the contacts got corroded, or the female side is misshapen and has a poor connection with the spade. Since you're going to upgrade wiring next time you're in there, I'd take the connector completely out of the equation. Hard wire and tape them them up good. I go a year or 2 or 3 without touching power mains connections on my bikes, so I'm moving away from using connectors at all. I view them as just more failure points, and cutting and hard wiring a connection requires 2 or 3 or more removals before the effort is the same as installing good connectors. Then there's the cost too, not to mention frustrations with not having the right connector 3 years later when I'm putting on a new controller. Hard wiring offers a big advantage in water resistance too.

By all means put the batteries you have to use. My point was to definitely not go to the expense of building a trailer to carry more. Lead batteries shouldn't be taken below 80% DOD. Add in Puekert's Law and your 12ah battery is effectively a 6-8ah pack. Voltage with lead sags so much that it's more like a 30V battery pack. That gives you 200-250wh of useful capacity, so replacing that with lithium could be economical, though I'd suggest at least 500wh, which you could easily do for under $300 if you're resourceful. You seem handy and thorough, so cheaper is within your reach. Once you get your bike running go around hunting for free batteries if budget is paramount. Businesses that take warranty returns of cordless toolpacks can be a source of free batteries, along with recycling centers. You've got enough space that you could do a big honking 36 volt pack of cells from laptop batteries, and there are mountains of those around that places would love to unload. Then your only expense would be a charger and system to manage the batteries at the cells level, which with just 10 cells in series can be a very simple matter.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 22 2013 1:20pm

Thanks amberwolf, you've given me a lot of options that I would have been hesitant to consider. I had no idea that these types of connectors were frowned upon for this type of use. I was considering bullet connectors but, like I mentioned before, I can see some heat fatigue in 3 of the bullet connections after the controller, going to the motor. I'm starting to think along the lines of just soldering these wires together, and covering them with heat shrink, taking the terminals right out of the equation.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 22 2013 1:29pm

Thanks again John, I am definitely thinking along the lines of hard wiring, instead of connectors. Like you say, I probably won't be taking these wires apart too often, so the plug is just taking up space.

I hadn't even gotten to the point of considering alternate battery options, such as building my own battery. I've read some about laptop batteries being used though. I still don't know enough about this process to attempt anything like that, but I will continue to learn by reading other threads on the subject. It seems to me that most of those laptop batteries would probably be well used, and many may not even hold a charge any longer, but it could be that some of the cells inside the battery are still good, and this is what people are using to build their own batteries from. Is this correct?

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Oct 24 2013 10:24am

That's a good point amberwolf, being able to take the rear wheel off that is. I never considered that when I soldered some of the wires together, however, I have had the rear wheel off already, and I didn't have to disconnect any of the plugs to do so. When I removed the plug and the bullets to solder them together, I removed very little length from the wires, so I will still be able to take off the rear wheel without any problems, not that it's something I look forward to doing again, since it's a pain :roll:

Bye the way, as I was removing that plug connection, it took very little effort to just lightly pull the wires right out of the lug inside the plug. I found that the negative wire and lug were very badly corroded, something that could not be seen until I took the plug apart.

I've now gone over the whole bike, mechanical, and wiring, and I fixed any problems that I came across. I'm considering my options, as to what to do about the battery situation. I will surely use these SLA's for now but, after doing a lot of reading about different custom battery builds, I'm kind of interested in the A123 builds. I have a battery space of about 4"x 4"x 20" and I could probably fit a good sized custom battery in there, giving me much better range. Again, I'm not interested in speed, but range is very important. If I can cruise for hours at 20mph, or even 15mph, I'd be pretty happy.

I still need to get into specifics regarding battery setup, and I'll do that as I go along. It just takes a little time to digest and understand everything. I'm still trying to sort out all the different types of batteries people are talking about because, some people tend to use different words, or short forms for the same type of battery. It's a bit confusing to someone new to all this. I'm sure that I'll get the hang of it over time though. I spent 35 years as a machinist in the power electronics industry, so I've had lots of experience building power electronic equipment, from small scale to very large scale. I just don't have all the tools, and workspace that I had back then. Thanks for your continued assistance, I appreciate it.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by LeftieBiker » Jan 05 2014 1:41am

If you want a few tips on using your SLA pack from someone who used SLA only for many years, here are a few:

* Always recharge the pack *as soon as possible* after using it, regardless of how much it was discharged. The faster it goes back on the charger, the better.

* Keep the pack warm in cold weather! SLA packs suffer much more from being cold than lithium packs. The pack won't be damaged by cold, per se, as long as it's charged, but it will experience epic violtage sag under load, and greatly reduced range. (SLA voltage sag is pretty much always greater than Li sag, but it's much worse in the cold.)

* "Pre-charge" before riding, for best range. Unless you just took the bike off the charger, you will get about 10% more range just from connecting the charger for 10-15 minutes right before riding, by loading the pack a bit above what it can retain. This may sound hard on the cells, but I ran an Oxygen Lepton for over 10 years this way, and sold it with an AGM pack that was 12 years old and still had usable life in it. This works best if your charger tends to start on High and then drop down to Float mode after some seconds, but even a flot pre-charge will help.

* Give it a little rough road. You don't want to damage the bike or pack with bone-jarring bumps, but light to moderate washboard type roughness can actually help to break up the lead sulfate crystals that form in the cells, extending battery life.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Jan 05 2014 10:16am

Thanks for the tips Leftie, I haven't really had this ebike out, since I got it just before the winter set in, but I will be using the SLA's when spring arrives. Right now, I have them inside, and I'm checking them every now and then to make sure that they are fully charged. The problem is that the battery charger that came with the bike will shut off right after connecting it to the battery, if the battery is near full charge, so the only way I can top it up is to take the 3 batteries out and charge them separately with my 2 amp 12V smart charger.

Giving the batteries a little shake up on the road to dislodge any sulfates makes sense. I'm sure that this will not be a problem in the areas I intend to ride. :lol: I won't be riding in cold temps, or leaving the batteries out either, so no worries there.

That's pretty incredible that you got 12 years out of those AGM's. I guess, if you take care of them, SLA's will last, but the weight to power ratio is dismal. I'd be happy to get 10kms range from mine, and that's just not enough for my purposes. I've already started the process of building my own lithium-ion battery, which, if all goes well, should give me a range close to 100kms. Now that's a more useable range for me. Sure, I might have to peddle a bit too, but that's not a problem. I fully expect to be peddling going up long hills. Even though this is not a bicycle type ebike, it's pretty easy to peddle.

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by skeetab5780 » Jan 05 2014 10:19am

haha i love the first spec on the sheet

881 bs

hmm that must be 88 pounds..

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by NaturalPath » Jan 05 2014 12:21pm

Yep, 88 lbs, but it should be a few pounds lighter once I get the lithium in there. I'm only 150 lbs anyway, and the bike is rated for 300lbs load, not that this rating means much, just like the rating for a range of 50kms, all downhill I imagine. :lol:

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Re: New Ebiker

Post by LeftieBiker » Jan 05 2014 5:06pm

NaturalPath wrote:Thanks for the tips Leftie, I haven't really had this ebike out, since I got it just before the winter set in, but I will be using the SLA's when spring arrives. Right now, I have them inside, and I'm checking them every now and then to make sure that they are fully charged. The problem is that the battery charger that came with the bike will shut off right after connecting it to the battery, if the battery is near full charge, so the only way I can top it up is to take the 3 batteries out and charge them separately with my 2 amp 12V smart charger.

Giving the batteries a little shake up on the road to dislodge any sulfates makes sense. I'm sure that this will not be a problem in the areas I intend to ride. :lol: I won't be riding in cold temps, or leaving the batteries out either, so no worries there.

That's pretty incredible that you got 12 years out of those AGM's. I guess, if you take care of them, SLA's will last, but the weight to power ratio is dismal. I'd be happy to get 10kms range from mine, and that's just not enough for my purposes. I've already started the process of building my own lithium-ion battery, which, if all goes well, should give me a range close to 100kms. Now that's a more useable range for me. Sure, I might have to peddle a bit too, but that's not a problem. I fully expect to be peddling going up long hills. Even though this is not a bicycle type ebike, it's pretty easy to peddle.
Heh. I wrote that post because everyone was telling you to get a Lithium pack, despite you saying you had to keep the SLAs. Oh well, never mind!

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