R.I.P. le Béte

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Zoot Katz   1 MW

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R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 04 2013 4:40am

Resting in pieces. Resulting in puzzlement. Ruminating imminent purchase.
My all-time favourite whip cracked. It's bye-bye le Béte. Routines change when your Xtracycle busts.
le Béte 5.jpg
le Béte in its final form
le Béte 5.jpg (71.42 KiB) Viewed 3203 times
This dumpster based, sweet riding cargo longtail limo has carried me 21,377 km since being electrified mid Sept.2008.
It's been upgraded along the way and now is on the third controller and third pair of batteries in the X5304.
The second controller still works but was replaced with a sensorless one when the halls finally crapped out in March this year. The rim has been cracking in a worrisome manner since last November. The headset and BB need replacement, something felt loose, yadda yadda. I've been procrastinating it as a winter project.
X-rim.jpg
soon
X-rim.jpg (35.13 KiB) Viewed 3200 times
Removing the first flat in over 3 years on the Big Apples (inner tube stem separated) led to discovering the snapped tang on the dropout of the Free-Radical. I'm guessing thats why the Snapdeck had recently been shifting forward and squeaking. Judging by that, the thing has probably been fukt for about three months and it has kept on rolling.
sX-frame.jpg
potato-cam view of fractured dropout
sX-frame.jpg (35.63 KiB) Viewed 3200 times
Kudos to Xtracycle anyway. At half price on craigslist, I'm satisfied with the service I'd gotten from it. Now it's time to make some choices and try to figure out my next longtail.
Obvious easy way is to have the X 5304 re laced, halls and bearings replaced. Get a new Free Radical kit and do the rebuild like the old one. The Free Radical is probably due for a redesign (Leaper 26?) but I can't wait for that. The X5 never really fit easily into it but I don't want whimpy bike.
Maybe an Edgerunner running a HS 3548 at 48V could scratch that same itch.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by -dg » Nov 04 2013 5:30am

Zoot Katz wrote:
Image
Just guessing those are 13ga or even 12ga spokes. Because this failure is due to too much tension for the rim.
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 04 2013 5:53am

-dg wrote:
Zoot Katz wrote:
Image
Just guessing those are 13ga or even 12ga spokes. Because this failure is due to too much tension for the rim.
Yep
The eyeleted stock rim was crudely drilled for the 12 ga. spokes. It was poorly tensioned and the 5300 Crystalite hubs are near impossible to get dished. The wheel was trued, spokes were tightened and stress relieved before being being bolted into the bike for the first time. Only requiring a few initial tweakings, the wheel has stayed true for five years.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by dogman dan » Nov 04 2013 7:25am

Whew!! Your title had me going there, thinking somehow you let a car hit you. :cry: Shoulda known you were too bike savvy to ever allow that to happen. :D

le Bete was my inspiration to get off my ass and weld my longtail. which now also sports a rear 5304. I don't suppose that attachment is steel, if it is, just fix it. That's such a nice frame up front, just replacing the attachment would be hard to beat.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 04 2013 1:39pm

Thanks for your vote of confidence, dogman. Getting smacked is a daily possibility and these idiots are always coming up with new ways to get us.
Yes, the Free Radial is cromo. It's just the racks which are aluminum. Where it's broken is the forged dropout. Any extra weld metal around there would keep the axle nut from fitting properly. It's a bitch fitting in now with the dérailleur in the way.
The frame is a beauty. The mixte, style in conjunction with the Xtracycle, keeps people scratching their heads when trying to figure out what they're looking at. However it's alway bugged me about the useless space in the rear triangle caused by the frame tubes. So while it's a sweet looking bike it has its drawbacks.
Because of the rear hub dishing, it has never tracked straight. That's caused me to sit funny on the bike thus wearing the saddle and my trousers unevenly.
I'm trying to convince myself I deserve a new bike but not sure an Edgerunner is for me. Its low deck height is ideal for hauling kids but I don't haul kids so might miss the ground clearance for the bags.
The entire setup has been reliable and its performance has always been more than adequate for my requirements.
Now I've got to research these HS 35 series motors to see if they'll be an acceptable replacement for my old 5304.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by nicobie » Nov 04 2013 2:06pm

It's a shame about le bete. Sounds like she served you well.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 04 2013 2:21pm

nicobie wrote:It's a shame about le bete. Sounds like she served you well.

Nick
After getting batteries sorted out, it's been very reliable. More like real transportation than a hobby project.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by joe tomten » Nov 04 2013 2:32pm

I'd try welding it back together with an oxy/acetylene torch and maybe steel plates sandwiching either side of the break.

Lace up a new rear wheel and keep on going.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Drunkskunk » Nov 04 2013 4:19pm

Thats a real shame about Le Béte. That's been an inspiring bike.

Ever thought about going with one of Justin's Stokemonkey designed longbikes?
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by liveforphysics » Nov 04 2013 4:29pm

I believe you let me test ride this bike out front at the Vancouver art museum at an Ebike show Justin hosted. Shame to see it cracked, but WOW! What an amazing success story to get 21,000miles!
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 04 2013 8:11pm

joe tomten wrote:I'd try welding it back together with an oxy/acetylene torch and maybe steel plates sandwiching either side of the break.

Lace up a new rear wheel and keep on going.
I don't think there's enough room to fit any extra metal in there. Perhaps a new proprietary drop out could be obtained or a facsimile fabricated and welded in.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 04 2013 8:34pm

Drunkskunk wrote:Thats a real shame about Le Béte. That's been an inspiring bike.

Ever thought about going with one of Justin's Stokemonkey designed longbikes?
The Stokemonkey is a good system but not for me. IMO, aesthetically it's always been a clusterfuk.
The Edgerunner design caught my attention a few years ago but I'm debating the usefulness of having a lower cargo deck. Now I'm trying to figure out whether it will work with a Xlyte 3548. My X5 can't work because it would lack a rear brake.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 04 2013 8:47pm

liveforphysics wrote:I believe you let me test ride this bike out front at the Vancouver art museum at an Ebike show Justin hosted. Shame to see it cracked, but WOW! What an amazing success story to get 21,000miles!
21,377 kilometers. The poor little monster motor has never tasted more than 54 volts or 40 amps. It's always operated well within its design parameters so has proven reliable. Not everybody wants to set the world on fire.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Ypedal » Nov 04 2013 8:58pm

it's always easier to retire a bike that served faithfully... RIP ..

if 50v and 40 amps on paved roads serve you well, consider an eZee / BMC / MAC at similar power levels, it will weigh 20 lbs less and be just as peppy... and fit regular dropouts without so much fuss.

i bet you can cut the spokes off the old X5 and sell it for a good amount of coin, at a measly 2000w that x5 is just an overweighted setup.. but as you know.. rock solid reliable...
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 04 2013 9:28pm

Ypedal wrote:it's always easier to retire a bike that served faithfully... RIP ..

if 50v and 40 amps on paved roads serve you well, consider an eZee / BMC / MAC at similar power levels, it will weigh 20 lbs less and be just as peppy... and fit regular dropouts without so much fuss.

i bet you can cut the spokes off the old X5 and sell it for a good amount of coin, at a measly 2000w that x5 is just an overweighted setup.. but as you know.. rock solid reliable...
Yeah, it's been good bike and great for pickin' up chicks. It's always gotten looks, questions and comments. Now I feel lost without a longtail.
Geared hub motors don't much appeal to me but the lighter weight and freewheeling are attractive. Grin is my local shop so it would have to be an E-Zee if I go that route.
Sometimes I've felt guilty because the X5 is basically overkill for my use but it has never failed to impress me when twisting the throttle. I'm afraid anything less could be a disappointment.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by dnmun » Nov 04 2013 10:57pm

Rebuild It Perfect

by taking the cracked dropout to real welder and see if he can repair it for you. i bet most welders could make it twice as strong as original for half the money it cost new. that was a nice rig. you need a front suspension fork anyway. this is a good excuse. you went through 3 batteries already?

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 05 2013 12:40am

dnmun wrote:Rebuild It Perfect
Really, it's preferred.
by taking the cracked dropout to real welder and see if he can repair it for you. i bet most welders could make it twice as strong as original for half the money it cost new. that was a nice rig. you need a front suspension fork anyway. this is a good excuse. you went through 3 batteries already?
The 1" steerer tube limits ones choice for boinger forks. There's not much weight on the front except under braking. The Big Apples are enough suspension on the streets I ride.
Repairing a forged dropout doesn't inspire much confidence.
I'm suspecting the dropout may be a weak spot in the Free-Radical design. Interbike 2012 they showed a "Leaper" that uses a curved rectangular tube in place of two tubes. The dropout is welded to the underside of that eliminating the dinky tang of the dropout. I'm also suspecting the X5 has been trying to twist that off all along. (no added torque arms, just tight nuts and no regen) Adding the motor weight and it seems that thanks to Xtracycle's quality it's done 8 years faultless service. Without having added the motor, or Riding the Spine, it would probably still be intact. Hell, torque arms may even have prevented it.
I don't ride off curbs and am generally pretty easy on my equipment.
First controller lasted ~650 km. Justin replaced it with the only controller in his store, A hand built sample 12 FET Xlyte. It's still working fine. The motor's hall sensor connections have probably corroded off inside the hub. I bought a sensorless one in March.
The batteries were some of Justin's first ventures into Chinese battery suppliers. First packs were 24V 18 Ah NiMh. I returned them for repair the third time and told Justin I never wanted to see those things again. It was around the time I was building EBII so I'd already bought a 48V LiFePo4 triangle pack for it. Then bought a second one so I could run them on the X5. Justin built me parallel harness for them. When those batteries also began proving bothersome Justin started handling the E-Zee LiMn packs exclusively. He gave me a pair of the slightly under performing 8 Ah packs when the LiFePo4 packs acted up for their last time. These 48V 8Ah LiMn Samsung 3C packs have 508 cycles, 3031 total Ah. They're still good for about 11Ah compared to the ~13Ah when they were new. One of the LiFePo4 packs is still working. All totaled, for 63 months of daily riding, $2400 on batteries for two bikes. Any downtime for battery repairs Justin always provided me with a loaner pack of some sort.
If it weren't for ebikes.ca great service I'd have probably packed it all in out of desperation and frustration.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Stevil_Knevil » Nov 05 2013 1:09am

This is why I love chromoly! Just braze it back together and slap one of these stickers on the headtube->

Image

:lol:
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Stevil_Knevil » Nov 05 2013 1:13am

Reincarnation Is Probable..
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Zoot Katz » Nov 05 2013 2:32am

Stevil_Knevil wrote:Reincarnation Is Probable..
Rolling Into Perpetuity

A manly hack would just scrap those pussy nooks, weld in Doc's Luke Proof torque plates and turn up the amps.
With all the options available, my decision tree looks like a tumbleweed.
Setting a budget will prune it.
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Stevil_Knevil » Nov 05 2013 3:21am

Repair It Pronto..

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by dogman dan » Nov 05 2013 7:15am

I think a good welder can repair it, then grind the weld down flush again. Maybe additional metal can be added to the top, then grind flush to dropout thickness.

It will break again eventually, but just a hair past the weld. Then you have at least a few thousand k to think over the new bike.

I know you aren't a suspension fan, but avoiding frame and wheel problems when I overload my bike is a big part of my desire to have FS on the cargo bike. SERIOUSLY, consider a DIY frankenbike. Shame not to use that same front end, but you do have a point about the 1" steer. My Bouncing Betty bike front frame is a 1 1/8 steer, and a steel frame that came with front suspension originally, so the steer angles are still good with a moderately long fork.

As to the motor, NO WAY are you packing useless weight. Yes, you could be if you rode a normal size bike, but not on a cargo bike. I ran a 9c 2810 on my betty for awhile, but well loaded it got nice and hot climbing the bigger hills. When I got the 5304, it was a huge improvement in both frisky take offs and with staying cool climbing the big hills. The bike with battery weighs 150 pounds, so even unloaded it's like towing a child up that hill.

Bummer it tracks shitty. Maybe you can get it dished better next time? Mine is the newer version 5304, and I don't have bad tracking issues, but I will admit you don't ride far no hands on my frankenbike.

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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by beast775 » Nov 05 2013 9:47am

Bummer zoot katz.... new bearings,welded dropouts,better spoke config etc sounds like a good plan,cheapest also.was a great welding shop on the 3500 block of mcdonald but that was in 92?mark.
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by Drunkskunk » Nov 05 2013 9:59am

I have no idea if this is legit, but I found this on google shopping: Xtracycle FreeRadical $199

Just thought I would pass it on.
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Re: R.I.P. le Béte

Post by heavymetalthunder » Nov 05 2013 9:09pm

The rim that came with my 1000w conversion kit was a bit out of round and wore out a tire before its time. I replaced both rims with some older steel ones from my old mountain bike (40 years old). Now I don't have to worry about the rim breaking. Two problems are the steel rims are at least one pound heavier and it takes a bit more work and strain on the spokes to get them true.

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