Ice bike commute UK

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RustyKipper   100 W

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Location: South Yorkshire UK the land of flat caps and wippets

Ice bike commute UK

Post by RustyKipper » Mar 01 2018 3:54am

Hey all,

I have a 14 mile each way commute to work in South Yorkshire which I've now done for 3 years, this is right out in the sticks and over some quite high passes and VERY hilly, however for the colder months I've put together a purpose built E-ice bike. 250W motor in the front wheel, insulated battery box and studded tyres. The battery has a built in heater, this morning the battery was at -2.2 before heating (temperature display on side of battery box).

Currently with the wind blowing in from Siberia and temperatures hovering around -6 this bike has really proved itself. There is no way I could get the car out of the drive if I wanted to as there is a good 6 inches of snow.

The only issues I've had are front wheel spin when climbing hills meaning the bike will drift from side to side and the derailleurs keep dragging in the deep snow and getting iced up, but boy what awesome fun riding into work!!
ice bike small.jpg
ice bike small.jpg (138.42 KiB) Viewed 1369 times
The back wheel seemed to have gone a bit stiff this morning on the way in!
20180301_080459_preview.jpeg
20180301_080459_preview.jpeg (98.03 KiB) Viewed 1345 times

I've put a short video of some snippets of the ride home yesterday on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2t5nZP ... e=youtu.be

X10 speeded up version of entire commute:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxcMqE0ZprY&t=87s
Last edited by RustyKipper on Mar 04 2018 7:17am, edited 1 time in total.
2017 Cotic BFE hardtail MTB
Sram 9 speed twist grip
CST rear drive
5P10S 16Ah home built battery with built in block heater
Con121 12FET controller
Sapim 2.3mm black stainless steel spokes
Sunringle 26 inch rims
26 x 2.1 Swarble Marathon Mondail tires
650gm downhill inner tubes --essensial
Shimano Zee 4 pot calipers front and rear
200mm / 203mm rotors
Thudbuster suspension seat post -- essensial
150 Mile per week muddy commute

SlowCo   100 kW

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Location: The Netherlands

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by SlowCo » Mar 01 2018 2:16pm

Looking good!
You're a tough man.
RustyKipper wrote:
Mar 01 2018 3:54am
The only issues I've had are front wheel spin when climbing hills meaning the bike will drift from side to side and the derailleurs keep dragging in the deep snow and getting iced up, but boy what awesome fun riding into work!!
So next year get yourself a rear hub motor or a BBSHD :wink:

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RustyKipper   100 W

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Posts: 110
Joined: Apr 13 2015 5:40am
Location: South Yorkshire UK the land of flat caps and wippets

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by RustyKipper » Mar 01 2018 3:00pm

Oh man, thought I was going to die tonight, 20 minutes of solid climbing AND against a 30mph head wind, I calculated the wind chill to be -14 but I was burning, my legs just had enough and gave up on me and I was still 5 miles from civilization. Even on the flat I had the motor running full bore and pedaling in first gear knowing the battery was going to run out at any time, I was soaked in sweat when I got home. Hopefully the storm will pass tonight. I usually do this trip with a 500W motor and plenty of water! So glad the snow didn't drift or it would have been 6 foot high!
2017 Cotic BFE hardtail MTB
Sram 9 speed twist grip
CST rear drive
5P10S 16Ah home built battery with built in block heater
Con121 12FET controller
Sapim 2.3mm black stainless steel spokes
Sunringle 26 inch rims
26 x 2.1 Swarble Marathon Mondail tires
650gm downhill inner tubes --essensial
Shimano Zee 4 pot calipers front and rear
200mm / 203mm rotors
Thudbuster suspension seat post -- essensial
150 Mile per week muddy commute

markz   100 GW

100 GW
Posts: 9372
Joined: Jan 09 2014 11:38pm
Location: Alberta Canada

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by markz » Mar 01 2018 3:36pm

Looks decent, not ice rink ice.
Do you have studded tires?

I rode today, -2C but wind chill is -10C so it has a wimpy bite to it. I dont pedal but tend to leave one leg out on sketchy looking hard packed snow and of course ice, sometimes I stick 2 legs out on the skating rink style ice. Did a small fall today, I was dumb and used brake on ice instead of coasting over ice.

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RustyKipper   100 W

100 W
Posts: 110
Joined: Apr 13 2015 5:40am
Location: South Yorkshire UK the land of flat caps and wippets

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by RustyKipper » Mar 01 2018 4:14pm

Yes I've got studded tires, they make all the difference, on hard packed snow there is a ton of grip but on soft snow and slush they do nothing, they are awesome on black ice!
2017 Cotic BFE hardtail MTB
Sram 9 speed twist grip
CST rear drive
5P10S 16Ah home built battery with built in block heater
Con121 12FET controller
Sapim 2.3mm black stainless steel spokes
Sunringle 26 inch rims
26 x 2.1 Swarble Marathon Mondail tires
650gm downhill inner tubes --essensial
Shimano Zee 4 pot calipers front and rear
200mm / 203mm rotors
Thudbuster suspension seat post -- essensial
150 Mile per week muddy commute

User avatar
RustyKipper   100 W

100 W
Posts: 110
Joined: Apr 13 2015 5:40am
Location: South Yorkshire UK the land of flat caps and wippets

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by RustyKipper » Mar 02 2018 7:49am

This morning the storm was blowing worse than ever but it’s an easy 14 mile 900 foot decent to work, on the dual carriage way (freeway) I was doing well over 30mph being pushed along by the wind. I then enter a VERY bumpy cycle lane thinking my teeth are shaking loose. I stop at the traffic lights then watch in disbelief as my front wheel parts company with the bike and lays down beside me, the forks have snapped, I think this might be quite bad, I’m going to struggle to ride it now.

So I trudge the 4 miles back home up the icy hill being blasted by the Siberian wind cutting a tragic figure holding the wheel in one hand and dragging the carcass of the bike in the other. After half a mile I have to dump the bike in a hedge as its just too heavy.

I get home, dig the car out of the snow, and luckily as its 4wd I claw my way up off the estate and onto the main road, there is very little traffic as all the schools have been closed. I get to where I abandoned my bike but there’s nothing there, my heart sinks, then I spot something…there it is! Its so covered in salt and ice it was perfectly camouflaged into the background.

So new forks on order, the motor wires are a bit chewed up but hopefully salvageable. One day I’m going to write a book about my e-bike antics!
2017 Cotic BFE hardtail MTB
Sram 9 speed twist grip
CST rear drive
5P10S 16Ah home built battery with built in block heater
Con121 12FET controller
Sapim 2.3mm black stainless steel spokes
Sunringle 26 inch rims
26 x 2.1 Swarble Marathon Mondail tires
650gm downhill inner tubes --essensial
Shimano Zee 4 pot calipers front and rear
200mm / 203mm rotors
Thudbuster suspension seat post -- essensial
150 Mile per week muddy commute

whereswally606   100 kW

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Location: Cheshire, UK

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by whereswally606 » Mar 02 2018 9:54am

lucky you didn't chin the floor having your front fork snap like that. You are braver than me, in this weather. Need to get some ice studded tyres as my husky is going a bit mental from not getting enough running.
Distributing "Lebowski" FOC Controller PCB (Through hole) since 2016
Moped: Emax 110s 2009

craneplaneguy   10 kW

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Location: S.E. Idaho USA

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by craneplaneguy » Mar 02 2018 10:00am

Man, that is hard core!

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brumbrum   100 kW

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Location: Wales U.K

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by brumbrum » Mar 02 2018 3:09pm

RustyKipper wrote:
Mar 02 2018 7:49am
I stop at the traffic lights then watch in disbelief as my front wheel parts company with the bike and lays down beside me, the forks have snapped, I think this might be quite bad, I’m going to struggle to ride it now.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Brilliant! "I'm going to struggle to ride it now"
My NYX and cromotor build
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Cephalotus   10 kW

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Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by Cephalotus » Mar 02 2018 5:50pm

SlowCo wrote:
Mar 01 2018 2:16pm

So next year get yourself a rear hub motor or a BBSHD :wink:
Front moror + sensible throttle si perfect for winter riding.

What you need on ice are spiked tires. For "noral" winter conditions the Continental top contact winter are very good (but also very expensive)

markz   100 GW

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Location: Alberta Canada

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by markz » Mar 02 2018 6:52pm

RustyKipper wrote:
Mar 01 2018 4:14pm
Yes I've got studded tires, they make all the difference, on hard packed snow there is a ton of grip but on soft snow and slush they do nothing, they are awesome on black ice!

Good to know. I bought some used studded tires from local community charity bike shop. They do little to nothing. I want to try my DIY studded tires because buying new studded tires is too expensive for my cheap ass.

The problem with riding the residential streets is there is hard packed snow which is easy to ride unless there are ridges in that hard packed snow that you just gotta ride out. Then there comes patches that look different, and when you ride over them, the snow breaks apart and it gets squirley. I think the solution to that is fat tires. I just got 2.1 mtb tires, with front tire with used studded.

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RustyKipper   100 W

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Posts: 110
Joined: Apr 13 2015 5:40am
Location: South Yorkshire UK the land of flat caps and wippets

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by RustyKipper » Mar 03 2018 5:16am

The tires I'm using are Schwalbe marathon winter (I think), these have the advantage of being usable on dry tarmac, its often very icy riding into work in the morning but often raining or dry riding home at night, so I ride with the tire pressure at 40psi in the ice then pump them up at work to 65 psi this then changes the profile of the tires so the spikes aren't so in contact with the road, it also reduces the noise from the spikes and makes a HUGE difference to the rolling resistance. I have a set of Schwalbe ice spiker pro's that I would love to try but they are not puncture proof so on my commute I would only get a couple of miles, its a shame because the cost a fortune and really look the business!

The drive on the front wheel works like a charm, the trick is to balance the throttle and pedaling, If I pedal hard when pulling away or climbing the front wheel looses traction and spins then I loose steering. The crazy thing is I find when I'm riding I'm trying to ride on the ice rather than the snow, the tires tend to bite into the ice but in the snow the front wheel acts more like a rudder. At one point I drifted of the hard packed snow and ice into some soft stuff then the the camber of the road pulled be sideways so I ended up on the pavement (sidewalk) so I had to kind of sling shot myself back to the center of the road.

I didn't really think about it at the time but in one of my videos I'm climbing a 10% hill, many cars had previously tried to get up the hill and polished the surface, I was getting front wheel spin but made it up without any drama, it was only watching it back when it dawned on me what all the patterns were in the snow / ice, was from cars spinning out.

Many times I've ridden my normal E-bike to work and had not realized it was icy until I try to stop when riding down hill, I get lots of practice when I ride to work in the summer, I ride through a VERY muddy forest so spend a lot of the time riding sideways, sometimes if there is a thin covering of mud its like riding on Teflon, almost as bad as ice!
2017 Cotic BFE hardtail MTB
Sram 9 speed twist grip
CST rear drive
5P10S 16Ah home built battery with built in block heater
Con121 12FET controller
Sapim 2.3mm black stainless steel spokes
Sunringle 26 inch rims
26 x 2.1 Swarble Marathon Mondail tires
650gm downhill inner tubes --essensial
Shimano Zee 4 pot calipers front and rear
200mm / 203mm rotors
Thudbuster suspension seat post -- essensial
150 Mile per week muddy commute

GreyVlad   100 mW

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Posts: 36
Joined: Apr 08 2013 5:17am
Location: Kursk, Russia

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by GreyVlad » Mar 03 2018 6:23am

How does the heater in your battery case work?

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RustyKipper   100 W

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Posts: 110
Joined: Apr 13 2015 5:40am
Location: South Yorkshire UK the land of flat caps and wippets

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by RustyKipper » Mar 03 2018 7:23am

GreyVlad wrote:
Mar 03 2018 6:23am
How does the heater in your battery case work?
I have a couple of silicone heater mats glued to the pack of battery cells, I can plug them into an external 12V supply which brings the cells up 20 or so degrees above freezing for charging or to extend the range. I can use a lead acid battery when I'm away from a power point.

Here is a pic of the battery pack, the cells are packed into a u shaped piece of aluminium to try to distribute the heat as evenly as possible. The heater mats are about 7.5W each at 12V. there is also a temperature sensor fitted deep inside the pack.

The pack size is only about 9Ah, this is a bit marginal for the 14 mile leg of the journey especially ploughing through snow at well below freezing so the heater will bring the cells up to a more efficient temperature, and of cause the cells cant be charged at anything below freezing. The heated cells are very well insulated so once heated before setting off for work they will hold there heat all day, the cells get hammered quite hard so by the end of the journey they are at about 38 degrees. I use the same system on my regular e-bike so I can warm the cells above freezing before charging.
battery heater small.JPG
battery heater small.JPG (239.04 KiB) Viewed 1187 times
Last edited by RustyKipper on Mar 03 2018 8:30am, edited 1 time in total.
2017 Cotic BFE hardtail MTB
Sram 9 speed twist grip
CST rear drive
5P10S 16Ah home built battery with built in block heater
Con121 12FET controller
Sapim 2.3mm black stainless steel spokes
Sunringle 26 inch rims
26 x 2.1 Swarble Marathon Mondail tires
650gm downhill inner tubes --essensial
Shimano Zee 4 pot calipers front and rear
200mm / 203mm rotors
Thudbuster suspension seat post -- essensial
150 Mile per week muddy commute

GreyVlad   100 mW

100 mW
Posts: 36
Joined: Apr 08 2013 5:17am
Location: Kursk, Russia

Re: Ice bike commute UK

Post by GreyVlad » Mar 03 2018 8:15am

Thanks RustyKipper.
Wish you warm winds!

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