Crystalyte SAW 400 Series

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philf   1 kW

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Crystalyte SAW 400 Series

Post by philf » Aug 07 2018 9:53pm

Bear with me if this gets wordy - and I apologize if there really *is* a discussion surrounding these motors elsewhere on The Sphere, but much Googling and looking about hasn't turned up much useful information. I'm referring to the Crystalyte "SAW" 400 series http://www.crystalyte.com/SAW%20series.htm. And so here I return, out of the blue, after having been largely absent from posting here for eons (though I have been lurking). Justin's solar escapades got me re-hooked, and I was reminded that it has been 10 years since he stopped over here on his way across Canada. Christ, I'm getting old. I've been up to a number of things in the interim, but haven't posted much - but now I have a poser which I'm hoping others hereabout might be able to shed some light on.

There are a lot of different things that motivate one to want to electrify a bicycle, and a lot of different target objectives with respect to the desired personal outcome of doing so. Some want crazy power, some want a means of transportation, using a bicycle as a base, but without having to employ much physical input from pedaling. And some, like me, want to use a hub motor to augment regular cycling - keeping the "feel" of riding a bike as close to original as possible, but having the option to dial in a bit of assistance when the path takes us up a steep hill - or when riding into an annoying headwind (or occasionally pissing off a flock of lycra-clad road bikers, but I shouldn't allow myself to digress). We also want to remain welcome on multi-use pathways and other places in which regular bikes are allowed, and that means trying to preserve some level of "stealth".

12 years ago, I started (like a lot of people) with a kit from "Golden Motor", and since then I've played with a variety of other motors which I've acquired on-the-cheap, including a number of geared motors. But the motor that has best suited my particular application has been the Crystalyte 406 I bought from e-bikes.ca back in 2008, just after Justin's visit here (he was incredibly helpful in pointing me to what I needed versus what I thought i wanted). Running an Infineon controller with 12S2P LIPO packs, this has been my most used ride for the last decade. And it's the perfect mix of stealth and capability for my personal needs.

So, offering a further apology (particularly for this long-winded introduction), I get to the point... I've run into a number of discussions online with people lamenting the discontinuation of the Crystalyte 400 series over the very same things that have me endeared to it. Yeah, it's heavy. Yeah, there are more powerful or energy efficient alternatives available. I was always struck by how the first Nine Continent motor I ever saw "felt" like the original Golden units in terms of dimension and power. But there weren't many direct drive options that delivered the understated appearance of the 400's with their balance of power and quiet. OK - maybe there were, but I just didn't find any.

Bring me to this year... I had a few concerns with my 406 that prompted me to wonder what I'd do if it failed (or I smoked it) - apparently, the side cover could even fail (shear) on the freewheel side, as illustrated in numerous forum posts. If it died, I just wasn't willing to go back to a larger diameter unit. And certainly not a geared hub, just for reasons of noise alone. I do have a "winter bike" with a geared motor - the torque it lays down in conjunction with the studded Schwalbe Winters makes it a lot of fun in the snow and ice, and the noise isn't as much of a bother because there are fewer people about when it's cold outside. Anyways, after digging around, I found the "SAW 400" series I linked to at the beginning of this post. Hmmm... There looked to be some promise, here - but I could find *nothing* on them online. I did see that ebikes.ca was using a SAW405 to replace the original motor on the Stokemonkey - and that led me to just e-mailing Kenny at Crystalyte directly to ask, "WTF? Is this actually a product?". He told me that the new motor *is* a sort of replacement for the original 400 series, but that the configuration is quite different internally - so I did the obvious thing. I asked him to sell me one - which he did, and I just got it today. I would have probably been better served to have just sent Justin's folks a note to ask why they don't carry it, but I'm impulsive that way.

It seems well executed, and (cosmetically) it ticks all of the right boxes in terms of relative "stealth". It's actually quite attractive, as could be seen on the link - and here it is standing in front of my old 406. It's actually slightly smaller in diameter than the 406.

Crystalyte SAW vs original.jpg

But I haven't even fired it up yet, as there is a huge issue with the construction. The drawings on the Crystalyte site clearly show the rear wheel motor offset sufficiently to leave generous room for a 7/8 speed freewheel within a 135mm dropout space. The motor I received is CENTERED on the axle.

Crystalye 406 Centered.jpg

Not useful unless I add spacers on the drive side and mount this thing on a steel frame that I can bend to provide at least 155mm - I only have one bike that I can bend this much, and it wouldn't be my first choice. And I've dished a wheel like this in past. I didn't like the way the result felt.

I'm going to power this thing up to get a sense of how it feels, and how many unloaded RPM it will turn with one of my packs, but wanted to start this thread to solicit input from anyone else who has encountered one of these things (or, more likely, to point me to where the subject has been discussed to death, and I've just missed it :-)). Not what Kenny at Crystalyte is going to do for me (would take new axle, if I could be assured that it's OK to press out the old one), we'll see.

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philf   1 kW

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Re: Crystalyte SAW 400 Series

Post by philf » Aug 20 2018 2:39pm

I haven't posted anything new on this, as life has a way of getting in the way.

Although most of my bike is wired with JST connectors (configured to match the standard that e-bikes.ca is using), the connector at the rear drop-out/motor is still the original Crystalyte standard combination of Anderson phase wires and a Tajima ("mini XLR") connector for the halls. For giggles, I thought I'd just mount the motor to see if it was wired with the same pinout as the old motor (it was) and get a sense of how this thing runs. Apart from looking slow, the unloaded speed reading on the Cycle Analyst was way off what I thought was reasonable. Duh - the pole count is obviously wrong. The original 406 has 16 magnets, and the SAW 406 has 46. So after adjusting the pole count from 8 to 23, I was getting a reasonable number. Unloaded (and not even laced into a wheel), the top speed I was showing was just short of 33 km/h. The original 406 (laced into a wheel with a tire) was running at 49 km/h on the the same setup/battery. My thinking is that the SAW 406 likely makes up in torque what it lacks in speed - but I haven't been able to conduct any more tests. After only five minutes of running, one of the hall sensors packed it in (or there is an issue with either the wiring or connector - haven't diagnosed). Will circle back to this.

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fechter   100 GW

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Re: Crystalyte SAW 400 Series

Post by fechter » Aug 20 2018 2:47pm

Do you know how much wider the gear cluster is compared to the available space? I know on my A2B the motor is slightly offset to make room for the gears and the wheel had to be dished to get the tire centered. It just fits a 7 speed freewheel.
"One test is worth a thousand opinions"

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philf   1 kW

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Re: Crystalyte SAW 400 Series

Post by philf » Aug 20 2018 3:08pm

fechter wrote:
Aug 20 2018 2:47pm
Do you know how much wider the gear cluster is compared to the available space? I know on my A2B the motor is slightly offset to make room for the gears and the wheel had to be dished to get the tire centered. It just fits a 7 speed freewheel.
Therein lies the rub. The drawing on the Crystalyte site would be perfect (could easily accommodate a 7 speed freewheel, and even an 8 - with only a few mm spread). The dishing wouldn't be too severe, either (no worse than my existing wheel). But the sample motor I received has the motor body CENTERED on the axle. Great for lacing a wheel (no dishing), but no room for a decent freewheel.

Here's the drawing from the Crystalyte site - the markings in red are the actual measurements from the hub I received.


Incorrect SAW 400 spacing.jpg
Incorrect SAW 400 spacing.jpg (62.33 KiB) Viewed 553 times

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fechter   100 GW

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Re: Crystalyte SAW 400 Series

Post by fechter » Aug 21 2018 10:25am

Bummer.

I don't think it is easy to remove and replace the axle.

You might be able to take a 5-7 speed freewheel and modify it to only have 3 speeds with the same overall ratio range. You can also use your front to get 3 gears.

On my BBSHD fat bike, I 'edited' the cassette to put the largest cog in more toward the middle of the cluster to keep the chain line reasonable. Easy enough with a free hub, but not sure if you can pull a similar trick with a freewheel cluster and cut it off at 3 gears.
"One test is worth a thousand opinions"

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Re: Crystalyte SAW 400 Series

Post by 2old » Aug 21 2018 10:34am

Some freewheel clusters can be taken apart and "re-manufactured" with gears removed and replaced by spacers. I did it with a Shimano or DNM several years ago, but don't remember the exact one which I ended up using. Maybe Sheldon Smith has something.

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philf   1 kW

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Re: Crystalyte SAW 400 Series

Post by philf » Oct 20 2018 3:51pm

I hadn't posted anything more on this, as I had pretty much given up on this thing. Apart from being dimensionally wrong (discouraging me from even wanting to lace it into a wheel), a hall sensor had failed before I even had a chance to put it through its paces. Then my basement flooded...

But this is the short version of what happened when I picked it up again a few weeks ago. My "winter" bike (a cheap Canadian Tire special that I swapped a number of components on, including taking out the really bad rear spring that was good for nothing except energy-wasting pedal bob) has a steel rear triangle. I forgot that it also has a very rare 7 speed Shimano freewheel (one that goes down to 11 teeth), and that got me measuring. I calculated that I could actually build a wheel around this hub, using this freewheel, that I could fit inside 148mm and without having to severely dish it to get it centered. 13mm isn't really a long way to bend a steel frame, so I thought I'd give it a go.

First, I had to repair the failed hall sensor. Getting into this motor is a bit tougher than the old 400 series - the bearings are pressed both into the covers AND on to the axle. So you can take out all of the cap screws, spin the covers til the cows come home, but not budge them in the least to pull 'em off. I wound up building a jig that would let me use a gear puller to get the job done, and I finally got inside. Wish I had taken some pictures of this to share, but alas...

Anyways, the one hall sensor had definitely failed - and there was no sign of trauma or compromised wiring. So, as it was aggravating to get to this point, I replaced all three.

Lacing the wheel into an Alex DM18, the appearance of the thing is just what I was after:

WInterBIke400.jpg

It's reasonably stealthy in this build (I removed the saddle bag from this side to show off the motor), and has a quality feel to it.

Performance?

My first test was with a Keywin ("e-crazyman") 72V 1500W controller whose LVC had been dumbed down to work with a 12S (49.9V off the charger) lithium pack. The torque was surprising, but the NOISE from a standing start was horrendous. Not stealthy at all. It settles in fine when you're running, but... I've also just tested it out with an XLD "Brainpower" 48V/500W controller that I've written about elsewhere on the forum. This thing is *much* quieter, and at 49V I was humming along at around 38 km/h with only minor pedal assist on the 11 tooth cog. I was frankly very surprised that this thing works as well as it does.

Soundwise, it reminds me of the original Golden Motor. There's that delicate "ping/buzz" when it's just riding along in cruise mode. Same magnet/pole config as the GM, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Overall, I'm not unhappy with the way this had turned out. When I get the Big Apples off the bike and return the studded Schwalbe Winters, the real test will be how it does at getting the bike going in snow.

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