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CCM Vandal FS MTB Magic Pie 5

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    CCM Vandal FS MTB Magic Pie 5

    My first 2 ebikes were Downtube folder front wheel Golden Motor Smart Pie 5 conversions that I am very happy with around home and taking along on plane trips. But we also have a mountain lake cabin with endless logging road trails, where I get some serious exercise with my Specialized Camber 29er (pedal only). And I thought it would be fun to try an ebike there to further extend my range and more easily climb up the steeper mountain trails. The long steep downhills have also been hard on brake pads on my pedal bikes, so I thought a direct hub conversion with regenerative braking would be good for that, and the bonus would be charging my battery on the downhills. Hence, I chose the Luna Cycle Magic Pie 5 kit along with a 52V 13.5 Ah bottle battery. I use these same bottle batteries on my SP5 folders, so that makes all my batteries interchangeable between my ebikes.

    Here is the bike I chose for my conversion, a 26" CCM Vandal. It is fairly cheap (caught a 50% off sale), for a FS MTB, but has many features that made it very suitable for my ebike conversion.

    It came stock with a 7 speed 14-28 free wheel, which is needed by the Magic Pie 5 hubs (can't use a cassette drive). The bike just has steel V brakes with separate handles that are replaced by the MP5 brake handles with the regen switches. Disk brakes are not needed with a regen capable direct drive hub. Also,many other bikes have the integrated brake/shifter levers, which then all need to be replaced. It also has twist shifters for both the front BB crank set and the rear derailleur. That gave me more room on the handle bars to mount my throttle, cruise control, switches, monitor, etc.

    And this is what the completed ebike looks like. The conversion itself was very simple, straight forward, with good instructions and video available.

    See how neatly the bottle battery fits under the down tube, with a nice low center of gravity. That is another reason I chose this bike. And note the safety strap, so the battery top is not just resting on the key lock latch. Most 26" FS MTBs don't have a good place to mount the battery. But this one has plenty of clearance, and no chance of the wheel hitting the battery. And I still have room for a water bottle in the stock position.

    I use the Batt-Man monitor which gives me great info about my battery status and usage, as well as all the bike speed and distance data. I can also connect it to my computer via USB to set parameters and archive data. Works great.

    All the Golden Motor kits have USB connections to a computer (as well as bluetooth for a smartphone) that allows you to program various parameters to control speed, power, regen braking, acceleration and others. This was very useful as it took some experience before I found the ideal settings for this bike and the mountain trail terrain.

    For example, when I first tried it around home, I had the regen set for 50% (default), but found that was too aggressive on the loose shale/gravel mountain trails which could cause the rear wheel to slide out on a sharp turn on a steep downhill. I found that 40% was much better. I also turned down the acceleration at home to 50% as it was too easy to pop a wheelie with sudden full throttle. However, I learned that on a slow steep trail, I lost some agility without instant full power when needed. So I set it back to 100%. I have my seat up pretty high for the steep climbs, so no problem keeping the front wheel down.
    Last edited by wklatt; 08-28-2016, 04:19 PM.

    After 2 months of riding, time for a review:

    The bike itself works surprisingly well for a cheapie. Of course it does not have the suspension of a $3000 top brand MTB. But I did not expect that, and the high tensile steel frame is still plenty strong enough for its intended mission. And the regen braking works very well, making the steel V brakes more than adequate even on the steep long downhills.

    I am using the stock 14-28 free wheel that came with the bike. However, the MP5 has a top speed of about 50 kph (30 mph), which is too fast to pedal with. Ideally, should have a 11-28 free wheel. The 28 (low gear) is fine for the steep hills, as I don't like to get too slow with the direct drive hub.

    However, am not totally happy with the performance of the MP5 at slow speeds on a steep uphill. It definitely lacks some power at the slower speeds on a rough steep slope. And the motor will get pretty warm after a while. It is fine on smaller hills, and of course on the flats. But I am worried that I might be working it too hard at the slow speeds. That's where a geared hub or mid drive would be better. And my battery range really takes a beating on these hills.

    So in conclusion, I am happy with the bike itself, but not the direct drive hub motor. If I did it again, would choose a mid drive (BBSHD) for serious MTB riding and use hydraulic disk brakes. This same bike probably would lend itself well also to a mid drive conversion.

    Having said that, the MP5 would work well on mild mtn trails or on the street. It does have plenty of power, when you let it gain some speed, and rips up the small hills like they weren't there. But it is not quite agile enough for a slow tight mountain trail.
    Last edited by wklatt; 08-28-2016, 03:06 PM.


      Nice Bike! thanks for sharing the build and ride review.