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BBS02 Townie Upgrades

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    BBS02 Townie Upgrades

    She fought me every step of the way, but a few tweaks aside, she's done.

    Last year I took my 2016 Electra Townie 7D EQ and put a BBS02 on it. This year I decided it was time for upgrades. What would be the biggest upgrade I could make?

    New wheelset... and this is what I ended up with.
    • Sturmey Archer XL-FD front hub (heavy duty drum brake)
    • Sturmey Archer RX-RD5 rear hub (5 speed IGH, drum brake)
    • Alex DM24 rims
    • Sapim spokes
    • Maxxis Hookworm 26x2.5 tires
    • Sturmey Archer brake levers
    • Bafang Hydraulic and Disc Brake Sensors E-Brake (Pair)
    • Left Hand thumb throttle
    • Connex Wipperman 1E8 1/8" chain
    • Gusset Squire chain tensioner

    Now that I am where I am, I definitely should have bought the base model Townie. This thing is no longer a 7 speed. This thing doesn't have fenders anymore. This thing doesn't have the original dynamo front & rear lighting. This thing doesn't even have rim brakes now. Hindsight is 20/20 for sure!

    I decided I wanted to build my own wheels and got a ton of great advice from this forum. I definitely could not have completed this without you guys. I learned how to lace and true a wheel and I'm going to assume since I've taken the bike out for a 5 mile shakedown run and they didn't fall apart, I must have done an adequate job.
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    I knew I wanted as big a tire as I could get on this frame. Maxxis Hookworms fit the ticket. It meant I couldn't keep the fenders on the bike, but I was okay with that, I avoid riding in the rain when at all possible.
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    I have mini ape hangers and I wanted to move the display closer to my left hand. Until now I've been unable to change PAS settings on the fly without taking my hand off the grip. Now I can reach the buttons with my thumb.

    NOTE TO SELF: Mini ape hangers really cause a lot of problems LOL. Everything that is standard is too short. Nothing you get in a kit is going to work. You are going to spend more money than you should to get things right. Ugh. Brake cables, shift cables, display wires... nothing was long enough.
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    The front wheel swap was pretty straight forward. Rim brakes were removed as I opted for a heavy duty drum brake in the front hub. Adjustment and maintenance are sooooo much easier now, plus if I do end up in the rain, they still function nicely.
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    The rear end was another story, egads. Every time I took one step forward, I took 2 steps back. Again without the help of some smart folks on this forum who were super generous with their time, I probably would have just given it over to the LBS and paid through the nose to get it done. As it stands, I'm glad that didn't happen as I know this bike very well now. I've gone from noob bike mechanic wanna-be to apprentice "thinks he knows more than he really does" bike mechanic. It's a good feeling.

    So back to the rear wheel install. I could not for the life of me figure out why the shift bracket and the brake bracket didn't line up. I won't repeat here what happened but you can go here ( if you want to see my frustrations. I still want to know why Sturmey Archer vertical lockwashers are in the same orientation as the horizontal ones.

    Next issue I ran into was the chain. The RX-RD5 sprocket expects a 1/8" chain as it's essentially a single speed configuration. Most 3/32" chain rings will accept an 1/8" chain. Sadly for me, the 42T Lekkie Bling Ring does not. This was confirmed once I bothered to read the small writing printed right on the damn thing LOL.
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    So the original Bafang chainring was put on. I haven't bothered to count the teeth but I suspect it's a 46 or 48T. I can definitely tell a difference and I miss the Lekkie, but on the plus side my top end has increased several MPH.

    So the chain is on, the IGH is indexed and I'm ready to ride! Woot! Here we go! *CLUNK* *CLINK* *SNAP* Awww... chain broke at the master link and of course I didn't have any extra. I suspect I didn't have the chain tight enough or possibly the master link wasn't fully engaged or a combination of both. Either way I needed new master links and a new chain tensioner as it really wasn't pushing the chain up as much as I wanted anyway.

    Okay, now we're nearing the light at the end of the tunnel. New tensioner and the chain is all set.
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    I'm happy to report, at this point it's finally operational. I took her for a 5 mile shakedown run tonight and everything is holding up really well. Whew.


    XL-FD I'll state this right up front... I've taken one of the big advantages of a mid drive vs. hub and thrown it in the garbage. With the drum brake setup, I have gotten rid of the clutter of the rim brakes, BUT I now have a brake bracket hose clamped to the frame on front and rear. This means in the event of a flat, it's not so easy to get the wheels off. But the reason I got this hub was for it's stopping power. A lot of people knock drum brakes, but all I know is this thing stops 10x better than the stock rim brakes ever did.

    RX-RD5 Wow this thing was a giant pain to install. But, now that it's in and indexed, it's really really nice. I only have a few miles on it so far so time will tell, but shifting is pretty smooth. Just a tad clunky in 1st and 5th but not bad at all really. I spend most of my time in 2-4 and they shift like butter. I really wanted an IGH and I'm happy I chose this one so far.
    Last edited by theronchaplin; 06-09-2017, 05:43 PM.


      I've been a fan of the REVOLIGHTS concept (360 visibilty and the headlight that illuminates the ground) but the application is a bit to complicated for me. Plus I'm not sure if they would work on the big ol' drum brake hubs I have now.

      Eventually what I'd like to have is a similar system that's tied to the battery with a simple on/off switch. Maybe at some point tie in turn signal operation too. For now I have my own cheap and dirty version 01...
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      This is 2x Night Provision head and tail lights. Head lights are pointed towards the ground a bit to illuminate the road directly in front of the wheel. Tail lights are angle about 45 degrees down to the ground as well. The main headlight on the handlebar is pretty nice for the price, Night Provision Ultra Bright BX-960. The tail light I've had for awhile, Portland Design Works Radbot 1000.

      So version 01 serves as a sort of "proof of concept" for me. The lousy part of it is I now have 5 lights that need to be charged USB and one that needs AAA's. It may be a while yet before I get to version 02 and hardwire some sort of similar LED concept to the battery. For now I'm happy that I'm visible at night and can see what's going on in front of me.


        Could you provide info on the Gusset Squire chain tensioner, which one you purchased, how has it worked and held up? I'm sorry I am only now reading of your issues with the IGH and rear coaster brake. I encountered the same issue with an 8 speed Nuvinci IGH. Costly lesson--about $550--but the ultimate solution was a complete rear wheel/hub/roller brake replacement. Very happy with the bike now except for a loose chain that has popped off once. Thinking a tension would address the issue. Thank you for your consideration.


          Hey dwahunt , sure thing!

          Correct on the Gusset Squire Chain Tensioner, bought it here Tree Fort Bikes I've had no issues with it to date.

          The bike never had a coaster brake, it originally had rim brakes and I built a wheelset with drum brakes. For the most part, the 5-speed IGH has worked well, it just occasionally (maybe 5-10% of the time?) feels like it's in between gears when I'm in 2nd or 3rd. If I shift up and then back the issue goes away. Hope that answers your questions!


          • dwahunt
            dwahunt commented
            Editing a comment
            Tree Fort Bikes shipped the Gusset Squire tensioner in record time, but I'm flummoxed over how it connects to the bike. I'm assuming to the rear axle, but if that is the case I think I'm missing a part through which the axle would pass and into which the chain tensioner would screw. Is this assumption correct or am I missing something. If correct, what is the missing part and where does one get one? I looked at the Tree Fort site as well as Gusset Squire site, but am still scratching my scratched up head. Thanks for counsel, dh

          • max_volt
            max_volt commented
            Editing a comment
            Agreed Tree Fort is a great bike shop. Normally the frame has a hanger that should have a threaded hole for the tensioner or derailleur.

          • theronchaplin
            theronchaplin commented
            Editing a comment
            +1 on Tree Fort, they're awesome.

            In my case I was converting a 7 speed derailleur setup to a 5 speed IGH. The tensioner attached directly to where the derailleur used to be.

          thank you for response. There seem to be a number of chain tensioner hangers available, just need to find the correct one.