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Gravity Deadeye Monster + Nuvinci N360 + BBSHD = Great commuter bike

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    Gravity Deadeye Monster + Nuvinci N360 + BBSHD = Great commuter bike

    1. Introduction

    Hello and let me introduce you my eBike build based on Gravity fat bike. This will be very long and I'm sure somewhat boring write-up but I felt the need to contribute back to the community which greatly helped me and share my rambling which hopefully will help others to make up their mind to build and ride an eBike one day. There will be little detail on how to build the bike, just a lot of rumbling around the decision making process and some observations after the build. If you just want to see pictures, here is the gallery.





    I have moved over to Seattle area recently with a job and while I was looking for new home, I rented a place about 1.5 miles away from my new office. During this time, I've decided to commute to work by bicycle. It was a great way to start the day running down the trail and less so great way to end the day with the steep climb up the same hill. I really liked the first part of it and could just about tolerate the climb, also being in late 30s with an office job, additional exercise is always welcome and can be a great excuse to order a dirty burger once a week. See dear, I exercise! The bike I was using for the commute was Kona Dr Fine with a great combo of Alfine 8 integrated hub and powerful hydraulic brakes. The best part of the bike was how silent it was. I had to buy very loud bell to stop people jumping out of way in fear when I appeared from their backs on the trail. The worst part was narrow hybrid tires and lack of rear suspension which resulted in a harsh ride.

    2. Considerations

    When I ended up settling in my own home, I was about 9 miles away from work at the bottom of the 400 ft high hill with about 25-30% slope. 9 miles on the level ground is not a problem, however climbing that hill was somewhat less pleasant. Having tried commute to office on my hybrid bike a couple of times I didn't like the experience of arriving to work all sweaty and exhausted. Instead, I had to settle down to daily crawling traffic commute to work by car which was taking between 25 and 40 minutes depending on the time of the day. Being curious person I started researching my alternative options. Motorcycle is something I've done when I was a teenager and it is quite a bit of a hassle and just too much for the office commute. Electric motorcycles are great, green and still very expensive. Road bikes are lighter and easier to climb the hill, sadly I am too lazy to get into a proper bike riding. I needed some middle ground that will give me a good workout option without killing me. So I've arrived to the topic of eBikes. After that the fun has started. I've ended up reading most of articles on http://www.electric-fatbike.com and liked what was written there. I've spend a bit more time trying to digest http://endless-sphere.com content but my head has quickly exploded. The information overload was immense, opinion always polarized and confusing. I had a couple of months to go through all that and figure something out for myself. I even went as far as purchasing Mongoose Malus from Target when it was on sale for $129.99. I went back to store as it wasn't quite to my liking in terms of build quality and suitability for conversion. The one I've received had 110mm BB and my estimations were that the chain line would be less than optimal. One of my requirements was to keep the cost to a sensible amount of money. I wanted to get better performing bike for the half price of those I liked in the store at $4.5-5k.
    2.1. Base bicycle

    So, couple of months into the research I narrowed down my choice to one of the bikes from http://www.bikesdirect.com. I didn't need rear suspension as most of my riding would be on a tarmac and compacted gravel trails. I knew that I will be replacing rear hub with integrated hub so quality of derailleur or cassette wasn't a concern. I needed hydraulic brakes and reasonable wide (3-4 in tires). I liked the shape of Motobecane Boris X7 but it was $300 more than Gravity Deadeye Monster which also brought the nice benefit of a chain tensioner and 135mm rear dropout which allowed usage of normal integrated rear hubs. So, I've narrowed down my choice of a bike platform and moved on to the motor selection.
    2.2 Motor

    Having read all the feedback I've assumed that rear or front hub model is not going to help me to get up my hill so I've rejected it in favor of the mid-drive option. I've come back a few times to evaluate some high-power models once I've stumbled upon them but all the time returned back to the mid-drive options. Looking through mid-drives, Bafang was reasonably obvious choice for the commuter bike that should look reasonable in the office car park as well as on the trail shared with people and other bikes. So Bafang was selected, with BBSHD being the logical choice for 100mm BB. I've spend some time looking through the display options and decided to go for C963 or DC10 option whichever will be available. Main reasons for the first option was compact and integrated nature and second option was great in terms of layout and usability. Then I've moved on to the battery choice.

    2.3 Battery

    My key criteria for the battery was convenience of use and reliable range from home to office and back which was about 18-20 miles, depending on the route. I wanted to leave home, arrive to work, charge the battery in my office and return home (thanks goes to my employer for powering my commute ;-). I wanted something reasonably good looking, easy to pull out and plug back. This requirement ruled out great triangular energy packs as they require ugly massive bags, heavy to handle and come with a connector to plug in and out every time. I've looked at dolphin and slim rear rack mounted options, however I've selected former as I had a plan for the rear rack mounted child carrier and the bike would be too rear heavy with the battery, integrated hub and a 4-year-old on the rear rack. Having looked through the different dolphin pack styles and types and having read this article at least 10 times I've settled down with at the spec of 12-14Ah x 48v or 52v. I know that Karl actively encourages 52v option, however peak performance wasn't much of a concern for me and I'd rather go for the cost effective / value for money option that could be tiny bit slower but still fast enough for my needs. My target max speed was 30 mph and I've calculated that with the gearing option I was looking for, it will be fine to go with either 48v or 52v battery. Of course I'd prefer higher voltage option, however I also wanted convenience of the battery level on the display which at the time of my research was limited to 48v batteries only. Right now there is an option of new color display from Luna that supports 52v batteries and this consideration will no longer be an issue
    .
    2.4 Accessories

    Additional accessories that I needed in a bike were the following:
    • Integrated rear hub. I don't like the cassette and gear change experience. No gear change sensor can fix it. I love my old bike's Alfine 8 hub and having once rented Novara bike with Nuvinci hub I knew that these were only two options that I can consider for my eBike. Ultimately availability and price of Nuvinci help me with the choice.
    • Hydraulic brakes with motor cut-off sensors. I needed the certainty of being able to stop from 30-35 mph and mechanical brakes need more effort and give me the feeling of less grip. There are couple of options available on the market – ridiculously expensive one (Tektro Dorado HD-E710) and knock off ones (Shima Deore M615 with sensors glued on using black silicone) at a reasonable cost (70% cheaper than Tektro). Guess which one I decided to go with.
    • Fenders to prevent any dirt or water getting into my face.
    • Rear rack to move stuff around and for child carrier mount.
    • Decent lights on the front to run comfortably on the trail in the dark.
    • Road friendly tires to make the ride better on tarmac.
    • Suspension seat post to save my back from road bumps.
    • I have considered carbon drive for a while but decided not to bother in the first build. May come to back to this idea when I'll be struggling for an idea for a new project. Cost was also somewhat high for the return on investment and I've read that belts are prone to slippage and loud squeaks under the load.
    • Kickstand. I needed it as I park the bicycle in the office under the stairs and there is no rail to lean it towards so kickstand was a must.

    #2
    3. Budgeting and procurement process

    I would say that this part of the process is the most painful, yet very rewarding. You sit and scratch your head for hours and days, then press the button and wait, wait and wait. When it all comes together and you like the result – you feel great with your choice. When it doesn't – you take it back to the Post Office and go back to the begining.
    When you look at the Karl's post on the topic of buying parts for your build, you'll see that there are 3 ways to destroy your cash.
    1. Buy directly from China from Aliexpress and throw your money into the toilet according to Karl. Most likely result of this purchase is going to be wasted time and money and likely fake product.
    2. Buy from Luna and at allegedly same Chinese prices and get guaranteed stuff from the US location.
    3. Look around for deals from different suppliers, such as http://em3ev.com, http://www.bmsbattery.com, http://www.empoweredcycles.com, http://www.california-ebike.com, http://ebay.com etc... and likely be burned by the postage charges or poor quality.
    I happens to have extensive experience in purchasing stuff from Alibaba.com and Aliexpress, so in general I share Karl's opinion on buying from China. However lately I have noticed change of this trend and significant improvements in both seller's customer service and accuracy of the descriptions. I have conducted dozens of transactions with China in the last year and ended up in a trouble only a few times. Out of all my issues, I've only lost time, not money as AliPay was always on my side when it came to items not as described or fakes. Most sellers when you leave them a negative feedback were keen to put things right. You have to understand that anything you buy there comes with no warranty whatsoever, however I have been successful in reaching out to the seller who honored warranty issue on an item long time after it was sold. Once again, I don't encourage you to buy directly from China as the risk is much higher and warranty could be an issue. In my case I was lucky that things worked out the way they did, however I have tons of experience and know what and where not to buy to not get burned. Unless you're comfortable with your ability to figure out if it is worth it, don't do it – buy from a trusted supplier like Luna. I only ended up buying a few small things from them and, in all honesty, customer service is probably the area where they need to improve the most, however I was always comfortable that I'll get what I paid for and if something is not right – it will be fixed.

    Initially I didn’t want to buy stuff from China as I am new to eBike building process and would rather spend a little more to get guaranteed quality from guys like Luna. Unfortunately for me, Aliexpress had 10 years anniversary sale with 10%-20% off on many items and I couldn't resist placing an order. It didn't help that I was on holiday at that time with somewhat clouded judgment. Sorry, Luna, maybe next time when you'll have anniversary sale at 20% off :-).

    Here is the list of items I ended up purchasing for the whole build process. There are some notes explaining certain choices.
    Item Store Price Notes
    Bike - Gravity Deadeye Monster Single Speed Bike Direct $399.99 Black, 19" size.
    Bafang BBS-HD 1000w 100mm BB with C963 display AliExpress $585.00 Was 10% off on AliExpress sale. Asked seller nicely to ship both brakes and motor together (which saved him on shipping) and in return - include extra throttle. Luna's price for the same unit with C965 display was $699, so I've got enough savings to pay for the set of brakes below. Right now Luna has a deal to include new display with BBSHD and should it be available at the time of my order, I suspect my decision would have been different.
    Shark Battery - 48v - 14Ah AliExpress $430.40 Was 20% off on AliExpress sale. Luna's price of an equivalent 48v battery was $564.99 with normal charger (that was out of stock) or $609.99 with advanced charger. I didn't feel like paying extra $180 for the nice charger at the time. To my personal taste this battery has nicer design as well.
    Brakes - Shima Deore M615 modified with Bafang connectors AliExpress $103.50 Was 10% off on AliExpress sale. Luna's price was $119.00 + $15.00 shipping.
    Rear Hub - NuVinci N360 eBay/WheelsAndSproket $199.95 32 spoke version in Black. Brand new complete set with 22T and 18T included.
    Rear hub lacing into the rim PerfectWheels.net $145.00 Larry was the same price as LBS yet much more personal service with a shorter lead time. He did an excellent job and despite saying that to his opinion the rim is not perfect, it is very stable and trued beautifully. Larry thought about the future and ordered a couple of extra spokes in case a failure. He also offers warranty on his work. Recommended if you're in Seattle area. I could have saved about $100 by doing it myself, however with zero experience and knowledge how to do it, decided against this idea. Some things just need to be left for the professionals.
    Fenders - Sondors mud flaps Luna Cycle $64.90 $49.90 + $15.00 shipping. After a bit of modifications, they are a good fit. Paint quality is somewhat questionable though. Very uneven cover with metal seen through the layer of paint in places.
    Bafang USB programming cable Luna Cycle $19.99 Shipped with Fenders, works really well with Windows 10 laptop and latest version of Bafang configuration tool. It is a must have tool for any eBike builders with Bafang motors.
    TapeCase 2" width x 5yd length (1 roll), Converted from 3M 3290 White Reflective Tape Amazon $10.29 Replaced original tape with reflective and also cut a few letters to change the bike name from Gravity to Zero Gravity.
    Q-Tubes Superlight 26" x 2.4-2.7" 32 mm Presta Valve Tube Worldwide Cyclery $30.24 After a failed attempt to go tubeless with Orange Seal and Sealant (unable to inflate the tires without the tubes), ended up replacing tubes and adding Mr Tuffy liner after the first time my wife had to pick me up half way home due to the puncture.
    Mr Tuffy XL Series Fat Bike Tire Liner 3XL - 26/29x3.1-4.0" Gold Tree Fort Bikes $44.88 Had to buy and fit to the bike after the build since I've picked up a puncture on the third day of commuting to work. Will see if this will help, so far looking good.
    Ancor Adhesive Lined Heat Shrink Tubing Black 1/2 x 48" Walmart $12.98 Should have really gone for 3/4". 1/2" was ok to pass through up to 4 cables but it was a very tight fit.
    Ancor 301503 Marine Grade Electrical Adhesive Lined Heat Shrink Tubing Kit (3/16 to 3/4-Inch Diameter, 3-Inches Long, Black, 8-Pack) Amazon $7.87 Small set of short heat shrink tubes of various sizes to tidy up soldering and organize wires.
    TOPCABIN Bicycle Adjustable Aluminium Alloy Bike Bicycle Kickstand Side Kickstand Fit for 20" 24" 26"- Black Amazon/Topcabin $12.70 Reasonable quality, needs an adjustment from time to time.
    KMC X8.99 Bicycle Chain (1/2 x 3/32-Inch, 116L, Silver) Amazon $19.29 Original chain was about 10 links too short for 18T on Nuvinci N360 hub and this seems to be a good heavy duty option.
    Shimano Brake Bleed Kit with Mineral Oil Amazon/Dish's Bike Shop $25.95 Had to remove rear brake hose to pass it through mounting hole, also took an opportunity to shorten it and add some heat shrink tubes along the hose. If you don't mind how tidy your wiring is, this is definitely optional item as brakes were supplied ready to use.
    NEW Shimano Brake Hose Olive Connecting Insert eBay/discountbicycle603 $11.45 Ordered full set of 4 as was planning to shorten both hoses, yet ended up using only one.
    Suntour SP12-NCX Suspension Seatpost 27.2mm medium Bike-discount.com $74.55 Shipped from Germany by DHL. Looked at Thudbuster, however wanted something lower and quieter. Also worked out cheaper. Very much like it having used for the last few weeks. Can't really compare to Thudbuster as I've never tried it.
    Vee Tire Speedster 26x3.5, Black Jet.com $99.56 Original tires were too knobby and I needed something with lower roll resistance for on-tarmac riding. These, however, when inflated to 36PSI make quite a bit of noise on the gravel trail. Excellent choice for the road though. Also considered this option, however the reviews were a bit more favorable for Vee Tire.
    Jagwire Alloy Stick-On Guides with C-Clips Black, 2 Boxes of 4 Jet.com $22.26 Can be purchased cheaper elsewhere, I just needed to use some of jet.com credit
    Jagwire Rotating S-Hook Box of 4 Jet.com $9.22 Hooks were very useful in tiding cables and wires at the front. Used one to space and hold together cables for the rear hub shifter
    2 x 30W Motorcycle Motorbike Headlight 1200LMW High Low Beam Flash CREE U2 LED Driving Fog Spot Waterproof Head Light Lamp AliExpress $15.06 Needed something cheap and bright and these seems to be able to do the job. They really emit only 10w each and need a bit more work to make them waterproof, however they'll be less of an attraction to others to take as a souvenir from the bike while it is parked in the office for the whole day.
    2 x Motorcycle Universal Fog Light Switch New Handlebar Motorcycle Light Switch ON/OFF AliExpress $4.26 Bought two to keep one as a spare to avoid long waiting time for the replacement. Quality is not that great, so worth keeping a spare.
    Meilan X6 Brand mading Smart Bike Light Bicycle rear back led Light rechargeable CE RHOS FCC MSDS Certification AliExpress $11.90 Very smart and cool rear light. Very compact and can be charged from USB socket on the battery.
    Axiom Fatliner FatBike Rear Rack Amazon/Dave 'n' Mark $44.71 Deadeye Monster has no mounting holes for the rear rack and there was zero information on which racks will fit well on the bike. However, having seen this blog post I've noticed that it can be fixed quite well, so I went for it and it was a great choice. Love the rack, very nice quality and easy mounting with a bit of a tweaking.
    Total $2,405.90 OMG :-(
    As you can see, it is anything but cheap, however about $500 in here is optional accessories that one could absolutely live without and if you're good with lacing hubs, you can get exceptionally good eBike for $1800 all in. Having seen a lot of eBikes in the stores, this is no doubt great value for money.

    Comment


      #3
      4. ZeroGravity Build

      It took me good part of two months to get all the bits delivered and to start the build and here what it looked like when I started.



      I didn't even attempt to build the bike out of the box, just checked that it wasn't damaged and all parts were in place. I have to give credit to Bikes Direct – quality of their bikes is great and they are good value for money. So, very quickly the bike was taken apart.



      I didn't have any bike tools and having read a lot about what tools are going to be needed, I ended up purchasing this kit for $35 which contained all the tools I needed for the build and more. The tools quality was acceptable and they were sufficient to complete the build. The only additional tools I've used were sockets set with various ratchets and butane torch for soldering.

      Bottom bracket removal was a very straightforward process. I did have to apply quite a bit of leverage on my ratchet, however if you start from the left side, it is much easier and it then releases right side as well. Took me maybe 5 minutes. I know some people struggle badly with this and I was prepared to take the bike to the store after trying to undo the right side, however having tried once on the left, it was off in a matter of minutes. Bafang motor went in, no spacers are needed, clearance is good on all sides, very easy.



      My motor came with Anderson connectors installed on the motor and piggy tails with matching Anderson plug. My initial plan was to replace it with XT90s in black, and I've requested battery with XT90 connectors, however later I changed my mind and simply soldered motors connectors to battery holder leads with double layer of marine grade heat shrink on top of it. I am not planning to remove battery holder and motor often, so I hope this will not create a problem.

      When I ordered the battery I was doubtful how accurate it was listed, however when I received it, it was bang on and even better. The weight was accurate and it seems to be the right capacity. Love the "carbon fiber" cover, looks way better than shark's dull black plastic (even with the great Luna sticker applied to it).



      One of my biggest issues with the whole build was making sure I don't end up with the wire ratnest and until this day I have no idea why I refused to use cable or velcro ties over the pipe to secure things. Anyway I ended up spending hours trying to figure out how to run the wires and cables together. The bike wasn't really designed for it and downpipe for example doesn't have any mounts at all, however thanks to some clever aftermarket accessories, it can be done. Everywhere where I had more than two wires/cables running together, I'd wrap them in heat shrink and then after the build was completed, I'd heat it up and it will securely hold everything in place together in the right shape. Here is the beginning of the process. On the left you can see 2 cables from Nuvinci hub, 1 brake wire, 1 brake hose and additional wire I run from the battery to power the light. On the right we have 1 brake hose, 1 brake wire, 1 display wire, 1 throttle wire. All nicely wrapped in heat shrink. Don’t repeat my mistake – buy a bigger size heat shrink, at least ¾ in or you'll be hitting yourself by the head many times like I did.



      If you had any doubts that these brakes aren't really build in the factory with integrated switches, here is the close up of the brake level showing how black silicone is used to mount the sensor. I have to admit that with my poor DIY skills I would have likely done worse job than this, so I am happy with the purchase.



      Mounting battery, soldering wires using great advice from here was fairly straightforward process and very quickly I've ended up with pretty much complete eBike.
      Despite of the scary stories of exploding and melting battery chargers I seems to have lucked out and my charger is of a decent type. It gets fairly warm while charging the battery, however nowhere near the dangerous temperatures. It's rated at 2A and charging battery from empty in about 6-8 hours which seems to be reasonable.

      While I was bored waiting for Larry to lace the Nuvinci hub into the rim, I've changed original rim strips to reflective tape and used what was left from the tape to change bike name.



      Once the wheel was laced and I brought it back, I've started to put together Nuvinci hub. I have to admit that instructions make it look more complicated than the process actually is, however there are couple of things that burned me badly during the process. The shifter is the weakest part of the package, it really sucks. If you move it while it is not connected to the wheel and adjusted properly, the cables inside the shifter get tangled and once you spin it after the installation a couple of times, you then have to take it apart and rebuild again. It happened two times to me – first time when I was putting it together and once more when I had to remove the rear wheel to patch the puncture and accidently pulled one of the cables from the wheel side. You have to be very careful with this silly shifter or you may need to replace it sooner than you think. I wish Nuvinci folks could fix it, however having looked at the design of the new shifter on N380 it seems identical, so I suspect it will be as fragile and problematic as the old one. The only hope is new metal one - C8s but I couldn't find where to buy it.

      There was a bit of an issue mounting rear rack and fenders as there are no holes on dropouts on Gravity Deadeye Monster to fix it to. I have ended up with somewhat brute force approach which seems to work fine. I simply drilled new hole in the rack mounting plate and attached it directly to rear axle. Original hole on the mounting plate was now a perfect fit to secure fenders to. Overall, I am pleased with the results, the only complaint is that fenders can rattle on bumps, however I can leave with it for now.



      I also had to replace original pull chain tensioner from the bike with the push tensioner, aka M5 bolt from Lowes that seems to work absolutely fine. Original tensioner is not compatible with Nuvinci's anti-spin nuts. The only future change I'd like to make to the current setup is to use a bolt with longer length (they only had 30mm when I went there). I think 40mm will be the right length and it will leave some room to put in another nut to secure it in place so it doesn't get undo because of vibrations.



      The chain line at the end of the build was not bad. I am no bike expert, but it looks within the acceptable limits. The chain is tensioned quite well and there is simply no way it can come off from the sprockets, which is another great benefit of the integrated rear hub setup.



      There is enough clearance from chainstay to fit wider tires. I think original 4 in tires would be just fine, however somewhat closer to the chain. The only challenge with bigger tires might be presented by fenders, as they are just right for my current 3.5in tires and I think will be just a touch too narrow for 4 in tires.

      Comment


        #4
        5. Riding observations
        5.1 Gearing
        When I first built the bike, I kept the original rear 22T sprocket from Nuvinci and 46T sprocket from Bafang. I know that lighter and much better looking chainrings is what everybody is obsessed with, however I fail to see the problem with BBSHD one. It is heavier, not the nicest design, yet not particularly getting into my eye every time I look at it. I feel that it is a matter of personal choice and more styling issue than anything else as you really don't care about an extra ½ pound of weight when you have 1000w motor powering your already almighty heavy bike. With 46x22 setup the bike was relatively easy to pedal, yet at the top range of the rear hub it was somewhat difficult as it was hard to get the right cadence. If I was to pedal this setup, I'd be looking for the lower gear on the front, something in mid 30's. When it comes to the motor power, it was a different story completely. The gearing was good and motor was happy to accelerate in pretty much any part of the hub range at any speed. The top speed was 35-38 mph according to GPS speedometer on cell phone. However couple of days into running this setup I decided to change the rear sprocket to 18T which I also had available in the box with Nuvinci. The main reason for this was that at any speed over 25 mph I was unable to keep up with the motor to pedal along. If you're looking for throttle only solution – this gearing I think would be just fine. Having changed it to 46x18, I feel that the bike struggles a little bit more to pull the bike up my hill, yet I can pedal along all the way to about 32-34 mph without looking like a clown. The comfortable cruising speed on the level ground is about 28 mph and motor needs about 500w of power with me pedaling to run at this speed. I have done a few runs at 35 mph and the battery drain was much higher to the point that one day I barely made my 18 miles round trip on a charge. Currently I will continue to run it like this and will wait for BCD130 chainring adapter to be available for BBSHD (there is a cryptic message here saying that it was supposed to be available about 30 days ago so I'll have to check it out later). After that I'll see if carbon belt drive will be a good idea. I'd have to figure out how to make a split in the frame so I fear it will take a while to proceed with this idea.
        5.2 Range
        With my limited commute I have to measure my range in increments of 8-9 miles. I have recently started dropping off my daughter at school, and added 10 miles morning run to the mix. From my observations when I run motor at 50% power with me pedaling, I comfortably get 3 runs (21-27 miles) per one charge. When I run motor at 100% power all the time with little pedaling, I can only get out 18-20 miles. For me this is a very good range, I'm sure with bigger battery better results can be achieved. I've been running my tires at about 22 PSI to start with, however having picked up a puncture within 3 days, I've switched to 36 PSI pressure which seems to have had a positive effect on reducing rolling resistance and increasing top speed without significantly sacrificing ride comfort. I'm planning to reduce it to 30 PSI later to see if there is any difference. I've made range observation only over the last 250 miles, so I'll have to give it a bit more time to be certain on accurate numbers. It is a difficult parameter to measure as the last thing I want is to end up at the bottom of the hill with heavy bike and no energy to push it up.

        5.3 Integrated hub
        I was very unsure about the integrated hub choice and if I should have followed Karl's advise and selected Nexus 3 or not bothered at all and went with a derailleur and a cassette instead. At the end I've found reasonably priced Nuvinci and decided to give it a go. So far I am very happy with the results. I like the flexibility of picking the gear I want and range of the hub. Don't believe people when they tell you that it is a good idea to switch Nuvinci under power. If you run under your own pedal power - this is not a problem at all – it will shift absolutely fine. If motor is running - Nuvinci doesn't let you to shift without a fight. Having taken shifter apart I can see how bad it will be to fight against it. My solution to shifting under power was to reduce the time it takes motor to cut off after I stop pedaling. After I've done that my shifting works absolutely fine – I just pause pedaling, shift it to where I need and continue pedaling or push throttle to compensate for the small loss of speed. You have to shift down before you can come to a stop as it won't shift through the whole range while not spinning. I will have to wait and see how it will survive the power application, however I followed Karl's programming recommendations and reduced start power on both PAS and throttle to 1% so we'll give it a go and see it over time. If it packs up, I'll get Nexus 3 to see if it will be a more reliable option.

        5.4 Bafang programming
        This is an interesting area where I think very few builder truly showcase the importance of custom programming. There is really one decent blog post on this topic. Thank you Karl. From the very beginning I was keen to get the programming cable and adjust whatever settings are going to be there. I was also lucky to have ordered C963 display which only comes with 3 levels of PAS assist that can't be changed. Bafang did a terrible job in picking an excellent King Meter KM5S device and ripping off most of its useful features. This is a complete mystery to me. King Meter's display supports ton of features, Bafang controller supports the same set, protocol supports it, other display supports it, yet Bafang went a long way to disable most of these feature in this display. It is a separate rant; however, I personally wouldn't recommend getting C963 display if you want advanced features. It is the most simplistic version out of them all at the moment. Anyway, I have applied Karl's settings to my Bafang unit which came with the same settings as BMSBattery (I suspect default Bafang's settings). Having tried it for a run, I applied Luna's settings and then Paul's setting and then I threw them all out. I've discovered that none of these settings really work for my intended needs. After a few dozen incremental programming experiments I have arrived to the following setup.



        In here you can see very strange combination of PAS level settings. Through experiments I have discovered that my display uses levels 3, 5 and 9 to map to PAS 1, 2 and 3 modes respectively. After a while I didn't like the way 100% is being used for the top level of assist so I've reduced it to 80%. To still have 100% power, I've programmed throttle to use assist level 7 which is set to 100%. With these settings on level 1 I get about 150w of assist that helps me to ride at about 15 mph on the level ground with me moderately helping the motor. On PAS level 2 which is the one I normally run with, I get about 500w or power assist and run at 24-28 mph which is a comfortable speed for my commute. If I am in a rush or running up the hill, I switch to PAS level 3 which can help me to get to 32 mph on the level ground. If I use the throttle it pushes me a bit further to about 35-38 mph. I use Karl's trick with small wheel size which tricks my display to show speed in miles. It is pretty accurate with very small discrepancy (it shows 1-2 mph more).





        This is another important area to change. Start current is set to 1% for a smooth start and stop delay is set to 1 second, instead of default 2.5 seconds. This makes a lot of difference in being able to shift the gears in the hub quickly after you stop pedaling.



        In this area I have changed the end voltage which I believe helps me to get the right range from throttle. I also customized designated assist level to run throttle at 100% power and changed start current to 1%.

        So far I have been very happy with the settings and managed to dial-in it to my preferences. I recommend you to spend a bit of time to try out the most comfortable settings for your riding style. It is worth it. My only complaint is that with 46x22 gearing I was comfortably pedaling on PAS level 1 and full Nuvinci range. Having changed to 46x18 I now have to shift a notch up from the full range in order to maintain comfortable pedaling cadence. On full range I pedal too slowly and it is too hard for my liking. Will experiment more to see if there is a better configuration available to run on PAS level 1 with full hub range.

        5.4 Wheels and tires
        Right from the beginning I didn't plan to keep original tires and was looking to swap them for something more road specific. I am happy with my choice with one consideration. You can't easily go tubeless with this tire. It is too narrow and when you try to inflate it without a tube, it just doesn't work. I have tried it with a powerful compressor all to no avail. I've read some advice on how you can it with the foam layers and split tube, but decided not to bother and run a lightweight tube with Mr. Tuffy liner. Time will tell if it is a good idea, right now it seems to be fine. The only concern is that I have to run tires at the top range of pressure rating and they make a lot of noise on gravel trail. I like my rim tape which is light reflective and much better than original red or yellow option. The tape I've got though has a problem in the way that it has some joins under the surface of the tape, which when you inflate the tube seems to crack through and split the tape allowing dirt to get in. Not a big problem, just more of an annoyance.

        5.5 Accessories
        I have right side throttle mounted on the left to give space for Nuvinci shifter on the right and I am ok with it. It has sticking out wire exit which gets in a way of my left hand fingers when I press hard on the brake level, so I had to adjust the brake a little to avoid touching it. Not super excited about the throttle quality, would be interested to see alternatives as they will appear. Don't like twist throttles like the new Luna options – they don't work well with half split option that is required for Nuvinci.
        I really like my rear rack – very solid and holds a lot of weight. It is rated to 50kg. I also big fun on my rear light – it is very smart and I leave it on all the time and it comes on and off as needed. Front lights are not bad, somewhat questionable quality but a pair of them works really well together. I initially had them configured with one pointing to the close range and the other one further down the road. The have somewhat focused beams, so I've reconfigured it to focus on the same point effectively creating similar effect to car's lights. Will see how they cope with rain and bad weather, might consider alternatives if they fail. They also have three separate modes, one full beam, one near beam and flashing. I think it is two modes too many and I recall seeing somewhere how to modify it, yet for the life of me can't remember where it was.

        Comment


          #5
          6. Next steps

          Having used my bike for about 250 miles I see the following areas to improve:
          1. Current biggest problem is my brakes. When I roll down the massive hill I get to up 35-40 mph and then I have to brake hard at the bottom of the hill. The brakes are fine to do it but they smell like burned clutch (I am originally from Europe where people drive with stick shift and have no idea what is the right analogy for burned friction pads smell). I suspect I need to find better brake pads to avoid smashing one day into the concrete wall at the bottom of the hill. If you have any recommendations, I'd like to know that while I am still alive. There is an alternative path that doesn't involve heavy braking, but it involves downhill trail with some high jumps which is not fun on non-suspension bike.
          2. I need a new helmet as my old bicycle helmet doesn't work. I have been looking around for the helmet with integrated visor because at 25-30 mph flies into your face feel like bullets. I currently use sunglasses, however would prefer half face visor. Most of the eBike specific helmets don't seems to have good ventilation as they assume you'd be cruising under bike's power, not pedaling to help. There are some nice one like Casco Wrap that come with a ridiculous price tag. Majority of good looking helmets are designed for motorcycles and way too warn to ride on eBike in the summer. In the winter I'm planning to use my skiing helmet with visor. If you have recommendations of the good helmet with integrated visor under $100 – I would appreciate it.
          3. Need to figure out what to do with the morning and cold/rainy weather. The temperature here is around 50F when I leave home in the morning and high 70s or mid 80s when I come back. I think I need some cycling jacket and gloves as at 30 mph it feels too cold in the morning. Living in Seattle area, one should always expect rain so I need to figure out some packable rain protection that I can use not to get soaked.
          4. Really need to get second charger to keep one at home and one in the office. My wife's eBike has 48v battery and good quality charger, however it has XLR connector, so I guess I'd need to figure out how to build an adapter. I hope someone actually sells them so I don't have to bother.
          5. Need to reduce fenders' rattle. Currently they make terrible noise when I go over the bumps or potholes. I suspect adding some flexible (rubber?) insulation between the metal poles and a fender should help.
          6. Maybe consider an upgrade to the new display type if they come down in price a little. Really like new Luna's display, yet not that bothered to throw $100 into it.
          7. Standard Gravity grip handles are way too hard. At high speed road vibrations are going straight through. Need to investigate something more comfortable.
          7. Conclusion

          Was it worth it?
          Absolutely. I seriously enjoyed building it and now when friends come over – I can talk them through this bicycle for hours. When they go for the test ride - not a single one was dissapointed. They still think though it is a motorcycle with pedals attached to it.

          Should I go and do it?
          Absolutely, it will be fun and you'll learn a lot of new stuff. At the end of the journey you'll arrive with no money in your wallet and a massive grin on your face. When I first finished putting my build together it was a middle of the night. Guess what, I went out to try it out on a street with no lights. On a bicycle with no lights. Without a helmet. In my home slippers, garden short and a corporate t-shirt. I am very glad there are no lights on my streets as otherwise my neighbors would have called the cops for the smiling idiot in sleepers riding motorcycle with pedals in the middle of the night. I am still smiling every time I go up that massive hill with full power on.

          Which bike should I build?
          I don't know. You should build the one you're going to like. For everybody it is different. I shared my build, my story, my preferences. I don't think it will work for everybody. I am sure it won't, but hopefully you can get something out my experience and it will help you make up your own mind. I'd love to be surrounded by people with big smiles on their faces all day long.

          Good luck!

          Comment


          • DeathMachine
            DeathMachine commented
            Editing a comment
            Very informative write up! Thank you! It will take awhile to assimilate.
            I don't know if you have gotten your riding gear yet, I would say that's very important. I have hit the ground at 25+ mph more than once and it doesn't matter if you're on a motorcycle, bike or skateboard. Pavement at those speeds is like #1 grit sandpaper. LOL
            ED.

          #6
          Originally posted by zerogravity View Post
          6. Next steps

          Which bike should I build?
          I don't know. You should build the one you're going to like. For everybody it is different. I shared my build, my story, my preferences. I don't think it will work for everybody. I am sure it won't, but hopefully you can get something out my experience and it will help you make up your own mind. I'd love to be surrounded by people with big smiles on their faces all day long.

          Good luck!
          Pretty nice build, but did you ever consider building a trike instead? I found them to be much more comfortable for long rides and can carry a lot of stuff.

          G.
          Alpha One 6000W tadpole e-Trike (Cyclone): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFC8MRwvgUM
          Alpha Two Cyclone 3000W tadpole e-Trike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkakVw8yY8E
          Electric Cyclone 3000W eBike "power mod": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_weSmz_h3Ig

          Comment


            #7
            The Deadeye brakes are worse than useless: they fool you into thinking you have decent brakes! I upgraded mine to BB7 calipers and 200/180mm rotors then added high quality Jagwire cables and BB7 levers. I have a pair of Deadeyes and only one has the upgraded brakes so I can compare them back-to-back: there is NO comparison! Do yourself a favor and get better brakes ASAP, the life you save may well be your own.

            Comment


              #8
              "...at 25-30 mph flies into your face feel like bullets." Had to laugh at that. I got a bee wedged in the spaces of my helmet, both of us panicking going 30+ down a busy road. What a gong show. I now have a solid helmet circa Tony Hawk.

              Great write up, thanks for sharing.

              Comment


                #9
                Originally posted by Lance Tesla View Post
                The Deadeye brakes are worse than useless: they fool you into thinking you have decent brakes! I upgraded mine to BB7 calipers and 200/180mm rotors then added high quality Jagwire cables and BB7 levers. I have a pair of Deadeyes and only one has the upgraded brakes so I can compare them back-to-back: there is NO comparison! Do yourself a favor and get better brakes ASAP, the life you save may well be your own.

                Lance, I've upgraded brakes to Shimano Deore M615 and they do a decent job to stop the bike. My concern is that at the bottom of the hill after I've used them to slow down from 35-40 mph they smell like burning friction pads. I'm sure it is not right yet I am not sure what to blame - break pads or rotors. I suspect it is the former and guess that I need to look for better break pads. On the cars one can go and get racing pads that don't degrade over the prolonged use and high temperatures. I wonder if such thing exist for bicycles. :)

                Comment


                  #10
                  Originally posted by CraigAustin View Post
                  " I now have a solid helmet circa Tony Hawk.

                  I like the helmet style, if only it was available with an integrated visor. I'm trying to minimize the number of things I have to carry with me and only have one decent pair of sunglasses that I keep in the car. Also riding in the dark time with sunglasses doesn't sound like a good idea, however with a clear visor it is a different story.

                  Comment


                  #11
                  This is an awesome build-log, with some of the best detailed documentation I've ever seen. thanks for posting this here, it will help many future builders.

                  Comment


                    #12
                    I 2nd that.

                    Comment


                      #13
                      zerog: Great job on a fantastic writeup.
                      I am planning my first build with BBSHD and IGH. I plan to use Deadeye Monster as a donor bike. It is great to hear that this is working well for you as commuter bike. I really appreciate all of the details and rationale you've provided on your choices. I hope to add details of my build and experiences within the next month.

                      Comment


                        #14
                        Well done! I just saw the carbon shark pack on the store page, it looks pretty sweet! Until now I've been thinking dolphin for my first build but the new carbon pack seems to be the best of both.

                        Comment


                          #15
                          I've had 99% success with Aliexpress but motor and battery are a coin toss. We're SOL if there's a warranty issue with the motor.
                          Thanks for the well written build log!
                          Last edited by Louis; 07-28-2016, 02:53 PM. Reason: Edited out warranty issue with battery when I read who it came from.

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