MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

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pjaszewski   1 µW

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MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by pjaszewski » Sep 14 2018 2:41pm

Hi there, I’m Patrick. Let me start off by thanking you all for this forum. I’ve been reading and learning a lot from you all. Thanks!

I’ve been thinking about building my first e-bike for about a year and now having just moved across the country from PA home to MN, I think it is time to work on it just in time for Fall. I’d like to build an e-bike for the purposes of commuting to work. My route is a fairly flat 10-12 miles each way (depending on if I go to Crossfit afterward). It looks like there would be a couple hills that I’m estimating are 8-10% grade from calculating on Google Maps. It is all paved and is generally separated from traffic.

With my first build, I should keep it fairly cheap to see if I enjoy the commute as much as I anticipate that I will. With that in mind, I won’t plan to be able to handle big snows like a fat tire bike would be able to do and focus more on a 3-season bike. I’m estimating a budget of $1000-$1500.

My commute now is an easy 13 minute drive and I’d like to target a bike ride of 30 minutes or less. For that 10-12 mile ride, that means an estimated cruising speed of 25-30 mph and a top speed somewhere around ~40 mph on level ground. My desired minimum range would be 25-30 miles so I have some extra battery capacity to spare. I weigh 250 lbs and want to be able to bring my work stuff, gym gear, lunch, etc. with me (likely on some saddlebags). I would like to pedal moderately (or at least have the option) to get some exercise and reduce some of the motor load at starts.

From what I read here, it sounds like a Lunacycle 52V 13.5ah Shark Pack should cover that distance pretty well - am I estimating that correctly? As for the drive system, I could use some direction. I had originally thought about a Leaf 1500W rear hub motor, but there seem to be a lot of virtues with the mid-drive BBS02 and BBSHD. They also have the simplicity of integrated controllers and a seemly straightforward install. But I suppose that depends on what frame I convert. That leads into...

Which frame should I convert? I have an 80s vintage Maruishi Road Ace 404 that I had been thinking I would use. It has U-Brakes and 22-630 tires. However, this week I happened to get some frames for free from Facebook that someone was going to just throw away. That gives me 5 more options. Are any of these good candidates to look into further? (Images shrunk to promote faster loading. Higher resolution photos available)
Note: First picture is not my actual bike, but looks just like it
Option 1-Roadace-404.jpg
Option 1-Roadace-404.jpg (110.65 KiB) Viewed 1480 times
Option 2 - Giant Sedona DX.jpg
Option 2 - Giant Sedona DX.jpg (117.76 KiB) Viewed 1480 times
Option 3 - Rear suspension.jpg
Option 3 - Rear suspension.jpg (97.1 KiB) Viewed 1480 times
Option 4 Schwinn Caliente.jpg
Option 4 Schwinn Caliente.jpg (108.49 KiB) Viewed 1480 times
Option 5 Schwinn Ranger.jpg
Option 5 Schwinn Ranger.jpg (93.43 KiB) Viewed 1480 times
Option 6 - Black suspension.jpg
Option 6 - Black suspension.jpg (119.93 KiB) Viewed 1480 times
Lastly, wheel size and tires. While this depends on the frame, I read good things on the forums about Schwalbe Marathon Deluxe tires. The Marathon GT 365s look good as well and might allow me to take it into some winter conditions. Looking at Schwalbe’s site, that seems to put me in the 28”/ 700C wheel size with 2in/50mm width (50-622 if I’m understanding right).

With all of that:
  • Am I on the right track?
  • Do any of these frames have potential if so, which should I investigate more?
  • How much do I need front/rear suspension?
  • Am I better off with the hub or mid in my situation and why?
  • If hub, should I look at the Leaf 1500 or something that I can get from a US importer like this one? Which controller?
  • If mid, am I better off with the BBS02 or BBSHD from Lunacycle?
  • Should I consider a different wheel size?
Thank you very much for your advice. Endless Sphere seems to have an awesome group and I’m excited to get my first build going. I really appreciate your help!
Excelsior,
Patrick Jaszewski

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pwd   1 kW

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by pwd » Sep 17 2018 10:15am

Welcome to the forum.

If you haven't tried it already; try the motor simulator to see if a hub motor is up to the challenge. http://www.ebikes.ca/tools/simulator.html

I would recommend an Infineon type controller from em3ev as they are fully programmable and fairly well built. A direct drive hub motor with regen braking( a feature of the controller) will save alot of wear on your brakes. Just make sure you buy some torque arms.

You will need to know what your power consumption will be to figure out your max distance on a battery. I will say right off the bat, a 52V 13.5 ah battery doesn't sound like enough; buy the largest; best performing battery you can afford.

For bike choice; I would pick the Giant Sedona if the road is well paved. If not; shoot for the full suspension (it also has a disk brake mount).
Commuter/Street Build viewtopic.php?f=6&t=98286:
Rocky Mountain Element
Magic Pie 4 front + Leafmotor 1500 rear w/ WCEC 18fet
Samsung 40T 14S7P

Offroad Build viewtopic.php?f=6&t=102195:
2019 Rocky Mountain Blizzard 20
Cyclone "3kw" 13T motor to 36T chain ring then 32T chain ring to 11T-46T Cassette
em3ev 14S5P 30Q or 14S6P 25R pack

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tomjasz   10 GW

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by tomjasz » Sep 17 2018 12:29pm

Nice last name!

ALWAYS buy more battery than you think you need. I'd go for 17.5Ah or more.

Which frame fits you best? That would be my choice.
Thanks Justin_le we're here thanks to you. All the best to the mods for their tireless work keeping it on an even keel.

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fechter   100 GW

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by fechter » Sep 17 2018 1:21pm

I'd go for the Giant frame out of those 5 shown. It looks sturdy and has room for the battery.

I have both BBSHD and hub motor bikes. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. A BBSHD will top out around 28mph limited by power and wind resistance. It is superior for any kind of steep hills. I like the integrated wiring and makes for a clean install. I have abused mine for two years climbing steep hills and it still runs perfectly.

Hub motors have fewer parts, so potentially longer lasting and available in higher power sizes that might get you over 30mph. A hub motor needs torque arms and the controller has to be mounted on the bike somewhere, so ends up being a little messier install. Hub motor requires less chain maintenance and is very quiet when used with a sine wave controller.
"One test is worth a thousand opinions"

999zip999   100 GW

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by 999zip999 » Sep 17 2018 8:07pm

The giant and use kool-stop pads. Rear motor or midrive . Go down to your local ebike store and go for the yest drives. Then your question will answer itself. 15ah or more good name and type cell . If they sell quality they will tell you the make and the model number of the cell that's being used inside the battery. If hub motor put a 11sp freewhell. When using the e-brake brakes you may have to change to friction shifters on The Handlebar any new wide bottom bracket For a 52 tooth front ring gear declare the frame you do want to Pedal at 30 miles an hour.
Last edited by 999zip999 on Sep 17 2018 11:38pm, edited 1 time in total.

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APL   10 kW

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by APL » Sep 17 2018 9:33pm

Your doing good, you've been studying!

That Roadace is a 'big' frame. How tall are you? The seat is down, but the stand over hight is up.
Might be that none of those frames will do. Although the Giant looks bigger?

I'd start with your actual route and speed, to figure out what size battery you need. The devils in
the details on this.

On a 12 mile course, 12mph is one hour, so 24mph would be 30 minutes. But yo have to sustain that
24mph for the whole time, no stops and starts or traffic lights. Add to that your weight, equipment,
and two hills, plus wind? Might be more than a moderate pedaling to do it.

Depends on what you can draw out of your battery for watts, and for how long. 52v is good, and 15ah
is stout. Can you do any recharging at work? That would make a difference. You could use up more
power both ways.

On a ten mile course, 10mph is one hour, and that would be 20mph for 30 minutes straight. A little better.
concentrate on the 10 mile course, if the Crossfit ride is leisurely.

Just so you know, 25mph is one thing, 30mph is quite another, on a bike. And 40mph is not easy!
(continuous)

Also, suspension is nice but not necessary, and 30mph in the cold is really, really, cold!!! :shock:

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pjaszewski   1 µW

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by pjaszewski » Sep 17 2018 10:21pm

Thank you, everybody, for your advice! I really appreciate you taking the time to chime in - this is a fantastic community here.
It looks like the consensus so far is to go with the Giant frame. That was my gut too because it's in pretty good shape, has front suspension, and has the option to add disc brakes. I'll measure the size tomorrow to make sure the size will be right, but to my eye, it looks like it should fit.

Originally, I had wanted to go the hub motor direction but read that it might struggle on a couple of hills I have (0.2 miles x 200 ft/8%). Now that I've figured how to properly use the calculator pwd kindly re-shared, I can see that the Leaf motor with a Sabvoton 72v 150a controller shouldn't have any trouble climbing them. A sinewave controller like fecher mentions would help keep things quiet. The Sabvoton, while a little overkill, seems like a pretty good value and I see people keep upgrading to it. And if I ever decide to upgrade battery voltage down the line, it should be able to handle it well. Is there any downside to a controller like this?

I rode a hub-motored bike on a tour in Barcelona and loved it how quiet and fast it was. I also like how a direct-drive motor doesn’t have as much wear on the chain and sprocket system and regenerative braking will save on wheel/pad/disc wear. I don’t love that kind of maintenance, but who does? Either way, like 999zip999 mentioned, why not test drive some options at the local shop and see if I have any preference.

Assuming after a test-drive I do decide to go with a hub set-up, I wondered about the torque arm(s). Looking around, most of the universal torque arms in my searches look like thin facsimiles of Grin’s quarter-inch torque arms. Is the Grin V4 the way to go? Do I need 1 or 2? With the regenerative braking, should one be mounted in reverse? Can I assume that they don’t interfere with disc brake mounting?

As for the battery, I hear what everyone is saying about bigger is better! APL, to your point, if I can detach it, I can charge during the day at work. I suppose that is more cycles on the batteries – does it matter? But you’re all right – better to have some “in the tank” just to be safe. Looks like a big 24 Ah triangle pack is the next step. Besides having reserve capacity, another benefit seems to be that I should be able to charge to 80% and help the overall life of the pack. If I do go with that Sabvoton 72v 150a controller, should I stick with 52V battery or up it to 60V?

APL, thanks for breaking down the math so simply – it makes more sense when you put it that way. I certainly wouldn’t need to sustain 40 mph by any means! This is my approximate route each way - I am hoping to cruise at 25-30 if possible to hit an approximate 30 minute commute. It’ll definitely get cold and I’ll have to bundle up!


PS, Tom, is your last name also Jaszewski? If so, you and my father share identical names!
Excelsior,
Patrick Jaszewski

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dirt huffer   1 W

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by dirt huffer » Sep 18 2018 12:09pm

Welcome to the forum and to Minneapolis!

Those bikes you posted cover a wide range of sizes from kids to what looks like a size XL on that road bike. I say start with the best platform youre willing to buy so you save money on having to redo things in the future. With option #1 you could fit a battery in the frame to commute to Duluth! 8)

Looking at your commute route, id say you should be able to get around without a fat bike 90% of the winter days if you go with a mtn bike with aggressive tires that shed snow easy. The cold is what you should really worry about! :lol: The city is really good about plowing the paved trails for commuters in the winter and we dont get snow like you do out East! Buy yourself some ski goggles to keep your eyeballs from freezing 8)

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pjaszewski   1 µW

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by pjaszewski » Sep 18 2018 12:32pm

Thank you, dirt huffer - it's good to be back home in MN! That's great to know that the city keeps the trails fairly clear in the winter. They do a pretty good job with the roads, and that's nice that they also do a good job with the paved trails.

To save having to re-do things down the line, I really want disc brakes, which is something I can do with a few of the frames. The Giant Sedona has that option and, having measured today, is the perfect size frame for me. Sounds like I've got the frame decided now! :D
Excelsior,
Patrick Jaszewski

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by nfmisso » Sep 18 2018 5:17pm

My commute is about the same as yours, maybe a bit flatter, the only hills I am dealing with are under and over passes.

I have two ebikes that work well, on slightly better than the other:
1) My 2nd conversion; it is a mid '90's Trek 720 (cro-mo frame and fork, no suspension) with 622 (700c) rims. It has a 1200W rear hub motor, downtube mounted 48V 13Ah (624 kWh) battery in a Hailong 2 case, with the controller and some other items mounted on a Sunlite front rack. It has also has a rear rack with BV panniers, and triangle bag for extra space. Front rim is a Velocity Dyad, with Wheelsmith DB15 spokes and a 40h MT1110 cartridge bearing hub. The rear is an Ebikling kit. It has Kenda tires front and rear, 28-622 front, 35-622 rear. Gross vehicle weight on my commute is over 400 lbs. I do ten miles, (7 miles on bike trail) including traffic lights in under 35 minutes. I do peddle a bit, not as much as I should. I use less than 2/3 of the battery's capacity. It will not quite do 30 mph flat out.

2) My 1st conversion (which is too small for me, and thus quite uncomfortable) is an early 90's Trek 950 (double butted cro-mo frame and fork, no suspension) with 559 (26") rims. It has a 500W 36V Amazon special front hub kit with a 36V 13Ah (468 kWh) battery in a Hailong 2 case, no mounted on the downtube. Originally I had it on top of the rear rack - handling was not good. It has Schwalbe Big Ben tires; 50-559 front and rear. It is a couple minutes slower on the commute, mostly due to loosing performance at the end. I use about 3/4 of the batteries capacity.

My next project is a mid '90's Trek 930 with a frame size that matches me. It will have a 1KW front hub motor, Schwalbe Big Ben tires, and a battery mounted in the triangle.

WARNING: ebikes have a LOT more vibrational energy than non powered bikes due to their speed. Recall ½mv^2. Use thread locker on fender mounting bolts, racks, etc. I have broke the mounts on my Sunlite front rack, and have added additional bracing from the front of the rack down to the fork.

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tomjasz   10 GW

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Re: MN Commuter - First E-Bike Build

Post by tomjasz » Sep 18 2018 11:37pm

Yup, MN boy here, left and then retired here. Winter keeps the riff raff at minimum. And make riding an adventure.
But the Norwegians make good studded tires.
Thanks Justin_le we're here thanks to you. All the best to the mods for their tireless work keeping it on an even keel.

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