Electric Bike Project - Need Opinion

Discussion in 'Electric Bicycles' started by Meer123, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. Meer123

    Meer123 Member

    Greetings, you all have been very generous with your advice and opinions when I've requested assistance on my "gas" projects. The world of "electric" powered bikes is new to me but I am very curious and I hope to use your enthusiasm as a resource.

    My 2-stroke gas projects all worked out, I have a 48cc (aka 50cc) and a 70cc (aka 80cc) - I still have them, both are mounted on older MTB's and are both fully functional rides. The bug to build an electric powered bike has been festering deep inside me due to 2 factors - both of my MTB's are bigger then I feel comfortable with and the local constabulary in Fairfax VA (northern VA) frowns on my gas powered bikes and electric powered bikes are silent so they might allow me to fly under the radar and enjoy reduced harassment ?

    I'm a DIY'fer of average ability - I built my last 2 gas bikes and change my own oil in my van/car. I am 5'10 and around 235lbs, 38 years old and in about average physical condition (i.e. … I can do push-ups and sit-ups but maybe not as many as before) and I want to build a powered bike that I can commute on. It needs to be reasonably quick (although it does not need to be a rocket and I am not looking to race anyone/anything) and it need to have enough reserves to carry me to and from my work (around 17 miles total with one medium hill) without being depleted. My gas bikes all have enough power to make this commute exciting and the range has never been a problem. But they are loud just get too much attention and I often get the dreaded "you smell like gas" comments as I ride up the elevator to my office.

    Here's my question … the most affordable "real" electric kits appear to be the 500W/600W hub mounted motors of Chinese origin. I see many e-sellers carrying them and I see them on Ebay as well. I know many of you are familiar with them and I'd love to know what you think of them. How many of you would purchase them again ? How do these electric kits handle moisture (from riding in inclement weather) or is it not viable ? What is the longevity I should expect from one of these budget kits or does spending 2x the amount really equal to 2x better quality and lifespan ? What is your opinion of them compared to those kits that are frame mounted and send power through the bikes transmission ? Are there other options I should consider besides those I've mentioned ? Can popular kits based on the BD36/BL36 be used with other controllers/batteries in case I yearn for more performance at a later date and would that route be simple to do or is it better to go "all out" and break the budget right from the get-go ? Are there specific bikes anyone would like to recommend to be the foundation of an electric bike project ? I am not yet set on which kit to buy and have been doing quite a bit of reading on different types of kits in order to compare the performance of a BD36/BL36 style kit vs. a kit from Cyclone (for example) … prices vary wildly from almost reasonable to nearly "used motorcycle" territory and I suspect real opinions of real builders and riders will be more helpful then me looking at random blogs and me attempting to interpret it to fit my curiosities ?

    Any other tips/suggestions/recommendations ? Any favorite bikes/frames ... any favorite kits or sellers ? Tips on specific parts/components in light of the daily commuter nature of the bike I hope to build ? Any enthusiasts (electric or gas) in the Northern VA area that can help an enthusiast of average skill ? or someone I can pay to help complete my bike (in case I'm in over my head and can't complete it) .... hahaha

    Thanks again and in advance - I appreciate the advice and opinions.


    PS … I will have 2 motorized (2 strokes) MTB's for sale shortly - both are fully functional and are ready to ride … the 48cc is on a large steel frame (best for someone 5'11 or taller) and the 70cc is on an XL steel frame (best for someone 6'1 or taller) … both bikes have gone over 30mph (although I normally cruise in the low to mid 20's) and neither have any "issues" needing serious work. If I write anymore about them, I may be reprimanded and be to re-post this on the "For Sale" section (and I will if/when I have pics) so I'll just say write me if you are in interested and are in the VA/DC/MD area.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008

  2. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    cool.. at least you have a reasonable grasp on reality ! ( I get way too many emails from people expecting 100 km range on a 200 $ ebike ! lol )

    But. one important factor = How long is your commute, and can you charge at work ?

    Hub motors come in 4 flavors.

    - Brushed
    - Brushless
    - Brushed-Geared
    - Brushless-Geared.

    My daily driver has well over 3500 $ in it.. and no end in sight.. but this is a lithium battery with a 1000 $ full suspension bike..


    check the Chaos page.

    But for a starting point the BL36 is a good kit, not as cheap as it used to be tho.. www.ebikes.ca is a good place to start for crystalyte or an eZee..

    I should have some cyclones in hand within a few weeks hopefully so i can compare side-by side.. but no experience on those yet.

    Range and budget... oh the joys..
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  3. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    If you can build some 2-stroke bikes... you can DEFINITELY build an electric bike yourself.

    You should be able to fly anywhere in the States, under or above the radar, with an electric motor. It's defined in federal law as a consumer product, not a vehicle. Virginia, or even the city you live in, could have their own law against them... but as long as you catch a competent judge or have enough money for appeals, you shouldn't need a lawyer.

    In terms of longevity, I don't think you should be worried about anything going bad other than the battery. I've never actually seen a "burnt" electric motor... usually there's something else wrong with the system, like a switch, wire, or power source. Electric motors really should last A LOT longer than most 2-strokes.
  4. Meer123

    Meer123 Member

    well ...

    thanks for the prompt reply and looking to see if anyone else would like to chime in ... with regards to being relistic ... I am a motorhead at heart and have had all sorts of 4x4 oddities (including a classic Bronco and a Land cruiser and a Discovery - for better or wrose, all lifted and modified) and was also an autocrosser who cut his teeth on BMW 2002's and older RWD Corollas. Did I mention I had a nice Kawasaki Ninja so I know what the 2 wheel world is about ? Anyway - I'm a daddy now (of 2 babies)and a certain amount of evil (ie - responsibility) is now a part of my life that I need to reconcile with myself ... most of my vices are gone and I drive a new minivan and a 100k mile Accord ... but bikes are not yet out of the question so I'm trying to maximize this loophole through "Motorizing Bikes" ... I have two 2-strokes and now want to try electrics ... I dont need a rocket and I know they wont 100 miles per charge ... but if they happen to be fun to ride and allow me to get to work and back (ie ... 50 minutes - 16 mile total - per charge) with power to spare - this would be an ideal "electric bike" situation ... I also dont want this to become a "big moeny thing" (blurring the lines between a bicycle project or a cafe racer motorcycle project ?) so I have to work in that "angle" into all my blurbs ... hahaha
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  5. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    16 miles = totally do-able..! ( Even with Lead Acid 12ah.. don't get 7ah.. they will not cut it )

    Better yet.. Nicad

    More expensive but even better = lithium

    Alot of stop and go .. or a straight line shot to work ?
  6. Meer123

    Meer123 Member

    significant amount of stop and go but not quite "New York City" style stop and go ... regarding the motor/hub kit ... do you have much exp with a BL36 and or BD36 ? Is it durable ? Is it designed for a certain number of volts/amps or can we vary that part of the equation in the name of more speed or more distance ? I see the 600W version a lot but I know they have them in other strengths - is the 500W acceptable for the purpose ?
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  7. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    BD - Brushed
    BL - Brushless

    The brushed motors are cheaper, simple controller, you can even bypass the controller and hook up a direct switch on/off to the motor from the battery !

    the Brushless motors however, have 3 power wires and 5 " hall " wires to tell the controller what speed the motor is going at.. also more quiet.

    The brushless motors are more efficient, and will last for ever... no friction.. no brushes to wear out etc.. it's basically a big electo-magnet riding on sealed bearings.

    I recommend the BL over the BD.

    The motor is rated at 500w.. but trust me.. you can push way more than that on a brushless motor without any problems.. you just need a bigger controller and larger batteries ! hehe..
  8. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    About the wattage.

    Volts x Amps = Watts.

    So 36v x 20amps(controller limited ) = 700w peak power but 500w once you hit cruising speeds..

    If you run the same motor at 48v x 20 amps = 950w peak power output.

    More volts = faster RPM = more speed

    More Amps = increased thrust, or more watts ..

    I have a bike with 72v 40 amps = 2800w !!!!

    And have a few controllers getting modded for 100v 80amps = you figure it out weeeeee...!
  9. Meer123

    Meer123 Member

    wow - lots of wiggle room to say the least ! So for the sake of conversation, I get a BL36 kit ... I need to get a bigger or higher capacity controller and this will allow me to run more juice .. correct ? And if this is the case, the upgraded controllers are available ? And with regards to the power source, I realize there's tons of different "types" of batteries but buget (and logic) may only allow me to consider the SLA type (maybe NICAD but that's a big maybe) ... do SLA's (and NICAD's) come in higher voltage or more Amps or do I just get more of them and add the number of batteries ? I suspect both avenues are being used BUT even the standard set-ups weigh a ton (or nearly a ton) and I dont want it to be purely a powered conveyance - it should still be a "bicycle" just in case I choose to pedal it ? ... as unlikely as that might be ... hahaha
  10. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    Without going into too much detail.

    I suggest 48v on a brushless hub motor.

    The Wilderness Energy 36v controller will tolerate up to 48v.. over 48v requires a different controller. WE does not offer anything more than 48v to my knowledge. ( the motor can take it, but the controller has to be matched up.. not easy )

    If you go with a crystalyte, similar thing.. up to 48v on standard controller then you get into the 72v thing..

    That said.

    You can use a 72v controller, but run it at anything from 36 to 90v ! as long as the lvc ( Low Voltage cutoff ) is set to 29v.

    48v is the MAX you want to put on a front fork.. and even then. i recommend a rear wheel motor personally.. but if you know what you are doing and are half decent with tools and what not.. ya know.. play safe !!!!

    Another option is the BMC / Puma / eZee , geared motors, they run well at 36v because of the geared reduction..

    1st option : WE BL36 with 48v and 12ah sla's. 500 to 600 $

    2nd option : 48v crystalyte 407 or 408 ( in a 26" rim ) at 20 amps. and 8ah Nicads www.ebikes.ca is the only place i know who sells nicads and test them before they ship on proper equipment. 600 to 800

    3rd option : eZee with lithium 1200 $

    Just like the gas powered rigs.. options are plenty !

    500w is plenty, compared to a 49cc 4 stroke it would be similar.


    sidenote.. 12ah sla's and 8ah nicads will give similar range. sla will not be able to provide it's rated capacity at the rate of discharge these bikes take. Nicads will !
  11. Meer123

    Meer123 Member

    that was super informative ... and the sidenote was a nice bonus ... would you pick up a bargain BL36 from another seller or from ebay ? Or do you believe the innards of these things vary wildly in terms of specs and quality so where you get them is that important ? with my 2 strokes - I suppose there were differences in what I got but the differences were not night and day (but the savings was) ... I am not so sure if it's the same with electrics ? Also - since this is my first electric build - I was thinking of a simpler fork install - if I am reading your note correctly, I can get a BL36 and jusice it up with 48V using the controller they give me meant for 36V without too much worry ? And it should perform close to a 49cc motor ? I know "earth shattering" performance is not going to be cheap but if it'll run with my cheapo 50cc 2 stroke in terms of power and distance yet be nearly invisible to all but other motorized bike enthusiasts - this is nearly a dream situation ... I'm looking for power to equal (or get close to) my 50cc and and last at least long enough to get to and from my office on one charge ... I was wondering if it can be done and at what cost ?
  12. vegaspaddy

    vegaspaddy Member

    hi meer123,

    check out daxs message in the vendor area he has a complete system for under $300 delivered, just ordered one today, for that price these are a steal, brushless, batteries (lead) included etc..

    I just installed a motor on my wifes trike if you look in the pics area you will find it under ez3x electrified. It is a mid mount system powering the chain so i was still able to keep my rear gear set on there. Havnt had much time to run around on it so i dont know the full potential or limitations yet, but it sure is fun to ride....

    one of the biggest costs with the electric system is the batteries but as the technolgy increases i think any kit could be upgraded when the prices become more reasonably.
  13. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    vegaspaddy is right, the money is in the batteries, it's like paying for gas in advance in a way lol..

    But. not all SLA batteries are the same. some are better than others.. B&B for example are good.. and depending on how old and how well maintained the bricks in your kit happen to be.. they can be junk right out of the box.

    if you can find a bargain on a brushless kit on , without batteries, get it !.. then get the 12v sla's at a local battery house . typically they run 30 to 50 $ per brick, but good deals can be found if you know what to look for ..

    SLA's need to be kept fully charged at all times.. if you ride to work you need to bring your charger with you and plug them in. otherwise. leaving them partially drained will ruin them in quick order.. you can get 300 cycles out of lead, but only if you don't drain them flat on every cycle and keep them full charge.. otherwise don't be surprised to see them die within one season.

    Electric don't really wear out.. they either work.. or don't. Heat is the enemy, if you mount the controller so that it gets good air flow, and seal it with silicone so no water gets in.. it should last a lifetime or 2 .

    I have well over 4000 kms on my Chaos's 406/409, mard kms too .. and it's as good as the day i got it.
  14. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    Oh. and about the " DAX " kit.. I'm pretty sure it's a re-branded hub motor, i'm not aware of any dax factories pumping out motors and i've covered pretty much all the brands over the last 4 years.. Golden-Motor , Crystalyte , WE ( who used clyte motors at one point .. we buys in bulk from various factories ) .. GL .. eZee .. cyclone.. BMC.. Currie .. and all a few dozen more.. but no DAX to my knowledge.

    Charger is also as important as the battery.. i've seen crappy chargers in my day.. and if you find a kit with a Soneil charger .. get it !
  15. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    Where have you been all my life, Ypedal?

    I love your projects, man. Seems like most people want a 20" rear brushless wheel like you have on your Chaos. It's also neat that you split the batteries up. Do you think that a battery pack could be made yourself from regular D batteries?? Seems like that could help out the high battery costs a bit.

    Also, how did you like the goldenmotor stuff? They appear to have high quality stuff, but for a good chunk of change.
  16. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    The 20" wheel is like using a longer pry bar on a stubborn bolt.

    2 things,

    1-By using a smaller wheel, you loose top speed. But, by using higher voltage packs you make the motor spin faster.. more Volts x Amps = More watts to the road.

    2- Smaller diameter wheels have more leverage, less distance between axle and rim. When you crank the throttle, you get up to cruising speed quicker, and it will take a steeper hill to make the motor stall.

    16" rims would be even better, but your cranks start to hit the ground lol..

    All batteries are not the same, the D cells you find at batteryspace.com or tenergy brand are not made for high " C " rates. they can be made to work, but get a ready made pack unless you really understand the pros and cons.

    Better yet.. Lithium !
  17. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    But.. more watts = less range. My voltage range would definitely be between 24V & 36V. Heck, I'd almost consider larger wheels for greater range, too... but I wouldn't even juice it until I'm pedaling as fast as I can.

    Yup... even still, once you wire the enough batteries for the right voltage & at least 20+Ah, the price isn't that much better (if any) from buying a battery from your Ebike dealer.
  18. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

    The efficiency difference is negligable if you consider the user and his throttle hand ! hehe..

    But .. smaller wheels can be more efficient than larger diameter wheels, you get up to cruising speed quicker, less time spent accelerating means less time wasting power.

    Some people say that larger diameter wheels offer less rolling resistance.. but i find it's more of a riding experience thing.. hit a pot hole with a 700C wheel and then hit the same hole with a 16".. the 700C will roll thru smoother lol.

    Testing efficiency using wh/km ( Watt Hour per Km ) .. i found very little difference when all other things are equal.

    If you slap a 406 in a 26" rim at 72v, your efficiency will suck below 25 mph lol..

    Regarding the D cells.. Unless you happen to stumble on a bargain, i suggest a pre-made pack from ebikes.ca, can't recommend these guys enough, top class and they support what they sell !

    Oh.. about the golden motor.. i have not personally tested the motors.. but i have one of their controllers.. rough to say the least, at partial throttle it kicks in and out abruptly, but they are priced right at times. Golden motor has a forum, i'll try to dig it up..
  19. Ypedal

    Ypedal Member

  20. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    With gas motors, I pedal-assist from dead stops. With an Ebike, I'd always be concerned about range, so I'd never give it juice until I've pedaled as fast as I can from a dead stop; it'd be one or the other, never both at once.

    It does offer less rolling resistance due to the greater momentum. And it is smoother because with a smaller wheel, you're climbing up the side of a pothole, while a larger wheel has a smaller angle to just roll over it.

    Really?? Seems hard to believe from what I already know & what you said above about smaller wheels losing top speed. What do you get with 20" & 72V?