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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Conventional bike - ebike convertion for commuting and for fun!

Among the myriad of personal projects laying around, one kept coming up every time
spring showed its head. With good weather conditions and long periods of sunlight
I wanted to commute to work by bike.

This year I had set myself up to the task and tried it a couple of times. The trip it's
about 4.7 Km and mostly on secondary roads and some tracks. I soon realised, that
the short but step climbs I had to overtake, where to much for daily commuting.

After some research on converting a bike to ebike, I found that the Mid Drives
developed by the Chinese company Suzhou Bafang Diandonchi Gongsi, better known in the west as Bafang or 8Fun,
 appear to be the "standard" on the Mid drive ebike conversion arena.

Note that Mid Drives are not the only option in town. There are wheel motors of a variety
of brands and models. However, the balance of the bike and the efficiency of the motor
looks like it's better with the Mid drives. They are also more expensive on average.

Now the Bafang 8Fun 500W Mid Drive, it's a piece of joy. It has an accelerator as well as pedal assist.
While you are on pedal assist if you want a little burst (or just want to avoid pedaling), pres the acceletator and of you go.

There are 3 assistance levels by default but can be easily tweaked (following the manual) to up to 9.
There is also the possibility to hack the controller but that's another topic.

Note that the way the assistance works in this machine, it's by cadence. So it takes you to a speed limit
that's set per assistance mode, while it detects you are pedalling. Every-time it feels the speed has come down it pushes back up.
It feels like a sudden push but you get adapted easily. There are other mid drivers that also play with the actual force you are applying to the pedal
but I didn't want or need to go that far.

I live in a pretty hilly area and it is to note that the default chain ring I received was 46T. I find this one
to be a little to much for hilly areas. I am on the process of thinking how many teeth to reduce and how to do it.

Over all, this thing it's wonderful. I find myself willing to go to places by bike now. The hills that brought laziness
before look like candies waiting for a bite now. With about 10 AH battery I can easily do over 40Km on a charge.

Some considerations:

The whole set up it's heavy. The bike will easily increase 6 Kg. Added to the fact that you now have a motor
below you, caution need to be taken when braking and turning. Specially so on wet weather.

I am in Europe and if you want to follow the law and your converted ebike still to be
considered a bike, take in to account:

- speed limit of 25 KM/h. After that the motor has to switch off and you are on your own
  until you get below the threshold again.
- Motor Power limit of 250W
- It has to ran on assisted mode, which means that the motor only helps if you pedal.

All in all, it's awesome!

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