Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

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Sunder
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Joined: 10/10/2016
Points: 55

Hi All,

Have been largely lurking here for the past two weeks, because the bike I bought wasn't registered. I didn't want to get all excited to find there was some red tape stopping me registering it.

But now, its all clear! Number plated and road legal. According to the motor registry, the first time since 2012. According to the register of encumbered vehicles, the first time ever. (Yeah, don't ask...)

As a parts bike converted back to a daily ride, there are some limits on the bike. Firstly, the battery pack is the former owner's old 43S1P 40ah LiFePo4 pack which is apparently down to 22ah, and sagging a bit. That's only "just" enough for me, as the longest regular commute for me will be 40km + some for looking for parking. I believe 22ah should give me around 50km, so I'd like a touch more buffer.

So, my first few mods will be:

1. Change headlight globe to something brighter
2. Build a J1772 to NEMA conversion box. My house is already set up with a J1772 charger (my car is a PHEV), and there's 3 free J1772 chargers within 5km of my house.
3. Build a 3Ah, power density LTO booster pack. This should be able to deliver 28kw for 10 seconds and 20-23kw until flat.

The reason I'm going a booster pack rather than a full pack replacement is mainly cost. I'm hoping that since LiFePo4 tends to lose power density faster than it loses energy density, that there might actually be another 10-20% hidden in those cells, but inaccessible because of the LVC sag. Then, between the extra 3ah the booster offers and these hidden amps, I have a bit more of a buffer. Even if I don't, who could say no to a bit more get up and go, right? ;)

Any comments or links to technical info would be greatly appreciated. The search engine on this site leaves a little to be desired... :)

Looking forward to being a part of this very exclusive club!

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LeftieBiker
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

2. Build a J1772 to NEMA conversion box.

You probably don't want to spend the money, but Tucson EV (IIRC) sold me a nice unit for about $160. I'll retrieve the details if you are interested.

Sunder
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Joined: 10/10/2016
Points: 55
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Thanks. Thats the company I went through to get one. Glad someone else is recommending them, because before the sale, they were happy to answer any questions. Once the money was sent, nothing. Not even the tracking number he promised. He might be busy so I'll give him a few more days.

Very quiet forum, hey?

Sunder
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Points: 55
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Thanks. Thats the company I went through to get one. Glad someone else is recommending them, because before the sale, they were happy to answer any questions. Once the money was sent, nothing. Not even the tracking number he promised. He might be busy so I'll give him a few more days.

Very quiet forum, hey?

R
R's picture
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Points: 1725
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Number plated and road legal

Congratulations!!
about:

Build a 3Ah, power density LTO booster pack. The reason I'm going a booster pack rather than a full pack replacement is mainly cost.

The highest cost is YOUR time. Find a wrecked leaf, sell the modules you don't need. Buy latest BMS generation with leaf pcb adapters at vectrix. It is nearly plug and play conversion.
Don't try to save these gp lifepo, they're terribly bad. Sell them at bargain price for solar storage or anything else, install leaf, drive&enjoy.

Sunder
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Points: 55
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

I'd love to. But:

1. Budget. I think I looked and it'd be around $3k USD landed for a set of Leaf cells, with no BMS. The booster battery would be around $650 USD landed, and would be faster to assemble.

2. Leaf cells aren't easy to get here. They're everywhere on ebay.com, but nowhere to be seen on ebay.com.au

If I use this bike as much as I think I will, probably some time next year I'll look into it again.

boeingpilot
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Joined: 09/27/2015
Points: 94
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Congratulations. If you don't get the Tucson EV or want to cancel, look at 300mpg.org's blog. I basically built the same box, I think with a used J1772 connector I have all of $70 in the thing. Wiring is super simple.

It's a good idea to have. Even with Leaf cells, you'll always want to go further, or reduce range anxiety. In my case I have about 60 mile range (I treat the Leaf cells very gently) and opportunity charging means I can reliably get the full range out of the bike

Sunder
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Points: 55
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Thanks mate. Did you ever find a place on the outside of the bike to put the J1772 plug? Or do you have to leave the helmet compartment open while charging?

boeingpilot
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Since I primarily charge without the adapter, the adapter lives in my helmet 'trunk'. Generally speaking, most J1772 charger cables will (just) fit in the cable notch of the trunk, so you can close, and even lock the trunk while charging with the adapter. I prefer not to do that, but you can. Many other EVSE users get 'pissed' if you lock the cable, and then if your EV stops taking a charge no one can use the EVSE. Depending where I am, and if I can keep half an eye on the bike, I'll leave the adapter on my seat, or the trunk closed but not latched.

Today was a good day to demonstrate why opportunity charging is key. Started the day planning to go to church, then make two stops and then home. Used 11 miles capacity to church. My pastor is ok with me plugging into a lamp pole socket, so it got just about a full charge (replacing the 11 miles) while I was there. I then did my two stops, and then was asked if I'd want to ride up to my son's college for lunch. Looking at the gauge (I allow 3.5 miles / bar on my bike) I could definitely make it home, and maybe make it up to the college and back. Fortunately there is a free EV station near the school and as a back up the college has a public use level 1 (read regular outlet) EV station. Pulled up to the public EV station, plugged in the J1772 adapter and all was well. Had a nice lunch and 1:20 later, had more then enough electrons to get home.

Got thirsty on they way back, and automatically picked the convenience store with the public EV charger (again, no charge). Again hooked up the J1772 adapter before getting a drink and munching on a candy bar. Did I need it, no, but hey it gave me 1 - 2 bars in 20 minutes. Wasn't sweating the ride home, and on the faster stretches of road didn't hesitate to go 60 mph since I had enough.

So 78 miles of riding, got home with 4 bars showing.

Here is the link to 300mpg.org's blog on J1772 adapter. Mine is pretty much an exact duplicate.

300mpg.org J1772

Sunder
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Points: 55
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

That adaptor looks fairly tidy. I was going to do something very similar, except have them back to back. I also have a few of these left over from a house renovation, so I could probably make it look a little classier ;)

I had thought about either putting the box outside the bike, so that if someone needed to unplug me, they could - but that exposes a non-water proof connector to the elements, and also exposes the converter box to theft. I also thought about seeing if the J1772 side of the cable will go inside the cable notch, but then as you point out, nobody else could charge until I released it.

Chargers don't seem as common over here as they are over there - There's certainly no power points near my church! Mostly, they're a novelty thing at major shopping centres near me. I live in a fairly well off part of town, so there's a higher density of Teslas, Leafs and iMievs around here. I have 3 chargers within 5km of me - but after that, the next closest one is about 15km away, and wider than that, it's pretty much the next city.

One thing I haven't mentioned so far, is that we have a plan to work in the UK for 2-3 years in 2 years time - and I'm unlikely to ship the Vectrix over there, even though I want to keep it. I'd like to "invest" more money making this bike more usable, longer range, etc. But it would seem a little foolish to do so - especially if the mods have a calendar life - as most batteries do. This is the primary reason for using LTO over LiPo or LiFePo4 as booster battery - LTO has >10 year calendar life, so it will still be good when I come back - even if I get another battery and continue to use it as a booster.

So for now, I'm limiting myself to "cheap" mods, though if something had a long calendar life, I'd certainly consider it - In a dream state, I had considered a 40Ah LTO pack, with a 6kw charger. Flat to fully charged in 1 hour - and can take full advantage of the power available to the local J1772 chargers. However, it'd be around $8000USD - more than 4x what I paid for the bike.

I guess we can be all idealists at times.

boeingpilot
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Trust me, public chargers are a novelty here too (except maybe for Tesla Superchargers). The church just happens to have a regular outlet on some light poles, and they are nice enough to let me use it.

All said, cost of mods can vary. I was able to source the Leaf cells for $1500, while the main source here charges $2500. I am running without a BMS, but limit my charge voltage and discharge to keep me out of extremes. The pack was pretty well balanced when I put it in, and part of the fall project is to pull the covers and check the balance. Yes, this is probably dangerous, but then again I'm not the first to run without a BMS. So $1000 for the bike, $1500 for the pack and another $100 to replace a bad charger. Also, the cost of the CAN adapter, but if you're going to run one of these it's a must have ($250).

With a little thought and care, a reliable 50-60 mile range Vectrix is possible for not much money.

Sunder
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Points: 55
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

I've run LiPo packs up to 1kwh without a BMS...

Seriously though, if the cells are well matched, you keep away from the top and bottom, and manually balance once every 3-6 months, I don't think the risks are all that high.

$1500... You're pretty lucky to get it at that price. If I could get it at that price, I'd be really tempted to get it anyway, regardless of the 2 year hiatus during the travel to the UK. Looks like the cheapest price on ebay at the moment is $100 per cell, so it'd be $1900 + shipping + assembly + BMS. If they will even ship to Australia.

LeftieBiker
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Sorry I haven't checked back here in a while, Sunders. Did you ever get the adapter? I found that a couple of days went by with no word because the guy who runs Tucson Ev (alone, I assume) was working on a project and didn't check his email. Then I got it in pretty short order, by USPS Priority Mail. I keep a heavy duty 9' appliance extension cord plugged into my VX-1's charging cord, and just plug that into either an outlet or the adapter. The one time I've used the J-1772 adapter I just laid it on the concrete and plugged the charging station plug into it there. People here are so EV-ignorant that I doubt anyone even noticed it was there, but in different circumstances I'd probably keep it in the underseat compartment and run the J-1772 cable into that.

heathyoung
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Points: 90
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Leaf cells are available from Graham at SuzieAuto (www.suziauto.com) in Brisbane. He was charging $200 AUD per cell IIRC. I got mine when the AUD was on parity with the USD - about $150 each landed.

He has VOLT cells as well, but I think the form factor wasn't ideal for the Vectrix. Width and height are OK but the length is a problem for a 44S pack.

Sunder
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Thanks Heath. $200 x 19 cells... $3800 + BMS (Are you using one?) + Incidentals , so I'll be lucky to get change from $4500 AUD. It's a bit high for a 2 year payout right now.

I've have been experimenting around, seeing how the battery copes under different load conditions. It does seem there is a much bigger sag problem than a capacity problem. On full charge, I can get that red LED to light on full throttle on a very mild hill. On the other hand, after taking out 10Ah, the resting voltage has barely shifted. While LiFePo4 has a flat discharge curve, I would have expected at least a few volts to drop.

I'm pretty sure stiffening up these batteries will give me a bit more life out of it. If not, I will probably throw some Multistars in there, just to keep it going for 2 years until I head to the UK, and who knows what battery technology will be like 2 years after that? Some of these lithium air batteries that are supposedly "almost here" for the last 20 years, might actually come. 11kwh/kg. Who wouldn't love that?

@Leftiebiker - Sorry I didn't reply sooner. I got the tracking number. Should be here by next week at the latest.

MEroller
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Large voltage sag means high (internal) resistance. Only possible countermeasures on the battery itself:
- Check every cell connection and electrical high-power connection for good contact and solid tightness
- Heat the battery to 25°C, if it is normally cooler. This decreases internal resistance somewhat

__________________

My rides:
QvR vR one: a Swiss package of pure understatement - innocent and to some eyes (from some angles) exceedingly ugly looks, but with raw and hardly containable electron power up to real 95 to 100km/h! And a literally rock-hard suspension due to a carrying capacity of twice it's unladen weight... Now converted to more controllable and efficient brushless motor and vector-contoller.

E-Sprit Fury (basis is the Erider Thunder 5000) since May 03, 2011. Highly moded - but now in active retirement

Sunder
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Thanks MERoller. The quality of Heath's work as far as I've seen has been professional and top notch, so I doubt poor connections are the problem. From the sounds of it, he's got a pretty good life out of this battery, and it's nothing but age. That's why I'm going straight down the booster battery route without trying to do a diagnosis first.

However, since I'll have to have it apart to hook up the booster battery any way, I might take the extra time to test the connections and the internal resistance of each cell. It could be a couple cells letting the whole pack down. If so, Heath provided me some spares.

Sunder
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Points: 55
Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Well, here's the feedback from the first round of mods.

https://endless-sphere.com/forums/download/file.php?id=206471&mode=view&

Sorry I can't seem to embed that as a link. The other forum it's been uploaded to doesn't seem to allow you to serve it as a file.

Long story short, the old battery was sagging about 48v at full throttle, allowing me to draw about 14kw.

The battery with a 16Ah, 36S RC LiPo battery boosting it, allows me to draw 23kw with only 14v sag.

By the time I hit that peak, I was already doing 90 in a 80 zone up a hill, so I had to release the throttle. That and I was approaching the car in front of me fast... Not sure if the bikes can draw any more, but seriously, that's approaching the performance of my old CBR250RR.

Which is the other thing I've learned in the past month or so... In a petrol bike, the emergency stop procedure is clutch, front brake, rear brake. Try that on the Vectrix, and it ends up being rear brake, fish tail, holy shit, let go, front brake, rear brake. Anyone else come from a manual bike background and have a hard time breaking habits?

LeftieBiker
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

I guess I've been riding electric scooters long enough that my hard braking procedure is "Get on both brakes at once, and continuously adjust the braking pressures to avoid skids." ABS would certainly be welcome.

Aircon
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Sunder wrote:

Which is the other thing I've learned in the past month or so... In a petrol bike, the emergency stop procedure is clutch, front brake, rear brake. Try that on the Vectrix, and it ends up being rear brake, fish tail, holy shit, let go, front brake, rear brake. Anyone else come from a manual bike background and have a hard time breaking habits?

I've changed the brakes on the bike so that the front brake is on the left, so braking for me is regen to the max, then squeeze the left lever as required. I haven't made the mistake of trying the same thing on a motorbike yet.

Sunder
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Interesting... I'm not intending to do this, but has a roadworthy inspection not picked up on this mod?

Are you also forming odd habits should you ever change motorcycle?

Aircon
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Sunder wrote:

Interesting... I'm not intending to do this, but has a roadworthy inspection not picked up on this mod?

Are you also forming odd habits should you ever change motorcycle?

In Victoria Australia, the only time you need a roadworthy is when the vehicle changes hands. Only takes 30 mins to change back, but it's MUCH safer this way.

I ride a "normal" motorcycle too. Never got the two confused....yet

MEroller
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Anything diverging from standard motorcylce / -scooter brake setup is potentially catastrophic, in my opinion. Front brake is ALWAYS RH lever, rear brake is either right foot or LH lever. VX1 with its switched levers I have always found to be very dangerous. It may have come about due to the regen-throttle setup, where a lot of the forcefull slowing down can be done with the throttle, thus keeping the right hand busy. So switching front brake to the left allows the left had to be ready for full front brake application when needed. Still hideously dangerous for seasoned bikers...

__________________

My rides:
QvR vR one: a Swiss package of pure understatement - innocent and to some eyes (from some angles) exceedingly ugly looks, but with raw and hardly containable electron power up to real 95 to 100km/h! And a literally rock-hard suspension due to a carrying capacity of twice it's unladen weight... Now converted to more controllable and efficient brushless motor and vector-contoller.

E-Sprit Fury (basis is the Erider Thunder 5000) since May 03, 2011. Highly moded - but now in active retirement

R
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Hi Sunder,

Not sure if the bikes can draw any more, but seriously, that's approaching the performance of my old CBR250RR.

My Vectrix, a leaf niner (19 leaf modules) ruled by old MC1014B firmware, registered 238 amps at 137V, around 32,5 kw, over 40HP. I recovered faith in my vectrix, and felt like a child with new shoes...
I'm just wondering if the engine gets damage every time I do a full power acceleration. I try to keep accelerations under 150A...
Anyway, If you want to feel that power , install automotive battery on your Vectrix.

R
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

I've changed the brakes on the bike so that the front brake is on the left, so braking for me is regen to the max, then squeeze the left lever as required.

I had swapped brakes some years ago. Easier to brake front wheel, much safer, but unfortunately illegal in my country. I was forced to swap brakes again to their original position. Fortunately in 2017 all vectrix will have to be sold with combined braking, there will be an upgrading kit for old Vectrix.

zeuz
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

R wrote:

Fortunately in 2017 all vectrix will have to be sold with combined braking, there will be an upgrading kit for old Vectrix.

URRA!!!! :-D

Sunder
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Quote:

My Vectrix, a leaf niner (19 leaf modules) ruled by old MC1014B firmware, registered 238 amps at 137V, around 32,5 kw, over 40HP. I recovered faith in my vectrix, and felt like a child with new shoes...

Right. So I need to find a longer hill, to see if it'll go any harder :)

I would like to keep the amp draw less than 160A (10C on the Multistars) most the time anyway. Apparently, the multistars fade quickly when pushed to their "advertised" limit (of 20C), but sub 10C, you can get good life out of them.

They're no Leaf cells, but hey, at $500 USD, I'm calling it a bargain.

Aircon
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

MEroller wrote:

Still hideously dangerous for seasoned bikers...

I've only been riding motorbikes for 40 years....is that seasoned enough for you? I find it FAR more dangerous trying to fumble from full regen to an emergency stop with the front brake when they're both on the same side.

MEroller
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

Aircon wrote:
MEroller wrote:

Still hideously dangerous for seasoned bikers...

I've only been riding motorbikes for 40 years....is that seasoned enough for you? I find it FAR more dangerous trying to fumble from full regen to an emergency stop with the front brake when they're both on the same side.

Seasoned enough indeed, but you did not quote me fully:

MEroller wrote:

It may have come about due to the regen-throttle setup, where a lot of the forcefull slowing down can be done with the throttle, thus keeping the right hand busy.

At least for me, when instinct kicks in (as tends to happen in emergency situations), I will grab the RH brake lever hard, not the left. That is one of the reasons why I never bought into the VX1...

__________________

My rides:
QvR vR one: a Swiss package of pure understatement - innocent and to some eyes (from some angles) exceedingly ugly looks, but with raw and hardly containable electron power up to real 95 to 100km/h! And a literally rock-hard suspension due to a carrying capacity of twice it's unladen weight... Now converted to more controllable and efficient brushless motor and vector-contoller.

E-Sprit Fury (basis is the Erider Thunder 5000) since May 03, 2011. Highly moded - but now in active retirement

Jonathanm
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

I swapped brakes over many years ago - could not care less about MOT - they are not the ones riding my bike....if I had to change it back for them - the second I am finished with them it will go back to front on left side - after having both options - for me there is absolutely no discussion....try it and see what you think....

MEroller
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Re: Another VX-1 Roadworthy & First Mods

In a VX1 I always thought front brake on the left came as standard, but you say you needed to swap the brakes for this to be the case?

__________________

My rides:
QvR vR one: a Swiss package of pure understatement - innocent and to some eyes (from some angles) exceedingly ugly looks, but with raw and hardly containable electron power up to real 95 to 100km/h! And a literally rock-hard suspension due to a carrying capacity of twice it's unladen weight... Now converted to more controllable and efficient brushless motor and vector-contoller.

E-Sprit Fury (basis is the Erider Thunder 5000) since May 03, 2011. Highly moded - but now in active retirement

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