Black Moria

davew's picture
Location:
Longmont, CO
Home page:
Vehicle type and Maker: Bicycle 25-36 volts Electra Wilderness Energy
Conversion time and cost:
1 day, $350 for bike, $420 for kit
Seating capacity:
One
Motor:
36V brushed
Batteries:
36V, 9 Ah
Controller:
Stock
Drivetrain:
Hub Motor
Top speed:
30 mph with pedaling
Typical range:
25 miles
Number of Wheels:
2
Curb weight:
72 lbs
Miles as an EV:
400
Charger:
Nexcell
Heater:
Effort
Lighting:
LED lights
Method for 12v system:
Watt-hours per mile:
Description:

This bike is comfortable and a joy just to cruise around on.

It is also killer winter bike. The low center of gravity, front wheel drive, and proximity of feet to the ground all make light work of snowy or slick roads.

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Re: Black Moria

I can't tell - is that the Townie 21?

An important feature of the Townie 21 is that the Xtracycle frame extension works with it.

I bought a Giant Suede a couple months ago and it's been great, even unelectrified (yet). The seating position makes a huge difference for me. The typical bicycle you're leaning forward in this aggressive stance, while on my Suede you're torso is upright and it's a totally laid back riding experience. It's such a little difference but seems like a major change. Oh, and being able to just put your feet on the ground when you stop is wonderful, much better than having to dismount.

I believe all the above is true for the Townie too, right?

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

Re: Black Moria

It is a Townie 21 and has all the same advantages of the Suede. You have no choice but to be mellow while riding it. It's just that laid back.

One trick I used quite a lot last winter on the ice was to place my feet flat on the ground and use the throttle to keep the speed up. Very stable. Very safe. You can only do this on a pedal-forward design.

--
Full time ebiker
BionX and Wilderness Energy

Re: Black Moria

Cool! That's almost exactly what I've been thinking about doing, though I'm currently considering a Townie 7 or DelSol Lowboy ( http://www.delsolbikes.com/lowboy_7e.html ) instead. Very soon I'm going to need to buy a car, a scooter, or an electric bike for commuting, and so far this type of setup seems like it would best fit my needs. Got any other opinions/tips/suggestions to share? Does the Townie frame seem strong enough to hold up for a while? Do you think the torque on those forks is going to be a problem longterm? How about the durability of the back wheel with that extra weight? Any more info you can pass along would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! :)

Re: Black Moria

pithy wrote:

Got any other opinions/tips/suggestions to share?

This was the second motor I tried on the bike. Originally I tried the Bionx, but the cables weren't long enough. I think it would make an excellent combination if you didn't need the two-wheel drive. Getting the Bionx to fit would be a challenge. I would recommend going through a dealer who has done it before if possible and if this is something you are interested in. This being said front-wheel drive works really well on this bike for winter use. Front wheel drive is also nice for loading up the panniers with groceries. On a rear-wheel drive bike, especially with the batteries in the back, that puts almost all the weight on the rear wheel. I am a fairly light person so I am still well within spec for the bike. My guess is that most bikes are designed to handle at least 250lb human so I figure I get a 100lbs of wiggle room. If you are a heftier person it might be worth thinking about.

pithy wrote:

Does the Townie frame seem strong enough to hold up for a while?

It looks and feels really well made. I have confidence in the bike.

pithy wrote:

Do you think the torque on those forks is going to be a problem longterm?

I wondered about this too so I asked around here. The consensus was the 36V motor does not have enough torque to hurt the aluminum forks. I've been riding for a year now, a rather brutal year at that, and I see no signs of any problems.

pithy wrote:

How about the durability of the back wheel with that extra weight?

Every hub motor I have ever touched has been laced into an extra-strong rim with beefy spokes. I'm sure there are exceptions but most dealers know what they are doing. I have never damaged or seen a hub-motor/rim combo damaged and mine doesn't even go out of true. The only thing I pay attention to on the rear wheel is get a good tire. I grabbed a ten year old tire on the first try and the sidewall started to fail after a few months. I replaced it with a kevlar-lined tire and it feels much more solid.

The biggest detail most of us need to sweat is how to mount the batteries. Suggestions for this will vary widely on what kind of batteries you choose.

--
Full time ebiker
BionX and Wilderness Energy

Re: Black Moria

Thanks for the info! I've got some more questions, if you don't mind. Basically what I'm looking for is a safe and comfortable way to commute about 5 mi. to work on mostly flat roads with some minor inclines. I'm intrigued by the many advantages of using a crank-forward bike with a hub motor. I'm fairly hefty guy, and I need to avoid getting too sweaty on my way to work, so I'm looking for a motor with decent power--but I don't really care about lots of speed, as long as I can cruise along at a reasonable pace (even without pedaling much).

Is the cable length the only reason you say that the BionX would be tough to install on a Townie? Or are there other reasons too? nycewheels.com sells a BionX option with longer cables to accommodate putting the battery on a rack, so maybe that would work? I'm considering getting the 350 BionX with NiMH batteries (possibly bumping up to some sort of LiOn after a while), which come in a rack bag and maybe also going with a front-hub BionX instead of a rear-hub-- do you happen to know if that would work on a Townie? Or is there something else about installing the BionX on a Townie that will cause problems that might require a dealer? Maybe something to do with that deal with putting the BionX "notch" at the 6 o'clock position for the rear-hub version?

Did you have to grind out the forks to install the Wilderness kit? I read somewhere that that's necessary on most forks with the Wilderness motors. I can do that, but I was thinking if the BionX did not require that, it might be a better option longterm if I ever want to switch motors or put the original (non-motor) wheel back on.

I read somewhere that the BionX kits come with double-walled rims but the Wilderness kits don't. Do you know if that's accurate? But you mention that you've never seen problems with either of those kits, so maybe I don't need to be so concerned about that.

Do you have any other thoughts on the issue of rear hub vs. front hub motors? I'm still debating about that bit.

That's great info about the forks. I had been getting the impression from what I've read so far that putting a front-hub motor on forks with shocks is always a bad idea.

Thanks again for all of your help! :-)

Re: Black Moria

quote=pithy]Thanks for the info! I've got some more questions, if you don't mind. Basically what I'm looking for is a safe and comfortable way to commute about 5 mi. to work on mostly flat roads with some minor inclines.

This is perfect for an ebike.

pithy wrote:

I'm intrigued by the many advantages of using a crank-forward bike with a hub motor.

The advantages are comfort, especially for your back and butt, and stability. The disadvantage is efficiency. I always ride a few mph slower on the Townie. This is usually good cause I arrive at my destination totally mellow.

pithy wrote:

I'm fairly hefty guy, and I need to avoid getting too sweaty on my way to work, so I'm looking for a motor with decent power--but I don't really care about lots of speed, as long as I can cruise along at a reasonable pace (even without pedaling much).

I think either kit would serve you well. I would be inclined to go for the Bionx because it is far and away the most reliable of my two bikes. Never a lick of trouble with the Bionx. The WE motor is fine, but I always wind up fiddling with the battery packs, wires, fuses, and so forth. No big deal, but it does get a little annoying after a while.

pithy wrote:

Is the cable length the only reason you say that the BionX would be tough to install on a Townie?

This is the only reason. NYCEWheels might even be able to give you cables of the right length if you asked. They probably have encountered Townies before. As I remember you need about 3" longer than stock. The Bionx kit is not quite as easy to install as the manufacturer would have you believe on any bike. I spent about an hour longer than I guessed trying to get the stiff cable-bundle to not torque the rail for the battery pack. (If you get one you'll see). It's a problem that a little common sense can easily solve. This being done, however, I really like the standard mounting system for BionX. It keeps the mass of the battery pack centered, low, out of the way, and firmly attached to the bike.

pithy wrote:

maybe also going with a front-hub BionX instead of a rear-hub-- do you happen to know if that would work on a Townie?

I didn't know they made a front-hub design so I really don't know.

pithy wrote:

Maybe something to do with that deal with putting the BionX "notch" at the 6 o'clock position for the rear-hub version?

No. The rear forks on the Townie have the same configuration as my other bikes so the notch position should be correct.

pithy wrote:

Did you have to grind out the forks to install the Wilderness kit? I read somewhere that that's necessary on most forks with the Wilderness motors.

I have never had to grind a fork. I'm not sure I would. I do have to spring the forks by about 1/8 inch to get the motor on, but even with my wimpy arms this was no big deal. The only thing I have encountered is sometimes the geometry of the forks on "real" mountain bikes gets in the way. The cheaper the bike the less likely it is to be a problem.

pithy wrote:

I read somewhere that the BionX kits come with double-walled rims but the Wilderness kits don't. Do you know if that's accurate? But you mention that you've never seen problems with either of those kits, so maybe I don't need to be so concerned about that.

I wouldn't be. As I understand the motor comes bare from WE and a dealer laces it into a wheel. Once you decide what you want ask around here about reliable dealers.

pithy wrote:

Do you have any other thoughts on the issue of rear hub vs. front hub motors? I'm still debating about that bit.

Front is better in the snow. Other than that, I'd go with rear. On the rear you don't have to worry about motor torque breaking the forks. Rear hub motors are also less conspicuous if you live in a place that does something silly like banning ebikes from bike paths.

pithy wrote:

That's great info about the forks. I had been getting the impression from what I've read so far that putting a front-hub motor on forks with shocks is always a bad idea.

It depends on the motor and the forks. I think most people err on the side of caution and say "always a bad idea". Given a straight-up choice I would err on the side of caution too, but there were enough advantages to the font motor that I went for it.
--
Full time ebiker
BionX and Wilderness Energy

Re: Black Moria

Thanks again for all the great info! I think I'm going to be trying the rear-hub BionX PL-350 with a Townie 7D (the one with a rear derailleur, not the one with the Nexus hub). I'm sure I'll understand what you mean about the cable bundle torquing the rail once I'm actually working on it; but, can you pass along the requisite "common sense" I'll need, just in case I'm a little lacking that day? ;-)
I'll report back once I've got it set up and working. :-)

Re: Black Moria

`davew,
How about given us a Blog or something we can add to our Building E-Bikes Collaborative Hand Books?

Stleride
Moderator Team Captain

Moderators are dedicated volunteer V Team members who help keep your V Forums running smoothly and provide Forum Support.

Re: Black Moria

After a series of frustratingly unlucky events, I've decided to not go with the Bionx after all. I'm now considering using a Crystalyte rear hub and 36V LiFePO4 batteries on my Townie. Here are some possibilities i've found so far:

http://tinyurl.com/33dydw ($500 36v 12ah lifepo4 on ebay)
http://66.216.117.91/product_p/36v-lithium-phosphate-10ah.htm (will have kits in november)
http://falconev.com/E-Bikes.html (kits coming in november)
http://www.crystalyte.com

comments anyone?

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