"New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

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acorless
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Joined: 05/23/2013
Points: 33

Earlier this year I purchased 3 VX-1s sight unseen from a dealer in San Jose, CA. The dealer was an ex-Vectrix dealer who was moving their warehouse and wanted to dispose of some stranded stock that had sat for several years. . In the original Craigslist ad, the bikes were described as 2009 models.
2 of the bikes were claimed to be new with original titles. The third bike was a demo that had no title and had apparently been crashed before being put into storage. All the bikes had been sitting for at least 4 years from what I could tell. $US3500 got me all 3 bikes.
Vectrix 1.jpg

When I bought the bikes, I was living in Grenoble France on a one year assignment. I had the bikes shipped to my workplace in Albany, New York and put the project on hold until I returned.
On August 25th, I was back home again and finally got to see the bikes and start the process of bringing as many of them back to life as possible.
Key data once I saw the bikes:
Green Bike: SN 1770, Sept 2007. Sealed Plugs. COO title from Vectrix showed an August 2008 date from the factory. Appeared new.

Green Bike.JPG
Red Bike: SN 0106 (very early SN), June 2007 Sealed Plugs. COO title also dated August 2008 from Vectrix. Appeared new.

Red Bike.JPG
Silver Bike: SN 0496: June 2007: Sealed Plugs. No COO available. Lots of scrapes, a broken front turn lens and some damaged plastics fairing pieces. Badly oxidized paint.

Silver Bike.JPG
In preparation for the project, I bought an older Sorrensen 300V/6A power supply off Ebay to help recondition the batteries. I also bought a couple of 200A Bussmann fuses.

Sorrensen.jpg
I downloaded the factory manuals off of the Vectrix Scooter Scene Site which have been very helpful for the dismantling and reassembly to access the battery packs. I can now get to the battery in about 30 minutes.
I started with the Silver bike in case I really messed things up. I followed the advice of Mik and trickle charged the batteries over a couple days to get them reconditioned. I monitored the pack in 3 sections to see how they compared and if any section was performing worse than the others.

Initially voltage was zero as expected. After 48 hours the pack was near 140 volts and all 3 sections were balanced. The bike did power up and I found that it had over 6000km on the odometer. A well used Demo bike. I was feeling pretty confident and decided to plug in the built in charger. NOTHING happened. Tried the trick to plug and unplug the sealed connectors up front but still nothing. Decided to take the bike out for a quick ride to see what else might be going on. The bike does function but the rear gear noise was not pretty. After a quick 15 minute ride, I rechecked the battery voltages and found the middle section voltage was lower than the other 2 by a few volts. Put the power supply back on and immediately saw the same section shoot way above the other 2. Pretty sure there are some shot cells in that section. Time to move on.

Moved to the Green Bike next.
I followed the same slow charge process for about 48 hours. The 3 battery sections stayed balanced and when the bike came to life, I found this bike really was new with only 50 km on the odometer. As Mik’s suggested, I also installed resistor protected taps that allow me to monitor the 3 voltage segments and diode protected taps to recharge a dead battery without having to disassemble things. At about 48 hours, I plugged the bike in using the on-board charger and it worked immediately. This bike has the newer factory charge software which worked as expected. I let the charger complete its cycle then took the bike out. Only got 12 km until red light came on and power backed off. Decided not to worry just yet and this time let the charger manage the full charge cycle. Next time out I got 50 km around the neighborhood at 50-70 km/hr. Following charge cycle I got 60 km mostly out in the local hilly country side with lots of time at 70-90 km/hr. I think this is pretty close to new based on what I have read so I am very pleased. I have so far put about 300 km on the bike and have found no issues. I do know I have the older MC software with the 100 km/hr max speed limit. I have tried multiple laptops but so far have not managed to connect using my PCAN device. Will figure that out next week.

Red Bike: Pretty much exact same story as Green bike. Has about 300 km on the odometer but appears to be working very well. I have not had this bike out as much as the Green bike which is properly insured and licensed. Once my wife completes here MC training course, we will put this on the road for her.

Conclusions: It looks like I have 2 functional bikes with decent batteries and no apparent issues. I still need to replace the fuses when I have a couple hours but otherwise will plan to use the bikes as is for the rest of this year. The third bike will serve as a decent parts bike. So far I am really loving the bikes and the ability to park the car most of the time.

photo.JPG

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Aircon
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Joined: 12/23/2009
Points: 517
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

That's an awesome story, and you're obviously a clever chap.

Good for you.

martinwinlow
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Joined: 03/26/2012
Points: 244
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

Hi Acorless - Lucky you!

PCAN cable problems - there are 2 issues you need to be aware of. First, you must get hold of the right driver (not the one that comes with the cable). It is available on the cable makers website but it's a bit difficult to find. Details here... http://visforvoltage.org/forum/11662-problem-can-bus-usb-resolved

The other issue is that the cable does not appear to work (easily/at all) with anything newer than XP.

Hope that helps and good luck with your Vs.

MW

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Regards, Martin Winlow
Herts UK
evalbum.com/2092

martinwinlow
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Joined: 03/26/2012
Points: 244
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

Hi Acorless - Lucky you!

PCAN cable problems - there are 2 issues you need to be aware of. First, you must get hold of the right driver (not the one that comes with the cable). It is available on the cable makers website but it's a bit difficult to find. Details here... http://visforvoltage.org/forum/11662-problem-can-bus-usb-resolved

The other issue is that the cable does not appear to work (easily/at all) with anything newer than XP.

Hope that helps and good luck with your Vs.

MW

__________________

Regards, Martin Winlow
Herts UK
evalbum.com/2092

JimmyB
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Joined: 02/23/2012
Points: 252
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

Well done! Looks like a great purchase, and congrats on getting them on the road.

Mik
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Joined: 12/11/2007
Points: 3739
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

martinwinlow wrote:

Hi Acorless - Lucky you!

PCAN cable problems - there are 2 issues you need to be aware of. First, you must get hold of the right driver (not the one that comes with the cable). It is available on the cable makers website but it's a bit difficult to find. Details here... http://visforvoltage.org/forum/11662-problem-can-bus-usb-resolved

The other issue is that the cable does not appear to work (easily/at all) with anything newer than XP.

Hope that helps and good luck with your Vs.

MW

My Canbus cable works with Windows Vista.

__________________

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

There is always a way if there is no other way!

Mik
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Joined: 12/11/2007
Points: 3739
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

I'm glad to hear that the IDeA ("Imbalance Detection Apparatus") approach worked so well and was able to differentiate between good and bad batteries without fuss. I got a bit obsessed with the IDeA project for a while in 2010, but then lost interest. IIRC, I have all or most parts for a prototype lying around but I do not even remotely understand the schematic any more HAHA! http://visforvoltage.org/forum/9675-how-improve-nimh-vectrix-battery-it-becomes-damaged#comment-55457

Amazing how well some NiMH batteries hold up, even with years of neglect. I'm still convinced that they will outlast many of the Lithium conversions. With the spare cells from the third pack you should be good for many years.

I would consider changing the firmware to The Lairds version for keeping the batteries in shape.

__________________

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

There is always a way if there is no other way!

acorless
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Joined: 05/23/2013
Points: 33
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

Mik: I was impressed / surprised at how closely all 3 segments of the pack match voltage across the full SOC once the batteries had been reconditioned. (+/- 0.1V) It did take almost 24 hours to get to this point initially as the pack voltages started at zero. I am also able to watch how these voltages match while the on-board charger is pushing the max 11 amps into the pack which is a good indication of balanced IR (I think). Thanks again for this advice. I have some thoughts around taking this further but will leave this for a later post.

Couple additional questions:

1) Because the batteries came to life without much intervention, I did not have to remove them from the bike. I therefore have not yet taken the opportunity to swap the original 125A fuse for the 200A fuse. From the many related posts, I know this will eventually be an issue but I am wondering if the probablility of failure of the 125A fuse is something that grows over time or can happen at any point from new? I am hoping I will be OK for a few more weeks until I can get to it.
fuse.JPG

2) I am still waiting to get hold of 32 bit laptop that will recognize the older PCAN driver. In the meantime I am running the newer charger code (I can enter a delay and can see the voltage / temperature when the kill switch is on and I pull the left lever) but the older 100 kph MC firmware. Is there any risk that the older MC firware can do any harm to the batteries or was the issue only with the charger firmware?

Thanks in advance

Aircon
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Joined: 12/23/2009
Points: 517
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

Mik wrote:
martinwinlow wrote:

Hi Acorless - Lucky you!

PCAN cable problems - there are 2 issues you need to be aware of. First, you must get hold of the right driver (not the one that comes with the cable). It is available on the cable makers website but it's a bit difficult to find. Details here... http://visforvoltage.org/forum/11662-problem-can-bus-usb-resolved

The other issue is that the cable does not appear to work (easily/at all) with anything newer than XP.

Hope that helps and good luck with your Vs.

MW

My Canbus cable works with Windows Vista.

Mine works with windows 7, but not windows 8 for what it's worth.

antiscab
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Joined: 07/07/2007
Points: 1686
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

acorless wrote:

From the many related posts, I know this will eventually be an issue but I am wondering if the probablility of failure of the 125A fuse is something that grows over time or can happen at any point from new? I am hoping I will be OK for a few more weeks until I can get to it.
fuse.JPG

2) I am still waiting to get hold of 32 bit laptop that will recognize the older PCAN driver. In the meantime I am running the newer charger code (I can enter a delay and can see the voltage / temperature when the kill switch is on and I pull the left lever) but the older 100 kph MC firmware. Is there any risk that the older MC firware can do any harm to the batteries or was the issue only with the charger firmware?

the risk of fuse failure increases with time, as the fuse "weakens" due to thermal cycling

I wouldn't be too bothered with it - its the same amount of work replacing a blown fuse as replacing a good one.
just next time you have the bike open, replace it.
you're more likely to have the bike open to deal with bad batteries than a bad fuse

as far as killing cells go, it's a team effort between the charger and the MC.
It's worth pointing out at this point that the newer firmware (BCR3001/MC1017) just happens to kill them a bit slower than the old (BCR2012/MC1014)

Either way you are better off running The Laird's firmware (esga6v40/MC1014)

Matt

__________________

Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah
Vectrix 60Ah Lithium Tyres Fuel Registration Insurance cycle analyst 2 x TC Charger & MC
conversion
Spent so far: $5800 + $7000 + $2040 + $1200 + $425 + $800 + $140 + $3000
Cost to do it again: $1000 + $3800 + $2040 + $1200 + $425 + $800 + $140 + $1500 (lasts longer)
Cost for a Petrol bike:$6000 + + $1440 + $7560 + $1000 + $1600 + $4000 servicing
Total spent: $20405
Total to do again: $10905
Total to have used a petrol bike: $21600
Total distance travelled so far: 102'120km

Other vehicles:
2008 Mazda 2 conversion
2009 Blade Electron
1997 Prius - plugin hybrid mod

kingcharles
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Joined: 08/17/2009
Points: 408
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

I even had a 200 amp fuse fail after 40.000 kilometres
But when it fails it can be very dangerous as all power is lost. So if it happens in the dark...
I would replace it as a precaution. Better waste a few hours on it today than get run over!

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acorless
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Joined: 05/23/2013
Points: 33
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

Another question for the experienced owners...

Until yesterday, when I would turn the key to the on position, the bike would go through the "normal" start routine which was mostly related to a sequence of lights and indicators on the dash. No fans would start until the bike started moving and then the fan noise (controller fan?) was quite minimal. Occasionaly the louder fans (Plenum fans?) would kick on for a short time.

Yesterday, when I keyed on the bike, the louder fans kicked on immediately and remained on as long as the key wss on. The weather in upstate NY is quite cool and the battery temp shown on the gauge at the time was around 18C.

This morning, when I keyed on the bike, again the fans came on and stayed on as long as the bike was powered. Starting battery temp was 13C this morning.

Is this normal? I miss the silence when i am sitting at red light.

antiscab
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Joined: 07/07/2007
Points: 1686
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

If you loaded The Laird's firmware, than yes that's normal

The fans run all the time the bike is on (or charging) and for a period of time after (15 mins IIRC?)

keeping the battery cool helps to make sure it lasts a long time

__________________

Daily Ride:
2007 Vectrix, modified with 42 x Thundersky 60Ah
Vectrix 60Ah Lithium Tyres Fuel Registration Insurance cycle analyst 2 x TC Charger & MC
conversion
Spent so far: $5800 + $7000 + $2040 + $1200 + $425 + $800 + $140 + $3000
Cost to do it again: $1000 + $3800 + $2040 + $1200 + $425 + $800 + $140 + $1500 (lasts longer)
Cost for a Petrol bike:$6000 + + $1440 + $7560 + $1000 + $1600 + $4000 servicing
Total spent: $20405
Total to do again: $10905
Total to have used a petrol bike: $21600
Total distance travelled so far: 102'120km

Other vehicles:
2008 Mazda 2 conversion
2009 Blade Electron
1997 Prius - plugin hybrid mod

acorless
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Joined: 05/23/2013
Points: 33
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

So far, I have not been successful gettng my PCAN adaptor to talk to my bike so I am certain it still has the updated factory charger software. I was wondering if the factory code had some provision for turning on the fan when temperature differential crossed some threshold?

acorless
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Joined: 05/23/2013
Points: 33
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

Have been using the green bike as often as possible but mostly as a substitute for my car on the weekends as my commute is about 50 km each way. Today I felt brave enough to try the commute from Saratoga Springs down to Albany. On the weekends, I have been able to get about 60 km range around town and doing some county roads.

It was pretty chilly this morning (3C) and I scouted a non freeway route that brought the distance to about 52 km according to Google. Unfortunately I got off track a couple times adding a couple precious K's to the commute.

All looked good with about 5 km with 2 bars left and 10 km on the range indicator. Then the red light popped on and all bars / range disappeared. No drop in power but serious range anxiety kicked in. Made it to work on "fumes" with a reduced power. 128V when i plugged in.

Recharged at work and set out this afternoon a bit worried since the commute is generally uphill back to Saratoga. Temp was about 20C, beautiful upstate NY fall afternoon. This time battery held up much better and i made it home with 4 bars remaining and 14 km on the range meter. 133 volts.

I am thinking that one or two things were at play. First the temp this morning must have had a negative impact on range. Second, I had not run the battery down this low for a long time and perhaps this helped reset the BMS to some extent and I got a better charge.

Based on this success, I will be back on the bike tomorrow. What a great way to get to work!

Sugarstorm
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Joined: 02/22/2012
Points: 49
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

When the red lights comes on you still have about 10 to 15 kms left on the "tank".
It gradually starts to slow down, acceleration is much slower, and strong uphill is not recomended as you might get stuck in the middle of a ramp due to lack of power.
But 128v is still a good voltage. My bike will run down to 120v, or even less. At 128v (resting voltage) I guess you might have something like 10 kms of calm riding.
You still had lots of range left to spare!
But next time, to figure out THAT bike's real range (they might be slightly diferent), ride until red light and then just keep ridind around the block until it reaches a max speed of 30kps/h.
Around that time you should get a BUSVLT warning (Battery Under Safe Voltage), and then you will be empty, and should stop riding and charge.

Mik
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Joined: 12/11/2007
Points: 3739
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

To get maximum range, you need to charge from near empty to full just before the ride (and the battery needs to be regularly cycled beforehand). Any time passing with the bike standing idle after the end of charge will cause self-discharge (which is higher at high SOC and higher temperatures) to eat away the available battery charge. You can easily lose 10% of the charge in the first 24hrs, more during summer heat-wave conditions.

Many Vectrix riders found timers useful to start the charge when electricity is cheap (and for summer, when the ambient air is cool) very late at night. Try to time it so that it will be finished just before you ride off. An added bonus in Winter is that the battery will be pre-heated and have more power to offer.

__________________

This information may be used entirely at your own risk.

There is always a way if there is no other way!

kingcharles
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Points: 408
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

Sugarstorm wrote:

When the red lights comes on you still have about 10 to 15 kms left on the "tank".
It gradually starts to slow down, acceleration is much slower, and strong uphill is not recomended as you might get stuck in the middle of a ramp due to lack of power.
But 128v is still a good voltage. My bike will run down to 120v, or even less. At 128v (resting voltage) I guess you might have something like 10 kms of calm riding.
You still had lots of range left to spare!
But next time, to figure out THAT bike's real range (they might be slightly diferent), ride until red light and then just keep ridind around the block until it reaches a max speed of 30kps/h.
Around that time you should get a BUSVLT warning (Battery Under Safe Voltage), and then you will be empty, and should stop riding and charge.

Running the bike that low will certainly do damage to the cells. Never to go below 120V is much safer.
Unless your cells are perfectly balanced and you can control the discharge rate.

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Once you go EV, Gas is history!

LeftieBiker
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Joined: 07/09/2011
Points: 886
Re: "New" Vectrix Bikes on the Road

I've been away from this site for a couple of months, and look what happens while I'm gone - somebody gets two and a half Vectrixes right in my area! Acorless, I live in Mechanicville, which may well be near your shortcut route to Albany from Saratoga - maybe even on it. I have a damaged but more or less usable ZEV 5000LA with an 8500 watt hubmotor, still drawing the OEM 5000 watts. Our ranges seem to be nearly identical. If I understand correctly and you live in Saratoga Springs, maybe next year we can meet at Saratoga Lake and do a modest ride. Unless we get a Freak Heat Wave, though, I'll just be driving my leased Leaf until Spring...

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