EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

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jstibal
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EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

Since most of us have fully broken in our Z20/R20 scooters by now, it would probably be beneficial to get an update of the status of each of them. I suspect that prospective buyers would like to have a concise list of the pros and cons, and the advice of those who have already made the plunge. Here's my info:

  • Model: Z20-a
  • Delivery date: January 4, 2008
  • Current status: operational & reliable
  • Mileage: 807mi on the odometer; estimate around 400mi actual
  • Top Speed: 44mph odometer, 35mph actual (GPS verified)
  • Typical load: 275-280lbs.
  • Range: 17mi to 50% Depth of Discharge (estimated), 25mi to >90% DOD
  • Initial problems: Left rear turn signal loose; one battery wiring lug was partially torn; loose wiring at the main breaker.
  • Subsequent problems: Failed DC-DC converter (covered under warranty); two failed controllers (covered under warranty); one weak battery.
  • Upgrades: Added a contactor; upgraded the battery wiring; replaced the second failed controller with a Kelly KEB72601; added a Cycle Analyst (high-current version); added wiring for 6-wire bank charging and testing (I don't regularly bank charge); replaced mirrors with a pair from a Honda Ruckus.
  • Recommendation: While I don't regret getting my Z20, it was a lot of work to get it to where it was reliable. I'm not sure I would recommend the Z20/R20 to anyone but a serious DIYer, however, it sounds as if most or all of the issues I had will be resolved with the Z30/R30 models. I would watch the forums on the XM-3000 to see what kind of experience buyers have with that as well.
  • fcherny
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    I have a z20b (blue).
    There are no more that 10 miles on the bike.
    First the controller burned out (the fan was not connected so it overheated the first time I opened up the throttle).
    Two months later, with a new controller, the dc-dc converter went bad (fuse kept blowing).
    A few months later, with a new converter, I discovered two blinker bulbs had burned out, the blinker itself was out, and the controller no longer worked. I got the new blinker and blinker bulbs. I am still waiting for the controller to arrive.
    Owning an electric scooter has been an extermely frustrating - even embarassing - experience for me. I would not recommend that anyone buy an ev scooter as a practical, reliable means of transportation. Maybe I'll change my opinion once I've had some success with my bike. But buying something new and waiting over 7 months (and counting) to get it working is not acceptable. Everyone I know who knows of my experience thinks I should send the bike back and demand my money back.

    Sorry for griping.

    Fred.

    astar
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    I have a red Z20b with 298 Km showing on the odometer; almost all of those km's were in the last 4 weeks. The OEM controller burned out on 2nd test ride. The OEM replacement worked, but I soon replaced it with a Kelly KEB72451, which was much better (smoother and faster). The Kelly also failed, but they sent me a replacement right away: KEB72601, which is working fine so far (I only have a few Km on it). I've upgraded the wiring and installed a PakTrakr, as well as fixed various problems. The handling was terrible until I replaced the front tire with a Michelin Bopper. The front disk brake is starting to make noise. I ONLY bank charge, and gave my charger to another Z owner. I never installed the windshield.

    My range to 50% DOD is around 17 miles. I estimate top speed to be 42 mph. My odometer error is 7% after the Bopper installation - I'm assuming the speedometer is now off by 7% too, vs. 17% previously. I look forward to the day Honda makes an electric scooter.

    ZEV 7100 Alpine
    Fort Collins, CO

    Brock
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    • Model: Z20-b
    • Delivery date: late December, 2007
    • Current status: operational (replacement controller)
    • Mileage: 300mi on the odometer; around 150 actual
    • Top Speed: 50+mph on dash, 44.2 mph max actual (GPS)
    • Flat (regular) top speed: 50 mph or 40 mph (GPS) (first mile) 38 mph max after that
    • Typical load: 200lbs.
    • Range: 16mi round trip was the farthest to 60% Depth of Discharge
    • Initial problems: controller died after 2 miles (1 mile), left mirror and switches broken in transport, still waiting on replacement, running without left mirror or windshield
    • Subsequent problems: none yet (knocking on wood)
    • Upgrades: Added 6 wire bank charging.

    My usual round trip is 6 miles, I usually don’t move off the “full” mark and usually use 500w to recharge each night. I am using 5 black & Decker (Vector) 2-4-6 amp chargers. I usually use them in the 2 amp mode.

    Priam
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Model: Z-20a.
    Delivery date: Early February of 08.
    Current status: Not operational.
    Odometer mileage: 133.

    One day riding to work, it died. Found blown fuse in DC to DC converter. EVTA sent replacement converter, and the fuse in it blew out in 15 seconds. EVTA ceased responding to my straightforward requests for help or ideas to try next after this. Have found someone with electronics know-how to look at it. Frustrating!

    Other problems: center kickstand doesn't work, necessitating use of side stand, which barely keeps bike upright. It has fallen over twice while on the side stand, smashing the plastic trunk which was included as a freebie.

    fcherny
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    "EVTA ceased responding to my straightforward requests for help or ideas to try next after this."

    Priam,

    I suggest you keep trying. I call Andy (305-450-3600) on almost a weekly basis. In 90% of the cases, he answers the phone. I always call after lunch - around 2:00 to 4:00 his time (Eastern time). I'm always polite and patient with him. That seems to help.

    When you call, describe to him the problem (don't expect him to remember you from before, he won't). He'll probably suggest sending another converter. Ask him about the new, higher quality converters that they are putting in their R30/Z30 series. See if he'll send you one of them. Also, discuss with him the kickstand problem. I believe the Z20a's have a known issue with that.

    In any case, I encourage you to keep trying. If you can't through to him once, call again the next day. Whenever I call, he says it's fine if I call all the time. Just be persistent.

    Fred.
    z20b with dead controller (waiting on a replacement)

    Priam
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Fred,

    Thanks for responding with some help. I have called Andy per your suggestion. His message says he's in China overseeing production, but that he will try to respond to emails within 48 hours. So I've sent him an email about the blown fuses in the converters (again). We'll see. I'll send (polite) followup emails if I don't hear back. I agree, expressing frustration toward the person trying to help in these matters is counter-productive.

    Matt

    fcherny
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Status update:

    My z20b is working again. I received a replacement controller Friday, installed it Saturday, ran a quick test, reassembled the bike Sunday, and took it for a quick ride last night.

    I'll run more tests over the holiday weekend before trusting it to take me anywhere far. My experience thus has not been exactly "inspiring".

    Overload
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Update:
    Installed the backup controller (thanks, astar) this weekend. The backup doesn't have the temp sensor epoxyed onto the top of the controller, so I have an extra plug on the harness. Everything back to normal, so it was the controller, and not the sidestand switch. Rode to work today, no new problems. Emailed EVTA Support for the third time trying to get support, we'll se if this email works.
    Overload in CO
    Z20-b

    Overload in CO

    Simpletech
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Z-20a.

    Delivered Feb. 2008.

    First used April 2008.

    Parked since May 2008.

    Range very good -- battery charge indicator still shows over 50% after 18-mile ride to work.

    Speed very good -- pegs speedo (50 pretend mph) on level road.

    Suspension, frame seem fine but trunk hold-down fractured on a bad bump, trunk was destroyed. (Oh, well, it was included free.)

    Side mirrors split, won't hold position, replaced with eGo Cycle 2 mirror.

    Windshield seems fine, really helps on cold mornings.

    First failure on 4th or 5th ride. Andy said it sounded like the DC/DC converter, sent a replacement promptly but when I got under the hood it turned out to be just the connector that had come apart. I offered to send back the replacement converter but Andy said to hold onto it just in case. Reconnected the DC/DC converter, safetied all connectors with twist ties. Carefully inspected all wiring for tension on connectors, chafing on frame, etc. Rerouted wires, wrapped & padded many areas with grommets, heat-shrink tubing and pieces of bicycle inner tube. Checked for loose bolts, tightened up one or two, but they seemed mostly OK. Checked tire pressure -- front was at 20 psi, rear was at 90. Made both equal at 45 or 50 psi.

    Second failure on 9th or 10th ride, got to work fine and charged up but bike was dead when I tried to go home. Andy said it might be the controller but that I should try disabling the kickstand lockout and the alarm first. Did that, still no go. Tried the other DC/DC converter, still no go. Andy promised a new controller "next month", then "in a couple more days", then "soon". Now he's in China. I've left phone messages and e-mails for Andy, no reply. Left a phone message for Fernando on Monday of this week, pretty p***ed now, no reply from him either.

    Right now the bike's sitting in the driveway and I'm commuting by bus, pondering my next move.

    Duane
    Arvada, CO

    Simpletech
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    OK, this comes under the heading of Giving Credit Where It's Due. I did receive a replacement controller yesterday without warning or fanfare. I hadn't heard anything since placing a somewhat testy message on Fernando's voice mail last month. In the meantime I purchased a Kelly 72601, which arrived last week. So now I have two controllers.

    I think I'll put in the OEM part first, since all the connectors are there and the on-line instructions look pretty straightforward. At least if the bike runs after that, I'll know the problem really was in the controller. After that, who knows? 8)

    fcherny
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    I, too, received a replacement controller. It ran better than any of the other controllers I'd burned through. But it finally died like all the others. It just took longer. So I called Fernando. He sounded very sympathetic. I e-mailed 'support' (Andy). Because of my poor experience, I asked for a free upgrade to a Kelly controller. This is his response:

    Fred,
    I will be sending you a 4th generation controller that is much better than anything you have used before. You have a 940 RPM motor (one of the few that was sent with last year's production); this motor is much faster and much more powerful and this has been the problem. The 4th generation controller is made to run up to 200 amps and should do the trick. I will be sending 10 of these new controllers in about 8 days.
    On the Kelly controller, the one we use is not a normal one (it was matched to our motor) and therefore Kelly can not send it to you directly. Furthermore you would need a harness that we make in order to connect the controller to our existing harness. The whole kit costs $350.00 which frankly is a bargain as a similar controller (without the harness and mounting plate) would cost you $400.00 or so from Kelly. I am sorry but our warrantee is very explicit in that we will provide a new controller should yours fail and we can and will do that, but if you want a Kelly controller you must pay for it.
    I agree that yours has failed more often than any other and it makes me wonder exactly why. I was told by our engineers that the reason is what I mentioned before, but still I have to wonder if there are other reasons involved.
    Anyway, I will advice as soon as the new controllers leave China, but if you are still interested in a Kelly controller, please let me know.
    Regards,
    Andy

    My question to 'you' (anyone reading this post) is, do you believe him? I talked to a guy I know who works in the Physics department at UNT (Denton, Texas). His first thought was that it's the motor that's burning out the controllers because the controllers weren't properly shunted. So I'm thinking that maybe Andy is right.

    In any case, what would you do in my situation? Insist on a refund? Buy a Kelly controller and go off on my own? Request a replacement bike? I've had this bike since 12/31/07. It has 34 kms on it. I've gone through three controllers and a DC-DC converter (which I believe died because I got a defective controller as replacement).

    Thoughts?

    astar
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    In any case, what would you do in my situation? Insist on a refund? Buy a Kelly controller and go off on my own? Request a replacement bike? I've had this bike since 12/31/07. It has 34 kms on it.

    Wow, only 34 Km in more than 8 months, that sucks! I'm not a lawyer, but it seems like grounds for legal action if you wanted to go that route. I hope you don't though. As bad as EVTA is, I hate to see EV manufacturers face these troubles. Still, they may deserve it.

    Would I believe him? Hmmmm... Based on my dealings with them, I don't think they have a lot of engineering skills in their company. They seem to rely on outside engineering, and don't really even know much about quality control. So probably Andy believes what he is telling you. It's REALLY interesting to me that there are at least two different motors that they shipped. It could explain why some people like yourself have had so much trouble, so I at least find the explanation plausible. Also, the reported top speeds are different for different owners. It makes me wonder which motor I have.

    So what to do? It would depend on your financial situation, and how you value your money vs your time. Legal action would most likely take a lot of both. It would not be worth it to me. I would probably try to get Andy to agree that if this 4th generation controller fails, they will send you a Kelly for free. I would tell him that your patience is used up, and if he does not agree to your terms, you will be requesting a full refund and considering legal action if it's not resolved to your satisfaction. Does he know you post on V? They could really use some good press on V, so it would really help them and be worth it to make you a happy (less unhappy?) customer.

    ZEV 7100 Alpine
    Fort Collins, CO

    Priam
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    I heard from Andy finally. I sent him an email describing the problem with the converter, then forwarded it to him each day for a week. He finally responded. He says he is going to send what he says is a newer, better converter. We'll see...

    Simpletech
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Well, I'm happy to say that the EVTA replacement controller dropped right in and I'm back on the road. Fernando tells me this is a "third generation" controller. I'll keep the Kelly as a backup, but I'm hoping not to need it -- at least not until the Kelly factory is all set up with the programming and connectors to make it a true drop-in replacement. Reading through the programming manual and looking at how different the wiring and connectors are, I did get a trifle skittish.

    So, list this one as "functional" once again ... BTW, it's yellow. Gets attention! :)

    Overload
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    If this were a vehicle from a 'real' company, Lemon Laws might apply. However, EVTA is so small, both the company and the number of vehicles, I don't know.
    Overload in CO

    Overload in CO

    PJD
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Wow, this might even be worse than the e-max. Believe me, the Pruna brothers have been screwed by the dishonest, shoddy Chinese manufacturers as much as the retail customers have.

    What can you say - this is a country where food manufacturers deliberately put toxic plastic resin ingredients in baby formula so it passes protein-content tests. So, the shoddy scooters that they sell with full knowledge knowing they will fall apart once they get across the pacific is a fairly minor problem.

    But have faith - e-max owners went through all of this, but I've finally go my two e-maxs running completely completely satisfactorily and both now using lithium packs with at least 35 miles range. But, it took a lot of work, and in the backward suburbia I live in, I face mostly ridicule - especially from younger poeple. I do occasionally get a "where can I buy one" inquiry. I tell them the scooters are mostly a home built project, and nothing like them is avaialble - which is pretty much the truth.

    Simpletech
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    I tell them the scooters are mostly a home built project, and nothing like them is available - which is pretty much the truth.

    Yes, this is definitely a niche market, and the "not ready for prime time" label seems to apply to most of the offerings out there. At one point I seriously considered sanding off the EVTA logo and doing my own custom paint job, because I felt like what I'd ended up with was more of a bike kit than a finished product. But -- as in the case of the Zappy stand-up scooter and the eGO Cycle 2, both of which I bought sight unseen from a Web site -- I came in with lower expectations than if there were already a million units on the road and a national dealer network to rely on.

    I must say the eGO Cycle was a pleasant surprise; although the performance isn't in the same league as the Z-20, the craftsmanship is beautiful. So the problems I've had with the Z-20 brought me down a little. But, in the immortal words of the "Super Chicken" theme song:

    Friend, if you're afraid you'll have to overlook it
    'Cause you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

    That being said, I look forward to the day the Prunas (or perhaps someone else) get all the bugs worked out, and e-cycles finally make it into the mainstream.

    RunUpHill
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Model: Z20-a
    Delivery date: early February, 2008
    Current status: dead. We're talking FIVE MONTHS here! Gah!
    Mileage: ~1100mi on the odometer. I'm to understand this is not accurate.
    Top Speed: pushing 50mph odometer, probably real-world slower.
    Typical load: 170lbs.
    Range: around 40 miles pushing hard, got close to 70 miles one day when creeping along. Use the charger it came with.
    Initial problems: Died April 24 for no apparent reason. I had to walk several miles until a friend picked me up. Replacement converters and controllers have been sent & installed with no luck. Waiting on more parts.
    Additional problems: Loose mirrors. Broken footpeg & turn signal thanks to it falling over once. Ruined/dysfunctional parking stand (bad solder job on one side.) Kickstand is sorta iffy, but that's all I've got left.
    Upgrades: None. I'm not technically inclined.
    Recommendation: After having zero problems from the day of delivery and really enjoying my daily commute (and laughing at the poor folks at the gas stations), I am now extremely frustrated at how long it's taking to get this thing fixed. I understand I took a chance on EVTA and that they were taking a chance with the Chinese, but this is ridiculous. At the very least I will be demanding a additional year on my warranty. I'll probably try to sell this thing if it ever gets to be functional and start saving for a scooter (Volta) sold by a local Boulder company (EVC.) Lots more money, but at least they're here in town. Part of this whole problem has been trying to locate a qualified mechanic. I was shocked when every single motorcycle/scooter dealer in Boulder flat-out refused to help me get this thing worked on. Finally found a local fellow who's deep into alternative transportation who has his own mechanic on call.

    --
    Scott Elliott
    Boulder, CO
    Scott [at] RunUpHill.com

    --
    Scott_E.
    EVTA Z-20A
    Boulder, CO

    Scotty
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    My EVT Z-20a arrived in late January. Got it uncrated in early February and started riding it to work when most of the snow melted in March. The only problems I had were minor. The ignition key cover fell off the first time I put the key in, the headlight didn't work (but the high beam did), I broke off the charger cover not realizing it rotated instead of flipped up, and the trunk hinge restraint straps broke within weeks (the hinges themselves are still OK).

    The windshield was great. I didn't realize how well it improved riding comfort until I decided to remove it. I felt it was unsafe because it was only held on by the control modules and was working them loose. I was concerned the modules would break free and the windshield could possibly rotate and hit me and cause an accident. If I figure out a good way to and a third support point, I'll put it back on. The mirrors were also difficult to use with the windshield because they kept shifting position. The original mirrors were OK, but I replaced them with nice chrome Honda Metropoliton mirrors.

    I was able to put about 650 EVT miles (I use a .55 conversion factor for real miles, about 358 miles) until June. The first day the temperatures hit 90, my controller died.

    I lost the opportunity to ride most of the Summer as my replacement controller didn't arrive until September. This was referred to as 4th generation, but I don't really expect it to last too long. Fortunately, temperatures have fallen, so it should hold out now until next spring/summer. I hope to purchase the plug in Kelly replacement when they become available. I have had the scooter almost completly apart getting the various things fixed and adjusted, and I have been riding again for several weeks now. I have about 880 EVT miles on it (484 miles).

    It is great when it is working. I'm about 170 lbs and seem to have a good motor. I can easily hit 42-43 GPS verified miles per hour. I have not pushed the range beyond about 25 miles (about 45 EVT miles) but it could go further. I had added battery balancers to extend the life of the batteries. This should get you at least 50% more life from a set of batteries and is now included with the Z-30.

    I'm disappointed with the time it has sometimes taken to get a response and parts from EVT, but I was aware from the start I was going to be on my own as far as repairs. I'm pretty handy with machines, so the repairs themselves haven't been a big deal.

    I think the Z-30 is a move in the right direction, and it sounds like they are starting to get dealers around the country lined up for sales and repairs.

    Scott...

    mylife4u
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    my z-20 is finally running

    i was part of the first shipment....everything was fine at the beginning....seems i had the same problem as many people in here...turns out it was the controller first and then the converter....i had those taken care of myself because no one at evt seem to want to help me...i upgraded the motor to 3500 watts...so far so good!

    astar
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    i upgraded the motor to 3500 watts...so far so good!

    What was the upgrade? Did you replace motor and controller? with what? what was the change in performance?

    -= Alan

    ZEV 7100 Alpine
    Fort Collins, CO

    fcherny
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    Shipping costs changed to owner

    My 4th generation controller is being shipped to me. But Andy says that an invoice will be included. He expects me to pay for shipping for the controller under warranty. That's the first time I've had to pay for shipping. He says that's in accordance with our warranty agreement.

    Has anyone else run into this problem?

    solarjdp
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Z20B here. Red.

    Approximate adjusted miles 1830.

    Bopper tire upgrade after 200 miles approx. per recommendation of this forum. Makes a BIG difference in ride and handling.
    Replaced mirrors almost immediately with Honda Metropolitan - work great!

    Disabled the @#$%^ turn signal beeper first week I had it

    I made sure that I cycled the batteries discharge as low as I dared (to the blinking red led) b4 recharging which seemed to enhance speed AND range. Before the cycling above, range was 22 - 24 miles and top speed was 38.

    Initial troubles - Some loose bolts, strange squeeking from rear wheel - some oil applied seemed to fix it.
    Quick accel when FULLY charged sometimes bike would cut out. Gradual accel on startup avoids issue. Not an issue after a few miles have been ridden (2-4).

    Top speed is 42-44 mpg, Range is reliably 28 miles, though slow to accelerate up to top speed (which diminishes to 38-40) during last 5-8 miles.

    Longest ride (an experiment) was 38 miles! Barely limped to destination, had to stop and let batteries "recover" a bit. Limping into to destination with judiciously applied "squirts" of energy as would not maintain continuos applcation of throttle.

    Was a bit worried that I may have damaged the batteries, but so far no diminished capacity sen.

    Broke the fragile trunk unit. I usually get groceries et al. using it. I have a newer (bigger) removable unit coming.

    I've investigated replacement shocks for rear and will be changing the fork oil to try to improve the dampening of the front.

    Like others, I think the Z20's are not ready for prime time until quality issues and ridability is solved. I have been lucky it seems compared to others.

    Priam
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Re: my z-20. I patiently kept after Andy; I think he's overwhelmed with the problems but wants to help. It took forever for EVTA to send me a new converter, which promptly blew out the second I turned the throttle. Andy decided after that it must be the controller. He said he would send the next generation controller and asked me to send him the old controller, which I did. To my surprise, the new controller arrived relatively quickly. As of this week the bike works (so far) with the new controller and new converter.

    fcherny
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    Did Andy bill you for shipping the controller?

    Brock
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    I am now at about 850 (evt) miles and my back tire just blew out. So now I am in search of new tires. I see the boppers mentioned above but exactly which ones and from where? And how the heck do you change them on the back tire?

    Brock
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    Re: EVTA Z20/R20 ownership summary - 6 month update

    DOH, I knew if I posted this I would find them here

    http://visforvoltage.org/forum/3950-replacement-tires

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