Just thought since today is my "day off from web dev" day I'd post some updates on my bike, since I've made a lot of changes to it the past two months.
The first big change was swapping out the conventional suspension fork for a double-shoulder model, that I was able to adjust to be an inch and a half longer. It just "felt' like the bike didn't have enough rake on the front or height from the ground -- despite the 26"x4" fat tires.
The stock fork only had 80mm of travel and I was constantly bottoming it out on normal terrain. Even just going from different types of pavement was going "ch-chunk". This one goes to 120mm, seems a lot stiffer which means I'm not bottoming it out. So far the highest the little measuring ring has gone is 100-105mm, and that's with some light off-roading in the mix.
The double-shoulder design is nice as it opens the door to hanging bags from the upper shoulders instead of the bars, so it doesn't interfere with the stuff you need there on an e-bike.
I also swapped out the heavy Kenda Juggernaut tires that felt a lot... stiffer riding than I had expected for fat tires. Whilst these are just cheap WD/Wanda's, the rubber feels nicer, more pliant, and there's a definite improvement in ride quality.
And the whitewalls are snazzy as hell. I also added some dorky spoke reflectors, as well as a lighter aluminum hub brake rotor. Matches the colour scheme, knocks a few grams off, and improved the front brake behavior a lot. Though I think I'm gonna swap calipers to a better brand at some point.
One of the biggest changes I did to the bike when I first got it was changing out the 46 tooth chainring for a 53. I did this because the low felt too low -- pedaling like a maniac without going anywhere... and the High felt like I had a lot more "power" in me than the bike was letting me get to. Sometimes it even felt like instead of "assisting" my pedaling the bike was "racing out from under me".
This worked on the high end as intended, but I goofed on the low end as I didn't take into account how heavy the bike is unpowered. First time I screwed up, got lost, and ran the battery dry, the 53:32 gear ratio was NOT a pleasant ride home. The solution of course was a larger cog on the back for the lowest gear, and I figured whilst at it I'd go with a smaller high gear as well. Thankfully cheap but well made 11..36 cog cassettes don't even run you twenty bucks off Amazon.
53:36 is only a hair away from the stock 46:32 meaning power off it's not unmanageable. You're not going fast, but it's nowhere near the struggle 53:32 was from a dead stop. With 53:11 on the high end, I can now in the highest power mode reach 35mph and still have the feel of the pedals pushing back on me slightly. That's 3mph faster. I do think the motor doesn't like it though as it almost feels like when you break past 34mph the motor starts pushing back acting like a brake. I wonder if I'm reaching the point where the motor becomes a generator instead of a motor, with nowhere to put that power. Resistive braking, one step removed from regenerative.
I haven't enlarged the chain yet, but it was "fun" dialing in the derailleur. It only really needs about three more links, but is entirely functional as-is.
I'm not a fan of derailleurs, even back 25 years ago when I was doing bike stuff regular I had a ... distrust of the technology. To that end I wasn't that well versed with dialing them in. I mean I knew what the screws do, but not really how to adjust it properly. I tried guessing like a moron, and only made things worse.
So I went to Youtube. Big shout-out to Park Tools (one of the most trustworthy brands I've ever dealt with) for their instructional video that let me dial it in PERFECT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkZxPIZ1ngY&t=725s
Set the lower limit, adjust the cable to be taught, back off the lower limit to use the cable adjuster to dial it in perfect, put the lower limit back correct, shift up making cable adjustments as you go, then at the highest gear adjust in the high limit screw. So simple, and it's the first time I've ever come across instructions that made sense. And thankfully it's a 1x8 so no front derailleur to screw with things. As someone who spent the past 14 years riding a cruiser with a 3 speed internal hub, 8 speeds is absurd overkill for me. My cup doth runneth over.
The only real thing that was fighting me was that the Shimano Acera derailleur the bike came with is only rated to 34 teeth. That two extra chain-links of diameter isn't massive, and just driving in the B-Screw adjustment all the way made it shift smooth. Though I think that I had previously swapped out the 13 tooth plastic cogs it came with for 11 tooth aluminum ones helped a lot.
I do have derailleur hanger extensions in my spare parts box that would fit (despite their age. Good to see some things are the same) if I wanted to go larger, but I wanted to avoid that as it's just more possible points of failure. I might go to a 40 or even 44 tooth as the largest next year, because I'm considering making a camper trailer for the bike.
I might even crowdfund that and make videos of me "seeing 'Murica" on my e-bike. I'm currently really pissed at a landlord who I think is trying to harrass me into moving, and on the whole with rents where they are I'm... yeah. Seriously considering selling off 90%+ of my junk, putting the stuff I want to keep in a storage area, and moving into a 3' x 6.5' homemade bicycle camper... with 12v 300ah worth of battery that I can fast-charge anywhere an EV can charge. I already have a Level 2 EV charger to 220AC adapter. Just need a 220v to 12v charge controller, three LiFEPo4 packs, and a 12v to 110v inverter.
I did have an interesting "problem" three weeks ago. The brake levers have hall effect sensors in them so that when you brake power is cut off to the motor, and it also turns on the brake light. One of those sensors... well...
NONE of the electrical connections have strain reliefs on them! Worse, see the thread -- or LACK OF THREAD
-- on the retaining nut? The bolts on the blooding things aren't the same thread as the hole in the bloody handles! As I had a spare handles from them sending me a replacement and my having gotten my own as well, I had a spare working sensor so it was an easy swap, but pulling the nut on the other one showed the same completely stripped threading. I ended up having to bore out the handle, sand down the nut, hammer it in as a compression fitting, and then put a small bead of epoxy around the lip for good measure. Quality!
I re-arranged where things are on the bars to better fit, and you can see a new problem I had.
The new fork being taller made the brake hose barely long enough to reach! I ended up "fixing" this by using a spare rear hose. It's about a foot too long, but that's easy enough to hide. I also swapped out the cable management wrap for some "Cad Bane breathing hose" conduit. Just as effective, but easier to deal with when you want to add/remove/move your cables and hoses.
Moving the display off center let me angle it down more reducing glare. I'm probably going to make a foam or even fiberglass hood for the display to further enhance legibility in sunlight. Moving the display also let me put the control pad back out at "thumb's reach" to the left handle. You never should have given up your armor...
As much as the bike initially cost me, for the most part these are all changes I planned on making anyways. It something about bikes that if you're going to ride any real distances -- like the 20-30 miles a day I do normally and the 50-60 I put in on days like today -- you need to dial it in for your own size, power, stance, and comfort. I don't care how expensive the bike, adjustments like chainring, cassette range, seat, handlebars, etm. all need to be customized or you're going to be in pain.
Like my choosing a "comfort seat" that would make most pro bikers who love their butt floss seats groan. And it would hurt -- in the stance they ride. Aka the crotch rocket lean way the hell forwards with straight bars as far over the front wheel as possible with the seat up higher than the bars. In that stance those narrow seats make sense.
I ride upright like most European "normal bikers". Thus the cruiser bars meaning I don't lean forward at all. Way easier on my back, but changes where your weight is being distributed. In the upright stance those butt floss seats become exactly that, directing all force on your tailbone. Which is why I could barely walk after a couple miles on the seat the bike came with once I swapped out the straight bars.
I never understood those narrow seats until I rode with straight bars. Problem is leaning forwards like that? My body wants nothing to do with it. Moment I put on bars that let me sit upright, that seat was a complete no-go. I think it's why so many riders who try "comfort seats" have nothing good to say about them, they're still in the straight-bar stance.
Also I cannot sing the praises of suspension seat-posts enough. Being the bike is a hardtail having an air-dampened seat post really gives your ass a lot less of a pounding. Combined with the comfy seat, softer fat tires (that I'm running at 15psi for road), and better front fork, it has to be the smoothest riding bike I've ever tried.
Oh, and that ugly little top tube bag that looks like it's falling off? That's gone. I replaced it with something better, and I'll probably take some pics today of it whilst I'm out and about.
I've also got a body cam for my Ulefone Armor 13 coming that I'm going to use to document some of my rides. I do my "'murica tour" with a camper I'll probably need to pick up a couple "go pro", a better laptop than my ten year old MSI for video editing, etc. Going to be interesting to see how much crap I can pack into a 3'x6'x5' space. I'm already playing with the frame design on graph paper before I start plugging stuff into 3ds max.
Oh, I also managed to pick up a second battery, so double the range. Thus my probably going 50+ miles in a couple hours with 20% power reserve left on each battery for good measure. Thinking I might go to Brattleboro VT from here in Keene, NH and back by way of Incestor and Hinsdale. NOT
going to try and take the bike over Cheshire Hill via Rt 9. Screw that.
Sometime I want to try going out 101 all the way to Manchester or Nashua, but that's a risky ride and some hills I'm not sure the motor wouldn't burn out trying to climb.