After 3 years of building and maintaining our two Giant Elwoods with Bafang 8Fun rear hub motors, I have decided to purchase a new e-bike to act as a company vehicle for my computer repair business. My existing e-bike is having a few issues with rear wheels, mainly caused by the rider being tall and wide (183cm tall and 103kg). Add to this all the paraphernalia and gear I carry to keep warm, dry and to maintain the bike, then add on the battery and panniers for the electric motor, and then the electric motor itself, and I am overloading the rear wheel by at least 30kg.
The first cheap Chinese wheel that came with the motor broke a few spoke nipples, mainly because of the two cross pattern of spokes and the bigger diameter hub causing the angle of the spokes to stress said nipple, and also because the spokes were a couple of mm short, leaving the head of the spoke nipple without the spoke through it. The rim also wore thin because of heavy breaking, and got damaged when I hit a pothole.
So I decided to replace the rim with the original rim that came with the bike, and laced it to the motor. To avoid stressing the rim and nipples too much, I went for a one cross spoke pattern. However, as yet I have not had the wheel professionally trued, and I am breaking spokes at the hub end when I ride the bike. I am not giving up on it, and the rear wheel will become a project! I intend to use this bike for cycling holidays etc.
To avoid the weight problems, I decided I needed some thing a bit beefy. As it was also going to be used for my newly relocated business, I decided it also needed some carrying capacity. The answer is a cargo bike of some sort. Not wanting to look any more of a dork than I do already, I decided a long tail would suit best, which are specifically designed to carry 180kg or more on the rear wheel.
I looked around for a ready built electric cargo bike, and while there are some great bikes out there by Surly, Felt, Pedego and Yuba, here in NZ they are all exceedingly expensive, in the $5000 to $6500 range.
A lot of self built electric cargo bikes are based on the Yuba Mundo, which seems to be a really easy bike to work on, so I looked around for one. Bicycle Junction in Newtown, Wellington NZ sell two Mundo versions, the V4 and the V5. The V4 is the budget entry model, with 7 speed freewheel derailleurs,and V brakes, whereas the V5 has all the bells and whistles, 24 speed shimano cassette gears, hydraulic discs, hub dynamo, but costs $1000 more! As I was considering a Bafang mid drive motor, it seemed a bit pointless to pay for the front derailleur and three chain rings, and a hub dynamo on an electric bike really is a ridiculous idea! Both bikes use a 48 spoke rear wheel, have a 120kg weight limit for the rider, and can carry vast amounts of cargo. The V4 forks have attachment points for discs front and rear, so I can upgrade in the future if I need to.
So, Lynn and I went into Wellington, and visited the cutest little bike shop in the world, and had a test ride of the Yuba Mundo V4. I found it comfortable, Lynn could ride it at a push – if she was careful of the cross bar! Bicycle Junction were having a 10% off sale, and upped it to 15% as an incentive, so after an hours walk and talk we decided to go for it.
I was going to order a Bafang Mid Drive motor directly from Chine and use my battery off my old bike, but Bicycle Junction sell the Lekkie Summit kits, and while they sound expensive at at $1790, when you add in the risk of ordering from China, the hassle of sorting out all the parts required and you factor in a new battery and charger, it is not a bad deal. And if it is costing a couple of hundred more, the convenience probably makes it worth it. So we negotiated another $90 off, and purchased a complete electric cargo bike for NZ$3400. I have some assembly to do when it arrives, so will document the arrival and conversion in detail in the next post or two.
I have some plans for upgrades and customisation, the bike needs mudguards and I would like the centre stand rather than the side stand, and I will sign write the wheel protector boards for the business. On the electric side, I prefer left hand half grip twist grips for the throttle as we use on our existing bikes, so one of those will be ordered, and I also want to try the Gearsensor, which detects when the gear shift is being operated, and switches the motor off briefly. This saves excessive damage to the gears.
Everything I have learned during the build and use of our existing bikes will help to make the build smooth and slick (hopefully).
Here is an artists impression of the signwriting, but my bike will be orange, not black.