A2B - Metro
The Metro has been around for a while now, and since day one i've been itching to get one. Of all the ready made E-Bikes out there, none ever appealed to me before the A2B, up to this point i've been testing/using every " kit " out there...
On Febuary 15 2010, a friend contacted Ultra Motor USA and hooked me up with a contact, a few emails later I found myself on the phone and an order was placed. Hey, even Jay Leno has one !
Price tag new : 2700 $ USD
Rest assured i'll be putting it gradually thru hell on the behalf of the sphere ! Lets start with the journey !
The A2B would normally be purchased from a local dealer, this seems to be the focus of Ultra Motor and the Owners Manual reflects this and even comments on it. Me, well i'm in Moncton NB and there are no local dealers, and i'm perfectly willing to assemble my own !
Shipped FedEx in a very large box on top of a pallet. 200$ for shipping from San Francisco CA to Moncton NB. Left Feb 17, Delivered March 4.
Last night, weather was a mess, blizzard type stormy snow, but hey.. this is the maritimes so whatever .. i'm going to go get my bike regardless ! Bribed the neighbor and off we went in his pickup truck !
I have a strange feeling Customs inspected this box
2 suspicious holes in the box.. Turns out it's the kick stand, all good..
The box is actually in relatively good condition!
I"ve been working at a shipping company for 13 years now, i've seen my share of terrible packing jobs.... it warms my heart to open a box as heavy as this and see this professional job of protecting the contents with carefull placement of cardboard... +1 Ultra Motor !
Quick peek inside !
She's White !
Ok.. sorry for the picture quality, this was taken late last night and my living room lighting is not right for this. Will take some better pictures tomorrow in daylight.
Pedals, reflectors and Charger in a double box..
Flat profile pedals, fair quality, perfectly fine for foot pegs, but i will be upgrading those to a nicer set sometime this summer. Nothing wrong with them but i'm strange like that.
The charger, very well known " High Power " brand, pleasant surprise it's a 4 amp unit ! Quiet, reliable, metal box with fan, i like the H-P chargers...
They are a bit heavy and i don't recommend bringing them along for the ride on bumpy roads, but otherwise good quality chargers !
The owners manual says 2 amps, but 4 is way better !
Standard XLR charge port.
Alright.. time to charge this baby up !
Ever the curious type, i checked the pack voltage via the charge port, 37.68v , good, that's roughly 50% dod.
I have XLR connectors with andersons i can use to hook up a Cycle analyst inline with the charger.. so after double checking my polarity..
Reset to 0.00 ah, and powered up ! Charger fan spins up nice and smoothly as expected and CA shows 3.7 amps ! Sweeeeet !
Does this void my warranty ?
The charger put 5.5ah back into the pack so far and has dropped to 25w, ballancing stage, peak voltage hit 41.7v then dropped to 41.2v right now at 25w.
That's all the pictures for tonight.
Tomorrow, if the roads can melt enough to clear some of the salt i will be heading out for a short road test !
Just about fully charged !!!
March 6, 2010
Nice and sunny today, perfect for some pictures !
Very nice welds, this thing is built to last ..
No stickers either, the decals are painted on ( screen printing i think ) and covered with clear.
Wires run inside the frame and protected by a plastic gromet with a weather resistant flap.
Rims are Alexrims DX-32 with black spokes, these rims are awsome, wheels are true and spokes are tight, after a few rides i'll re-check them but both wheels spin true.
Kenda Kraze 20 x 3.0 tires, thick rubber for puncture resistance, nice and smooth long lasting tires..
Epoch Sport 7 speed shifter, i googled it and strangely enough only reference to it i can find is on the ES forum ! regarding freewheels, made in Taiwan by a company called " Long Yih Industry Company" http://www.dnp.com.tw
Works good, shifts accurately, solid unit, no complaints .
Throttle, with 3 LED battery status indicator, works well, standard Hall throttle, half grip twist that i personally like best of all the throttle types ( thumb, or full grip ). The LED lights are really not visible in bright daylight or i need to adjust the handlebars/throttle to have them pointing at me while sitting down, will play around with it later.
The grips are a bit rough on the hands, i always wear gloves when i ride so this is not much of a problem but with bare hands the grips would be a tad harsh. Your hands won't slip on these babies !
|Brake levers with built in cutoff to disable the throttle when applied, tested and they work as expected, the front brake cuts the power but power comes back on as soon as you release the lever, the rear brake cuts off the power until you release and re-apply the throttle.
Metal levers on the brakes, solid, no flex.. ( more on brakes in a bit )
Cables covered with nylon braid, very nice touch, clean and tidy..
Calipers are Avid BB5 with 185mm rotors ! These are as good as the brakes on my Norco Chaos, amazing brakes on this bike.. .love those brakes... nice smooth feel and i'm sure a handfull of brakes could lock the wheel up with ease.
Shimano Alivio derailleur, good quality unit, works very well.
Notice in this picture the built in torque arm ! recessed into the frame and screwed down. Perfect for modding when that time comes
The pedals, these are ok, made in taiwan types, i will be replacing them with big fat black one's in the near future.. personal preference thing.
Nice machined aluminum chain guard, to help keep your pant legs clean.. see how those black crank arms need black pedals ! lol..
Check the meat on this thing ! those cranks are not going to fall off anytime soon ! hehe..
Crank position is slightly forward in relation to the seat.. ( about the seat next. )
The front forks are branded " Ultra Motor ", have not noticed any other brand or model name on them but they are nice, adjustable, thick and strong. Not the cheap pogo-sticks you get on bottom level wallyworld bikes..
Also notice the mud guards, stiff plastic, solidly attached and they cover the width of those massive 3" tires, the front one could be a bit longer in the back for added splash protection but would not look as good.. i'm satisfied with both front and rear for now, will need to go for a ride in the pouring rain to get a proper test out of them.
The rear shock is ok, you can adjust pre-load but does not damped enough imo, too loose.. I'll be keeping an eye out for a good reservoir unit to replace it. Does the job, but like the pedals a bit more will go a long way in making this ride " My " ride !
edit : Just noticed the Ultra Motor branding on the cable jacket !. wow..
Since the controller is inside the motor, the power leads go from the battery directly into the motor, making it a piece of cake to add a Cycle Analyst ! I need a CA on my bike.. got one on every bike i own ( at the present moment, that's 6 of them )
Trailer connectors, ugh, those will have to go.. powerpoles will replace those when i install the CA meter !
The Seat, considering this is a 500w legal power E-bike, the pedals need to be used, this seat is not made for pedaling, it does look ok and is nice and comfy to sit on, but it's too wide at the crotch to allow proper pedaling action.. I will be replacing that as well. I think the bike should come standard with a different seat imo.
Maybe with some adjusting, along with handlebar position adjustments it can work, but i'll iron that out in time and update the review about it.
Now THIS is a rear rack !!.. one butch unit.. no worries about bending this rack.
Key at the back to lock in the B battery. ++ on preventing theft. The 2nd battery was 700$ more, i did not opt for it, i have a collection of packs already that i can use, and i plan to mount a 48v pack back there !
Wire for the B battery under the pipe.
And the kick stand.. AWSOME .. no flimsy side stand here, this stand supports the bike perfectly, and stays in place when you ride, it don't bounce or spring around.. very good job on the double leg stand.
The key switch..
A - Off - B
The bike goes from one battery to the other, instead of using them in parallel, pros and cons to this type of setup, more pros than cons so i agree with how they did it.
This will work to my advantage if the controller allows a 48v pack ( crossing my fingers there is no high voltage limit on the controller ) so i can go from A-36v to B-48v
The position of the key switch is not ideal, when you step into the bike the key is right where your foot will be and i fear A meets B and crunch.. need to be very carefull with that.
Ok.. so i took it for a short ride ! ( as you can see in the background, it's still very much winter out here, plenty of snow and the roads are soaked and salt covered.. spring is in the air but not quite here yet )
It may have 20" wheels but it's a full size bike ! I'm 5ft 8" tall and 185 lbs, it fits me just right.. handlebars up high make for an upright seating position and quite comfortable.
The motor is Instant Start, no need to pedal at all if you don't want to. Power comes on smooth and the motor runs nice and quiet as hub motors do, this is a Direct Drive ( not a geared motor ).
Acceleration is on par with most of the 500w setups i've tested ( and i've tested ALOT of them ) but the weight of the bike is a factor. Just now i went and checked the tire pressure and i only have 20psi in the rear and 30psi in the front, i need to pump these up to 40psi and see how much of a difference it makes.. i know for a fact that it does make a significant difference..
This bike is a blast to ride !!!
It will climb my street from a dead stop without any problems and get up to speed without any pedal input, not very steep mind you but still an incline..
The suspension and big fat tires soak up the craks and pot holes like a champ. No squeaks, no creaks, nothing is falling off this bike ( unlike some of the cheap chinese " ebikes " aka electric scooter type bikes i've tested ) there is no flex in the frame, she's rock solid as expected.
The brakes... oh .. my ... god..... can't say enough about the brakes on this machine.. a panic stop on this bike is no problem. I locked up the rear brake with ease even at a good clip and all that rubber at 20psi !
It's an attention magnet, nice +5 celcius today so people are out walking their dogs and litterally stop walking and stare as you ride by !
Ultra Motor refers to the bike as a Light Electric Vehicle, and that' spretty much spot on.
It's too heavy to be a bicycle, and it's certainly not a scooter and does not look like one either. it's a very nicely blended machine and i'm completely happy with it for what it is !
Next step is to install a cycle Analyst because i really need to know exactly how much power this motor is using. I'm guesstimating a 20 amp limit, but want to quantify this.
ok.. where is my screwdriver... time to look under the hood !
The Jeep had a 10ah LiFePo4 pack and hot off the charger ( in cold weather ) the voltage dropped to 33~34v, but as lfp chemistry does, the voltage stays level pretty much all the way thru the discharge..
The A2B has a Li Manganese battery, hot off the charger is 41.8v and even without a CA meter hooked up i know the voltage will start high and work it's way lower as the discharge happens,normal for LiMn... thus the bike slows down as the battery state of charge goes down.
This can be seen in run 1, 2, 3, and 4 as both bikes are getting into the same voltage they pretty much end up neck and neck. Tho i weigh more, and the A2B is a heavier bike, i suspect it's controller is pushing a bit over 20 amps.. will know by the weekend !
I popped the bottom cover on the frame, found a load of trailer connectors, a few relays, and a small multi pin connector for what i suspect is the pedal sensor on the Hybrid model. pictures tonight ..
March 12, 2010
Removed the 4 screws at the bottom of the frame, cut the zip ties from the wires going to the motor.. the one screw behind the chainring was a bugger, i have a crank puller but instead i used a ratchet with short bit to get at it..
Inside this cover i found 2 relays, wires are potted into the top of them ( very good job of keeping the water out !!! ++ UM !
I have not fished the wires yet but i suspect they operate from the key switch for A or B battery.
At the very bottom of the unit i found what looks like the throttle wires ( pleasant surprise for when i want to disable the LED on the throttle, 48v !! ) .
And a Fuse !
I see a Sanyo sticker !
And 2 black loops for what i assume is a method to yank the battery pack out of the frame. I see not nuts and bolts holding the pack in there so it has to be an adhesive type thing.
While on my back looking at the bottom of the frame, noticed something cool.
The gusset that the wires run into is setup in such a way that water can't get into the main tube of the frame, very well thought out. The more i look the more i find on this bike.
Going into the motor are 2 power wires, and a smaller 4pin connector.
This is where i'm going to install the CA meter tonight !
UM logo machined into the motor, nice touch !
March 13, 2010
Ok, time to install that CA !
Got the tools out, crimper, 45 amp Andersons, wire cutters, blade knife..
Nice wire !! 12 AWG
Well Hello Mr. Anderson !
A2B + C.A = Cool !
Now that the CA is installed, Some Data !!
No load current at 39v = 0.95 amps
Pin the throttle from a dead stop, Current Limit = ~ 25 amps ( momentary peak of 28 )
GPS speed on level ground, 32~34 km/h on a fresh charge, 30~32 once voltage settles at 30+ % DOD.
Cruising on level ground, 185lbs rider, power consumption no pedaling = 350 ~ 450w
On medium grade hills the motor keeps it's speed very well, smooth power, the motor does not vibrate as the power comes on, at least nothing like a crystalyte. Going up Salisbury Rd. the speed on GPS went down to 26 km/h with 650~700w continuous.
I take my comments back on the seat, if you pull your butt forward some it's easy to pedal along in top gear and keep your speed up, this seat may stay after all.. The foam soften's up after a few minutes and you get a butt-groove that prevents you from sliding around.. not bad !
Put on aprox 10kms. i need to calibrate the speedometer on the CA, it's set for a 24" wheel right now.
The current limitting on this controller is not like crystalyte, infineon, or eZee controllers.. it seems to restrict amps below a certain rpm ( 15~20 ) , then allow up to 25+ amps mid rpm range up as required to maintain speed.
I still only have 2 good longer range rides on the Metro so far, so lots more testing to do yet.
Not sure if it's the cold weather, but that rear shock has no dampening to speak of.. it's just a spring.. period. Gotta be carefull when leaning into a turn as bumps give you wheel hop.
March 20, 2010
Rear Shock = 150mm from bolt to bolt.
Went for a 20 km ride today, used 5.4ah, managed to show negative watts going down hill pedaling hard with wind at my back, -60w for about 10 seconds ! .. sweet !
April 5, 2010
1st day officially commuting to work on ebike !!!
Over the weekend i've logged over 100 kms on the Metro, everything holding up nicely so far.
Man it feels good to get a blast of fresh air in the morning on the way to the office, vs sitting in a cab and paying 10$ a trip. awsome way to wake up !
Went to the local nature park on sunday, the bike works good but not meant for off-roading at this weight and with road tires, and at very low speed the controller really limits power and makes going up a steep hill at a slow speed difficult, still does perform well for a " 500w " ebike however !..
A few more hundred Kms and i'll be attempting 48v !!!
April 27 2010
Took the metro to work this morning, wet roads and rain in the forecast. On my way home tonight i just missed a rain shower so nothing falling but the roads were soaked, so far, Top Marks +++ to the metro in wet weather.
I got home with my sneakers barely moist and dry socks !.. dry butt and no mud strip on my backpack either !!!.. those fenders work great ! Botom 12" of my pant legs were a bit dirty but nothing crazy like i'd get on a normal MTB..
The Avid brakes work awsome in the wet, no problems stopping, and the tires are fair.
so far , so good !
April 30 2010
Every day this week i've been riding on wet roads..
Tonight, however, i get caught in a DOWNPOUR... i'm talking buckets of rain hammering down, thank god for the Giro helmet, I even took the long way home for the hell of it, at one point it was ice pellets then went back to rain..
Not clear in the picture below but squeezing my socks resulted in a stream of water..
And of course, ain't it always the way.. as soon as i walk into the house.. the rain stops and the sun comes out !
May 18 2010
Having used the bike for a while in it's stock form, i wanted to try 48v, i poked and probed a while until finally deciding to go for it..
With a 48v headway pack on my back, some good and some bad news.
Good news first, top speed is much improved ! at 36v, 7th gear allows for a nice pedal cadence match, on 48v you pedal fairly faster ( faster than i like to pedal, when i do ).
The Bad news however, is that the controller has a 30 amp limit and only after you reach 15~20 km/h..... from zero rpm you don't get alot of help, the controller limits even more.....
Only way to over volt it properly would be to open up the motor and remove the stock controller.. then you could push 45 amps from a dead stop and get to the good stuff....
June 2 2010
Everything is going great so far !
I'm at 700 kms, tires are holding up, i'm tempted to change them for a better profile, wonder if i can find 3" hookworms somewhere.???
If this bike had feelings, it would hate me right about now, it's my submarine ! poor thing is getting used only on nasty days as i'm using the BMX / Chopper / RC Bike on sunny forcasted days lol.. Proud to say i have not taken a cab in a long time, rain shit or shine i bike to work !
The rear brakes have needed adjusting, the arrangement of pulleys to keep the chain straight kinda sucks, the lowest one to keep the kick stand clear is fine, but the top pulleys are useless as you shift thru the gears the chain comes out of the slot and ends up rubbing on the metal pin.. i've already ditched one of them.. about to rid myself of the other one, i see no need for it anyways.
Full charge to green light takes time, the bulk of the charge happens at 4 amps but the 4.20v tappering down to full charge takes an hour in itself, not a problem, just an observation.
June 10 2010
I sold a few 20" rims to an ES forum member and this morning i had to bring a fairly large box to work, soooooo it was either take a cab ( 10$ ) or use the A2B as a cargo hauler !...
Cars were giving me the wide berth, found that kinda nice, no elbow rubbing rear view mirrors..
Every day thing in China but rare sight over here to be loaded like that on a bicycle * apart from the bottle collecting bums..
The best part was walking thru the call centre at work, i got some very funny looks there !!!
June 19 2010.
Invited a few friends over tonight for a group ride, " Bring your helmets, i have the rest covered " ..
Charged up the BMX, the Chopper and the A2B , my friend G is used to being on 2 wheels, has a motorcycle and is used to my toys so i gave him the chopper, i took the BMX as it requires the 18 lbs backpack and not the best brakes but i'm used to it.. I gave M the A2B, she has a bicycle and this was her first bicycle / e-bike ride of the year so i figured the A2B would be a good bet as it's easy to ride and not too fast..
I had her go around the yard a few times to make sure she had her ballance and understood how to operate the brakes and throttle, lowered the seat for her, and we set off..
To avoid busy traffic i headed for the off-road trails. nice and slow 10 to 20km/h stuff, taking our time and enjoying the afternoon ( hot, 27 celcius today, and windy.. ) all "was" going very well..
The the trail is loose sand and very small gravel, it's a walking trail mostly and doubles as a bicycle path across town.. up, down, round and round, get to a point in the trail that has a sharp hill followed by a turn at the bottom.. So i stopped and explained to remain on the brakes and not allow the bike to get going too fast because you won't make the turn at the end.. i go first to show how it's done
Then as i get to the bottom and negotiate the turn i hear a familiar gravel sound that only happens when you lock up a wheel and skid.. followed by a *insert bad words.. * .. i turn around to see M face planting for home base head first type slide..
I imediately drop the BMX and run over, M stands up so it's not too serious.. phew.. i pick up the bike and set it on the stand while she dusts herself off, slightly shaken but not stirred..
Bruised knee and elbow....
Cleaned up pretty good.. chicks dig battle scars... right ?
She's a trooper tho, we kept on going ( this was 10 minutes into the ride.. ) the pace was slow as she had the jitters for a bit but overcame and kept on going.
Sandy Says " Always Wear a Helmet and Gloves !!!
Sep 20 2010
At the 900 km mark, the freewheel is acting up, sticking and causing the chain to jump.. I plan to replace it with a shimano, always found the stock unit loud while ratcheting so it's good in a way..
I have replaced the seat with a CCM gel seat, much better, improved looks too.
Battery pack charges to 41.8v and holds 40v well into 3ah so the pack is doing great with 30 % DOD cycles so far..
I hope the freewheel is not too hard to get off. ..
Dec 3 2010
1040 kms !!!
Passed the 1100 km mark, December 2 is officially the end of my biking season for 2010, i can handle the cold temperatures but the roads are a mess, wednesday and thursday this week i went to work on the Metro and when i got home had to hose it down, in the picture below the bike is white but it was brown 20 seconds before...
Grit in the chain ( you can feel it grinding and digs into your nerves... so i just motored to save the chain and shimano freewheel i just installed.. the original freewheel seized up about 2 weeks ago.. )
Other than that, the bike has been running flawlessly, i am very impressed with the weather resistance of this bike, not sure why but my right foot always gets soaked, pedaling or not, the fenders need to be extended just a tiny bit more... or a better tire that i am installing next year for sure.