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May 26, 2014

Big bikes, small bikes, short bikes and what else ?..

Fatbike !

At this point i've lost count of how many bikes have come and gone... have not yet converted a tandem ( 2 person bicycle ) but that's probably next on my list.

While digging thru pages of stuff on Kijiji and dreaming of warm sunny days i stumbled on this odd looking bicycle aptly named " Fatbike " because of the massive tires... HUGE tires give it a really unique and moon lander type look that i really liked... had to have it... New , they sell for about 1500$ at the local bike shop here in town, at Consolvo Bikes Moncton, this one was used for only a couple months and had an asking price of 1300$ .. i got it for 1250$ after a bit of haggling.

As you can see from the snow above, i got this bike in mid February during a typical maritime cold spell.... it was -15 celcius that day but i just had to take it out for a quick test ride before parking it until spring. With 4" wide tires inflated to only 10 psi, it floats over snow like a champ... I'm told it rides really well on packed snow skidoo trails !

I considered all sorts of options from mild to wild, but in the end it came down to budget and what i had available from my stash.

First, i need to promote my current stock of front hub kits to local customers while riding around town, this means leaving the high voltage Chaos at home and finding a way to get my Ypedal kit on this bike somehow... and since this bike pedals like a dream i can use it as an exercise bike ( yes.. i do lilke to pedal... even with a motor )

. . .

Trued an existing front wheel to perfection, clamped it down in a vice.. used it as a template to tweak the 2 unlaced rims before epoxying them together... using some of that 3M DP420 Doctorbass from Endless Sphere got me hooked on.

Glued the 2 top rims together and clamped them down to the template wheel.

Since i have a stash of these front 26" wheels, and needed a set of spokes...

( And yes.. the workbench needs yet another round of cleaning..... ugh )

A lot of work, but i have more time than money at this point in time.. so .. yep.

Found my lamp stand/Hub motor wheel building thingy..

Now.. this is a tough one, it's a rear axle motor, being used on a front fork..

Typical standard front fork = 100 mm
Fatbike front fork = 135 mm

To get the rim centered into the fork properly, and for the disk brake rotor to line up, required some creativity .....

Laced all spokes to the right side of both flanges on the hub, used the right side of both rim holes to gain a few more mm's .. put 2 shims behind the rotor that required longer disk brake bolts ( that i happen to have in my " pile " .. totally lucked out using bolts from an eZee motor.. perfect length )

Voila !

And i got it pretty darn centered too.. got a slight up and down wobble but with the big fat tires, will not be noticeable

Motor, rims, spokes, rotor, axle hardware ( all except tire and tube ) = 4.5 Kg = 10 Lbs

With tire and tube = 6.9 Kg = 15 Lbs

Previous rim was 80mm
New rim = 60mm .... a bit narrower but plenty functional.


The front fork on the Norco Bigfoot does not have the typical Lawyer Lips, it has small tabs at the tips of the dropouts..

So, instead of using C washers , i did the unthinkable .. C washers would have been good enough but I intend to " up " the power level at some point and will want a stronger mount... soooo..

And with that done...

Zip tied the controller, thumb throttle and Display, taped on an 8ah Lipo 36v pack and took it out for a test late at night in pitch dark..

This bike was meant to have a motor, it's so much fun... ... it was dark and wet out there but i played around the yard for about 10 minutes and had a blast...... I intend to cut some PVC panels and mount 16ah worth of lipo, also got a 48v 25 amp controller on the way from ebikes.ca to see how much abuse the motor will take


Well.. it was fun while it lasted......

Next morning after a cup of black coffee, took the bike for another ride, all was well until i hit the brakes kinda hard and heard a " POP " sound... looked down and all seemed fine so i kept riding.. then a 2nd time " POP " .. and i looked down at my tire pulling itself apart.. doh !


I removed the glue, rims are still spoked to the motor flanges with a 1" gap in the middle lol... looks cool

I was able to remove the glue residue from the split rims fairly easily, meaning it did not grab very well....

Going to try the epoxy again, applying to both sides this time, then drill and rivet or nut/bolt thru.

Goal here is to make it work with what i have on hand, without buying yet MORE parts.

Using a set of spokes to pull each rim to the opposite flange would require buying longer spokes... so for now i will try the diy options and see how it goes.


Not only are the spokes pulling the rims apart, the tire is causing serious stress as well even at only 10 psi.. being glued again shortly.. and if i can figure out how to drill through the middle without making a royal mess, rivets and nuts/bolts tomorrow !

This time, I used a sanding block and roughed up the surfaces of both rims prior to more epoxy, hoping to get a stronger grip..

Used every clamp in my collection to squeeze them back together, too lazy to remove the spokes lol.

Tried rivets, the angle is all wrong and just could not get them to seat properly....

In my massive stash of parts, found some puny little nuts and bolts.....

I had about a dozen of these and used them all....

Had to tweak the spokess a bit, the rim is far from perfectly true but with this large a tire and disk brakes, it's not noticeable at all.... Put the tire back on.. bolted it up .. slapped on a temp Lipo pack and had a go at it again !!..

Happy to report, after a 20 minute bash session, so far so good !!!!

Sporting my Ypedal.com display..


After a few more rides, on and off-road, i'm feeling more confident about this last effort.... so onward with a proper battery setup.

Got 4 x 5S 8ah packs, setting up for 36v 16ah , with BMS and quick plug charging.

Been thinking of how this was going to come together for weeks now... but today.. after about 3 cups of black coffee... i got to it.

Bristol board is ideal for this, cheap, stiff enough, easy to cut and fold.. Started with a scrap piece, tapped to the frame and hacked/cut/folded it into submission... then transferred to a 2nd piece, then to plastic..

Since i'm running a 15 amp controller at the moment, figured i might as well use a BMS... would be the only bike in my collection with one.

Ping includes shrink wrap and a piece of back board with his BMS's .

Instead of hiding the bms inside the battery box, i decided to mount it in plain sight, makes it easier to explain how an ebike system works when parts are visible.. so i soldered the power wires to the back of the BMS and cut a few notches in the backing board, then used a bit of hot glue to secure them together.

Again, a bit more hot glue and stuck it to the top pack.

See the cassette and how dirty it was, covered in filthy rust and grease..... ( contrast with the chain i started cleaning while mounted to the bike... )

And after A LOT of WD40 ... ... ended up removing the chain from the bike and bathing it in wd .. then applied a fresh coat of "Clean-Ride blue" wax based lube... no more greasy pant legs..

Ended up taking the entire front bottom bracket apart down to the chainrings to do a proper job of removing winter salt and grit... cleaned everything.. greased.. re-assembled..

The front derailleur was completely seized up ... took over 30 minutes of soaking and working it to free it up !


The original seat sucked... puny little hard as a rock thing it was...... got a Gel one and tried it... also no good, too thick at the horn end making pedaling difficult as it chaffed too much... then i found this one gathering dust on one of my shed bikes.... so i borrowed it

There it is !.. one electrified Norco Bigfoot !


Took it out for the first real distance ride on Saturday, went aprox 12 km on 3.2 Ah . ..

3.2ah x 36v = 115wh / 12 = 9.6 wh/km

This is with moderate pedaling on fairly flat terrain, it's a blast to ride and even with low power on tap it's still loads of fun.. Rolling over train tracks at 30 kph you don't even feel a thing, them big tires sure do howl like crazy tho..

Everywhere i went, people stopped and stared, it's hilarious the reaction you get riding around on this bike, people don't even realize it's electric as the tires are the first thing noticed..


June 6th 2014

I now have over 100 kms on the Bigfoot, so far so good, front rims are holding up well.


December 5 , 2014

Since june i've been riding the Fatbike regularly, since the 2nd round of glue and bolts the pair of rims have been holding up perfectly !

Riding during the winter months has always been something i've wanted to do but things like cold weather, multiple feet of snow, cars driving sideways on slippery roads... pretty much put me off the whole thing so i've been parking my toys once the roads beging to get salted until the bike lanes show up again in spring .

But not this year !.. I raise my fist in the air and shout " Screw You Winter !!! " starting now i'm dedicating one bike in my collection for winter use, and the Fatbike gets it !

With the big wide gushy tires, the Bigfoot is an ideal candidate for a snow bike, combined with the low power of the MXUS front hub motor setup it should be ideal to cut trails and keep chugging off-road.

Step 1 : Fenders !

I started searching online for suitable winter fenders, a whole lot of products now available for Fat Bikes, however, none of them affordable, and all were very much inadequate..

Above, using " Crazy Carpet " that i had on hand, cut a strip and zip tied it to the rear rack and all along the seat tube to the cranks .

Next step was to test the battery pack before the winter season, batteries do not like cold temperatures ! .. As far as i'm aware, and all the research i've done, says that discharging Lithium batteries in cold temperature will not harm or damage them but it will affect their performance.

General rule of thumb, bring the battery inside to room temps until you are ready to ride, and after the ride bring the pack back inside to warm up before charging it up.

Notice the new Seat and the big fat bear trap pedals ! .. those were installed back in July, way better comfort all around. .. the stock seat was a horror show, i don't know who in their right mind wouuld want to sit on the puny little rock hard seat that the bike comes with..... anywhooo..


Then the front fender :

I ran out of black, looked high and low, from the basement to the garage and back again, no luck... I found some red however !

Using metal coat hangers and a paper hole punch from the dollar store along with some zip ties. Tried with one hanger, it was not stiff enough, so i twisted two of them together, then i bent them in the shape of the tire..

A few more to make a brace near the dropouts and voila !!!.. How truly craptastic it is !

I hate the color... but it's a proof of concept for now, i hate spending hours making something perfect only to find out the whole idea was a bad one... it happens a fair bit around here .. but it's part of learning !


After discharging the battery using my LBD , charged it back up using the new Cycle Satiator !

This charger is AWESOME !!!!!! I love it !

. . .

Got busy with shipping tape, multiple layers, covered the wires to prevent water from creeping in as much as possible. This is temporary, once winter goes away i plan to remove all the tape and check for water damage.

To test it all out, i went out for a 30 km ride !

Amazing bike this is, if you are going to ride a bike in winter, this is the one to have !!! I finally have a use for the low/med/high speed option on the display, Low is perfect for snow covered trails pedaling along at 10 kph it just floats over everything... you can steer without washing out, brakes work perfectly with the big grabby tires.. it's frickin awesome !!!!!!!

Bike was covered in slush grit and mud..

Used a 2 gallon garden water jug to wash the bike off, worked really well, bounced it hard a few times to drop the excess water and rolled it into the house to dry off.

I only crashed once, going too fast uphill while standing on the pedals and broke thru a big crusty water hole, if i had been going slower, i'm sure i could have rolled thru.. broke a zip tie on the front fender but it held on until i got home.

Was dressed with rain pants, shoe covers, sweater, rain coat, neck tube, toque, dipped gloves for liners inside goretex gloves, kept me dry thru this 2+ hour ride in falling snow/rain.. outer layer was soaked but my tshirt and sweat pants were dry... pretty amazing !

Eyeglasses suck... they really REALLY SUCK... covered in water and snow and fogged up as well, i had to shake my head side to side once in a while to try and clear some up.. if i was a candidate ( and i'm not ) for laser surgery, i'd be there in an instant.

. . .

Jan 12, 2015

Happy new year !

So far this winter has been perfect, i mean .. like.. frozen dry ground everywhere until last week.. a bit cold but i can handle down to -10 celcius ( 14f ), any colder i stay inside.. i'm nuts but not that nuts !

My home made fenders are still holding on and working well ! I"ve shared this method with a number of people on ES and on Facebook but so far there are not many following suit.

Finding places to ride that keep you away from street traffic is where it's at in winter, out here in Moncton NB, once winter really kicks in, the streets are a royal mess, covered in ice, slush and some spots that never got plowed make for a rough ride, then consider car drivers with partially cleared windshields and summer tires, with big chunks of ice precariously sitting on their roofs waiting for a sharp turn to take you out...... i keep to the trails as much as possible !

I went looking for winter tires back in December, the local bike shop wanted 250$ PER TIRE for studded rubber .. no way... next option was " Snowshoes " by Vee-Rubber , no studs but it's a silica compound, really soft and grippy.



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