Bafang Factory Tour

Mikey-

Active Member
#1
Hey guys, I saved the best for last, Bafang motors factory tour! We made time to sneak this in before leaving the country, and I'm very glad it worked out.


Some personal notes I didn’t get to discuss in the video: I was astonished at the amount of testing that they perform during production. Literally each motor is tested before, after, and several times during production. As well they have a staff of riders testing samples and combinations for larger customers or new products. Of course, other places test their motors as well, I’m sure. But seeing the dedication that Bafang has for their product line was something I didn’t expect to see so excessively.

I got to see some prototype, experimental, and custom systems that Bafang asked I not display publicly. This is why the series ended seemingly abruptly; as it was the last portion of the tour. The staff at Bafang was very accommodating and transparent with everything else on the tour, I easily agreed to omit these systems to maintain EBR’s professionalism and Bafang’s competitive pursuit. I’m not sure which of these will see the light of day, but I was very pleased to see Bafang testing motors with various sizes, applications, and even excavating and improving on a method I thought was long dead.

Thanks for watching, if you have any questions from my time there, I’d be happy to help.

-Mikey


(Here is the first video, I'll add the rest in the coming days as they publish)

 
#5
Great video series. Really enjoy watching. I've got 3x BBS02 units and have had excellent success with them. After seeing the testing I understand why these units hold up! Great video series - pls keep 'em coming.
 

Mikey-

Active Member
#6
Part Six:

Part Seven:

My favorite part in the series was at the 4:00 mark of video 7. Rehearsing the many stages of testing their products go through.
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
#7
Great, now if they ever start supporting their dealers with parts we'd be eternally grateful. But they do not!
Smaller dealers have to hunt down replacement parts from a dozen sources to keep up stock. It's been abysmal and hard to understand.
Completely changing the BBS02 and NEVER letting the biggest resellers know until they opened a box. AWFUL support. We can't get schematics, links to changes by serial number, just generally poor support. And we're loyal customers. We sell no other motors.
 
#8
I was amused to see the 10° and 15° test ramp at Bafang... behind it lies a story. In 2011, I was introduced by my wife to ebikes while in Italy. I brought her new bike home on an airplane (hey, it was Italy, who cares about lithium batteries as checked luggage?). With our hill above our home, it was a game changer... the motor flattened it. But it was my wife's bike. So I set out to find myself one. The ebikes on sale were awful, far inferior to the European designed standard set by my wife's bike. So I started looking into kit motors. The first was a disaster... a Cute 100 sold by a Chinese company where I had to make all the wiring connections myself... and it was noisy... and the first BMS circuit board fried on the battery and the replacement (which I had to buy from them) was different. Next, I found a MAC 1000 with a 52V battery. Unbelievably fast, car-level top speed, installed on a hardtail Gary Fisher. Sold it before it would kill me. Next, I connected with Bafang - their European Rep spoke reasonable English - and agreed to make me a special 300W motor to comply with our country's law... the then-new Bafang CST.

It was a nice, quiet motor, except going up our hill, it would keep cutting power. Working with Bafang we replaced everything, including, when I was on a trip to China and paid a visit to the factory in Suzhou, a second CST, also specially wound to my specs. Utter frustration when that one showed the same cut out. The Bafang rep found this very hard to believe. I invited him to come visit and stay in our guesthouse. He hopped on the bike, headed up the hill and was shocked by the performance... on-off-on-off, very frustrating for him, and no matter what he did in my workshop, we never found the issue. However, he also admitted that in testing, they never tested it on a hill like the one outside our home. Suzhou is flat, but people buy ebikes to flatten hills.

Thus, I was amused to see the test ramp. It was not there in 2013 when I visited. I expect the rep went back and reported the hill experience. You can't test hill performance without a hill... so build one.

To round out the story, we never did find out what caused the CST cut-out. My visit was in January 2013 (freezing cold BTW), and in the factory tour, I was invited to try a new motor... the very first prototype BBS01. Wow! Quiet, strong, it used gears and the controller was hidden inside, no wiring nightmares. I asked him to sell me the first production models and in March he sent me serial number 17. I tested it for six months and then organised a buying group. The group bought 27 motors.

During that same January trip, I visited Paul at em3ev.com in Shanghai (who was then selling Mac motors) because he was the most trustworthy person to buy kit from. He made his own batteries and he understood customer support as an Englishman in China. At the time, Paul found it very difficult to do business with Bafang, but I convinced him to connect with the same rep with whom I worked. I had Bafang ship the buyer-group motors to Paul who then packed them and his batteries. Paul could get good shipping rates, whereas Bafang just called FedEx who charged far too much. I also added to the order some 36 and 48v BBS01/02 motors for Paul. That worked, as can be seen now, where he is a major global vendor of Bafang gear.

The upshot was that I took all my hub motors off my bikes and put them on a shelf to gather dust (I just sold most of them at auction a few months ago). The BBS01/02 motors and batteries purchased in 2014 are still going strong, although I gather that in the industry they are now considered antiques. We have 6-7 bikes, some for guests, some for sunny days and others for foul conditions. The only mishap so far was some German guests who were far too vigorous with the pressure washer and managed to get the Hall Sensors or something in the motor wet so it just clicks, but does not work. The original test motors did not last. They had aluminium bodies and were hand assembled, so eventually they stopped working, but since I had extra motors from the buying group, I just tossed them on the shelf.

I posted my experience on ebike forums, and as the first actual user of the BBS01/02 motors, I was able to give others valuable information that encouraged them to buy the motors (and to use Paul if they were buying mail-order from China). The 27-strong buyers group also became ambassadors for (a) ebikes and (b) the Bafang BBS01. Soon a new ebike store was opened in our town... featuring Bafang BBS motors. We became known as the town with the highest per capita ebikes. That ebike store then opened four more stores around the country, and soon the big bike businesses started looking at ebikes. Kits gave way to decent ebikes, not the horrible stuff that was on offer in 2011. Eventually, the price wars began and now ebikes are becoming a normal part of the transport network.

I went a slightly different route however. For guests, I pick up $60-100 aluminium bikes off our auction website... bikes that sold new for $600, with derailleur gears, shock absorbers and plastic saddles. They are much like the ebikes sold, and for those who have never ridden a proper European bike, they are OK. If guests damage them, no worries, I pick up another for the price of a restaurant dinner. The reason to provide guests with derailleur gears is the tendency to shift while the motor is driving the chain... a 3-speed hub, like the Shimano Nexus will probably absorb the abuse, but it is not good for it and a guest won't get the hang of it. For my own use, I have the original Nexus-3 on my sunny day bike, and a NuVinci N360 on the rat bike. Ebikes don't need more than 3 gears, I only wish the Nexus had wider spacing... up hill lower gear than what they offer now, flat is OK for cruise, but for maximum speed a higher top gear.

For myself (and my wife after the first bike died), I went to Germany and bought Bella Ciao 3-speed bikes, the classic Italian steel frame with a Brooks leather saddle, and a ride that no aluminium bike can offer. They are not made for racing or crashing down mountains, they are made for riding to town, hitting potholes and poorly maintained streets, absorbing the shock with sprung steel rather than shock absorbers. I ride upright, not hunched over - looking at the world, not the pavement. I also collect a lot more compliments as these designs have been around for a century... indeed, the Milan company that makes the frames has been in business for 50 years. I still cannot find any bike that is more suitable for town and country use than the classic European steel-frame bike upgraded with an ebike kit.

The one drawback in the early days was the amount of time spent answering questions. Happy to share, but sometimes it's a bit much. So I set up https://slowcycles.com and refer people there. I've not kept up with it for a number of years, but it still is a useful repository of information.

Thanks for the video of Bafang. It is nice to see how they have progressed.
 
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Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
#9
They have never progressed in supporting dealer. Paul has the same problems. Poor parts support, poor firmware support, and making changes in motors and firmware without notifying resellers. There are more details and stories, but not appropriate for public consumption or open forums. It frustrates me to no end as I absolutely like BBSxx motors and still run my 2013 BBS01’s.

Most recently we got motors with dumbed down firmware that got error 07 overvolt shutdowns with a 52v battery. Like theBBS02B upgrade, never a word from Bafang to ANY dealer I’ve communicated with.

Yet I totally support the BBS series as the most sustainable DIY mid drive.
 
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