eBall 29"er

JRA

Well-Known Member
#1
Coinciding with the fact that I have my e road bike scene pretty much dialed I had been looking at options to add a mid drive to my old (2005) 29"er hardtail. It has just been sitting around as there isn't a lot of single track here to ride and that is why I have been riding the road. A kit dealer here in town talked up the TS mid drive to me as the way to go. He offered to let me try his bike out but I am the type that if I am going to try it out I am probably not going to be easy on it so I made a deal with him for a unit.

They come stock 36v but he had some 52v controllers made for it and I had him put one on so I could use my 10.3ah Shark Pack to save some bucks and I can't ride both bikes at once anyway! I have made a pact with myself actually to not buy any more batteries until the 20700 versions appear.

Went together just fine although I did back track a few times as I figured out the best way to route wires etc.. Probably took me 3 hrs. total and a trip to the hardware store for some necessary bits
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The display bracket was not going to put it where I thought it should be and it looked kind of fragile like it would snap easily if I crashed. Well it didn't get that far as it broke while I was adjusting it so I took it off and mounted it to the stem and it sits there nicely held in place by a strong rubber band.

Took it around the block to make sure things were operational and after a few tweaks I got my warm gear on and took off for the other side of town where there is a big park with one pretty steep road going up in to it. In fact I over heated a controller on my hub bike going up it last summer and as I said, I don't do easy test rides.

It was 7 miles across town to the base of the climb and in eco mode the bike, even with knobby tires running 15psi got there just fine. In fact I passed a group of road bikers along the way which they must have thought odd. Once on the climb I settled in to my 2nd gear which is like a 32" and tour which is the 2nd setting and went to work on the pedals. The Torque Assist works really well and is very natural feeling while doing a climb. Score 1. Slight growl from the motor under load but not loud enough to bother. Score 2. Cleaned the climb with a good effort on both mine and the motors part. Score 3. You can see it in here:

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It was a little greasy up in the park and there was even some snow up on top

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I stopped by a shop and bought some mudguards on the way home for next time. Had to put the rear one on in the parking lot because I couldn't carry it easily but the downtube one has yet to make its way on. By the time I got back it was cold enough that all the mud had frozen and the bike is now making a mess on the floor.

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Overall I would have to say my initial impression of the TS (http://www.cnebikes.com/product/TS-mid-motor-kit.html) is that it is a very suitable system. The Torque Sensing is on par with any bike I have ridden from the big boys. It has all the power I need for mtb use with enough get up and go to get to the trailhead. Seems to be pretty frugal on watts too as I didn't baby it at all and went as fast as I wanted for the whole ride and used about 450wh. The gauge stayed on full for a long time but when it started to bleed off it went down fairly fast as voltage meters are apt to do. I think I will install my old watt meter on the bike so I can track watts instead.

Pretty economical ride though and all I will ever need. Now I have to put my FS bike back in to service for analog duty!

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JRA

Well-Known Member
#2
Did some fenderizing to block crap getting in to the battery area and on top of the motor.

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Went to the closest local single track trailhead

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And proceeded to get down with some nice old school single track with about an inch of wet snow on it.

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Traction with tires set at 10psi front and 17psi rear maintained good traction throughout. I couldn't believe some of the stuff I was climbing actually. The TS motor's torque sensing is quite intuitive and blends nicely with my preferred mtb cadence but I pretty much just used my next to lowest gear ratio and eco. I don't ride very fast, especially in those conditions while all alone in a fairly remote area.

The mudguards worked great but I should fill in at the top of the down tube because when going faster on a road it still kicks up spray in to my face. I have a 4x8 sheet of .04 ABS and plenty of zip ties!

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JRA

Well-Known Member
#3
Got the beta from the display figured out today. You have to press the +i- buttons at the same time at startup and toggle the i.

Looks like the controller is 15A x 52v = 780 or about a hundred more hot off the charger. Seeing as how I was only using eco and tour leaving sport and turbo alone and have been going as fast as I want it seems ok. Eco in tight single track is all I need and it will even climb a steep section at that. But if you kick it up to tour for steep climbs it does the job better. All with active pedaling. Anyway there were some other things to do but I didn't get a chance to really deal with it today.

Big surprise was the bike weighs 20.3kg (44.75lbs) ready to ride, and dirty. There is a lot of hub bub about the new Pivot Shuttle weighing 44lbs and how it is setting the standard for light weight.....ha.

And I quote:

Shuttle - Pivot Cycles | Pivot Cycles | Performance Redefined
www.pivotcycles.com/bike/shuttle/
Available only in Europe/UK. Pivot Shuttle – go further, ride harder, and conquer the toughest technical challenges with Pivot's revolutionary eMTB. At 19.95kg ( 44lbs) for a complete bike, the full carbon Shuttle sets a new benchmark for light weight,"

Granted that is FS compared to my HT but my FS bike weighs even less than my hardtail as it is aluminum and the Qbota is steel so adding the same system to it should actually be about the same. For my style of slow and steady riding in rough terrain the Qbota is all I would probably need but I know I will mount one on the FS at some point.....just because.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#4
Still fine tuning the install on this bike. Proper chainline, especially with the wide range cassettes available today, is important to shifting performance, drivetrain longevity and chain retention. Aftermarket mid drives like the TS and BBseries have a housing for the final gear reduction that pushes the chainring out pretty far so you only get decent chainline in the higher gears and horrible in the lower ones. Not good. That is why there are aftermarket chainrings that have offset teeth to the mounting holes so that it will "wrap" around the housing and get the chainring closer to the chain stay. Good.

The Bafang bolt pattern and the TS ones don't match up. The TS has a piece that is an adapter for a 110bcd chainring as well as it is bolted to the final drive. I took that piece and fit it under a Bafang ring and drilled holes through the chainring using it as the template. I then lopped off the bcd tabs as they weren't necessary and looked ugly behind the ring. Next size longer bolts and some bushings to space the ring off the adapter enough to clear the bottom of the motor housing. I used loc tire also. It was a little challenging to get the chainring running straight as I didn't take the best of care drilling the holes so note that operation is worth putting some time in.

Oh, a 42t ring is as small as you can go on a TS if you go with an off set type sprocket. I had a 40t on for one ride but it was a narrow/wide straight one that make chainline worse instead of better. But as seen in the photo below proper chainline has been achieved which to me means that you have a straight chainline while in the front ring (middle one if it is more than one) and the middle of the cassette or freewheel. That way either way from there is equal.


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Today's ride included grinding up some very steep terrain and I never felt like I needed a lower gear ratio than the 42/40 and using eco. With the improved chainline there was no grinding noise from the chain being overly side loaded in the lower cogs. Good. The chain stayed on the whole time too which is a bonus as losing the chain is also a common ailment that results from bad chainline. More good.

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While I had the chainring off I kept going and dismantled pretty much the whole system to see what it is composed of. An amazingly small motor with a simple gear reduction system consisting of 3 different gears. The main helical gear that runs off the motor armature is a nylon one and I replaced it with a bronze one just because. Greased everything up and hit the inside with some T-9 and it went back together very easily. I like that it is a simple thing that is more than approachable by a back yard type mechanic. You don't need a factory authorized service course for this puppy!
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#5
Today's ride encompassed the usual texture of trail surfaces. Pavé MUT to rooty, muddy single track. The new chain ring configuration worked great. Never lost the chain and had all the gears I needed all day. Lots of climbing slick, snotty, leafy stuff like this (STIL)

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But lots of nice flowing trail too with lots of different forest views and conditions, I had stopped here because I saw 5 elk up ahead in the path but they had spooked by the time I got my phone out

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The biggest revelation of the day was that it was the first e bike ride I have ever taken where the battery wore me out instead of the other way around. I don't have a great read on my use due to a wonky interface with the controller @ 52v but I was out and about for 3.5 hours and underway pretty much all the time. Did lots of climbing and did some more wear on the brake pads. Slow and steady riding I guess makes for longer battery life.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#6
Hit some high water spots on yesterday's ride that had me taking apart the motor to see how much it took on. About a teaspoon full came out of the electronics side and the gear reduction side was dry, except for the grease. Because I do most of my own bike tech it is a big plus for me that I can service the TS so easily on my own.
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The ride also included lots of primitive single track that was only broken up by a few downed trees. Very few people ride in this area so it doesn't get much maintenance. When I used to live closer to this system I kept it flowing.

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Even saw a ship wreck!

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#7
JRA, Thanks for your very thorough ride reports on the Tongshen. Nice photos and awesome you are getting in some good winter rides!
Got to ask; what's the story on that fork? I never seen that design before. Carbon fibre legs?
I just ordered a TS today to build up a "grocery getter" on a 29er HT Motobecane. I decided on the TS instead of the BBSHD because of the torque sensor which I hope give a similar power delivery to my Bosch and Brose mid-drives.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#8
They are Fournales forks that were made in France, and distributed world wide by LOOK, from the early 90's until the late 90's. When we were looking for suspension fork options for 29" wheels at Interbike in 1999 they seemed like a good candidate because they would just have to have 35mm longer legs. Didn't turn out to be that easy but after the company went out of the bike fork business I picked up a lifetime supply off eBay. I prefer parallelogram forks to telescopic so I still use them on both my hardtail and FS (which doesn't have a TS, yet).

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I never was a big fan of cadence sensor PAS and neither a fan of the EU based systems due to their proprietary complexity and overall cost due to their need to be frame specific. I have nice bikes that I am comfortable riding and don't have room for more so adding a kit is my preference. The torque sensing PAS on the TS seems fine to me for mtb use. I never use more than eco and it climbs anything I point it at beyond my expectations. I like the throttle too as it makes starting out from anywhere easier. Compared to the way I have the throttles set up on my road bikes, that are throttle only, it is very mellow but puts down enough torque that you can get going enough to get your cranks going to engage the PAS and then you just let go, even in the middle of a steep hill. Every bike should have this feature, call it Class 1.5.

What voltage are you going to use with your TS? 36, 48 or 52?
 
#9
Thanks for the education on the Fournales forks. They look very cool and I assume lighter than conventional?
I ordered from Roshan of Biktrix one programmed for a 52v battery, along with the grip display. I'm hoping to be able to cruise level at 25 mph or more.
PS; Is that above photo of the wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens SP?
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#10
Yes lighter but only 80mm travel which is plenty for the way I ride, or should I say speed.

I wasn't impressed with the grip display because it has a funky grip throttle thing going on. I like the thumb version on the other side next to my grip shift better. I am so used to a CA3 that any display is second rate and the stock display is fine for my needs after I broke the stock mount and have it strapped on even. I was easily able to access the settings to adjust to my preferences and haven't done much with it since. As I said I use eco 99% of the time.

Good luck getting it to cruise that fast. I suppose it would but you will want to have pretty high gear ratio's to support it. I still prefer my hub bikes for that type of speed and the cadences associated with them. I have had mine up to 25 a few times on the pavé but mostly ride off road with mine so rarely see even 20 doing that.

The magic legs feeling that torque sensing gives you feels good to me up to about 70rpm and then it just starts to feel vague. Beyond that I prefer pure access to my gearing without motor interference at all and why I use a throttle on my road bikes.

Yes, Ft. Stevens. There is a single track trail system (outside of the paved ones) there that I have ridden off and on for years that I always say is one of my top 5 favorite in the U.S.. Can be ridden year round but sometimes the water table gets the low spots flooded so you have to get wet. I like to think that Lewis and Clark walked the same trails back in their time. The above pic of my FS bike was taken at Coffenbury Lake inside the park.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#11
Since piecing this bike together a few weeks ago I have been wanting to get together with a "manufactured" e bike for a comparison ride. Got the chance yesterday to do so in the Sisters, OR area. Which normally this time of year is full on snowed in.

The other bike was a carbon Levo which of course is a FS but by hand scale wasn't way too much more heavy. It had the 3.0 + tires on it also. The terrain was windy single track through the Ponderosas with rock outcropping features mixed in. Not a lot of elevation gain but many speed changes. My friend is quite a bit younger and more up with the whole single track for speed thing than I but we managed to stick together for the most part through out the 21 mile ride with him leading the way.

We swapped bikes, and shoes as I had ground down my non drive crank so it would better clear the chain stay after my quest for Q factor and it boogerd the spindle so that it wouldn't come off. Luckily we had the same size feet!

It took awhile for me to get used to the grabby and wandery steering effect that I find the norm with + tires compared to my usual 2.3's. The ground was mostly firm but as the day heated up it got a little sloppy with standing water on top in places. I am here to say the + tires suck in those conditions as I almost washed out in several corners due to the front end skating.

Power delivery of the Levo was perhaps a bit more refined than my TS kit but not so that it made a difference. The Brose system is quieter as has been noted due to their use of a belt in the gear reduction instead of a helical gear etc.. The TS is not loud but does have a bit of a growl to it.

Both bikes were kept in the eco mode all day, except for the first 1/2 mile after switching over the Levo had timed out and I rode it with no power and it felt every bit the heavy bike but still pedaled ok enough. Because there is no handlebar display it was not evident that was the case and I just thought the power delivery was weak...

After a few hundred miles now of tight single track use it is apparent to me for my style of riding that eco is really all one needs. Any more and the bike wants to "lunge" while doing tech moves which is disconcerting. Both bikes in eco mode provided assistance up to the top speed we both were able to travel at which was in the low teens for the most part. What the motor does is help to maintain momentum and get one back up to speed after an obstacle or sharp corner. My friend who rides these trails regularly on analog bikes also commented that in the flat section at the start the e bike made the corners more fun as his speed was elevated enough to rail them.

As noted above my kit system has a throttle which is really only useful for starting off or perhaps burping through a tech section where crank strikes might occur in order to keep the motor activated. Crank timing on a PAS bike doesn't work all that well. My friend liked the feature and agreed that it didn't do any harm to the world to have it available.

After this trial I am happy enough with my ghetto mid drive as it performs on par with a bike like the Levo and is lighter also. The ability to upgrade my battery to the new 21700 cells here soon and use the same battery on my e road bike and e mtb is a plus also. When the new battery chemistry gets traction they will show up in few years on the manufactured bikes but I would predict they won't be able to retro in to existing bikes. It's not that the current batteries are bad, they work fine, but the new ones will have a higher C rate and take way more charge cycles.

After the mtb ride we hopped on V1 and V2 so I could show my friend the road side of my e quation. We did an out and back up a local pass that was the scene of a big wildfire last year here. The forest was pretty devastated and clean up was underway. Sad to see but it happened and there is nothing to be done about it now.
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Oddly enough both rides were like 21.5 miles and so it was a 43 mile day in the saddle(s). The mtb one took 3 hours though and the road bike one 75 minutes. Ah's used for both rides were about the same too. All in all a great day and on to the next e adventure!
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#13
You might have noticed that the display has been a bit cockeyed since I got the bike up and running. The OEM display bracket broke during the install that very first day. It was really not anything that I was excited about as it put the display out and over the bars and was doomed to break and made it so that the bike couldn't be turned up on to the bars and seat in event of that needing to happen.

I got away for a bit using the old mounting points for the bracket as a base for some rubber bands and fixing it to the stem. It was always crooked but only came undone once. I finally got around to thinking critically about the situation and came up with a plan based on the K Edge type mounts in use in the bike world.

I made a cardboard template first and then planned on getting some UHMW but as it happens my neighbor donated a small cutting board she wasn't using so that took care of that. Some Sharpie work, the right sized hole saw, a drill and bit and a jig saw with some time spent fiddling w/ the fitting and here is the result.

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It was white and ugly with Sharpie so I hit it with some rattle can black. For this purpose it should stick, maybe.... As luck would have it cable housing fit snugly in to the center holes of the original mounting points. Put a bit of Silicone Seal in first to hold them in there but they aren't under any real pressure so they should stay in there just fine.

After doing this it has inspired me to do a similar mount for my CA3's so now I have to track down another cutting board! Thrift Store here I come.

If I had access to a 3d printer this type of thing would be perfect for it I would think.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#16
First ride with the new display location and it is just right. Really visible from the saddle due to the relative flatness of the screen compared to the stock mount which held it at a steeper angle.

And speaking of angles. The largest park in the country is about 7 miles from where I live, it is aptly called Forest Park and rises from about 60' in elevation to 1000+' in under a mile is some spots and up to 4 in others. The single track in the park that mostly contours the hillside is off limits to bikes but the fire roads for the most part are good to go. There is a main one that contours through the park but the rest tend to be up and down affairs with steep % of grades in lots of places. The BPA route I took today is particularly nasty but the TS was up to the task as long as one is willing to put in a concerted effort into the pedals and have the skills to negotiate optimum line choice so as to not lose traction. Here is a little montage of the ride:

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You can see from the route that there were three dead ends that I hit. Not exactly on purpose but having seen these roads leading off on other rides and I wondered where they went. With the assist on board I don't worry anymore about dead ends as it is not as disheartening to discover that you have to turn around and go back up the steep hill you just came down.

The Max Pos. Gradient of 19.7% gives you a pretty good idea of how steep it is in there and not just for little bits at a time either!

"People ask

How steep is a 20% grade?
A very steep section could be a 20% grade, which is about a 10 degree angle. A 45 degree angle would be 100% grade."
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
#19
One of the perks, or to some perhaps pains, of DIY is that you are probably never going to be totally done with adding or deleting and in general biking off with your steed.

My latest addition to the Qbota is a concept that I have been trying to achieve for a few years now actually. I wanted to take my 19yr old Chris King 36h hubs and mount them to tubeless rims. However 36h tubeless rims a few years ago were not that easy to find and so I ended up sourcing some i35 Carbon Fiber rims from China in 36h. Another aspect was that I had thought I wanted + tires front and rear before this and after trying that concept out on a few bikes decided that I didn't like the wider tire run as the low psi I desired in the front end because it made the steering feel wonky to me. So going back to my moto experience I had always wondered since the advent of b+ how a 2.8 on a 650b rim on the rear and a 2.3/700c on the front would do. I knew from my experiences with i35 rims that they would be as wide as necessary for both size tires, and running tubeless be good for in the 15psi range which was my goal.

I got the rims a few years ago and built them up. However after three rides I noticed that there were fissures emanating from one of the spoke holes so after going around with the supplier a bit they decided they would send me a new rim. The rides I did, in analog mode on the QBall, were enough to whet my appetite for more but I got sidetracked with my e road bike operations and whenever I rode the mtb it was fine with 700c i35 rims on both ends. I finally got around to getting the rear wheel back together awhile ago and yesterday I had some time and energy to complete the operation.

Initial trials in battery less mode about the hood on the sand and soft soil here was pretty good but the proof will be in how it works in a more trail like environment. Especially climbing snotty single track. I set both ends at 15psi and it felt good even doing quick direction changes on pavement where sometimes low psi tires will squirm around. Also I was pleased with the lack of drag at the cranks while on flat ground. Because it has a pretty high gear in softer ground and uphill you feel the weight of the bike however but there is not getting around that, at least until you put the battery in and turn it on! That happens tomorrow.


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My biggest concern is that it has lowered the bb about 1/4" and with the motor hanging down already that may be an issue. I see that lots of people are going with shorter cranks on their mid drives to avoid unwanted pedal strikes. I have used 170's for years now and am very used to avoiding pedal strikes the old fashioned way by timing my cranks in rough sections. As I have mentioned I have my front brake lever set as the kill lever and by only pulling it in a little the motor shuts off and I can ratchet away with impunity which I find is all I need to avoid undue strikes along with anticipating the terrain challenges. I can see the problem though if you don't do that because if the motor kicks in while you are timing your cranks it tends to shoot you forward awkwardly and if you want to maintain a consistent amount of momentum you need to be able to pedal without that happening.