Watt Wagons Ultimate Commuter Pro

Feliz

Well-Known Member
#5
Just want to say I have one of these bikes on the way and I'm super excited about it. Dealing with Pushkar was/is a pleasure and he put up with all my questions, calls, and email. I'm in Canada and getting the bike to me wasn't straight forward but Pushkar went out of his way to make it work. Thanks Pushkar.

I'm looking forward to Ravi riding one of these bikes on his record breaking attempt next month in Halifax. GOOD LUCK RAVI!
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
#7
Looks like a very good ebike but I question that a Bafang Ultra is the ideal motor for urban mobility but I realize it has a lot of torque for low speed climbing. I'm assuming the gates belt and Roloff will easily handle the torque which will allow the reliability to be what it needs to be for a daily commuter / high-usage ebike.

If you going to have the expense of a Titanium frame why not have Titanium bars and maybe a Lauf carbon suspension fork or just a carbon fork with no suspension (absorbs plenty of vibration for urban riding and will always handle better than traditional suspension forks that are more about off-road than on).

I do love the idea of titanium or carbon frames for urban ebikes though....aluminum is harsh but cheap.
 
#8
You are right about the motor. Torque sending is a game changer for commuting and for varying terrain. Further , Bafang was the only one that provided a throttle. As a commuter, there were times I had a long "meeting day" and just wanted to get home.

On the fork, I tried a carbon fork but it did not perform well in snow or rainy days. It also didn't work too well on gravel or unpaved roads. They work really well on paved roads. The Auron was solid no matter what terrain I went to. I also tried a little bit of DH to be honest and worked reasonably ok.

On the handlebar, the problem we were trying to solve is real estate. I couldn't find anything in titanium that has a loop. Also because we already have a good fork and ergonomic grips, there wasn't a lot of benefit other than weight.

I appreciate you looking. Please let me know if you have more questions. Happy to share our learnings.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
#9
There will never be a bike that will be perfect for all of us but while if I were building the bike I would make some changes it's probably as perfect a production bike I will find. I have an Ultra equipped bike now ( 67 pounds ) and really like it, the only downside I could think of would be size and weight but my understanding is the Watt Wagon bike weighs 58 pounds so I don't think an extra pound will be an issue for the ultra ( compared to a lighter unit ). My other Ultra equipped bike weighs 67 pounds and I never notice the weight even on the steepest hills. I also have an eProdigy Magic Pro mid drive with their proprietary motor which is a torque monster driving a Gates belt and Shimano Alfine 8 and no issues so far and the Rohloff is in a different league altogether.
 
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TForan

Well-Known Member
#10
Best of luck to you. I have an Ultra powered bike and I love it in town. Plenty of intersection crossing power. If you are looking for dealers, Traverse City might be a good spot to sell your bikes. Lots of high end bike shops.
 
#11
After finding out about this, I'm just shocked that a company actually built the exact same bike I specc'd out and was ready to build on my own. The only difference between your bike and the one I was about to build is the handle bar, frame, lights, and rear rack and the frame I had picked out, would be custom fit for my size (I'm 6'6").

For the frame, I know you primarily are using Ti for weight savings, but I found in the 1.5 years of research for my build that you can achieve similar weights with steel. I know that reads like a crazy statement but it's true.

Reynolds 725
This heat treated cro-moly tubing is precision butted and offered in a wide range of tube sizes for all styles of frames. This material is ideal for TIG welding and brazing, with joining by lug or lugless construction. 725 is a material that allows thin gauge, tight tolerance tube, providing maximum weight saving for competitive use.

This tubing rides like a classic, comfortable, light-weight steel frame. It is a bit heavier and less expensive than our Vari-Wall Supertherm material, but is just as durable and fun to work with. Although this is our lowest cost option, it is still a very high quality product. I realize that lot of mass-produced bikes have "cro-moly" stickers on them. These bikes are usually quite heavy and kind of give steel a bad reputations as being 'heavy'. Now, if you've read my frame materials article, you know this to be the case for the other materials as well.

Most mass produced cro-moly frames will weigh around 5 to 5.5 pounds. This is because they use lower grade cro-moly for the 3 main tubes only (seat, top and down tube), and then often use a much heavier high-tensile steel for the rest of the bike. :-(

We do things differently :). All Rodriguez frames are hand-built with high-quality tubing that is much lighter than a standard mass-produced cro-moly frame. When we build a Rodriguez frame from Reynolds 725, the whole frame is high grade, heat treated cro-moly.

Weights - weights listed are for frames built for standard road brakes (disc brakes add some weight)
Final weights vary depending on frame size and type, but a recently built medium sized (6S) Rodriguez Competition sport frame weighed just under 4 pounds (3 pounds 15 ounces). This is a very respectable, verified weight for the price. Expect a sport Rodriguez 725 frame to weight in the range of 3.8 ~ 4.25 pounds.
Vari-Wall THERMLX
THERMLX tubing is an aerospace grade of 'air hardening' steel and modified to enhance its properties for light weight bicycle frames.

Vari-Wall is seamless tubing as well. This puts it another level above the True Temper version that we have used up until now. All THERMLX bicycle tubing have a tensile strengths approx. 30% higher than other steel tubing, so we can use much thinner, lighter weight material without compromising strength. This isn't the only improvement over traditional cro-moly though. Air hardening means that the tubing is designed specifically for the higher heat of welding. Therefore, the tubing retains its high strength, even in the heat affected areas.

We've been building with this type of ultra-light steel tubes for years now, and I think you'll find the ride characteristics to be amazing. The price of a hand-crafted Rodriguez THERMLX frame is less than most custom builders sell their generic labeled, heavier 'cro-moly' frames for. For most people, a Rodriguez OX Platinum frame is the Perfect Blend of performance, light-weight, and comfortable riding.

Weight - weights listed are for frames built for standard road brakes (disc brakes add weight)
A Rodriguez frame built with THERMLX tubing can be very light. You'll see a few mass-produced 'light steel' frames on the market, and they usually weigh in well over 4 pounds. A Competition Rodriguez THERMLX frame in a medium size will usually tip the scales at about 3.5 pounds. In smaller sizes they've weighed in around 3.1 pounds. These are very respectable, true weights that we will stand behind.

Bike weight is important to a lot of people, and for that reason they are willing to compromise comfort and longevity for a lighter weight frame material. There's no need for that. I know that there are a lot of carbon fiber frame makers out there that claim sub 3lbs weights, but realize there's a lot of lying that takes place out there. When we weigh high-end carbon frames on our digital scale, we usually find that they weigh around 3.25 ~ 3.75 pounds just like one of our THERMLX frames.
That might be a way to retain the strength and weight characteristics of Ti but bring down the price.
 
#12
After finding out about this, I'm just shocked that a company actually built the exact same bike I specc'd out and was ready to build on my own.
First off, thanks for your comment. That is the kind of reaction we are hoping to generate in our audience. Not only does the Ultimate Commuter Pro look good, it actually has a lot of thought put into it. I sincerely appreciate your feedback.

That might be a way to retain the strength and weight characteristics of Ti but bring down the price.

You are right about steel being a viable alternative. There are a couple more alloy variants I came across that also work. However the issue we had to address was multi-fold.
  1. I had better frame and structural modeling support for Titanium and Aluminum than Steel. It was hard to get data from the US suppliers, and even Asian manufacturers.
  2. I had access to local TiG welders in the boston / NH area who were very proficient with Ti welding.
  3. Surprisingly, steel tubing for some of the alloys you mentioned isn't that common, so it's not as cheap as it it might appear. The price difference is under 5% at our volumes.
  4. We had problems identifying steel for riders up to 300lbs. I just could not find the right suppliers for steel with the tolerances I was looking for.
  5. The most important part was that we had no motor mount builders for steel !! Bafang provides aluminum mounts, and we had the ability and resources to design, customize and make our own Titanium mold. I couldn't get the process and the fit and finish worked out for something in steel.
All together, it would have actually cost us more to do steel in low volumes. Further it turns out that at large enough volumes, the price differential between steel and titanium is not material enough for us to go through the upfront pain and research.

There are a TON of local bike builders in the Boston area and barring a couple, every single one of them has moved to Titanium. There is ample supply chain support and welding talent to make a great product.

The only difference between your bike and the one I was about to build is the handle bar, frame, lights, and rear rack and the frame I had picked out, would be custom fit for my size (I'm 6'6").
Our size Large bikes can support riders up to 6'4". I am happy to work with you and build you a bike to your frame size (stack / reach etc). I will PM you to see if that might be of interest.
The lights are dear to me. At higher than average speeds, I will take all the visibility I can get. Light was important from that perspective.

The rear rack choice was interesting - quick back story. :) I had developed a titanium rack that was just as good, but a little expensive. I have ridden a bunch of Bafang Ultra bikes, and it was really hard to build something "responsive / nimble". One parameter to make a bike more nimble is to actually shorten the chainstays. Now if you put a rear rack on short chainstays, you get a ton of heel strikes! Axiom is the only one that had the right parts to off set the rack by a few inches, provide the right weight distribution, and significantly lessen heel strikes. Turns out, it could also take 110Lbs of cargo.... that was just a bonus :)


As you can see, I am passionate about what we have built, and more importantly why we built it. We have also battle tested our product and it shows in the final spec.
 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
#14
That all makes sense and you probably made the right choice given all those factors.

Is there any information you can share about the water resistance/proofing? I'm up in the PNW where it rains a ton and it was one of the reasons I was heavily looking at waterproof products like the Luna Cycle Wolf Liquid battery, PhaseRunner, etc.
The neat thing about this bike is, it is open source: you could use any battery like Luna Wolfpack, em3ev or whatever you pick as long as it is 48V or 52V.

There is a small hole near the motor mount for cables and if you put a small rubber boot, it should prevent any water ingress.
Also, Pushkar lives in Boston and they have their fair share of inclement weather. Gates carbon drive really shines in that kind of conditions.

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Edit: the motor is sealed and the hole in the mounting plate is just to route the cables but the motor itself is sealed from all sides.
 
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#15
Is there any information you can share about the water resistance/proofing? I'm up in the PNW where it rains a ton and it was one of the reasons I was heavily looking at waterproof products like the Luna Cycle Wolf Liquid battery, PhaseRunner, etc.
We use Em3EV for our batteries and IMO they are rock solid against most weather. That being said, if over 50% of your rides are in wet weather, I would highly recommend using dielectric grease on all battery case seams, electrical connectors, and around the DPC18 display. Our bikes come with dielectric grease on all connectors and the batteries are sealed by em3ev. That appears to be quite waterproof in the 2 years I have ridden the bike while testing.

I have not used a PhaseRunner, however I believe that is relative waterproof (https://www.ebikes.ca/product-info/phaserunner.html)

I also switched to a belt drive because I was T.I.R.E.D of constantly cleaning my chain. :)

As @Ravi Kempaiah mentioned, we support any battery pack. If you want to use the Luna Wolf, you can mount it on our frame with no issues !
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
#16
Do the Ultra in your bikes have the updated metal gear or the older nylon?

Good choice in tires, I have those on a Haibike and they're my all time favourite bicycle rubber.
 

TForan

Well-Known Member
#17
Do the Ultra in your bikes have the updated metal gear or the older nylon?

Good choice in tires, I have those on a Haibike and they're my all time favourite bicycle rubber.
I'm sure it's the metal gear. I still have the nylon one in mine and after close to two years, no problems.
 

Feliz

Well-Known Member
#18
I'm sure it's the metal gear. I still have the nylon one in mine and after close to two years, no problems.
Right, I think the nylon works well unless you're doing some hard core riding, my nylon gear is good as well after a year of use. I think Bafang switched to steel in 2018.