2005 Giant Trance 4 ebike conversion

ejphotos

New Member
Region
USA
Picked up one of those super inexpensive Voilamart 1000w rear wheel kit. I was going to install it on a 1998 Giant Yukon, but the dropouts were not accepting the wheel. So I decided to give it a shot on my 2005 Giant Trance 4. The wheel dropped in perfectly on that. The Voilamart kit comes with a 7 speed cassette on a threaded freewheel style hub. The Trance is a 9 speed rear. Going to get a 9 speed threaded freewheel cassette that will hopefully work on the electric wheel. I also need to put a bigger rotor on it, to allow the hub motor to clear the caliper. Thankfully the electric wheel has the six hole mounts for a rotor. The bike will go from 160mm rotors to 180mm rotors, nice upgrade.
As it's a 3x9 setup, I may convert it to 1x9, possibly to a 42t chainring. That will clean it up and I can ditch the front derailleur - something I've wanted to do for a while.
Still waiting on the cassette and the rotors to get here, but here's the bike that's being converted:

1623936696577.png
 

creativepart

Active Member
Region
USA
Depending on the rear derailleur on the Trance, you probably don't need to change the derailleur to accommodate the 7-sp freewheel (not cassette, those go on Freehubs). You might find that a 9-sp freewheel doesn't play well with your setup. My DIY rear hub donor bike (Specialized Crosstrail) started life with a 9-speed cassette and Shimano Alivio rear dR. But the kit came with a threaded hub and no freewheel. So, I purchased a 9-sp Suntour freewheel (only a few companies offer them). The first 8 gears worked fine but the smallest 9th gear always skipped. No matter what I tried, it was not rideable in 9th gear. I bought another 9-speed freewheel and it was worse. I took the bike to two bike shops and neither was able to make it work. We tried lots of things, i.e. new chain, washers and spacers, etc but no joy.

Finally, I decided to try an 8-sp freewheel. It worked perfectly. I was told most Shimano RDs that are set up for 9-sp will also work with 7-sp or 8-sp without modification. The gear spacing comes from the click shifter. So, I bought an 8-speed Diore click shifter on Ebay for $20 and everything works GREAT. I certainly don't miss having 9-speeds. Because of the rear hub drive I pretty much am always in 5th through 8th gears.

I removed the front derailleur, too thinking I'd put a larger chainring and that's when I found that it's not always possible on "mountain" bikes due to the beefy chain stays. The larger chain ring will contact the chain stay if you go too large. Mine was 36T and I wanted to go 42T. I spoke to a tech at Race Face and they told me my bike had a chainring unique to my bike and I could go no bigger than 38T. But due to the chainring's direct mount that it would be difficult to find. So, I've stuck with the 36T. I did remove the small front gear on the crank shaft.

The only other issue I'd check on your Trance is the space for the battery mount on the downtube. It looks like you have plenty of room, but you should check. The rear suspension can get in the way.
 

ejphotos

New Member
Region
USA
Depending on the rear derailleur on the Trance, you probably don't need to change the derailleur to accommodate the 7-sp freewheel (not cassette, those go on Freehubs). You might find that a 9-sp freewheel doesn't play well with your setup. My DIY rear hub donor bike (Specialized Crosstrail) started life with a 9-speed cassette and Shimano Alivio rear dR. But the kit came with a threaded hub and no freewheel. So, I purchased a 9-sp Suntour freewheel (only a few companies offer them). The first 8 gears worked fine but the smallest 9th gear always skipped. No matter what I tried, it was not rideable in 9th gear. I bought another 9-speed freewheel and it was worse. I took the bike to two bike shops and neither was able to make it work. We tried lots of things, i.e. new chain, washers and spacers, etc but no joy.

Finally, I decided to try an 8-sp freewheel. It worked perfectly. I was told most Shimano RDs that are set up for 9-sp will also work with 7-sp or 8-sp without modification. The gear spacing comes from the click shifter. So, I bought an 8-speed Diore click shifter on Ebay for $20 and everything works GREAT. I certainly don't miss having 9-speeds. Because of the rear hub drive I pretty much am always in 5th through 8th gears.

I removed the front derailleur, too thinking I'd put a larger chainring and that's when I found that it's not always possible on "mountain" bikes due to the beefy chain stays. The larger chain ring will contact the chain stay if you go too large. Mine was 36T and I wanted to go 42T. I spoke to a tech at Race Face and they told me my bike had a chainring unique to my bike and I could go no bigger than 38T. But due to the chainring's direct mount that it would be difficult to find. So, I've stuck with the 36T. I did remove the small front gear on the crank shaft.

The only other issue I'd check on your Trance is the space for the battery mount on the downtube. It looks like you have plenty of room, but you should check. The rear suspension can get in the way.
The 9 speed freewheel is being delivered today, so I'll see how it works. I did notice that the RD worked OK with the 7 speed. If the 9 speed doesn't work out, I'll try to find a 7 speed shifter.
It's a Shimano Deore RD.
The battery I have for it is a softpack so it's much smaller than shark packs. I'll have plenty of room for the controller bag and the battery!
 

ejphotos

New Member
Region
USA
So the 9 speed was too big (wide) for the wheel. Wouldn't fit properly in dropouts with the 9 speed. So I put the 7 speed back on.
Also put a 180mm rotor on the back (have to get a bigger one for the front now too) so that the hub motor would clear the caliper.
Finished it all up and mounted the battery temporarily to the top tube, as the bag and controller took a bit more room than expected in the triangle.
Then I took it for a test ride late at night. It's fast! Top speed was 30.4 MPH according to the Strava data. This kit doesn't have a speedo. Pictures to come!
 

creativepart

Active Member
Region
USA
So the 9 speed was too big (wide) for the wheel.
I guess this is why so few companies make freewheels larger than 8-speed.

With the new 8-speed click-shift the 9-sp derailleur works perfectly. You can get a 7-speed on eBay or Amazon for cheap. Lots of people upgrade to more gears and sell off the old shifters.
 

ejphotos

New Member
Region
USA
I guess this is why so few companies make freewheels larger than 8-speed.

With the new 8-speed click-shift the 9-sp derailleur works perfectly. You can get a 7-speed on eBay or Amazon for cheap. Lots of people upgrade to more gears and sell off the old shifters.
Yeah probably lol.

I'm sure I can get my hands on 7 speed stuff easily. Actually surprised I don't have anything in my parts bin lol.

I'm definitely going to need a larger chainring as well. Spinning out way too quickly with the 34 tooth. I'll probably look into a 42 or 44T and put my 34T on my other acoustic bike.
 

ejphotos

New Member
Region
USA
Well I put the hub motor on. That didn't last too long. It was fast, but not efficient- it's either all full power or nothing. It was also heavy and the rear spokes didn't seem strong. They kept creaking. Here's a picture with the hub motor setup.


1626095092192.png



So I decided to put a BBS02 setup on it. 48v battery unfortunately didn't fit inside the frame so I had to mount it under the down tube. Fork can compress about 80% before it tire hits the battery, so I don't take this through trails, but I can finesse it on and off curbs still.
This is a much more efficient setup. 9 levels of assist. I can get about 30 miles range if I'm on assist level 4 (keeps it at like 17 mph). I'd like to look into getting a custom battery made that will fit inside the triangle that will give me much more capacity.
Here's a photo of the setup.

1626095166936.png
 

creativepart

Active Member
Region
USA
I assume you tried this, but wouldn't it fit under the top tube? Maybe installed backwards so the "nose" of the shark is facing the rear??
 

ejphotos

New Member
Region
USA
I assume you tried this, but wouldn't it fit under the top tube? Maybe installed backwards so the "nose" of the shark is facing the rear??
I haven't tried it only because I didn't have any way to mount it there, but it might be possible. I was thinking about that earlier. I can always hold the battery up to see how much room I would have - and if there is more room mounted that way, I might just get a bigger 52v battery.
 

KevinOreo

New Member
Region
USA
Sounds like you've had a fun project! I'm looking to convert basically the same bike. It's an '05 Trance 3. Have you thought about upgrading the rear wheel to something with stronger spokes? I'll be putting on a wider wheel so I can fit a mid fat tire because I read you can't run a mid-fat tire at low pressure with their stock rims & I'm looking to put on a 2.6".