Fixing up 2004 Electric Bike - Charger!

hoboin

Active Member
Region
USA
Hello all, after telling my boss i was interested in buying an electric bike to commute to work, he told me he actually had a very old model and would bring it into the office. It is from 2004 and he said he got it new, but never fully assembled it. I believe it was kept in an unfinished basement or maybe a garage by the dust a various dirtiness lol. We want to get this up and running! Here is the website with some information:


charger-bike.jpg

-It's a Shimano 7 speed internal hub transmission

-AGM (absorbed glass mat) sealed lead acid battery??
battery.jpg


That is as much information that i can gather from the photos that i took, im sorry but i don't know too much about bikes.
The first problems i am seeing are that the brake cables were not hooked up correctly, and when we tried to blow up the rear tire, a bubble formed and we had to deflate it, my boss mentioned that it might go away when we try to blow it up again but i'm not sure about that, so maybe a new tire is needed?
We plugged in the battery into an outlet and the number 4 was lit up, not sure if it meant it was fully charged but i doubt it could have been, it was sitting unused for maybe 10 to 15 years. Once we get the tire situation fixed i guess we can attach the battery and try to see if that works.

Has anyone heard or still uses these things? I wonder if a modern battery could be adapted for it. Also is the frame and 7 speed bike okay? I am considering using the bike for myself or to get it up and running for my boss. I want to get an electric bike myself to commute to work 18 miles round trip, the only thing im worried about is size for myself but we found this photo of an english policeman who is almost my height and same weight and was using the bike.
english-cop-charger.jpg



Here are a few more pics for detail. Sorry for it being so dirty, he had just pulled it out of storage. Never been used although it looked like it has.

7speed-shimano.jpg
charger-cr-mo-tubing.jpg
nexus-inter7-sg-7r.jpg
bike-chain.jpg
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
You shouldn't get a bubble in the tire, even after sitting for 17 years. I would want different tires than that for a pavement commute anyway. You for sure will need to replace the SLA batteries in it. It uses two 12V batteries that you should be able to order online or get from a mobility scooter store near you. You could convert it to Li-Ion, but I wouldn't put that much money into this bike.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
That's a nice Nexus 7 speed geared hub on the rear wheel, plus a band brake. You have a goofy mid drive motor spinning the crank. They claim torque sensing pedal assist too. Wow. All for 800 bucks?

I would say, there's a fair chance it will work if you replace the battery. I've never had an AGM battery last more than two years in my miatas. When they discharge, they sulfate and never work right again, Put a meter on the output terminals, if you have a meter. You'll have to buy if you don't.
 

hoboin

Active Member
Region
USA
That's a nice Nexus 7 speed geared hub on the rear wheel, plus a band brake. You have a goofy mid drive motor spinning the crank. They claim torque sensing pedal assist too. Wow. All for 800 bucks?

I would say, there's a fair chance it will work if you replace the battery. I've never had an AGM battery last more than two years in my miatas. When they discharge, they sulfate and never work right again, Put a meter on the output terminals, if you have a meter. You'll have to buy if you don't.
I was reading last night about the history of the bike. Basically this was developed by a very good electronic/robot manufacturing company.

How long was the Charger bicycle in development?

One of the founding partners, AeroVironment, Inc., began developing electric bicycles in early 1992. Five years earlier AV had installed electric propulsion to the bicycle wheeled Sunraycer, and ten years earlier had added electric assist to the Bionic Bat human powered airplne that won two Kremer speed prizes. The Charger electric bike is a fourth generation vehicle and has benefited from this extensive research and development.

---


Who is behind the Charger bicycle?

"Charger, LLC" was formed as a joint venture between AeroVironment, Inc., and a prominent American bicycle manufacturer known as a worldwide leader in the development of both juvenile and adult cycle designs. AeroVironment is a leader in electric vehicle technology as the designer and builder of the solar powered GM Sunraycer and the GM Impact electric car that went on to influence current GM electric car models. The mechanical and electrical engineering teams from both firms combined to design the Charger Electric Bicycle Drivetrain as a completely integrated, purpose-built, high performance electric bicycle power amplifier.

Unfortunately, less than two years after the Charger was introduced, one of the bike firm's main Principals passed on in a tragic accident, soon leaving the company to be taken over by creditors such as Shimano, the world reknown Japanese bicycle component company. Since the Charger bikes were slightly ahead of their time and built with such quality and sophistication, they required a market price exceeding the acceptance of the targeted consumer group in the U.S. It was ultimately determined that "Charger LLC" discontinue production and cease to be a business entity. One rumor also suggests General Motors pressured the closure after they purchased a significant portion of Aerovironment.


Is there a future for the Charger bicycle?

The Charger LLC inventory of over a thousand bikes and pallets of spare parts, was purchased by "Electroportal™, LLC", a sustainable energy/product development and marketing firm. Electroportal's intention is to manufacture a "second generation Charger", with a name worthy of it's trail blazing predecessor and design sufficiently compatible to allow the original bikes to remain operable for many years to come. In the mean time, Electroportal is developing power assist systems for a number of bikes and trikes, and looks forward to using the same technology for larger vehicles too.

Charger bike enthusiasts in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa have expressed optimism their bikes (several clocking well over 15K miles) will remain highlighted as the finest and best designed e-bike on the roads for quite some time to come! Those who know the "fun-functionality" of these remarkable "bionic bikes", are quietly spreading the word to the fortunate few who might yet have the opportunity to purchase an original, legendary Charger bike!


How much does the Charger bicycle cost?

The STANDARD and COMFORT Charger bike models originally retailed for $1499. The STANDARD (mountain bike handle-bar style) was also available with RockShox™ front suspension for $1699. The same factory boxed non-suspension bikes are now shipping with new batteries for only $799 (plus shipping and final out of carton assembly). Plans for a new "LX" version with front suspension is in the works...perhaps as early as this Summer.
 

hoboin

Active Member
Region
USA
You shouldn't get a bubble in the tire, even after sitting for 17 years. I would want different tires than that for a pavement commute anyway. You for sure will need to replace the SLA batteries in it. It uses two 12V batteries that you should be able to order online or get from a mobility scooter store near you. You could convert it to Li-Ion, but I wouldn't put that much money into this bike.
My boss said the bubble might have been because it was sitting flat for probably 15 years unmoved. and taht bubble is where it was sitting. I can order new tires, how do i know the right size and fit, etc.? Really dumb question but are there 2 tubes, inner and outer? I never really learned the details of working on a bike when i was growing up sadly, but i want to learn.

Also is there a good video to explain how i can get the brakes working? My boss didn't attach them correctly and it all needs to be tightened. i can take better picks of the brake line when i get to the office later.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
On one of the questions in that link, they say not to use the battery for E-bikes specifically. Any reason they would say that??
That is probably to protect themselves against warranty claims. THere are battery management systems (BMS) in lithium batteries. The BMS will often trip to shut off the battery if you are hammering too much power, or running it too low,

When you put several batteries in series, if one battery shuts off, now its BMS circuit has withstand the added voltage from the other packs. If it cannot, it pops, and the battery is unuseable. The seller has probably been burned enough times by owners putting four in series and popping the BMS circuits.

Now people put two of these in a wheel chair, and there's no problem. Well, it's only 24V, not 48V. Wheelchairs also aren't going to take the power of an ebike, so no risk of the BMS tripping. Your Charger takes 24V and is probably low enough power that you won't see this problem.

You might be able to keep the charger plugged into AC with the battery on the bike, and see if the motor runs with the wheel off the ground. Might tell you if it's worth buying batteries. One problem is they claim the bike has a torque sensor on the pedals, so you probably cannot put enough torque on the pedal to activate the motor with wheel off the ground.
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Sorry, I missed that. Yeah, as Harry said, the components in the BMS are probably not rated for higher voltages like 36v or 48v. Most electric wheelchairs used two SLA batteries in series for 24v, so this is the same. These batteries are rated for a maximum 15A output and many modern eBike controllers and motors will exceed that, but probably not this bike.

Those are cantilever brakes in the front. This video will help with that.


I am not sure what kind of brake you have in the back. Maybe the Nexus 7 is the one with the roller brake. You will also need to adjust the shifter cable on the Nexus 7.

 

EMGX

Well-Known Member
That looks like a nice bike, especially with the internal geared hub and a torque sensing mid drive.
Regarding the original battery, why not just charge it up fully and give it a try? I've had thoroughly abused and misused lead acid batteries, both AGM and wet cell, last and be useable for well over 10 years, some almost 20 years. That isn't the norm but I don't see that you lose anything by just giving them a try before replacing. If you don't mind the weight of the lead batteries I'd just stick to those for replacement, if needed. Years ago my wife had a IZIP 24v lead acid battery bike, it had powerful assist and the battery pack would easily do 18 miles even on hilly rides with pedaling (not just using the throttle).
If a tire has a bubble then the carcass/cords are likely damaged and it should be replaced (show a picture of the bubble if you want). A decent tire doesn't have to be expensive, maybe just pick one up from a Walmart or local department store.
 

hoboin

Active Member
Region
USA
thanks for the replies! I tried connecting the battery to test while plugged in, but i was having a real tough time trying to get the battery in place and could not actually get it connected, the spacing is very tight and the connections were starting to break off, looks like old plastic. I decided to stop attempting to connect the battery incase i have done permanent damage. That is the biggest hurdle i have at the moment, and i am going to try to find a manual or something that explains how to slide the battery into place before its totally broken.
broken-connector.jpg


while i am at it, i will upload a few more detailed photos. Do i have to worry about the rust on the chains?

2chains.jpg

back-chains.jpg
hub.jpg
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
There is a bit of rust on the chain. You might want to replace that too. Or maybe some 3-in-one oil will be enough.
 

hoboin

Active Member
Region
USA
i'm pretty bummed about the connector pieces starting to break off because they are so fragile. I tried emailing the person on the website to see if they have suggestion on best way to fit the battery in without me breaking it anymore. I just wanted to get it on to test to see if the motor works.
 

hoboin

Active Member
Region
USA
oh wow look at what i noticed, the connector is exactly like the computer's main power cable coming from the power supply and into the motherboard! i wonder if we can somehow replace that part ourselves...
broken-24pin-connector.jpg

atx-24-pin-connector.jpg

atx-connector-20-24pin.jpeg
 

Attachments

  • atx-24-pin-connector.jpg
    atx-24-pin-connector.jpg
    31.8 KB · Views: 34

harryS

Well-Known Member
I wonder why there is a 24 pin connector coming out of the battery box. Could the controller be in there?

1. Does the bike have a throttle?
2. Do you see electrical cables coming out of the handbrakes?
3. ARe there any lights front and rear?
 

hoboin

Active Member
Region
USA
just to clarify, that picture i just posted is on the bike and not the battery. i am guessing the "controller" is located on the bike where that 24 pin connectors are starting to break, but i have no idea what a controller is. what i would call the male ends, which are breaking, are on the bike, and the battery has the female end where the battery 24-pin cable plugs into.

The bike does not have a throttle, i believe you said the power assist level on the battery, 1 to 4, and it is all done through pedaling. I do not see electrical cables by handbrakes, but not 100% sure about that. No lights.

I did find this guy posting about 10 years of using one, and he was selling his. from 2015 and he added lights and modified his.

 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
It does appear to be the same connector (Molex Mini Fit Jr), except that appears to be the female side that is PCB mounted and not the male.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Two kinds of motors are possible. One is the old brushed motor with two wires, that you may be familiar with, like from old toys where the DC level controls speed. The other is a three wire brushless motor, which requires a three phase AC waveform to spin. Hence a controller to convert the DC battery to AC, also to read the force on the pedals and determine how fast to spin the motor.