Help me upgrade my radwagon

Antia

Member
OK, so I need a project while in lockdown. I have a 2016 Radwagon that I have upgraded in several ways over the years, but it can definitively be better. I would appreciate suggestions for upgrades, refinements, radical changes, rocket engine upgrades, whatever. OK, here are the boundary conditions:

Use:
-Grocery hauler
-Kid carrier (2 of them, 5 and 7 - about 100 pounds of live cargo)
-zombie apocalypse escape vehicle

Environment:
-Warm (TX)
-Unavoidable _very_ steep hills (>20%)
-Typical needed range (10-15 miles)

Some relevant changes/upgrades:
-Motor was changed to Bafang BBSHD (mid-drive). Rear wheel no longer has original motor. This meant loosing the front gears.
-Front flat rack by Origin8 and corresponding bag.
-Schwalbe Big Apple tires
-Jones H-bar handlebar
-Changed brakes for the Hy/Rd. One of my favorite upgrades.

Pain points:
-I am getting to the point where it is _really_ hard to get up the hill I live in with both kiddos on the bike. I will need either an additional motor in the front (like WilliamT) or change the motor and go for something with more torque. I don't care about speed.
-I still have not found a set of lights I really like. I would want something where the main light is permanently mounted, and I only need to take a battery pack off for charging. Or I can run the lights off the battery.
-I still have the original Ballard cargo bags. They are terrible and have not help up well. I need something else, but have not quite figured out what.
-The center stand is kind of rubbish, but it is not as important to me as it once was since the kiddos can get up and off the bike by themselves now while I hold the bike.
-The front rack is not great because it is not front mounted. I can't put heavy stuff there without compromising the handling of the bike. Any suggestions for nice frame mounted rancks that are compatible. I need the front rack to carry stuff when the kids are in the back.
-Maybe I should get better gearing/shifters.

Abilities/Budget:
-I am reasonably competent in electronics and somewhat in mechanics (though not bike mechanics)
-I like finding efficient solutions, but will invest in something that makes a significant difference
-I like elegant/minimal solutions

All right, that is all I can think of. Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.

Cheers!

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indianajo

Well-Known Member
-Unavoidable _very_ steep hills (>20%)
-Typical needed range (10-15 miles)
Some relevant changes/upgrades:
-Motor was changed to Bafang BBSHD (mid-drive). Rear wheel no longer has original motor. This meant loosing the front gears.
-Front flat rack by Origin8 and corresponding bag.
Pain points:
-I am getting to the point where it is _really_ hard to get up the hill I live in with both kiddos on the bike. I will need either an additional motor in the front (like WilliamT) or change the motor and go for something with more torque. I don't care about speed.
-I still have not found a set of lights I really like. I would want something where the main light is permanently mounted, and I only need to take a battery pack off for charging. Or I can run the lights off the battery.
-I still have the original Ballard cargo bags. They are terrible and have not help up well. I need something else, but have not quite figured out what.
-The center stand is kind of rubbish, but it is not as important to me as it once was since the kiddos can get up and off the bike by themselves now while I hold the bike.
-The front rack is not great because it is not front mounted. I can't put heavy stuff there without compromising the handling of the bike. Any suggestions for nice frame mounted rancks that are compatible. I need the front rack to carry stuff when the kids are in the back.
-Maybe I should get better gearing/shifters.
I had my suspicions of loading the front with a rack that swung back & forth. I orginally converted a Huffy Savannah with an 18 lb battery I hung off the front, and didn't like swinging that thing back & forth.
I carry 60 lb supplies up 15% grades, I weigh 170, so I was happy with a 3x8 setup on my bike left, that went from 32:32 for steep hills to 52:11 for down steep hills or helping the motor at >18 mph. The rad had a 2 x front and 7 speed rear, with kiddie quality shifters intead of the super precise SRAM I got. I can carry 320 lb up 15% with no motor at all. I bought the motor for days when I have to ride 30 miles into the wind and I don't want to spend 6 hours doing it.
Frankly, I think starting over with a frame with bosses welded into it for a front rack is the most secure way to carry heavy loads on the front. As the bodaboda has. I thought of making a frame mount with 2 clamps around the bottom strut on a pacific Quantum, however it might tend to slip over sideways. I see drilling the bottom strut of a standard frame for through 1/4" bolts as liable to split the bike in two. Welding a ridge on the bottom strut to keep the clamps from rotating is theoretically possible, but I've tried welding an aluminum garbage cart at work, and I couldn't do it, even with helium gas. The two puddles won't mix stubbornly.
My 1200 W geared hub motor can start 320 lb on a 15% grade, I've tried it. You can't buy those anymore in the US, ebikeling quit selling them. People in the west tend to want to ride from the sea to the park on top of the sierra, and that burns up a geared hub motor. 10 minutes full power max. I have 77 short grades in 30 miles, rollers, 3 of them 15%, and my motor has lasted 4000 miles so far. I ride the 30 miles in 3.5 hours pedaling up 2/3 of the shallower grades. No overheating. Perhaps you can still buy one like that in china on ali. I have mine mounted in the front to leave the back entirely for cargo. Also the rear motors come with a 7 speed sprocket freewheel, and I need 32 to 11 speeds, and could never find a seven speed 32 to 11 in stock, although they are in the catalogs.
I've potentially replaced the ebikeling 1200 W motor with a Mac 12t motor with 500 W. It has a great reputation but I don't know how much it will lift yet because I haven't installed it yet. The gears in the ebikeling motor haven't worn out yet. I have had to tighten the cover screws, twice.
Maybe you could sell off the rad and get a yubabike with the frame mounts for the "bread basket"? their electrified offering is a shimano steps mid drive with a 9 speed rear, which might get you up a hill but chain life will be a problem. I got 5000 miles out of my first chain, lubing biweekly, since the front hub motor doesn't use the chain.
Otoh the 7 years old is old enough to use one of those 1/2 bike trailers that hang off the back, unloading your rear but increasing your weight. He/she is about ready to pedal him/herself too, unless traffic is a real danger. I started age 7 but fell down a lot for a couple of years. I had a real fear of gravel on corners in my neighborhood, and quit wearing shorts very quickly.
2 kids in a trailer would also unload the back for cargo, but would increase your weight. but you could go back to a 32:42:52 front crank as I have.
Front light, I don't see integral as important. I only ride at night 3 or 4 times a year. I have a rubber band mounted 100 lumen one that has a LiIon battery and charges with a microUSB port. I keep it in the pannier to prevent theft, until I need it. I also have a rear red light that flashes chargeable through a microUSB port, that I use anytime the sun angle is low in the direction I am traveling. The garmin one will come off with rubber band, but you have to twist it, and since it is not obvious, it hasn't been stolen yet. I leave the bike at groceries & hardware stores frequently, I don't drive a car anymore. the garmin light is too expensive, the radar warning feature warns on anything approaching 8 lanes away, and I'm not riding on the freeway, I'm riding on the service road. The garmin light does warn the battery is low an hour before it quits. I keep a 2nd rear light on the back which has to be unscrewed to change the AAA batteries, but since I only use it when the garmin light quits, I change batteries about once a year.
Happy shopping.
 
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Antia

Member
Thanks for your comments indianajo, some interesting suggestions there. I should say that I am not looking to change bikes though. I am pretty happy overall with my radwagon, I just want to improve what I have as I enjoy tweaking things to make them better suited to my uses. One thing that is not clear in the picture is that the radwagon 2016 actually does have frame mounting points for a front rack, I just did not think I needed one when I bought the one I have. Bad decision. I usually don't put super heavy stuff there, just bulky stuff, but it is still a bit annoying how much it affects the handling.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Good about the frame bosses for mounting rack.
If rad doesn't sell a matching rack anymore, I made my front battery rack out of 3/4" aluminum angle from the home store. The yuba breadbasket was too wide for 30 mile trips, and too heavy. If you screw together with #10 screws www.mcmaster.com/90604A269 and elastic stop nuts www.mcmaster.com/90715A115 it doesn't fall apart. If the through bolts in the frame are stainless too (the freight is $7 from Cleveland) and also elastic stop nuts, then the nuts & bolts don't rust up in the rain. The clearance drill for a #10 screw is a #10 https://www.mcmaster.com/30585A21 . Wear safety glasses drilling. A vise is good for sawing & drilling. A hacksaw with a lennox or starrett blade is best, 24 tpi is fine for aluminum.
I used to carry 3 two liter bottles up front before I installed the motor & battery. Weight up front helps balance the weight in the back, makes the bike wiggle less. I've got about 12 lb up front now with gear motor & 17 AH battery. You won't need one that big for 10 miles. I don't have any trouble with the front motor pulling me along, but I don't ride on black ice. I stay home those days. Not enough ice days here to make changing to studded tires worth the trouble.
 
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WilliamT

Active Member
I have a BBSHD on another bike and I know what your talking about with the hills. Pushing down on the pedals doesn't help because its not torque sensing and the bike is pretty heavy. You have to be in the right gear before the climb and occasionally be in a higher assist or throttle it. Throttling in the wrong gear could blow the controller if your putting too much strain on it.

With the additional front geared hub, you'll have enough torque to get going and off-load a lot of the weight of the bike making pedaling easier. With my current kit, I find it has a little too much torque. I have to hold on a bit as it takes off slightly from a start. You may not notice it as much with kids in the back. Once you get going its smooth. I don't know if Bafang batteries are any good so I would get that elsewhere.

The Dillenger kit is a good option if you don't mind a 36v 350 watt front hub kit. I have (2) of these kits and they have been rock solid. The Samsung battery I have still gives me 40+ miles when connected to my Radwagon in the past (at L3 assist). Its a great deal with battery. This geared hub may look small but its really strong. With this front kit on my Radwagon at L4 assist plus the original rear hub at L3, the bike accelerated like a rocket easily reaching 22-23 mph. I carried an adult on the back and didn't even notice the weight except when turning. I know it will fit on the standard fork because I've installed it on my 2016 Radwagon

My cargo bags are original and falling apart but I think they are great. 2 of the straps have broken and now the bags are secured to the frame with new straps that go through the back of the bag. I had to drill some holes through the cardboard to install the straps. So far I haven't found anything that can hold as much cargo.
 

Antia

Member
Thanks for the suggestions WilliamT! I'll look into the Dillinger kit, that looks like a good options. One of the things I have not investigated is whether I can run the front hub in a "headless" configuration. I really don't need to know any information about speed and such, I just want it to contribute and would rather not crowd my handlebars with yet another screen.

The original Ballard bags can carry a lot of cargo, but I found their quality lacking severely. Mine starting falling apart pretty quickly, they are just not very well made, a shame.

I have a BBSHD on another bike and I know what your talking about with the hills. Pushing down on the pedals doesn't help because its not torque sensing and the bike is pretty heavy. You have to be in the right gear before the climb and occasionally be in a higher assist or throttle it. Throttling in the wrong gear could blow the controller if your putting too much strain on it.

With the additional front geared hub, you'll have enough torque to get going and off-load a lot of the weight of the bike making pedaling easier. With my current kit, I find it has a little too much torque. I have to hold on a bit as it takes off slightly from a start. You may not notice it as much with kids in the back. Once you get going its smooth. I don't know if Bafang batteries are any good so I would get that elsewhere.

The Dillenger kit is a good option if you don't mind a 36v 350 watt front hub kit. I have (2) of these kits and they have been rock solid. The Samsung battery I have still gives me 40+ miles when connected to my Radwagon in the past (at L3 assist). Its a great deal with battery. This geared hub may look small but its really strong. With this front kit on my Radwagon at L4 assist plus the original rear hub at L3, the bike accelerated like a rocket easily reaching 22-23 mph. I carried an adult on the back and didn't even notice the weight except when turning. I know it will fit on the standard fork because I've installed it on my 2016 Radwagon

My cargo bags are original and falling apart but I think they are great. 2 of the straps have broken and now the bags are secured to the frame with new straps that go through the back of the bag. I had to drill some holes through the cardboard to install the straps. So far I haven't found anything that can hold as much cargo.
 

Timpo

Well-Known Member
I'm not familiar with RadWagon, but does it have a cassette or freewheel?
Would you consider doing 8 or 9 speed conversion? 🤔

You will need to replace the shifter, derailleur, cassette, chain, perhaps chain ring, etc.

I believe stock RadWagon has 11-32T (or was it 14-32T ?), but these ones are 11-50T (9 speed) and 11-46T (8 speed), so much better for climbing.

ZTTO 11-50T 9 speed

ZTTO 11-46T 8 speed
 

WilliamT

Active Member
Thanks for the suggestions WilliamT! I'll look into the Dillinger kit, that looks like a good options. One of the things I have not investigated is whether I can run the front hub in a "headless" configuration. I really don't need to know any information about speed and such, I just want it to contribute and would rather not crowd my handlebars with yet another screen.

The original Ballard bags can carry a lot of cargo, but I found their quality lacking severely. Mine starting falling apart pretty quickly, they are just not very well made, a shame.

Many of the Dillenger parts look exactly like Bafang parts so they are most likely interchangable. I remember not swapping out the throttle and brake lever, when switching between Dillenger to Bafang, and it still worked. Not 100% sure if everything will work though.

The Bafang SW102 is a very small display that is as close to headless as you can get.

One thing to consider is that geared hubs are noisier than the direct drive and bbs mid-drive kits. You can definitely hear it as its running.
 

Antia

Member
So, I ended up going with a geared Bafang motor for the front wheel with a SW102 display. Most of the kit just arrived today from China, but it is missing the display, so I still don't have all the pieces I need.

I will update the thread once I make progress on the upgrade. It might take a while, but I am looking forward to it! Thanks for all the input.
 

Antia

Member
Yes! I bought the Banfang geared motor linked by WilliamT. It took me a couple of tries to install the front motor and adjust the brakes but it has solved my "getting up the hills with 120 pounds of kid live cargo" problem.

A few notes:

- I combined the motor with a very small Bafang SW102 display that does not clutter my handlebars.
- I connected each motor inhibitor from the brake handles to each motor, so I can disengage them both with the brake. No mods necessary there.
- I could not fit a pedal assist sensor on the bottom bracket of my bike because of the BBSHD mid-drive motor. I just could not make find a way to install it. This means I have one motor connected to PAS only (the BBSHD) and I have the other in a throttle only configuration. This suits me since I only need the throttle to get up the hills and to quickly cross some roads from a stop position.
- I installed the extra battery on the left foot board. It works fine, but I might change this if I find a smaller battery that I can fit within the secondary triangle of the radwagon. For now it is fine and is barely visible when I have the paniers on, which is almost always these days.

I will get some pictures and add them to another post.

Conclusion: If I have known how simple this modification was, I would not have installed the BBSHD and would have kept the original back wheel direct drive motor.
 

Antia

Member
Here are some images of the bike with the new kit.

- I forgot to mention that I had to take off my front rack. It would not fit on the axle of the new wheel with motor. I will be getting a frame mounted rack, which is more stable under load anyway.
- Regarding the extra battery. I had this bottle battery already, so that is what I am using. It would not be my choice if I was buying a new battery as there is no natural place to mount it in the radwagon.
- Note the torque arm I installed in the fork. This is generally a good idea, although the radwagon has a much sturdier fork than most bikes.

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WilliamT

Active Member
For me, the kit came with 3 different PAS options. One was a small ring that has an inner ring that holds the square axle on the bottom bracket. You push the unit over the axle and the inner ring moves with the square axle. The outer unit stays in place while the inner ring moves with your cranks. My outer unit still moved a little so I secured some duct tape around the unit against the frame.

So far, it hasn't moved at all and I've gone through thick mud, pushing the bike through streams where 1/2 my wheel was underwater, single track through paths filled with tree roots everywhere, and going over small logs.

Its really small and sits right behind the crank arm.


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