Thanks to LeGrand and the good folks over at Lectric Cycles, I have much more insight on the Bafang mid-drive motors. Offered in a 350 watt and 750 watt version, these are exciting pieces. I spent a recent day with both, and fully enjoyed the fun and knowledge. Powerful, quiet and useful are just a few of the terms I could label them with. Introduced to the market less than a year ago, Lectric Cycles has helped get out the word on this efficient mid-drive and also helps to tailor them for the American market.
The 350 watt version came to me on a pretty nice 29er mountain bike. It had all the power one should need, was programmed nicely and could fill the needs of almost any E-bike enthusiast. I should have ridden this one first as the 750 watt bike they dropped off was a true rocket ship in the disguise of a bulky sand and snow fat tire bike. Called the Chubby 750, it is a 48 volt off-road powerhouse that could be way too much E-bike for everyday riding.
Funny thing is that when LeGrand brought the two bikes over for me to test and evaluate, I was sure he had told me they were both powered with the 350 watt Bafang mid-drive. I was surprised and confused that all that power and speed was coming from a motor rated at what I consider the perfect size. Yes, I powered that fat tire E-bike up a local grade at over 20 (easily with mellow effort at the pedals) and rolled down with more energetic pedaling at double that (speed still building, fat tires and all).
Although considered (and sold) as a E-bike conversion, Lectric Cycles has ready-to-ride bikes on hand, and will be glad to build you exactly what you want too. The Bafang mid-drive will fit on most bikes with no mods and could easily become the must-have conversion kit. Programmable, light and whisper quiet, I am now one of its biggest fans. Mid-drives are becoming better and more desired all the time for many reasons, here are some of them.
In no particular order, let’s talk balance. With the motor and gearbox low and centered in the chassis, it is in the optimum spot. With the power-assist working through the bike’s own gear train, the available power and torque can be realized better than a hub motor. The motor is part of the bike, not the wheels, which simplifies maintenance and eliminates wires that hang and flex. The weight of the motor is part of the bike, not the wheels, which helps the handling and reduces un-sprung weight. Plus the mounting method is miles above others I have seen in person and on-line.
A couple draw-backs are associated with mid-drives too. The most understandable one is extra wear and tear on the bike’s drivetrain. The additional power is absorbed by the chain and gears. Shifting with the motor powered-up amplifies this. The Chubby 750 was equipped with a NuVinci N360 rear drive hub that I feel is a better combination as opposed to the more-or-less standard cassette drive on the 29er. Still, the NuVinci wouldn’t shift while the power was applied, making for some inconvenience at times.
The other thing that can be troublesome with mid-drive is understanding how it works (when to shift and how shifting affects the bike’s performance). Most will take to it right away, as shifting a bike becomes second nature the more you ride. It works much the same as a non-E-bike when you shift to take advantage of your own legs power at different speeds, but adds one more dimension to the equation. Some will relish the extra finesse it takes to stay in the sweet spot, while others may never find themselves at one with the whole set-up.
Your battery options are many. These two both had different batteries, yet they were both mounted at the water bottle cage location. This won’t work for every bike. A rack mounted battery is another way to go and Lectric Cycles can accommodate you there too. Other ways to carry your batteries are frame bags and backpacks. 36 volt and 48 volt batteries are the basic norms here and different Ah ratings can alter your range and affect the cost involved.
Programming can make the 8fun mid-drive fit your needs perfectly. This is one area that Lectric Cycles has put a lot of energy into and works hand-in-hand with 8fun (Bafang) on. Both these bikes are dual control (pedelec and hand throttle). Each one was programmed a little differently so I could experience the subtleties they offer. The way an E-bike control system works is a big interest of mine so I spent some extra time with LeGrand discussing what can be obtained with this mid-drive. It turns out I really like what I heard.
I am quite familiar with programming motor control systems due to my involvement with electric R/C airplanes and cars. It can make or break your connection and ability to connect with the incredible amount of power electric motors make. Such things as power limiting, soft start, curves and other parameters make a big difference. Lectric Cycles pre-programs their conversion kits, yet is happy to set them for your own needs. I can’t remember if it is possible now, but programming your own Bafang mid-drive motor from your home laptop will be fun and allow you to find the perfect settings to make it sing your song.
This mid-drive will be (and is now) going to have some stiff competition in the coming months and years. Because of their popularity, more and more firms are putting bikes with mid-drives on the market. I have ridden quite a few and found this one to be as good or better than any of them. Compact, looking good, and performing exceptionally, Bafang is rounding the bases after a solid hit to the grandstands.
I take my (baseball) hat off to LeGrand and Lectric Cycles for going out of their way to get me tuned-in to another great item on the E-bike agenda. These two bikes and the power behind them are worth looking into. Bafang has turned the world’s heads with their awesome hub motors and is now doing the same with mid-drive.
I suggest you find a way to try out one of these like I did, Turbo Bob.
“Tens of thousands who could never afford to own, feed and stable a horse, had by this bright invention enjoyed the swiftness of motion which is perhaps the most fascinating feature of material life.”—Frances Willard, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle.
You can find Lectric Cycles on the web and Facebook
Here is a direct link to info on the Chubby 750
I posted three videos from that day. You may notice in the one with the Chubby 750 I thought I was riding a bike with the 350 watt Bafang mid-drive motor. I found out later why it was so powerful and fast. Here are the links.