Kalkhoff Agattu E-bike—European Flair

Kalkhoff Agattu E-bike—European Flair.

Sleek and well equipped, the Kalkhoff Agattu was great to ride.

You may remember reading a post I did several years ago that was based around a Kalkhoff E-bike.   The post was more about the prototype (at the time) self-shifting rear hub that was fitted to it, but I really loved that bike and the way it rode.   I have been hoping to get some updated time with one, and that day arrived last week (actually that day was two weeks of riding).   It has been kind of hard to find Kalkoff retailers here in the US, but all that is changing lately.   Their west coast distribution headquarters are in San Diego and that makes it all easier.

Tucked in low and tight, the 250 watt Impulse mid-drive motor did all I asked it to.

Kalkhoff and Focus E-bikes are one entity, with the Kalkhoff brand catering more to the street bikes and riders, and Focus to the mountain bikes.   I did a review on a Focus a couple years ago that proved to me they had a good track towards the E-bike world.   This Agattu is a German product that displays many characteristics you don’t find on most E-bikes here in the states.   It does have a few Asian sourced parts, but not many.

This is a mid-drive electric-assist bike, meaning the motor’s power drives the back wheel through the standard drivetrain.   This brings many advantages and few parts that can hold back some riders.   Having most of the extra weight of the assist system in the center of the bike (and mounted low) helps the bike’s handling and feel at all times.   It also allows the motor more flexibility in the way it uses its torque and horsepower.   These are good things.

The 8-speed and throttle interrupt system allowed the Agattu to really purr on the open road.

Kalkhoff has all but solved one of the issues by adding a momentary throttle cut-off that takes effect every time you shift gears.   That allows the 8-speed rear geared hub to make a clean shift while the power to it is relieved.   This will add to the longevity of the chain and hub, and make your riding more comfortable and quiet.   Mid-drives are very needy in correct and timely shifting, although this Kalkhoff Agattu was not as needy as many other mid-drive E-bikes I ride and test.

The fit and quality are first class, something you will experience with each and every ride it takes you on.   I am a fan of upright comfort bikes as your body and mind are uncluttered with weird angles and unneeded pressures.   Everyplace your body contacts with the Agattu is a pleasure.   The nicely contoured handlebar and ergo grips are matched to a stem that easily adjusts to your personal contours.   The ‘just right’ saddle is perched on a suspension seat post with no flex or slop.   Pedals are pedals, yet these ones are hooked to that smooth motor for a supercharged ride.

Check the text for more on what you see in this image.

Even though 700c tires and rims on a aluminum framed bike can sometimes result in a somewhat jolty ride, the plush front suspension smooths out much of that.   Those Schwalbe Marathon tires not only have the larger cross-section for extra mush, they will also protect you from flats by all but the worst road debris.   Once again as we look deeper, the quality level of the bike and its parts give you confidence and comfort, as does the electric assist on hills and during headwinds.

250 watts can seem a little anemic when compared to hub-motored E-bikes with higher numbers.   That is where a mid-drive shines, adding more oomph to your ride than you might expect.   Using the gearing of the drivetrain, that power is multiplied and used wisely (as long as you shift wisely).   It also increases the efficiency in a big way.   This Agattu has a claimed range of over a 120 miles (when ridden in the lowest power assist setting).   This is a lot, but I wouldn’t expect to personally get these numbers, as I mostly used the two higher settings for the majority of my riding.   I did expect to test the bike through several battery cycles, yet with all my riding I only needed to  recharge the 36 volt 17 Ah battery once.

The small display is big on information.

The easy to reach button panel lets you choose between 3 levels of assist (plus an off setting).   It is a true pedelec, meaning there is no throttle to allow you motor assist when not pedaling.   Your assist is controlled by how hard you are pushing the pedals (torque-assist sensing).   I also call this intelligent control as the bike kind of reads your mind to automatically add the motor power you want and need, when you want and need it.   The small display unit keeps you abreast to much of what is going on, yet mine was set in KPH, as opposed to the American standard MPH.

Here the cool saddle—the city lock—and the suspension seat post are all visible.

More European influence can be seen in the factory lighting system.   I found the headlamp to be well focused (unlike most every light you will see on American bike shop shelves and bikes).   It is pretty bright, yet like I often find, for the open road or faster riding you will want a supplementary light with more lumens.   Both the front and rear light are powered by a front hub dynamo that lights things up whenever you are moving.   When you stop, the headlamp is off, yet the front keeps two small LEDs lit and the rear glows, both for maybe 5 minutes.

A sturdy kickstand, a full chain guard, a pair of decent fenders and a multi-use rear rack come standard, and are well appreciated (don’t forget the bell).   A city lock mounts to the frame to secure the back wheel from turning, yet is is mostly for those short stops when you will be nearby.   It is nice to see this Kalkhoff E-bike so well equipped for touring, cool fun rides and urban exploring.   Even a tire pump is part of the package, which is good because my test bike was fitted with the Dunlap (Woods) valve stems that don’t match well with most American bike pumps.   Not to worry, as all Kalkhoffs sold here starting in 2016 will have either Schrader or Presta valves.

Take an Agattu to your next fun event.

This Kalkhoff Agattu I rode seems to be called the Agattu Impulse 8 HS.   It comes in a diamond or wave (low) frame.   It is a fairly large bike, although with the saddle at the lowest setting my wife was comfortable on it.   With the substitution of a regular seat post more people might fit.   They also offer a starter model (the Agattu Impulse 7 HS) if you want a lower buy-in for your pocketbook.   It comes only in the wave frame style.

Last up I want to talk about the hydraulic rim brakes.   They work great and I find them a refreshing break from the way over-powerful hydraulic disc brakes coming on so many E-bikes nowadays.   Of course when the need to stop arises you want some strong anchors, yet you don’t want to add to your worries.   They work just right, yet may be just a bit on the complicated side.   They do include a quick-release on one side for rim and tire removal when needed.

So there you have it, a smooth riding and comfortable E-bike for the long rides and short.   It will be interesting to see what cool new features the 2016 models sprout, as this bike seems to have it all already.   They are on their way and I only see good things in the world of Kalkhoff E-bikes.

Have fun, Turbo Bob.

“Every time you miss your childhood, ride on a bicycle.”—Mehmet Murat ildan.

Look for Kalkhoff on the web and Facebook



Here are a couple videos I posted on the Kalkhoff Agattu

Posted in E-bike test reviews | Leave a comment



The eRAD is just that, RAD

My bike is riding great and this series of articles will continue to explain all I did and why.   I will remind you of my goals and how I met them.   I will discuss the modifications and how each one of them might help you with your own build, or just getting your commuter or everyday bike to better match your own needs.   Like I have already said, this might not be your idea of the ULTIMATE, but can be a guide for making your riding better, safer and more convenient.   In this installment we will look deeper at the eRAD conversion I used.

This is the complete package. I have been so pleased with the way this project has come together.

The eRAD from Lectric Cycles uses a mid-drive format.   The motor is mounted in place of the pedals as opposed to it replacing the front or rear hub of the bike.   The pluses here are a more balanced feel for the bike (weight wise), a better possible use of the power the motor develops, and a very well engineered power and control system.   The drawbacks are that it puts an extra strain on your bike’s drivetrain and that it is very needy in you knowing how and when to shift the gears.

The 500 watt eRAD conversion system laid out so can see each piece.

The eRAD is a Bafang BB02 product that is specially branded by Lectric Cycles.   Although it is much the same as what you can get from other places, Lectric Cycles has a great support team and offers accessories for it that no one else can match.   One of those is the shift sensor that allows a quick power interruption during your shifting that helps to tame the way it works.   Other pieces they have (and make) allow it to fit a wider variety of bikes and to customize things like gear ratios.   I suggest you surf their website or give them a call to see if the eRAD is what can make your bike come to life.

Last up I explained much of the install of the eRAD.   Its plug and play design helped to make it quick and easy.   I was able to get the latest version of the eRAD with the most updated electronics.   Part of what makes this conversion smart and easy is that the ECU is inside the motor unit and requires no extra wires to make it work.   After doing the conversion on my ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD the last real step was to program the display unit.   This too is covered on the Lectric Cycles website and I used all the defaults.   I did set my maximum powered speed to 20 mph, yet you can set it for more if you like.

The bars are a little busy, but each control for the eRAD is right at hand.

Although I (and Lectric Cycles) don’t recommend it, you can purchase a programming cable and make some serious changes to the way it works.   I found no need for that, as the way it comes works perfect in so many respects.   The power curves, amount of levels of assist and the maximum wattage the motor draws is preset with no reason for changes.   I think if you try to reprogram it, it will void the warranty, but am not fully sure if that is the case.

You can see the two rear mounted sensors and the motor in this shot.

I found the eRAD to be a most pleasurable electric conversion for my bike.   It is smooth and quiet, adding a lot of power for the long rides and the steep hills.   The throttle interrupt feature works in a way that makes shifting a dream with no banging of the gears.   I used the left-hand half throttle, which I continue to find as the perfect option for my bike and the way I ride.   My shifter for the gears is on the right side, plus the handlebars are kind of narrow, so this configuration is optimum.   Some might opt for the thumb throttle, yet I have found for the most part they can cause extra hand fatigue if used a lot.

This motor and battery combination has really turned the tide on my project bike.

One nice thing about the dual control of the eRAD is that the pedelec mode (power comes on when you pedal—stops when you stop pedaling) allows the power to flow without holding the throttle all the time.   It has 5 levels and you change between them easily during your ride.   Having the control button close at hand (left side for me) allows safe use without taking your hand from the grip.   It doesn’t take much of a learning curve to be able to set the motor controls for the speeds you want and grades you are dealing with.   Many E-bikes use a cadence controlled pedelec system like the eRAD, and it is usually a great way to operate an E-bike.

What might take a slightly longer learning curve is keeping your bike in the right gear for each riding condition as it comes up.   Much like riding any bike with multiple gears, choosing the right one at the right time is important.   That importance level increases when climbing hills so you don’t over-stress the motor (also a potential heat issue).   When climbing make sure to shift down so your pedal speed is kind of fast, allowing the motor to work easier—and for you to help the motor with your pedaling.   I will do a full write-up soon on the needs of a mid-drive—and the advantages (and disadvantages) of it versus a hub motor E-bike.

Depending on the selected gear and use of the control system, the eRAD can be jumpy (like most any E-bike), yet if used and shifted wisely, the power comes smooth and pretty seamlessly.   I was impressed at all times on how well this E-conversion worked, learning as I went to use all the tools at my disposal to their best advantage.   It is a quality product that works just as advertised.

I really love having the trailer along on all the rides.

I was lucky to be able to use Lectric Cycles newest battery offering (so new in fact it might not yet be available) to match well with my project bike.   The slim-line casing fit my bike perfectly and the extended range of the increased capacity is worth any extra expense that might show up on the bottom line.   This 36 volt unit has 17.5 Ah (630 watt hours) for some long rides.   It has some great pulling power that has allowed me to really load down my bike trailer and climb back up the hill to my house from the beach areas with little concern for the grade.

I have mentioned before that I installed the 500 watt eRAD for this project bike.   They have smaller and larger powered conversion motors,so you can choose the one for you.   This size has proved to be the best choice for power, speed, climbing grunt and efficiency.   There are also options for the front gear size (ratio).   I used the standard one (52 tooth steel, that includes a guard) and have found it to be a good compromise at both the lower and higher ratios.   Lectric Cycles will supply me one of their new aluminum ones soon that they claim will be even better.

So I will add much more here on this project, including all the pieces I used and added (with prices).   Much of this project are the little items and carry alongs that will make each ride safe and smart.   If you are just tuning-in, I would suggest starting at part #1 so you don’t miss a thing.

Hiil coming up?   Still smiling!   Turbo Bob.

“Riding a bicycle is about getting back to basics.   It’s good for the waistline and it’s good for the wallet, is what I’m saying.”—Phil Keoghan.

Find Lectric Cycles on the web and Facebook



I’ve posted many videos of the bike and conversion. Here is one, you can find the others on my site.

Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike general interest, E-bike test reviews, My Bikes | 2 Comments

Index of Articles—March 2015 to September 2015

Index of Articles—March 2015 to September 2015.

March 2015

1.   Stromer ST2—First Impressions.

2.   How to Buy the Best Electric Bike, by Average Joe Cyclist—A Book Review.

3.   EcoReco Pneumatic Front Tire Prototype and a Year Worth of EcoReco Insights.

4.    Sherpa—A Utility Cargo E-bike from Motiv Electric Bikes.

April 2015

1.   Index of Articles—September 2104 to March 2015.

2.   Pacific IF Move—Folding the Future.

3.   Pedego E-bike Up-grade to 2015 Electrical Specifications.

4.   Stromer ST2—High-tech Thoroughbred.

5.   Priority Bicycles—Easy, Breezy, and Nearly Maintenance Freezy.

May 2015

1.   Bicycle Business Journal—A New History Starts Now.

2.   Introduction to Electric Bicycles—Spring 2015.

3.   e-Joe Koda—From My Bike Path to Yours.

4.   Last Chance to Register for “Introduction to Electric Bicycles”.

June 2015

1.   Blix Vika+ Folding E-bike—Fancy Folder.

2.   Electron Wheel E-bike Conversion—It Doesn’t Get Much Easier Than This.

3.   Electron Wheel E-bike Conversion—It Doesn’t Get Much Easier Than This.

4.   Faraday Porteur E-bike—Welcomed Refinement.

5.   Mode Madness—Bike, Love, Art.

July 2015

1.   Blaze Laserlight—Something Special for Your Nighttime Bike Ride.

2.   e-Prodigy Logan E-bike—Mid-drive Magic.

3.   E-Freedom E-bike from Green World Bike—Black Thunder.

4.   ThorFire Bike Lights—High-output & Low Buy-in.

August 2015

1.   Fifield Jetty Folding E-bike—Silver Sprinter.


3.   Trike Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park—If We Could Talk to the Animals.


5.   Pedego Stretch E-cargo Bike—The Strong, Silent Type.

September 2015

1.   ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #3—Prepping the Bike.

2.   Invite to “Introduction to Electric Bicycles”—Fall 2015.



Posted in Indexes of articles | Leave a comment

Torch T2 Lighted Bicycle Helmet—Safety X 2

Torch T2 Lighted Bicycle Helmet—Safety X 2.

With 5 bright LED lights in the front and rear, the Torch T2 helmet adds much to your ride.

A smiling bike ride is our goal, so less worries of trouble are part of the destination.   I have long been an advocate of daytime light use, and of course we all use them when riding in the dark.   Most riders feel a quality helmet is a standard part of their bike.   Here in the T2 lighted helmet from Torch Apparel, you get both together in a nice wrap-around package that will cover both bases with ease.   I was looking for the perfect compliment to match my goals for the ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD project, and I found just the thing in this T2 helmet.

They did some great upgrades from the original model and used a crowdfunder to help make it happen.   Once I got my T2 I was really impressed with so many of its features.   Right off it seemed so light I wasn’t sure they remembered to put the lighting system inside.   Extra weight on your head is never good thing, so I have to think keeping it like a feather was an important part of this product.   Not only did they succeed, the way the lights work and last between charges is amazing.

The lights are shielded by polycarbonate covers for great protection.

I have never been a fan of mountain bike helmets as it seems they don’t offer protection in anything other than a tip of your head incident.   The T2 really wraps around well to afford the kind of coverage that most riders need and want.   The last time we went helmet shopping that kind of protection was one of our main goals and many of the units out there just didn’t seem to have it.   When I wear this Torch helmet I really feel that if anything were to happen, I would be standing tall afterwards.

The assembled group at my last E-bike seminar were very impressed with the T2.

Other than kids helmets, most come in two basic sizes it seems.   The T2 is a one size fits all which at first I thought might be a concern.   The included different pads (that stick in place nicely) allow this helmet to fit everyone that I allowed to try it.   It also has a adjustment knob in the back for the plastic head band.   I am sure in some extremes the fit won’t work for everyone, yet so far so good.   For me the fit is comfortable and just snug enough for no movement, yet no pressure either.   I have to think the Torch Apparel folks put some extra time in this part of the design, finding just the right contour to work for most.

This Torch T2 helmet is a great part of my project E-bike—THE ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD.

With vents to keep you cool, it is really the built-in lighting that makes this special.  With cold running LED lights and a non-stressed pair of lithium batteries, they don’t create any heat that I noticed.   The thought of having these electronics so close to my head came to mind, yet batteries have evolved to the point of nearly 100% safety, so I wear it worry-free.   I think the way it protects you from possible injury outweighs any concerns the lighting feature might add to the equation.  So you know, the helmet, switches and the lights are weather-resistant.

The lights are particularly bright.   On several occasions I have worn the T2 indoors and many shade their eyes from the glare, forcing me to lower the light to the reduced level. Both the front white light and the rear red light have 4 modes.   High and low in non-flashing and the same in the flashing modes are your choices.   With up to 36 hours in the low-power flashing setting, it tells you they did pack some decent battery power into the Torch T2, even though it is so lightweight it defies that number.

The charge cord takes care of both batteries at the same time.

In the really bright setting, the T2 pumps out 6 hours of light between charges (long enough for most any ride).   Charging is simple with the modern use of the USB cord.   In fact the cord is a Y configuration that allows you to charge both batteries at once.   Like so many LED lights nowadays, the light tells you when it is charging and when it is done.   Another cool thing I like is how that same light tells you how much charge is left every time you turn the lights off.   4 blinks is full, 3 is ¾’s full and so on.   Very smart.

One feature I don’t like is to turn off the lights you need to toggle through all the modes, as opposed to just holding the button for a bit.   I do belive this is to accommodate the ‘charge left’ light blinking, as I have other modern LED lights that work in this similar way.   Not a problem as it is so nice to be able to monitor how much charge you have available for the next use between charges.   All-in-all, I think it is a good way to program such a lighting system.

A single LED in the front and rear tell you when the charge is done and your state of charge every time you switch the lights off.

The T2 comes in different colors, yet with no real decoration on them.   This gives you the option of letting the solid color shine or going wild with paint or stickers.   I do expect to see more T2 helmets around town, some with the the expressions the riders want to show-off emblazoned for all to see.   It is a blank canvas of lighted excitement.   And why limit the Torch T2 lighted helmet just for bike riding?   I can think of so many sports that can fully capitalize on all the cool things it has to offer.

So I have embraced my new helmet and it has won me over.   When I use it at night I can see its flashing light reflecting off buildings and four-wheeled vehicles telling me that I am as visible as it gets.   When you add that to the lights on the bike already, I feel good and that keeps me smiling.   When I wear it during the day it is that little extra bit of protection I like during a fun bike ride.   A smart product for smart riders, the Torch T2.

I can see you, can you see me?   Turbo Bob.

“The bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created.  Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon.”—Bill Strickland, The Quotable Cyclist.

You can find Torch Apparel on the web and Facebook



Here are a couple of the many videos I took that show the T2

Posted in Bike accessories, General bike stories | 7 Comments

SportRX—A Fresh Perspective

SportRX—A Fresh Perspective.

Meeting Rob and the crew at SportRX has really been great.

I wasn’t searching for a new look, yet it found me.   This cool company tucked along the Rose Canyon Bicycle Path in San Diego kind of reached out and grabbed me.   Just like many of the thousands that ride this route, I passed by SportRX many times without a notice, but this day was different.   Tony and Marie, the crew from E-Prodigy in Canada, was in town letting me try their E-bikes, so of course I showed them some of the local sights.   As we rode by SportRX, the water stand outside caught our attention, and this journey began.

Here is the display where I found my new shades. They have so many more.

SportRX seems to be leading the field in prescription shades and glasses for every sport imaginable.   The people there are very active in their own personal sports, so in addition to being experts in the world of prescription sunglasses, they are also customers who put them to the test daily.   The selection is close to overwhelming, but their knowledge of the product brings it to light for a easy process of finding what will work best for you.   I am living proof of that.   My wife and I are now enjoying the benefits of wrap-around eyewear every time we saddle up.

They are teamed up with many local sport and advocacy groups, including letting the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition use their meeting room.   That is one of the reasons they keep a Bike to Work sign and fresh water out front everyday.   Once Tony, Marie and I stopped for a cool drink, Rob (the VP of SportRX) came out front to check out the bikes we were riding.   He often commutes to work on his bike, in addition to taking long biking holidays whenever time allows, so he was interested in what we were riding.   Before long we were inside checking out the shop and getting a full tour.

You have to see their large meeting table up close (the one behind the Ping-Pong table), it is great. The crew is very active so they keep plenty of fun stuff there to use during breaks.

As the conversion swayed in different directions, the subject of my bike blog and bike activities came up.   Also was the subject of my wife’s bike commuting and sometimes battling the debris and dry air during her ride.   Just before the three of us were headed down the road, Rob suggested I stop by again to see about getting us fitted for some shades that could make our bike riding safer and more fun.   I love reporting on bike stuff, so that seemed right up my alley.

Here are our new shades—perfect choices for us.

My wife has 20/20 vision, so she wasn’t in need of corrective eyewear.   Still, sometimes dry eyes can cause her trouble so her doctor has suggested some glasses that wrap-around to protect her from the moving air.   Here in sunny San Diego, sun glasses are a given, yet for years she has relied on ones that are free hand-outs at the many events and rides we attend.   I knew all along that the low-quality lenses were not giving her the best vision and UV protection.   That is just one of the reasons I jumped at Rob’s offer to report on their services.

Another angle of their large showroom.

Me, I am just slightly near-sighted, not enough to need prescription glasses, yet enough where I enjoy the sharpness they afford.   The pair I’ve had up until now have endured 10 years of use, still work great, and have no scratches.   I’ve had different ones in the past, including a prescription pair of mirrored Vuarnet ski glasses that earned me the name ‘Hollywood’ at a job I had in the 70’s.   I too depend on the UV protection and brightness control that sun glasses give on these sunny days and evenings.

Before she and I headed down to pick out the pair of sunglass that would make our riding (and living) better, we both checked the SportRX website.   There we found they have close to 40 brands in stock.   These are some top brand names that cover the whole industry well.   That, and you can chose from almost 20 colors of lenses for them.   Rob made it easier once we came in, showing us ones that would fit our needs better than others.   It didn’t take long to narrow the list down well.   All I had to do next was get my prescription updated and we were ready to go.

It might be short notice for you, but they have a big day planned tomorrow.

SportRx, like the name implies, has glasses for most every sport on earth.   Even if prescription lenses aren’t in your need category, you can really up your game with the right eye protection and color correction.   That is what they are all about, with an expert crew on hand to guide you through every step of the selection.   They have one of the best optical labs and staffing group you will find anywhere.   They do about 90% of their business online, yet a visit to the store for hands-on shopping and one-on-one help is a great way to go.   In fact, tomorrow (October 24th, 2015) they are having a big party and clearance sale (check the flyer I am sharing here).

Just more of what you can expect to see during your visit.

Barbara got a fantastic pair of Sun Cloud shades that she loves.   It let her realize how much she had been missing in the polarization and lense quality of her sun glasses for so long.   The wrap-around feature is also protecting her on a daily basis.   I don’t see her going back to those freebies any more.   What a great thrill it is for me to help her get something she needed, yet didn’t fully understand  until now.   What was also cool is she got hers on the spot, yet my needed a couple weeks to prepare.

The ones I picked out are made by Rudy Project.   They too wrap-around heavily, protecting my eyes in several ways.   The right prescription, some awesome UV protection and being fully polarized have made my eyes smile in response.   Add to that my new look, a full win in anyone’s book.   Both came with strong carry cases for keeping them scratch-free when not in use, and a large micro-fiber cleaning cloth.   So in the end, SportRX has made this couple happy and healthy.   I guess as much as they supply shades, what they really do is make people happy.   I like that.

Since I met the crew at SportRX, I have found that a few of my friends rely on their services too.   They have nothing but praise for the shades and service they have received.   It makes me wonder why I hadn’t heard of them before.   Sometimes a fun bike ride can lead you in directions you never imagined.   Of course we all know bikes are like that.

Grab your shades and hit the trail, Turbo Bob.

“Four wheels move the body.   Two wheels move the soul.”—Anonymous.

You can find SportRX online and on Facebook.



Here is a video I posted from the shop.

Posted in Bike accessories, General bike stories | 3 Comments

EcoSpeed Mid-drive Conversion by Nomad—Power You Want (Need?)

EcoSpeed Mid-drive E-bike Conversion by Nomad—Power You Want (Need?).

This powerful mid-drive conversion also looks pretty sweet.

Last month I was glad to finally visit this great shop in Portland.   The year before I did a article on the E-bike scene there, yet this and one other shop was missed for the sake of time restraints.   I did both this pass through and was able to post videos of my stops.   In fact after shooting videos at EcoSpeed, I knew I had to return the next day for the full story.   Not only is EcoSpeed shipping this top-end mid-drive conversion (first run delivered, orders being taken for the second), very soon they will be offering complete bikes (in an interesting varied selection)  with the Nomad on-board.

This the bike I rode while I was there.

Before I go much further, some talk on this shop is in order.   They started up over a dozen years ago with recumbents and trikes as their main focus.   An even bigger focus for them is the locally sourced theme they live and transmit with their products.   With the exception of the actual motor and a few tid-bits, you will feel the Portland (and USA) love anytime you deal with EcoSpeed.   Even the bikes that will soon be rolling from their shop pre-converted with the Nomad, will be Portland natives.   For the last 6 years they have broadened their scope to cover some real cool two and three-wheelers.

As you ponder the photos and videos, I think you will see just how finely made the Nomad produced mid-drive is.   The machining is crisp as can be, and the designs behind them reflect that too.   The mounting of this mid-drive is very flexible, giving the ability to power most any light-weight pedaled (or un-pedaled?) vehicle.   The primary chain part of the unit is well protected and I found it to be quieter than expected.   I did expect lots of juice with its 1300 watt rating, and no disappointment was found with that aspect.

The kit doesn’t include the battery, but most everything else.

A lot of what makes it ride so well are the electronics and advanced programming hidden in the black box (silver actually).   I spent some time discussing control systems with the crew, and was impressed to find that some of the programming thoughts I often share with E-bike companies (and they dismiss) are either employed (or will be employed) by EcoSpeed in their ECUs.   They have the kind of power many want, yet it can easily be halfed to 750 watts for an easier ride and better battery use economy with the push of a exposed button on the ECU.

The kits come very complete and they have the battery options in stock to fill out your bike’s conversion.   The bike I rode had the battery enclosed in a aluminum casing.   The wiring and finish of the battery was also well thought out.   Of course when you are cranking out the big power you need a battery that can do the same.   Their years in this business has taught them to make sure every customer gets the matching components and the hands-on help to make success and smiles part of every E-conversion.

You want a triple front chain ring on your mid-drive? EcoSpeed has that.

You may notice the three ring front gear that comes with the kit.   Once again the bling is mated to fine workmanship.   From what I’ve seen, very few, if even less than that, give you the option of having such a wide ratio of gears on your mid-drive E-bike.   If you are working some rad terrain or hauling the big load in your cargo bike, those extra gears will be appreciated on every ride.   This just shows the experience and time they spend riding and testing their products.   If they feel they need it, then they know you do.

There are many mounting options. This is how it matches up to the demo bike I rode.

One of the videos shows a ride on the local trail (one that transports many for dozens of miles through town) I took with Brad and his dog.   You can get a basic feel of the power and smoothness the Nomad gives during a ride.   He showed me a hill to try, yet it really wasn’t enough to let this mid-drive system stretch its legs.   I could feel that it could conquer any grade, as it took this one in stride.   Controlling the power was easy, as the throttle only control makes for a good way to handle this much pull action.

A big issue for high-power mid-drive E-bikes is shifting without banging the gears too hard when the motor is doing its thing.   Just as you control when to shift, you control when the motor is active, so it doesn’t take long to master smooth shifts and continuous motion on a EcoSpeed powered E-bike.   Was does take a bit of time to master is the heavy thrill of acceleration and speed you will get.   The curve of power is set well, yet a solid push of the throttle brings a rush, so get ready.

Just one of the battery choices. This one had an aluminum housing.

That is one advantage of the half power button.   Most times full power isn’t needed, as half is already more than most E-bikes you might ride.   I tried both settings plenty, enjoyed them both, yet loved leaving the bike in the max setting.   I wasn’t too worried about using the battery power too quickly, so I let my freak flag fly many times with full throttle.   I mentioned it is pretty quiet when under power, but I don’t want you to think I meant silent.   There is a whir of the chain and motor working, yet in traffic you won’t hear it.   On a quiet back trail, the noise does stand out a bit.

This close-up really gives you an idea of the effort they put into this mid-drive motor and mounting.

Quality and power don’t come cheap.   If you have been shopping junky hub motors and kits on eBay, you might be taken aback when you price out this system from EcoSpeed.   Then again, if you want solid, well built power for your bicycle, and you’ve looked around some, then you will see the value.   I leave it to you to check their website, but I can offer up this though.   This is not the kind of E-conversion unit you mount up to a bike from the big-box stores.   It takes a good bike to make the Nomad worthwhile and safe.

Power down and enjoy the ride, Turbo Bob.

“I left my youth behind me.   It pedaled the bicycle while I rode on the handlebars.”—Jarod Kintz, $3.33.

Here are the videos I took those two days.

You can find Ecospeed on the web and on Facebook.



Posted in Bike accessories, E-bike general interest | Leave a comment



Almost finished—yet ready to ride.

I’ve got both the bike and you prepped for this part of the build. Keep in mind this isn’t the final installment of this build article, as riding, performance and long-term aspects are still headed your way. If I haven’t already, I need to thank Lectric Cycles, Serfas, BodyFloat, Torch and LightMeUp Safety Lights for getting 100% involved with letting me move on this fun and informative project. Also too, I may have mentioned that coping my bike to the tee isn’t my plan for you, but it is geared more to give you some big ideas on possible options for your own E-bike build.

The eRAD kit comes complete, with your choice of battery options.

Last seen, I had reworked the bike completely, waiting only for the final brake set-up and the installation of the Bafang 500 watt BBS02 mid-drive conversion kit. This low-mileage hybrid proved to be in great shape and responded wonderfully to the cleaners, wax and grease products I used. The replacement and upgrade parts slid in place with style, helping not only the looks, but the performance and smoothness too. I don’t know about you, but I was fully jazzed to get to this point.

The brakes took some real detail work to get them better than new. Being just a little old school, yet with a touch of the more modern, the massaging paid off. Getting everything symmetrical and moving in sync correctly made them grab just right for perfect and solid braking. I am still out on the disc brakes when these can stop and skid with the best of them. There are two drawbacks I see, one is possible heat buildup on the long grades. The other is more of a mountain bike thing, seeing that disc brakes can still work ok when you do a minor rim taco (not an issue on this bike). Figure in too that the hydraulic disc brakes in use on many E-bikes are way too powerful, causing their own safety issues during riding.

It tucks up close to the frame for a smooth look and ride.

I am tempted to share some of my long known tricks for rim brake adjustments, yet this might not be the time and place for it. I did an article way back on side-pull rim brake repair and adjustments, but these are different in many ways. Lets just say that the correct amount of pad toe in, the angles of the brake arms and the pad contact to the rim placement can make or break how well they work. Don’t be surprised to see an in-depth post on this subject, for now you can Google it for other people’s techniques if needed.

Now for the eRAD BBS02 install story. I’ve read online that some can whip this out in an hour, more power to them, yet I suggest you take your time with your eyes in wide-open mode. There was a big hole in the frame where the cranks and axle were before, at the end of my last installment. That is where the Bafang just slides in—oh wait, 1st issue unfurls (yet easy to get past). Under the BB housing on my bike is a guide for the shifter cable, held in by a small bolt. Well, it (the bolt) extended too far into the cavity, so I was easily able to shorten it for a flush internal fit in the housing

My bars are a bit full yet everything integrates nicely. I am still working on the headlamp mounting.

Lectric Cycles has a awesome install video on their site and I do think watching it several times is worthwhile. The unit slips in, the nuts and bolts are secured in the correct order to proper tightening specs while holding the drive motor up in the front. Now it is in and you can move to installing the cranks, pedals and drive gear (with pants guard). Reinstalling the chain is next, and in most cases a fresh one is the best choice. Mine is like new, needing only a good cleaning and lube (I use White Lightning wax lube). I found that shortening the chain one link (two if you know what I mean) would of been a good idea, and I will in the future when I install one of Lectric Cycles’ cool aluminum front sprockets.

Read the text for more info on these two sensors. The far one checks the wheel speed and the close one tells the eRAD when you shift gears.

I had already done the derailleur pre-adjustments, leaving the fine tuning for after the bike was up and running. Next up is all the handlebar pieces. Part of the reason the brakes weren’t set yet is I needed to install the included (with the eRAD kit) brake levers (with motor safety cut-out switches). Also mount the LCD display and switch panel. Take some time to find the optimal places for each and they way they orientate to each other. My bars are kind of narrow, one of the reasons I opted for the short lock-on handgrips from Serfas. Having the narrow bars allowed the switch panel to mount right under my left thumb without an extension cable. I used the left side half twist throttle, you may want one of the other options. I have found thumb throttles can cause fatigue, and I wanted the throttle on the left side so it wouldn’t interfere with the gear shifter on the right.

I am happy with my bar set-up, yet the place for my headlamp isn’t perfect, just one of the final details I am working on right now. All the controls fit nicely, the angles match my needs, and I do like the switch panel close at hand. On some of these conversions you find them right next to the display. That works, but I would rather not take my hands from the grips to use the switches. Keep in mind this part of the install can be modified any time, if you come up with better placements.

The wire routing came out good and some more effort here will make it even better.

I am also planning on changing the mounting of the rear wheel magnet sensor before I am done. It works great and is just the way the instructions suggest, yet I feel I might move it by accident when using the kickstand. So I will mount it higher rather than lower on the frame chainstay to protect its position against movement. I also used more tie straps than suggested to get a solid mount so it won’t get into the spokes by mistake.

Like so often it seems on my projects through the years, my bike and the normal mounting of the gear shift sensor didn’t jive. The sensor allows the motor to hold back its power for an instant during your shift, and is part of what makes the eRAD so sweet of a bike conversion. The sensor is designed to fit inline on the cable outer housing, but my bike had just the inner cable exposed from the front of the frame to the rear. No problem, I found a spot where the cable and the frame allowed good alignment, and used a couple pieces of double sided adhesive foam tape and some tie straps to mount it for perfect operation.

Next up I mounted the battery holder solid as can be. I was extra lucky to get a slim-line 630 watt-hour (36 volt) battery from Lectric Cycles. To my knowledge this battery won’t be on their sales floor for a month or two. It really matches this frame perfectly and the extra capacity will be just what I wanted. My first rides have already shown this battery was the right choice. My cable routing for the whole install came out good, but I do plan on cleaning them up just a bit.

What a perfect fit and extra juice to use for the long rides. That is what this battery offers.

Make sure to secure the cables well, leave room for flex, and keep them out of the wind (so they don’t get caught on obstructions) and moving parts. Also I am a big talker on cutting the ends of the tie straps fully flush (with a flush cutter or sharp blade) so they don’t tear your clothes or spill your blood. It is amazing how many people, shops and companies I have to remind of this, I see those sharp edges all the time.

Much more coming soon, for now I just want to say how pleased I am with the smoothness, power and quiet operation of this 500 watt power plant (ease of installation too) . Lectric Cycles wanted me to go with their 350 watt eRAD, but I wanted some extra hill climbing power on hand. Did I tell you I revamped my bike trailer for some major shopping runs at the Costco down the hill? I did now. Also too, I did have to wait for the conversion kit just a bit as I was able to get the newest one available. It has the upgraded electronics and couple other things. It was worth the wait.

Let’s pull that load up the hill together, Turbo Bob.

“Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live,”—Mark Twain.

The latest video on this bike. There are older ones in the same section.

Lectric Cycles on the web and Facebook



Serfas on the web and Facebook



BodyFloat on the web and Facebook



Torch Apparel on the web and Facebook



LightMeUp Safety Lights on the web and Facebook



Posted in Bike accessories, Bike maintenance, E-bike general interest, E-bike test reviews, My Bikes, Opinion | 3 Comments