ULITMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #3—Prepping the Bike.
This part of the build could be the simplest ever, or you can go deeper like I did. If your host bike is riding fine, has good tires and brakes, and is all shined up, you can skip this part. Then again, if it has some miles and years on it, then some pre-E-conversion prep is in order. Even new bikes could benefit from some serious TLC, and that what this part of the build is all about. Plus for what I have intended for this bike, some cool accessories are needed.
Even though the Terrano hybrid I am using only got a year of riding time, it is over 12 years old. Even new bikes can sometimes have poorly greased and adjusted bearings, and ones with miles on them will for sure need to be torn-down for inspection and fresh grease. I also like to really clean and shine even the hard-to-get areas of the bikes I rework. Seeing that I have big plans for this E-bike conversion, a full one-over was important to me.
I started by inspecting the bike closely for frame and component damage before the purchase. Then when I got it home I made some needed adjustments, checked it even closer and then rode it quite a bit. Once I was happy with the condition, I tore it down into pieces. During this time I paid close attention to each part for possible issues. I was happy to find it in great shape and the project was given my mental ok to proceed.
I started by cleaning and waxing the frame, fork and other painted parts. At this point I could really see closely if there were any cracks or damage. Then one-by-one I shined the other parts and started reassembly. I planned on doing some videos of this process, but once I get going, it just goes. I did replace some of the service items and worked most of the new accessories into place as I went. I had already envisioned some of the changes needed to reach the goals I have set for this E-bike.
Although servicing the bearings in the wheels and headset isn’t all that difficult, if you don’t have the skills and tools, this might need to be outsourced. Normally I would also do the ones in the BB (bottom bracket, the pedal crank bearings), but seeing that that part of the bike is replaced by the eRAD conversion, I left them out and set them aside for the future when the bike might be restored back to non-electric.
The rims took the most time. After the teardown, the steps to make them right were in this order. First I oiled the spoke and nipple threads and made sure they were turning freely. With cleaners and wax (old toothbrushes too), I shined them up pretty good. I sometimes spend even more time on this step, but figured they will get dirty anyway. Having them waxed will make cleaning them easier down the road. At this point I cleaned the bearings and races well.
Lately I have been using the poly grease from Park Tools. It seems very high quality, but a tub of regular wheel bearing grease is ok, and costs less. I like the Park grease as it comes in a tube, where a tub of grease could easily get debris in it that would compromise the bearing life. Make sure to get the grease fully in the bearing cages if they have them. Use plenty, but not too much.
Getting them adjusted well is the trick. You want them not to have any free-play, but not too tight. I have my long time tricks for this procedure, and probably should share with a video at some point. Once I am happy with the adjustment, the extra grease is wiped from the outside (something you do a few more times after the bike is riding). Next it is on to truing the rims and torqueing the loose spokes.
I too have my tricks to this, as I don’t have a trueing stand. I do them in the frame and they come out as close to perfect as can be. This step once again might be a job for your local bike pro. Even a new bike might need this step, but if it does then I would be concerned if it was a nice enough bike for this project. Once I am happy with the rims, there is one more step before the tires and tubes are installed. Seeing that this bike uses rim brakes, the rim sides need to have any bit of wax or grease cleaned from where the pads contact them.
Just to note, use the same greasing and adjustment rules for the headset and BB. This particular bike has simplest of bearings (old-school) and servicing procedures. As bikes become more modern, you will find sealed bearings on some. Also the way they are dealt with gets tougher too. On this bike I didn’t have to deal with the BB, and on some modern bikes they have complete inserts for the BB that need no service other than to be correctly replaced when worn out.
When I Slime the tubes (brand-new thorn-resistant), I knead them a lot to make sure the Slime is fully in contact with all the surfaces inside the tube. Real pros install their tires so the label is in line with the valve stem. Real riders install the tires with the inflation specs inline with the valve stem, and that’s the way I do in it. Make sure if the tires have a specific rotation direction, you get them on right. After they are inflated, watch them during rotation to make sure the bead is seated correctly and they spin true. Deflate and rework them until they do if needed.
This bike has brakes that are not quite V brakes and nor quite cantilever. I planned on upgrading them to some modern V brakes but those didn’t fit. No problem though. I shined up all the pieces and greased the pivots. New Serfas pads are in place and I will finish the adjustments when I install the eRAD conversion kit, as it comes with new brake levers with motor cut-off switches in them.
I will document all the accessories in upcoming articles. Some needed a little more than just bolting on. I am sure I passed over many details, those too I will try to point out in the text and the included videos.
The build is getting closer. The eRAD will be here this week so the action will roll on until the wheels actually roll on the street. Even then there will be fine-tuning and changes until I am fully satisfied with the bike.
More coming soon, make sure to check the videos, Turbo Bob.
“You never have the wind with you—either it is against you or you’re are having a good day.”—Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles.
The latest video—there are others too.