ULTIMATE COMMUTER E-BIKE BUILD—Part #5—The eRAD Drive System.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.