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  1. #1
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Catastrophic Hub Failure!

    Okay, so maybe it's not the end of the world, but I probably won't be able to ride my bike tomoorow.

    I ride 48 kms a day on my Giant Cypress I've converted with a Wilderness Energy brushless hub. I use a 36V NiCad battery. On the way home, I stopped for a drink of water (it was 32C) and when I started again the hub didn't work. Nothing. The light was out in the speed control and since the battery seemed fine, I'm thinking it's the controller.

    Any engineers out there with theories on why my usually reliable ebike failed?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Were you able to pedal it home?

  3. #3
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian
    Were you able to pedal it home?
    It was hot and I was fully loaded with groceries (perishable), so I peddled to the nearest subway station.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Hmmm. Would you have been able to ride it home if it was a normal bike?

  5. #5
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian
    Hmmm. Would you have been able to ride it home if it was a normal bike?
    Of course, why do you ask?

  6. #6
    Daily Rider Robert C's Avatar
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    It will be interesting to watch the anti-ebike crowd go into a feeding frenzy with thiis one "oh look an ebike had a mechanical... conventional bikes never have mechanicals... bla bla bla..." The last failures I have had to deal with on conventional bikes (both mine and a friends, on different days) that downed the biks on the raod would have been still ridible if they had been ebikes (broken chains, both times).

    Mechanical things break. I will argue that the answer to
    Hmmm. Would you have been able to ride it home if it was a normal bike?
    was most certainly a yes. for that matter I expect that the rider was able to ride the ebike home; or across the county, for that matter, the rider CHOSE a different option.

    Enjoy your feeding frenzy, all the while pretending that have never had, and will never have, a mechaincal failure of a system that DOES NOT leave the bike unridable.

    On to the problem, unless there is a good reason not to, you cheould be able to test the controller by bypasing it. Run, using test leads, power straight from the battery to the motor. If the motor spins up (and be ready, it will go to full speed) then the motor is probably fine.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    How much does all that extra gear weigh?

  8. #8
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    Depends on the set-up. On the Giant Lite, it's about 10 pounds for the motor and housing and about 8 pounds for the battery. The guys that are doing 50+ I'm going to guess the motor is about the same and the batteries are 20+ pounds.

  9. #9
    e-Biker
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Of course, why do you ask?
    You couldn't pedal your eBike home but you could pedal a normal bike?

    I did a battery-less run the other night, I left the battery at home, and even with the electric motor it was still fairly rideable. A lot slower than usual and a bit slower than normal bikers but still rideable.

    Every so often I set the Bionx to assist mode #0 so I end up doing all the work. Not a problem. Just slow as heck.

  10. #10
    ǝıd ǝʌol ʎllɐǝɹ I JeanCoutu's Avatar
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    Battery voltage ok? No blown fuse? Jiggled the cables? What's the controller's resistance, ect?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    I probably won't be able to ride my bike tomoorow.
    I'm not trying to start a flame war. I think some of you may recall that as the forum administrator, I was a bit reluctant to even create an Electric Bikes forum. But since it's here, I would like to enter into discussions with an open mind, yet be able to question the wisdom of electric bikes.

    You might not be able to ride your bike tomorrow due to electrical issues? Don't you see the irony in that?

  12. #12
    ǝıd ǝʌol ʎllɐǝɹ I JeanCoutu's Avatar
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    Come to think of it, not being able to pedal it home implies more resistance then usual, is this true?

    From the sound of what I've read, my bet is your controller simply has something like a broken on/off switch.

  13. #13
    Senior Member geebee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian
    I'm not trying to start a flame war. I think some of you may recall that as the forum administrator, I was a bit reluctant to even create an Electric Bikes forum. But since it's here, I would like to enter into discussions with an open mind, yet be able to question the wisdom of electric bikes.

    You might not be able to ride your bike tomorrow due to electrical issues? Don't you see the irony in that?
    Brian, most are defensive re e-bikes as some are prone to bag them out.
    I ride both, mostly HPV unless carrying an injury or have been over doing the riding.
    They are great fun and if used as an assist will give a good level of exercise plus anyway you cut it if it reduces car use it can't be bad.
    I live in a very steep enviroment and they allow me to get light exercise when injured, mind you if you take an e-bike out with the idea of pushing your average speed they can burn more energy than an unassisted bike due to their weight, but they can also allow insane average speeds.
    Great for a dedicated commuter, if you are a bit off colour use the e-bike.
    They also allow a more gentle intro to riding for the less fit or terrain challenge newbie.
    Oh and the other use I am reading of more often is to allow long distance commuting.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    was it sealed bearings or ball bearings? Probably bearings failed. Routine maintenance might have prevented the problem. Would not extra weight on the hubs enhance the need for maintenance schedules. ? Never any sign of a problem before this failure. Seems a sign of pending hub failure is a wobbly wheel?

  15. #15
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Don't own an E-bike....yet but have been researching them with interest. I want to get my hands on one of the not yet on the market Schwinn Campus models. And I will be seriously considering a Stoke Monkey on an Xtracyle. They definitely have their place in the transportation mix. As far as reliability and what happens when they break down...anything mechanical is subject to failure at some point in time. I saw at least 7 cars on the side of the road on the way into work this morning that weren't there on the way home last night The good news is with a bike if it breaks you can push it home

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  16. #16
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geebee
    Brian, most are defensive re e-bikes as some are prone to bag them out.
    I ride both, mostly HPV unless carrying an injury or have been over doing the riding.
    They are great fun and if used as an assist will give a good level of exercise plus anyway you cut it if it reduces car use it can't be bad.
    I live in a very steep enviroment and they allow me to get light exercise when injured, mind you if you take an e-bike out with the idea of pushing your average speed they can burn more energy than an unassisted bike due to their weight, but they can also allow insane average speeds.
    Great for a dedicated commuter, if you are a bit off colour use the e-bike.
    They also allow a more gentle intro to riding for the less fit or terrain challenge newbie.
    Oh and the other use I am reading of more often is to allow long distance commuting.
    I know they were starting to gain interest in popularity when I left NSW, but if it's no longer rideable due to the drive mechanism, that really defeats the purpose.

    When the components become lighter, seamless in operation, and more aesthetically pleasing, then I might begrudgingly acknowledge their usefulness. But for now, adding 18 pounds or more of mechanically questionable weight to a bicycle seems like a foolish endeavour to me.

    And I don't buy the argument that even normal bikes have mechanical issues. No one has had to push their bike home due to an issue they were unable to diagnose. Flats can be fixed, broken chains are rare. There is hardly any mystery to how a bicycle works.

  17. #17
    e-Biker
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian
    I'm not trying to start a flame war. I think some of you may recall that as the forum administrator, I was a bit reluctant to even create an Electric Bikes forum. But since it's here, I would like to enter into discussions with an open mind, yet be able to question the wisdom of electric bikes.

    You might not be able to ride your bike tomorrow due to electrical issues? Don't you see the irony in that?
    Do you know how many broken "normal" bikes I see at the LBS every day? Looks like they're not riding their bikes either.

    And I often run into "normal" bikes broken down on the bike paths as well. They're not invulnerable to break downs either.

    Mechanical things break... it just happens. Doesn't matter if it's electric powered or human powered or gas powered. Sure more complex vehicles may break down even more than others. You're not likely to dump your bike for roller skates are you?

  18. #18
    e-Biker
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian
    And I don't buy the argument that even normal bikes have mechanical issues. No one has had to push their bike home due to an issue they were unable to diagnose. Flats can be fixed, broken chains are rare. There is hardly any mystery to how a bicycle works.
    I see plenty of people pushing their bikes home all the time. Flats are the most common problems. I sometimes run into people with snapped brake/derailleur cables, broken chains, bent wheels and so on.

    Maybe they should all just dump their bikes and get rollerblades instead.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian
    I know they were starting to gain interest in popularity when I left NSW, but if it's no longer rideable due to the drive mechanism, that really defeats the purpose.

    When the components become lighter, seamless in operation, and more aesthetically pleasing, then I might begrudgingly acknowledge their usefulness. But for now, adding 18 pounds or more of mechanically questionable weight to a bicycle seems like a foolish endeavour to me.

    And I don't buy the argument that even normal bikes have mechanical issues. No one has had to push their bike home due to an issue they were unable to diagnose. Flats can be fixed, broken chains are rare. There is hardly any mystery to how a bicycle works.
    ebikes are extremely reliable. The benefits they provide far outweigh the disadvantages such as the very few occasions where the motor would break down. My motor never broke down, but I've had a couple of occasions where my battery ran out or I had to conserve it and run at assist 0 on the flats. The bike wasn't all that much slower. I'd say I was going 1-2mph slower than a regular bike.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Zeuser, I'm not buying your argument. I carry a spare tube, a few patches, and a multi-tool with a chain breaker. I've never had to walk my bike home.

  21. #21
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    Wink

    Zeuser, I'm not buying your argument. I carry a spare tube, a few patches, and a multi-tool with a chain breaker. I've never had to walk my bike home.
    To me, what that says is that you personally do not need an e-bike. I'm baffled, though, by the fact that people aren't comparing e-bikes to gas scooters instead of to bicycles. Bicycles have some very obvious advantages over mo-peds/motorcycles/cars, but none of the anti-Ebike arguments seem to acknowlege the fact that in some situations a motor-less vehicle is an inferior choice... and in some of those situations an ebike is probably one of the simplest, cheapest, most efficient motor vehicles available for the job.

    Brian, if it's not too much to ask, please answer this question:

    would you prefer people (other than yourself) whose physical condition, desire to avoid sweating, riding distance, and/or some other factor convinces them not to ride a regular bicycle to choose:
    a)e-bikes,
    b)an economy car, OR
    c)a vespa or similar scooter?

    I'm making a couple of assumptions here: that it's best for the person to minimize waste of limited resources and minimize pollution (whether C02, N0x, unburnt fuel, etc)... and for the person to avoid the health problems that come with not exercising. Let's also assume that, for the forseeable future, vehicles with motors will remain popular in developed countries. Of course, I am also making the bold assumption that some segment of the population is actually willing to use e-bikes.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    You've placed a lot of conditions on that one, but of course I would like to see them use an ebike. I just don't understand why any able-bodied person would want to add the extra weight, if they can ride a bike without all that. I'm also not impressed by some of the dangerous backyard engineering I've seen.

    For what it's worth, I have 8 bicycles, a very economical car, and a motorcycle (with an engine larger than the one in my car) that's reasonably economical as well.

  23. #23
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    I just don't understand why any able-bodied person would want to add the extra weight, if they can ride a bike without all that.
    You and I don't seem to be in that camp, but some of our bikeforums members don't understand why an able-bodied person would want to own a car, Brian.

    I sympathize with those members' disgust at the way cars are overused in the USA and many other countries, and I also don't own a car or use one for my day-to-day needs.
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  24. #24
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    By the way I also consider motorcycles to be too heavy and inefficient to be good replacements for e-bikes... just as I consider e-bikes to be too heavy and inefficient to be good replacements for regular bikes in many situations.
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  25. #25
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    Brian, considering your opinion of electric bicycles, I can't for the life of me understand why you would have created this sub-forum.

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