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  1. #1
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    Review of the Wilderness Energy 24V Brushed front hub motor kit.











    First, thanks for all your comments and suggestions that you’ve shared with each other on this subboard of the bikeforums. I’ve learned a lot. Keep ‘em coming. I especially appreciate it when you post money-saving specials that you find on the net (I missed the golden motors brushless deal by a few weeks, drat).

    I’ve had this ebike kit for about 190 miles (4 months?) and I apologize for not having reviewed it earlier. Been busy and just needed to sit down and knock out this review.

    Pros: Price, ease of installation, comes complete (pre-wired, batteries, hub, controller, everything)
    Negs: weight, bumpiness

    My weight: 175 lbs.
    Price paid: $199 (+$44 shipping)
    Weight of bike w/complete setup (bike, batteries, rack, controller) : 74lbs

    Installation: Installed it on a Schwinn Frontier MTB. The Frontier MTB is made of hi-ten steel. Installation was straightforward with no major issues. This Frontier had “C” cut outs to handle this front hub. It went in and “sat” with the shape of the hub screws. I did not have to expand the front fork to make the hub fit. The time-consuming part is having to run the wires from the controller to the hub, handi-tie them, install the included rear rack etc. The included directions are not very helpful. The only positive is that the directions had a lot of pictures.

    They say you should install the controller on the outside of the battery pack, but I put it in a under saddle bag (see pix). I think they want to avoid the controller from getting too hot. This controller gets slightly warm, but not hot to the touch. A plus for my setup is that you can hide it by zipping it up.

    The thumb accelerator also works well. I cannot compare it to the twist type, since I’ve never used it, but I’ve had no problems in terms of turning it or comfort problems.

    Also, I later swapped out the MTB knobbies for some smooth slick tires (60PSI max).

    Speed: I can attain a max speed on flat ground of 16mph. It is somewhat hilly in my area and the hub can pull me up a slight incline at 8mph. When doing a steep hill, you have to pedal or the hub will give out. I find myself pedaling when I do all the hills anyway. Can’t stand to lose speed, I guess. The hub motor really helps out on those steep hills too.

    I realize that 15 mph is not too fast, but when you considering it is pulling about 250lbs (me plus the bike), it’s pretty amazing. Also, there are safety considerations when going fast or down a hill and have to stop. For example, when braking, I think you can put a lot of stress on V brakes with this weight/speed. Taking tight turns while at higher than 15mph speed and with this weight could also be hazardous as the bike could slip out from under you.

    I do concede that a 36V motor could probably pull me up those steep hills without pedaling. However, the pedaling I do is so light/easy that it may not be worth it to upgrade to a 36V. It is just light pedaling and the hub motor really does “assist” you up.

    Ride: I guess having so much weight on this bike makes for a bumpy experience. I swapped out the stock saddle and put in a brooks b67 because it has springs. It helped slightly, but you can still feel the bumps. I’ve thought about moving this kit to a full suspension MTB, like those cheap walmart ones, for a less bumpy ride. All I’ve found are aluminum bikes, though. Perhaps, I can switch out the front aluminum fork in those to a steel one.

    Range: The kit came with 2 heavy Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries. I have not really drained out the 2-12v SLAs, but I had one long ride of about 15 miles where I found the motor wasn’t pulling me as fast as it usually does. I was home already and did not push it past 15 miles. I would guesstimate that the range is between 15-20 miles on one charge.

    I do not charge my batteries while at work. They do not recommend this. I’ve been measuring the degradation of the batteries with a radio shack battery tester and they have been on the high range (85-90%) of the meter. So far, sulfination has not set in by me not recharging at work. Maybe it’s because the distance of the commute, who knows.

    A definite future upgrade would be to go with lighter batteries like lithium ion. I’ve been keeping a lookout for cheap dewalt battery packs, which I know could be installed with this. Perhaps, the lighter lithium ion batteries can improve on the bumpiness as well as top speed?

    Conclusion: Overall, I’m very pleased with my first ebike. My commute is 6 miles round trip. I use this hub equipped bike when I have to wear a suit and I do get to the office sweatless and not tired. Before I got this set-up I was a non-believer that a hub kit could really pull you around day in day out. I wish someone had photographed my face when I first rode it. My smile must have been ten feet wide.

    I’ll try to keep updating this review if I encounter problems or perform a major upgrade. Thanks, again.
    Last edited by ShinyBiker; 10-15-07 at 07:30 AM.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the detailed review. But one comment: my understanding is SLA batteries HATE to be NOT fully charged, so you really should recharge at work. (I'm no expert, I suggest you do some web research to confirm...)

  3. #3
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amjones View Post
    Thanks for the detailed review. But one comment: my understanding is SLA batteries HATE to be NOT fully charged, so you really should recharge at work. (I'm no expert, I suggest you do some web research to confirm...)
    You are right. They recommend that SLAs not sit with less than a full charge. I don't have a way to run an extension cord to the parking garage at work where I park my bike. However, I have been measuring the capacity of the SLAs after I charge them at home and they have been consistent at 90% or so of max capacity. It seems that I am not doing any damage to them, yet.

  4. #4
    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    Its a gradual sort of change. If you know someone who has access to a desulfinator, you may be able to use one to rejuvenate your batteries as the capacity drops. They're normally designed for *much* larger batteries though, such as the ones on forklifts, so I don't really know 100% on how practical that would be.

  5. #5
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    Great job! Yeah, 36V is a little more exciting as I'm sure you'll someday find out. But more importantly, I see you are learning the ways of battery chemistry and that is the ultimate eBike excercise IMO. Yes, you will lose some SLA cycle life with continued run, pause, run, charge - sequences. Even a small solar panel can help prevent plate sulfation under these conditions. It doesn't need a bulk charge, just a small trickle of current back into battery immediately following a drain will do wonders.

    Being careful with charge cycling SLA's has reaped close to 400 cycles on my ESR750 scooter. Sure, they only about 70-80% of new capacity but they still going for what I need.

  6. #6
    ǝıd ǝʌol ʎllɐǝɹ I JeanCoutu's Avatar
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    Your bike has V brakes.

    http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=21
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/canti-direct.html


    This would be a sidepull caliper:





    Love teh Brooks, btw.

  7. #7
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeanCoutu View Post
    Your bike has V brakes.

    http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=21
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/canti-direct.html


    This would be a sidepull caliper:





    Love teh Brooks, btw.
    Ooops. You're right. edited my review. Thanks.

  8. #8
    Sister Annie Sianelle's Avatar
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    Interesting review I've been running a 250watt 24volt brushless hub on my tricycle for well over a year and I'm absolutely delighted with it. My trike gets pretty much used as a car replacement for local journeys and I'm always careful about putting it on charge as soon as I get back home. Because I'm semi-retired and I don't have a work commute the problem of charging while at work doesn't arise, but after constant use and a lot of miles my feeling is that it's always best to put the batteries on charge as soon as I've finished using my trike.
    How far away is the nearest powerpoint from the parking garage? Is it possible to run a very long lead - or is that just plain impractical? How about solar panels, - or is the parking garage totally out of the sun like being underground?
    OMNIPOTENS aeterne Deus, qui nos secundum imaginem Tuam plasmasti, et omnia bona, vera, pulchra, praesertim in divina persona Unigeniti Filii Tui Domini nostri Iesu Christi, quaerere iussisti, praesta quaesumus ut, per intercessionem Sancti Isidori, Episcopi et Doctoris, in peregrinationibus per interrete factis et manus oculosque ad quae Tibi sunt placita intendamus et omnes quos convenimus cum caritate ac patientia accipiamus. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

  9. #9
    Pedaling fool ShinyBiker's Avatar
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    Thanks, Sianelle.

    Yes, I park my bike underground so there is nothing but dim flouresent lighting down there. The only outlet that I've seen is to the parking attendants booth which is at the entrance to the garage. I would need a very long cord and you also have the problem of cars running over it (as well as getting the ok from the parking guy!).

    I wouldn't mind having to replace those SLAs if they go bad. Primarily because of the weight. I understand that the slightly lighter Nimhs have no memory effect and the super light, but expensive lions, too. That won't be happening soon which is fine too. I may even buy one of those desulfinators when I start losing capacity.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShinyBiker View Post
    I understand that the slightly lighter Nimhs have no memory effect and the super light, but expensive lions, too.
    NiMh saves little weight compared to SLA and they must be excersized regularly to maintain full capacity. My NiMh probably lose 10% or more of their charge per week when sitting unused. But, they don't suffer from damage in between discharges like SLA. They also have a very good shelf life but will require a few charge/discharge cycles to restore full capacity when placed back into service.

    Lithium is quite good about sitting in charged state and being ready to go weeks later! The weight savings is also very impressive along with a high power output. Charging and cost make them less ideal but the technology is improving rapidly and I think cost will only go down over the next few years. Lithium doesn't seem to have the shelf life of NiMh or Lead so you need to use them regularly before they reach their expiration date.

    Hard to beat lead for low cost, ease of charging and reliabilty but the weight is really what turns me off.

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