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Old 06-26-08, 10:28 PM   #1
puppypilgrim
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Xtracycle Bike + Wilderness Energy BL36

This is a build thread for my compact frame Brodie Force mountain bike with a Wilderness Energy BL36 electric bike kit. This is the link for the kit.
(http://wildernessenergy.com/product_...7c1fb803640e59)

This is a 600W brushless hub motor with sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. This is a picture of the kit as it sits on the floor in my house.

This kit is being mounted on the Xtracycle setup shown on the photo below.



Details of the Xtracycle mods can be read here:
Just joined the Xtracycle club

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Old 06-26-08, 10:57 PM   #2
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I can't wait to see how this turns out, as this is almost the exact set up I am eyeing for my (not yet built) X. Thanks so much for detailing your build, this is great info!
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Old 06-27-08, 07:20 AM   #3
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Do you have an idea of what impact the motor will have on your X when you aren't using its power? Will it add enough weight/resistance to make human power only pedaling unfeasible?
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Old 06-27-08, 08:09 AM   #4
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Great job and thanks for sharing the good work you're doing! We have an X member around here using a BB Panasonic drive racking up a ton of miles. I'm gonna have to look into one of those too someday - getting the urge for something a little more radical.

Kinda thinking powered recumbent, tadpole trike, maybe an X? Gotta love these forums for great ideas from talented folks!

stay safe out there!
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Old 06-27-08, 09:42 AM   #5
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puppypilgrim
This is very informative. Gotta love the forum! Great work and thanks for the pictures. Keep updating. Let us know how you are progressing with the Wilderness project.
Tony
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Old 06-27-08, 12:01 PM   #6
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My Reasons for Wilderness Energy Kit (LONG)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vik View Post
Do you have an idea of what impact the motor will have on your X when you aren't using its power? Will it add enough weight/resistance to make human power only pedaling unfeasible?
Hi Vik,

Let me share some of the reasoning behind my selection of the electric kit. These are my thoughts only and others may have different opinions.

Here is the short version. I chose the Wilderness Energy kit for the following reasons:

1. PRICE - At Cdn. $566 before taxes, it was inexpensive compared to other kits in the marketplace. Low initial cost means a lower buy-in for me. Given that I am not sure I will ride during the wet & cold months, I did not want to spend a lot of money without knowing this is a year-round item.

2. PERFORMANCE - 400w for the BL36v (36 volts) meant it was very powerful for its price. The equivalent BionX the PL350 sells for Cdn. $1695. The BionX battery system does not appear to be able to satisfy my load requirements.

3. MOUNTING OPTION - Front hub mount allows me to take weight off the rear axle for my particular application. Other hub motors tend to be rear mounted.

4. BATTERY CHOICES - The Wilderness Energy kit allows me 3 different battery options:
(a) Sealed Lead Acid
(b) Nickel Cadmium
(c) Nickel Metal Hydride

This means I can upgrade my battery choice as and when I require. The kit comes with SLA which is cheap. The trade off is weight. However given the "heavy" nature of my Xtracycle, the additional weight is less of a concern. I won't be setting any speed records with my setup anyways. The application of this e.assist\pedelec is a reliable, low initial-cost alternative transportation vehicle. I can then change batteries and charger technology's as the product curve and market place evolves.

4. COMPONENTS - If for any reason I decided not to keep the kit on my Xtracycle, I could mount it on my folding Dahon with a simple component purchase of a 20" wheel. Hub motors on 20" wheels make for fast acceleration. Everything else is reusable.

5. RANGE - My foreseeable range carrying passengers and without passengers in a commuting application is within the range of the 36v battery pack. For this reason, I did not need to concern myself with the additional weight of the kit when not using the motor. If travelling by myself, my two way commute is 25 km. The range with existing kit is 32 km. Since I am a high cadence peddler, I figure my range may even be a bit longer. Traveling with my family, my foreseeable range is 15 to 18 km. Hence even the slight drag imposed by magnets is not an over-riding concern. SEE INFORMATION ON BATTERY PACK CALCULATION BELOW.

6. NOISE LEVEL - One of the things I treasure is being able to speak with my wife and daughter as we are cycling. A sprocket driven motor would add to the noise level while a hub motor is relatively silent.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ADDITIONAL REASONING VERSION BELOW
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I mainly intend to use the bike as a family vehicle during the warm months to buy groceries, same-day urban touring, going out to cafes and restaurants to eat, visiting friends. On Wednesday we took the X to my daughter's end of school term graduation picnic. Basically, I am using the X to replace a car whenever possible to reduce my carbon footprint and reduce gasoline expenditure as well as have some exercise while doing so. The X. with electric kit is not for brevets or long distance touring (obviously, ).

As you can see from the photos, I carry my wife (about 135 lbs and daughter 41 lbs.) plus me (160 lbs). Human weight totals 336 lbs. The bicycle as-is, is about 37 lbs. Add that and its about 373 lbs total static weight. The immediate area where I live is flat. Even so, it is a good workout peddling my family on the X. I am also not a slow cadence guy. I like to peddle at a rate where I am in constant huffing and puffing and feel the burn in my legs. I change gears frequently to achieve my desired cadence. I pulled the trigger on an electric kit because I wanted to extend the range and usability of the Xtracycle. Right now, if we wanted to go anywhere fast on the X., we couldn't due to the limitation of my cycling strength. An e-assist would not only extend my range, but increase my speed thus reducing traveling time. This removes any hesitation from using the X. as an alternative transportation vehicle for either my family or myself when traveling alone. The Wilderness Energy kit is about 40 lbs. Total is 413 lbs.

When researching electric kits, I looked at:
1. Currie US Pro (chain driven sprocket)
2. BionX $1695 Cdn. (brushless hub on rear wheel)
3. Cyclone (chain driven sprocket)
4. Crystalyte (hub motor)

I really liked the idea the chain driven sprocket since this is also the concept behind the Stokemonkey by Clever Cycles. Chain driven assist is powerful, takes full advantage of the bicycle's gearing, freewheels with no drag when motor is not in use. Downsides? Additional driven train noise. Fitment is an issue as you need a certain amount of clearance behind the bottom bracket. With Xtracycle's Free Radical, I measured the space behind the bottom bracket and did not have the space to mount a Cyclone with my compact frame.

I have ridden a BionX Dahon folding bicycle. Let me tell you. It was a fast ride! From this I deduced that e.assist is a viable tool for utility cycling. However the BionX is expensive at $1695 largely due to the LiOn battery. However a rear hub would add additional weight to the rear axle to an already heavier rear end Xtracycle with my typical use. I did not want a bike with such rear weight bias that it would negatively impact on handling (one of the best features of the Xtracycle).

Therefore, the choice became either Crystalyte (hub), Wilderness Energy (hub) or Cyclone. I measured the space behind my bottom bracket and did not think I had enough clearance to fit the motor bracket required by the Cyclone. I did not further investigate the Currie although I did look at complete Currie bikes. I went with Wilderness Energy since it is a front hub design (simple) which means I could spread some weight to the front axle. I also intend to mount the battery inside the diamond of the frame to centralize the weight to preserve the CG of the bike.

Sealed Lead Acid batteries (SLA) Battery Pack Calculation
Disclaimer: I am not an electrical engineer. I just utilized information I found to determine a usable baseline for my application. Anyone is welcome to shed more light on this - especially if I am way off base. Be warned however that detailed mathematical calculations on volts, amps, discharge rates and so forth will probably leave me befuddled.

Battery capacity and range are highly dependent on the weight of the moving vehicle, the amount of peddling from the cyclist and the terrain\geography (uphill, downhill, etc). That is why the phrase "Your Mileage May Vary" (YMMV) applies. Using the information and table here http://ebikes.ca/batteries.shtml, I did a calculation as follows.


(POWER HUNGRY energy usage 20 watt hours/km X 20 km total distance) / 36V = 11 amp hours needed from battery pack.


- I used the highest figure for energy usage at 20 watts/km per the table for consumption given my Xtracycle typical load
- I put in 20 km as the longest roundtrip for cycling with my family. If I cycle alone, the consumption will be much smaller.
- 36V is the rating for the SLA extended range battery pack.

The formula shows I need about 11 amp hours from the battery to achieve these needs. The kit I got has a 12 amp hour rating from the battery packs which means it appears on paper, to meet my needs. Bear in mind I do not have any real world experience with the kit but will report the good, bad and ugly. YMMV.

Cheers,
Victor

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Old 06-27-08, 12:54 PM   #7
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If you are in the process of considering a conversion, I suggest listing your conversion priorities on a piece of paper to assist in determining your needs. Obviously a single (non-obese) rider seeking a speed machine to commute will have different needs than my family-hauling Xtracycle.

I found the following webpages helpful during my research:


MUST READ - Comparison of Wilderness, Cyrstalyte and BionX (Detailed, text based description)
http://us.itselectric.ca/URLrewrite....m&Redirected=Y


Comparison chart of Wilderness Energy kit with competitor's products (simplified)
http://www.wildernessenergy.com/advantages.php


Information about batteries, choosing a pack and determining your needed capacity.
http://ebikes.ca/batteries.shtml


Information about hub motors
http://ebikes.ca/hubmotors.shtml


Front hub conversion prerequisites (you may have to buy a non-suspension wider fork!)

http://us.itselectric.ca/URLrewrite....m&Redirected=Y


Front versus rear wheel mounting
http://ca.itselectric.ca/category_s/44.htm


Water Proofing your conversion kit
http://ca.itselectric.ca/category_s/48.htm

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Old 06-27-08, 02:56 PM   #8
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+1 on the WE kit and conversion.
I bought mine from itselectric.ca and can agree its a reasonably priced, excellent performer. I am a clydesdale and installed the kit on a heavy bike and it still performed very well.
AFAIK the WE controller can also handle 48v and you can also use lithium batts and charger.
Please keep us posted.

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Old 06-28-08, 11:51 AM   #9
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Build progress update

Hi guys,

Two friends came over to help me with the build. We tackled the project from about 8pm till 12 midnight last night. It took longer than a normal conversion on a mountain bike due to:
  1. The fitting requirements of the Xtracyle-modified bike
  2. Installation instructions which conflicted with our experience (more on this later)
  3. Raised fork drop outs which needed to be filed down flush
The kit comes adequately and everything looked fine to me. There is a replacement brake lever with wiring included which kills power to the motor when you apply the brakes. Prior to the installation, I had charged the sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries overnight. The charger hums and sounds like it has a fan on when it charges. Upon completion of the charge (light turns green), it turns silent.

At this point, I wish to alert readers that there is conflicting information on the internet regarding Wilderness Energy BL36 & BD36 kits. Some websites represent the BD36 at 600W and the BL36 at 400W. Other will peg both as 600W. I suspect that for 2008 models, they are both at 600W and both kits include lighted thumb throttles. Previously only the BL36 had a lighted thumb throttle.

The definitive way to test if you have a BD36 or BL36 is as follows:

1. According to the included FAQ inside the box, a BD36 will spark upon connecting controller with the battery pack. This is due to the capacitors in the BD36 controller sucking up electricity as soon as it comes into proximity with power. A BL36 controller will not spark.

2. According to the included FAQ, a BRUSHLESS B36 should have the cable coming out of the LEFT side of the fork (on your left when sitting on the seat). The FAQ says a BRUSHED motor will have the cable running on the right. I recommend pressing the throttle lightly while holding onto the handlebars to check if the wheel rotates in the correct direction BEFORE mounting the bicycle.

3. According to the included FAQ, a BD36 BRUSHED motor will start from a standstill while a BL36 BRUSHLESS motor will only start after the bicycle is moving by peddling between 3-5mph.

Below is a picture of the lighted thumb throttle. In practice, the thumb throttle works well.



Next is a picture of the hub with the two washers. The two washers are fitted to the outside side by side adjacent to the nut.



Now look at the fork ends (aka drop outs) and see if there are raised bumps at the end. Some forks have them to allow axle fasteners to seat. When using the WE kit, these should be filed smooth and flat in order for the axle washers to seat flush with the drop outs. The picture below illustrates this:



Be careful to seat the fork correctly onto the axle. On one side of the axle, it is easy to seat it simply without noticing the flat flange which mates to the fork drop outs. One way to check this is ensure that there is an equal amount of axle thread exposed when the fork is seated to the axle. If one side shows more space than the other, you haven't seated the fork correctly onto the axle.

Next we removed the grip from the right side handlebar and installed the supplied brake lever replacement and thumb throttle. This required moving the friction shifter which was not a big deal. Everything fit fine.

In the next picture, we used painter's tape to mock up the cabling of the throttle wires and motor wires to the controller. We intended to test fit and test ride everything before locking in the cable positions with zip-ties.



Normally, you would place the heavy battery pack on top of the supplied heavy duty rear rack. On a mountain bike, you simply bolt in the rack and velcro the battery bag onto the rack. The controller can then to suspended under the seat or placed on top of the battery bag to keep it away from the elements. Due to the Xtracycle, we were not able to do this. Our priorities were to maintain the bike's Centre of Gravity (CG) by locating the battery's mass in the middle. This was intended to yield a balanced polar moment of inertia. Without the hub motor and heavy duty wheel up front, the Xtracycle had a rearward biased CG. Once the hub wheel was installed the bike was balanced in the middle. By locating the battery pack in the middle, we improved the handling of the Xtracycle. This was also the "dead' space left by the Xtracycle mod. The battery pack and controller had to avoid encumbering the passengers too. This location enabled that.

Below is a picture of a mock up when we were trying to see if the supplied rack could be modified for use. This did not turn out to be feasible.



While we were doing this, my friend was cutting some yellow plastic foam I had lying around to make some cushion to be inserted at the bottom of the battery pack bag.



The challenge with using the seat stays as a mounting point was dealing with the unused brake bosses which were protruding upwards. After debating several ideas, we decided to make an "L" shaped shelf made of wood to hold the battery pack in place over the seat stays. We drilled several holes and zip-tied them into position.



Next we set the battery bag on top of the wood shelf for fitting. I realize that these solutions are not the prettiest but I don't have access to a custom fabrication shop. We planned to secure the bag using straps. I only had colored bungees on hand but shall replace them with black rubber straps later.



Next is the last picture of the completed bike with the working kit. The cables are still temporarily held in place with painter's tape and the battery pack with bungee cords. This pic was taken at about 12 midnight last night (early this morning).


When I took it for a test ride I was amazed at:

Speed
. This sucker is fast. Did I say it was F-A-S-T? Remember my Xtracycle is heavy. It was fast riding by myself and it was fast even with my wife and daughter on board at 12 midnight!

Handling
. Locating the mass in the middle really paid off with neutral handling. The hardest part is getting the bike up to speed. Once the bike is moving along, I really don't feel the extra mass of the kit when riding by myself.

S
eamless integration.
The kit required very little to no learning curve to ride. DISCLAIMER: I used to ride motorcycles and can still ride them today at 42 although I am no longer licensed to do so.





THE AWFUL REALIZATION
The vendor sold me the wrong kit. I wanted a BL36 for range. The box the vendor pulled was labeled BL36 but it is clearly a BD36. How did I know?

Remember at the beginning of this post I said the installation instructions conflicted with our experience and I listed the 3 definitive ways to differentiate a BD36 and BL36? Alert readers would probably have suspected there was a reason for the inclusion of such info. at the top.

I have emailed the vendor (local shop in town) to see how we can rectify the situation.




IN SUMMARY
The BD36 is fast with great torque. I haven't tested the range as I do not want to put much wear before seeing the vendor's recourse. Both my friends ride bicycles and motorcycles were impressed by the power of the WE kit. It never fails to put a grin on your face. The kit is excellent for the price and barring premature failure of its components, I can safely say it delivers the bang for buck. If you wanted longer range, you could go to lithium batteries. I do not see a need to run 48V to make it faster. It is fast enough for me and my intended use.

I strongly suggest running balloon tires like Schwalbe Big Apples. These provide a balance of comfort and reduced rolling resistance that is vital to a heavy, non-suspended bike. Togther with the long wheelbase of the Xtracycle and steel frame, I was very comfortable. It rides like a limousine moped.

Victor in Vancouver

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Old 06-28-08, 12:24 PM   #10
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I just got off the phone with Jerry the vendor from GWEV (http://www.gwev.com/). I purchased the kit on Thursday and installed it on Friday night.

He assures me that the box is indeed labeled correctly as a BL36. He says these are the new 2008 BL36 which just arrived from Wilderness Energy last week and are indeed brushless. He stated that the installation manual and FAQ are incorrect.

I asked him if they even carried the BD36 (in case there was a packaging error). He said no. He said they only carried the BL36. I asked him why they did not carry the BD36. He replied the brushed motors are old technology and they don't desire to carry it.

So there I am. At this point, I have really no idea what I have. He encouraged me to call Wilderness Energy if I had any further questions but he is satisfied that they only carry BL36 and what I have is indeed a BL36.

Is there a way for me to check the controller to see what I have?
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Old 06-28-08, 07:15 PM   #11
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Completed bike so far

Here is the completed bike this morning.




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Old 06-28-08, 07:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puppypilgrim View Post
I just got off the phone with Jerry the vendor from GWEV (http://www.gwev.com/). I purchased the kit on Thursday and installed it on Friday night.

He assures me that the box is indeed labeled correctly as a BL36. He says these are the new 2008 BL36 which just arrived from Wilderness Energy last week and are indeed brushless. He stated that the installation manual and FAQ are incorrect.

I asked him if they even carried the BD36 (in case there was a packaging error). He said no. He said they only carried the BL36. I asked him why they did not carry the BD36. He replied the brushed motors are old technology and they don't desire to carry it.

So there I am. At this point, I have really no idea what I have. He encouraged me to call Wilderness Energy if I had any further questions but he is satisfied that they only carry BL36 and what I have is indeed a BL36.

Is there a way for me to check the controller to see what I have?
I don't know the product at all, but I have experience with brushed and brushless motors. Brushed motors use two wires, positive and negative. Brushless motors require THREE wires. The controller generates three pulses timed at 120 degree intervals. There must be a connector between the controller and motor. If it is 2 pin, you have a brushed motor, if 3 pin, you have brushless.

Eric
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Old 06-29-08, 12:03 AM   #13
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Thank you Eric! That is a definitive way to check and I will do so and report my findings.

As another update, my hub is creaking and I don't know why. Speed is addictive and practical as I was able to transport my family on 2 separate trips today.
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Old 06-29-08, 01:29 PM   #14
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Creaking? Check the spoke tension. I have a WE BL36 kit and had trouble with spokes loosening at first. The rims that they use are so heavy & strong that spoke tension has less effect on trueness than on other wheels, so you might not notice loose spokes by the usual brake-rub.
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Old 06-29-08, 06:39 PM   #15
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What make you think your motor is BD36?
Is your motor instant start or pedal start"?
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Old 06-29-08, 06:43 PM   #16
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My motor is instant start. Not pedal start.
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Old 06-29-08, 06:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwainedibbly View Post
Creaking? Check the spoke tension. I have a WE BL36 kit and had trouble with spokes loosening at first. The rims that they use are so heavy & strong that spoke tension has less effect on trueness than on other wheels, so you might not notice loose spokes by the usual brake-rub.
Can someone detail a quick spoke tension procedure?

Thanks,
Victor
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Old 06-30-08, 08:11 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricJ View Post
I don't know the product at all, but I have experience with brushed and brushless motors. Brushed motors use two wires, positive and negative. Brushless motors require THREE wires. The controller generates three pulses timed at 120 degree intervals. There must be a connector between the controller and motor. If it is 2 pin, you have a brushed motor, if 3 pin, you have brushless.

Eric
Eric is right.

Brushless motors require THREE wires for the motor windings.
If it is instant start, there will be another 5 small wires for the HALL sensors signals and supply.
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Old 06-30-08, 10:17 PM   #19
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The BL36 supposedly cannot do more than 20mph, how fast can you go by yourself?

However the BL36 is supposedly "greatly improved for 2008" so they may have switched motors/vendors. Is anything stamped on your hub?

Look at the pattern difference on the 2007 motors:

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Old 06-30-08, 11:54 PM   #20
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Great instructions and excellent installation.
Like you, I thought my kit was a BD36 simply due to the wire break-out on the right side and instant start. My vendor explained that the motor was upgraded to 600w in 2007 which also moved the wire breakout to the right side but the instructions were not changed.

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Old 07-01-08, 12:24 AM   #21
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Identifying a BL36 hub motor cable

So I heard back from Wilderness Energy. Like other posters here, they suggested checking the hub motor cable to see if it is a two prong (BD) or three prong (BL). The following is a picture of what mine looks like:



Note the black cable on the left. It has 3 prongs for the BL's 3-phase brushless motor. A BD will only have 2-prongs. Note that the cable prongs are not identical to the included installation instructions or owner's manual.

From this I deduce that I indeed have a BL36 which is more efficient but slower than a BD. It is however, plenty fast for me. It has a greater range than the BD. Most of the time, I ride with my wife and daughter. Tonight I was able to run out to the video store and around the neighborhood by myself. It was a fantastic blast as I cycled in the top gear of my middle chainring and alternated between peddling, peddling with throttle and just periods of just throttle alone cruising the neighborhood with a stiff breeze in my face after daytime temps. of 30*C.

What a fantastic feeling of freedom, bliss and harmony!

Having ridden the BL36 for 3 days now. I would say that the wheel comes poorly constructed with spokes that are not tight enough resulting in squeaking and creaking. Be prepared to tighten spokes and tweak the wheel or have someone do it for you.

Here are a few more pics from different angles. Since these pics were taken, I have replaced the colored bungee cords with black rubber straps. And yes, I faithfully plug the charger in even if its just a ride around the block.







Thank you everyone for all your help! You have all been most helpful in helping a newbie deal with this kit.
For those who are considering whether to electrify or not to electrify, I highly recommend it. You don't have to use the e.assist if you don't want to but every time there is a hill, a head wind or you want to get somewhere in a hurry, there is no substitute for e.assist.

Last edited by puppypilgrim; 07-01-08 at 12:28 AM.
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Old 07-01-08, 12:40 AM   #22
BroadwayJoe
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You got the bug! Motors in spoke wheels always need attention 1st few miles. Nature of all those forces working on threaded components. Very happy for you - enjoy the great ride.
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Old 07-01-08, 02:18 AM   #23
The7
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Yes, it is a bushless motor with Hall sensors.
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Old 07-01-08, 12:43 PM   #24
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2008 Wilderness Energy BL36 installation

Yes The7. I am very glad to to find that it is indeed a brushless kit - exactly what I wanted. The acceleration is very strong and not what I would consider weak. I can't imagine what a BD must feel like! Or a brushed geared hub.

For the sake of other installing the kit and SEARCH purposes, I am going to summarize installation points with the Wilderness kit.

2008 Wilderness Energy BL36 installation tips

1. First, check the cable coming out of the hub motor. If it is a two prong, then its a BD. If it is a 3 prong, it is a BL. Verify this before continuing.

2. Second, the instructions in the kit are incorrect (and will continue to be so until they revise it). For a 3-prong BL hub motor, the motor cable needs to be mounted on the right fork (as you sit on the seat facing forward). The instructions say a BL should come out on the left side. This was correct for models prior to 2008 apparently. 2008 is what Wilderness Energy says is greatly improved.

3. The BL36 now features instant start. It will start from a standstill without needing the bike to be moving 3 mph or more.

4. There is a spark when you first connect the battery pack to the controller. The FAQ is wrong.
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