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Old 08-16-06, 03:27 PM   #51
Wavshrdr
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The Mini is a real blast. I cruised around on lunch today. To save money I park farther from work at a cheap parking lot. Parking is pretty expensive in downtown and I can save almost $100 (or more) a month if I just park at a more distant parking lot!

So based on the cost savings alone to park farther away, I can pay for the Mini in short order even if I just do it during the summer time. Winters are a bit severe here at times to ride and it can be -20F or colder and pretty windy. Still 7-8 months out of the year is a substantial cost savings. I’ve biked to work quite a few times on my folder and if it wasn’t for this one really big hill on the way home I’d do it more often.

At the end of the day the last thing I want is a 3.5 mile long hill when I am tired from work. The rest of the commute is very nice along a river and some quiet farmland. What makes the hill worse is the cars that are in close proximity spewing their gases out while they labor up the hill. So instead of the cars passing me quickly they are working hard, going slower and dumping out more fumes just as my body is working harder and trying to take in more oxygen. I practically choke all the way up the hill. If I try to avoid it, I have to ride about an additional 2.5 miles out of my way minimum.

So a little Mini or DT with a motor would be an awesome combo. I am currently doing the motor on one of my old DTs. It is not a great platform for it in some ways as I am gearing limited. Basically I have to work with the 14T sprocket of the motor working on the sprockets of the rear. This does give me the advantage of having the derailleur gearing help me out but my top speed is very limited by the 20” tire on the rear.

This isn’t an issue with the internal hub where I have a 1:1 ratio on first gear with the SA hub. So even though my rear sprocket on the SA hub is twice as big as the derailleur’s smallest gear, I end up with a taller top gear because of how the SA works.

So for me the SA is almost the ideal hub to use with an electric assisted bike that has a 20” or 16” wheel and using an external motor. I can keep my internal hub that I love and still have tall enough gearing so that I can cruise at about 20mph on the flats with the motor. Of course cruising speed and range are intertwined and I do give up some hill climbing ability because of the taller gearing but with the 500W motor that isn’t much of an issue. Running a SLA battery setup I can get about 25 miles between charges.
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Old 08-16-06, 03:46 PM   #52
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So according to the cyclone website, you're adding as much as 26lbs. to the bike with SLAs? How is the quality of the wheel? Do you make them yourself?
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Old 08-16-06, 03:56 PM   #53
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If you go with SLA batteries they aren’t the lightest but they are cheap per KWh. You don’t need to use really big ones either depending on how much assist you want. The Cyclone motor just goes on a bracket underneath the frame or wherever you want. You don’t need to build a wheel. That is what I like about it as I can use it on virtually any bicycle drivetrain. You put the motor’s sprocket in series with your front and rear chainrings and away you go.

You could build a pack out of NiMH yourself quite easily or buy a pre-built pack. I didn’t want to spend too much until I determined if the motor was a good option. The motor rocks is all I can say! So as time and finances permit I’ll build a NiMH pack myself from big cells such as D or F and build a 10Ah or 12-13Ah pack. You can buy pre-built packs as well if you want from a variety of vendors and you’d need a charger.

The beauty of the SLA is they are cheap and any home car battery charger will charge them. Just don’t drain them too low.

Riding it you don't notice the weight that much if you have it stable. I have a QR connector to take the batteries of the bike quickly while in the tail trunk. Then if I do have to carry it up stairs its not too bad. I use pretty small SLA batteries as I only use it for the assist I need and to not run all the time. Even then it will go a long ways.

I think electric folders could be an amazing market and based on the personal emails I have already received today there is a lot of interest on this forum about it.
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Old 08-16-06, 05:42 PM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
The Cyclone motor just goes on a bracket underneath the frame or wherever you want. You don’t need to build a wheel.
Oh duh, that's right; I saw the pic. (I was thinking about the Crystalite hubs when I was writing.)

Good info, Wav, as always. Was wondering if you could comment on some more areas:

- How's the waterproofness of the wiring? Also any issues with disconnection while riding (entanglement in shoes, etc.)?
- The engine mount seems rather low; what would you estimate is the clearance using 406 wheels?
- Do they use a specialized bottom bracket?
- Any issues with engine performance in inclement weather?
- Notice any drag with the extra pulley system?

It also seems as if you can only use one chainring up front in order to align the chainring with the sprocket (no big deal), but is the sprocket on the motor replaceable?

Thanks for some good stuff.
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Old 08-16-06, 08:10 PM   #55
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No issues with waterproofing though I haven't road it in a monsoon yet.

Connectors seem pretty good and I have ridden through puddles with no issues. The motor isn't really that low though if you were bunny hopping up a curb I'd want to jump a bit more to make sure you don't hit the motor. I'd say it is about 4-5 inches off the ground.

Pulley system has minimal drag when not running. Basically freewheels like an idler wheel. It isn't noticable when it isn't running other than the weight of the system. You notice that mostly if going up hills or if you had the batteries mounted too high. Uphill isn't an issue as that is when you use the motor.

No problem to run dual chainrings up front if you want. You could mount it to their sprocket if you want. I don't see the need for it personally. Gear it tall and use the motor assist on hills to compensate for lack of lower gear inches. I don't even use their freewheeling hub as mentioned earlier. I don't mind pedaling along with the system anyway.

An ideal setup would be a SRAM Dual Drive system. Great gear ranges but I like the cleanliness of an internal hub setup. It WILL be going on the VIIIH soon as I can transfer stuff over.

I am going to a slightly different batter setup too. I am mounting my batteries on a special rack I am making to keep the CG very low. I am also going to make a battery cart out of my BOB trailer. I will use quick disconnects on the BOB to the pack as well. This will be a great touring setup. I could put 2 decent sized SLA batteries on there for cheap and have a 60+ mile range. I can easily disconnect the BOB and the batteries when not in use. It would be my little power cart. I could zip to the grocery store and come back fully loaded. Disconnect the cart and put it away when done. I'd add a few pounds to the bike when not using the battery but not enough to worry about.

As time and money permit I will work on a LiON and NiMH packs. I recently received a bunch of LiON batteries for free that I can experiment with.

Keep in mind that if you build a custom pack, the controller has a wide tolerance of voltage. They are spec'd at 24V DC but it will take up to 30V with no issues. I am not suggesting you do that but...if you add a few cells they will help with the "sag" that almost all packs experience once they have lost their surface charge. You sort of lose that "freshly charged" feeling. Add 2-4 cells and they will perform very well. Even after you have used the pack for a while the motor will still be getting 24V while under load.
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Old 08-17-06, 02:01 AM   #56
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Electric assisted folding bikes have never really caught on the UK due to their weight - which is a major drawback for multi-modal use. If you don't have to carry the bike any distance, it would be a boon for certain users.

Last edited by Fear&Trembling; 08-17-06 at 02:25 AM.
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Old 08-17-06, 11:07 AM   #57
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F&T - I understand that weight can be a drawback on multi-mode. However with electric assist you can be a lot less dependent on other forms of transport if you have decent range. Ideally the motor with a LiON pack would still be pretty light (under 17kg) and while it isn’t super light, it would be workable for many people. If you are willing to go with less range, then I am looking at adding about 4kg to the bikes original weight.

I am looking at making a “battery tube” for my cells. I will bundle a bunch of 10Ah D cells to make a pack. I would need 20 of them. I could also go with AA sized batteries which are about 2.5Ah capacity at the moment. This (AA battery solution) would make for a bike that would give me the assist when I needed it but not have a super long range totally on batteries. This would make for a very lightweight pack as well.

Start with a light bike like the Mini and it is a very workable package. I could be pretty close to a 15kg electric folder with decent range.
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Old 08-17-06, 12:09 PM   #58
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I also don't think electric folders are ideal for multi-mode either, but that seems to be the point.

In a highly urban environment with a good bus/train system, you don't need an assist, esp. when everything you need is only a couple miles away in town. In suburbia (depending on which one of course), an occasional 20mph boost is a boon when you need to be somewhere at a certain time. I'm all for human power, but I see electric assist as valuable when it comes to pulling heavy items such as our pedicab; others have tried it with velomobiles as well. They are also useful if your job requires you to dress well but you don't have a "changing room" at work, which is my wife and sister's case.

I like the BOB trailer idea because it could carry the majority of the battery weight and can be removed. I'm even wondering if it would be possible to install a small solar panel as well to help recharge the battery packs, or is that overkill?

I like the BionX system because it can be recharged while riding, but you have to use its proprietary wheel. I also like the Stokemonkey, but it is expensive and only fits larger-framed bikes. In any case, battery technology seems to be the major limiting factor to making electric assist a viable alternative for many people. That and some people's aversion to sweating.
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Old 08-17-06, 01:15 PM   #59
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I have no changing room at work and I have to wear at minimum "business casual" clothes if not a tie. I wasn't that big of a fan until I tried a system for a while. It made a believer out of me.

As for the regen of the BionX, it sound great in theory but doesn't help that much in practice. The use of their hub kills it for me. With the external motor setup it is quite easy to remove it when you don't want it. I'll post some pics later of it on a DT VIIIFS.

The more your riding deviates from flats, the more useful it will be. I also like the extra kick when taking off from stops and getting back up to cruising speed more quickly. This has a huge effect on my average speed and reduces my sweating a lot.

If you use it as an assist rather than running totally on the motor, you could easily go about 30 miles or so with the batteries I have. On total batteries it depends on how fast you want to go but 15-20 miles is pretty easy if you help it and pedal from a stop a bit. One big advantage of the Cyclone kit is it takes advantage of your rear gears. I could go up hills on a Cyclone equipped bike totally on motor alone where the BionX would not move me up the hill at all.

I agree that with a heavy bike weight it is counter to multi-mode commuting but with the motor I don't need to rely on it as much. For me total weight in the 35-40 lb range is workable in a multi-mode commuting environment. Going to work on the electric bike is just about as fast as biking to the bus stop and taking the bus. It sometimes is quicker. Coming home it is always quicker as I have to wait 10-15 minutes extra for the bus to come to my stop.
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Old 09-11-06, 07:53 PM   #60
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Downtube Mini versus Sweet Pea

Some of these posts have alluded to the Downtube Mini as being superior to the Sweet Pea. As far as components and gearing, this is probably true, I'm not a bike-ologist. However, in terms of size and ease. it seems the Sweet Pea could be better. I am merely looking for something to travel on flat ground for short distances and being only 5 feet tall need something smaller. I already have a Dahon Helios P8 and don't feel stable on it, the center of gravity feels off and I feel like I can't handle the bike well. Anyone have any thoughts?
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Old 09-11-06, 11:06 PM   #61
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I'd buy the DT Mini over a Sweat Pea any day. They are vastly different bikes. One major disadvantage to the SP is the 14" tires. Total lack of good tire choices. The SP has a very low weight capacity as well but if you are 5' even I hope you don't weigh over 165 or you've exceeded the load capacity of the SP. Brakes are better on the DT Mini and it has rear suspension.

If you can live with only 1 gear, poor ride, not carry any load and have a not very versatile bike, then the SP might work for you. This isn't to say it is a bad bike, just a VERY narrowly focused one that you might quickly tire of. I couldn't even get my kids to try one in the shop. It looked too much like a toy but it was cheap.

How about another thought, rather than buy a SP, think about a Xootr kick scooter. If you are going such short distances and you are envisioning only a single speed bike, a Xootr would be a great option and easier to carry and darn near as fast.
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Old 09-11-06, 11:59 PM   #62
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Sweet Pea

Thank you for your input Wave. I was hoping you would reply as I read and appreciated your review of the Downtube Mini. The key in your reply was that the Sweet Pea looks like a toy. I definitely don't want a toy. I'll buy the Mini.
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Old 09-12-06, 12:12 AM   #63
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http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f1...G1198Small.jpg[IMG]
Hello WAV. I have to say that the more I ride the mini, the more that I am excited about owning it! The few complaints that I had in the beginning are now far outweighed by the positives, and the riding position that I have now dialed in is so comfy! I can ride it long distances like my other full size touring bikes, and the responsive steering and handling are great as well. I'll take it with me to Eastern Europe, where I'll be for the next six months, so I imagine I'll have ample opportunities to really test it out (even though it'll be going into winter...). The gearing of the SA really suits the bike well, and hopefully the new shifter I ordered will solve some of my gear slipping problems (mostly in 6th and 7th). Anyway, it's my first folder, and I feel like I made a great choice. Now, I'll have to struggle to keep my wife from taking it away from me when she sees it for the first time (she has the DT VIII) in the next couple of weeks! It's true that people (especially teenagers) seem to love this bike when I pass by, and I see a lot of smiling faces in my mirror.
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Old 09-12-06, 12:36 AM   #64
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Finally figured out how to do this!
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Old 09-20-06, 04:26 PM   #65
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Got My Mini Today

Got the Mini today. It is just as many of you have said, it handles very easily and is so much better suited for my 5'0" height and female frame. Folding was fairly intuitive. I prefer the size of this to the Dahon Helios P8 as it feels more maneuverable, the Dahon now feels too big, I wonder if that is why it felt unstable.

The shifting I suspect will need to be adjusted, gears seem to be sliding this way and that, I am waiting for my "consultation" so that I can figure out how to adjust the gears. The website mentions some yellow lines that need to be adjusted and I can't find any yellow lines anywhere.

Anyway, it is clear that this is a bike that I can take for much longer distances, like for a daytrip somewhere, whereas, I think I'll use my new Mobiky for the parking lot to the office ride, or from the office to get lunch run.

Did any of the more novice types among you still feel you needed to get a bike shop to adjust your folding bikes, and does the typical bike shop know how to do this?
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Old 09-20-06, 04:47 PM   #66
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Crankypants,

How many miles were you riding the Mini daily? Were you confortanly riding it? What about performance, was it really slow?

My girlfriend is 5'10" @ 136Lbs, I'm affraid this bike may be to tiny for her...but i want it so bad that she MUST LIKE it!!
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Old 09-20-06, 04:55 PM   #67
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I ride my mini between 10-15 miles daily. It is quite zippy, especially with my Big Apples. Overall, I probably end up going slower than on my normal road bikes, but I never feel like my wheels are dragging or slowing me down, and I could easily ride this bike 100 miles and not feel like I had to work much harder than on my other bikes. This is mostly due to the riding position that I have dialed in, but the combination of tires, suspension, and sprung saddle make this one of my more cush riding bikes.
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Old 09-20-06, 05:50 PM   #68
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RG, repaint the frame her favorite color. The only downside is that she won't let you ride it.
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Old 09-20-06, 06:07 PM   #69
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I'm strongly considering getting a Mini for her and an upgrade on my merc with the money from my Giant Halfway. I may sell my Merc and get 2 Minis. It seems that the 2 official super models for downtube are getting back to downtube bikes...Or should I get a FS with a Hub? Or maybe a Stealth black Mini for me?Where is Yan? My mini will me called Mini Mu (Mu is my pet Sugar Glider).
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Old 09-20-06, 06:11 PM   #70
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Now, the real question once again:

Can we pack a DTMini into an internationally accepted luggage without any disassembling?
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Old 09-20-06, 06:20 PM   #71
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Cranky Pants- Where did you find the 16" Big Apples at? Even a Google search isn't pulling it up for me.

Marman
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Old 09-20-06, 06:37 PM   #72
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Adjusted my Downtube Mini, why is it more stable?

I received my "consultation" a personal call with the apparent owner of the company (Downtube) who guided me through the few minute process of adjusting the gear hub thingee. It sure is unusual to get that kind of personal customer service.

I don't know what it is about this bike that makes it feel so stable, if it is merely the size or the design or a combination? On the Brompton SL series I test rode, the front wheel and front of the bike seemed to almost float, so that it felt unstable. It felt like if I hit a small pebble I'd go flying over the handlebars. I've already ragged on the Dahon sufficiently in previous posts. This bike feels solid as a rock and its cute. I recommend it for short women particularly.

The problem with buying a folding bike is that there aren't a lot of folding bike stores where you can test ride them. So you are forced to buy online and then risk buying a bike that isn't suited for you. I hope I can find someone to buy my Dahon Helios P8, I hope this is a popular model.
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Old 09-20-06, 06:47 PM   #73
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Stealth. Can't see the bike, can you?
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Old 09-20-06, 08:22 PM   #74
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The more I ride this thing, the more I love it. All my gripes are gone about the suspension, this bike is the second most comfortable ride in my stable (after my Softride). And did I mention fast? I thought that these Big Apples were comfort tires, but they roll! I bought them from a fellow member : www.thorusa.com
If I could only have one bike........introducing (Bigz Mini)


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Old 09-20-06, 08:36 PM   #75
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