|"Thinking Outside the Four-Wheeled Box"
For those who haven't been following, our intrepid Anne-Sophie has successfully covered thousands of kilometers through Chile and Argentina on her handmade touring unicycle. Other than a few crashes and rough patches, the trip has been a delight of amazing sights and experiences, rendered more interesting by the many locals and friendly travelers on similar journeys.
On the subject of tours, both Justin and Robbie are preparing to ride a pair of electric Edgerunner cargo bikes down to San Francisco during the first 2 weeks of May. Along the way we'll be meeting up with a number of ebike enthusiasts and businesses dotting the west coast. The trip will be detailed in this endless-sphere thread, and if you are en-route and want to be a part of the adventure or offer up some shelter and charging outlets, then drop us a line.
The bikes that we are riding down are equipped with all kind of projects that we've been developing: from weight optimized direct drive thru-axle hub motors to programmable 95% efficient universal chargers, to field oriented sine wave motor controllers. And one item that we're really keen to put through its paces is the 2nd generation right side drive Stokemonkey.
We had anticipated releasing the new Stokemonkey earlier this year, but as we worked on it we noticed an opportunity to include an integrated torque sensing capability as well. This redesign enables proportional pedal assist modes and human power readouts without the need for a special THUN bottom bracket, and will hopefully be worth the wait.
We are registered as "EV Grins" at the Bay Area maker faire, May 18-19th. As part of this we're trying to encourage a small gathering of DIY ebike builders who can make it to participate and show up with their home-brew ebike build. In addition to the custom Edgerunner builds we'll be riding down, we've also got a weight activated power skateboard and a continuously variable geared electric assist unicycle.
We're now making a 3-speed handlebar switch preconfigured for the V3 Cycle Analyst with internal resistors to switch between 1.6, 2.5, and 3.3V. This plugs into the Auxiliary input of the CA, and can be configured for low, medium, and high power modes, or it can be set up to automatically change between any preconfigured mode presets. It's a super handy way to quickly customize your ebike's behavior.
We've also got a new mounting option available for the Cycle Analyst that attaches directly to the steer tube of a 1 1/8" bicycle. So for those with threadless headsets on their bikes this can provide a clean, centered, and theft-proof attachment point.
We just unloaded a large shipment from eZee that replenishes all the front and rear eZee kits, in addition to the spare 144 hole hubs. The motors in this shipment were all made with thinner steel laminations, with a measurable improvement in efficiency over the first release of their V2 hub, and almost a 50% reduction in the no-load motor current.
Our next Crystalyte shipment has unfortunately faced months of setbacks, but is now scheduled to arrive around May 15th. Two things to note: first we've decided to completely replace the larger 5403 motor with the new "Crown" hub, which should offer comparable power levels but with less weight and standard 135mm axle spacing. Secondly, all of these motors will now include a built in thermistor, so that anyone can monitor and limit their motor temperature easily with a V3 Cycle Analyst.
Of interest to those who are pushing the nominal power ratings on their hub motors, we started a set of experiments last month to understand and quantify the heat buildup and thermal dissipation properties of hub motors and the effects of different cooling strategies. Things were just getting interesting when we had to pause for trip preparation, but we plan to resume the experiments and get a wider set of results in June.
People have been making clever use of our in-house CNC'd twist battery anchor rails to secure their eZee batteries in ways that otherwise weren't very practical, such as this in-frame mount by Ross in Delta BC.
We're now producing a black anodized version of the rail, and have separated the rail and the clamp blocks as separate items for those who just need one or the other. With these rails, you can easily add 2 or 3 lockable batteries to your carrier rack, perhaps even 5 packs if your rack could take it!
Just a short shout-out to some people who have helped us recently. Thank you to Eliza, a former engineering physics classmate who just finished a 2 month stint here in between her outdoors ed program. And thanks also to Abraham of Glow Worm Cycles in Australia, who came to visit for a week in April and helped us restore our cargo trike back to life.
Soon we'll be saving our biggest thanks of all to Adam, who has done a phenomenal job running the shipping and operations side of Grin Tech for the past 4 years. He'll be leaving town in July to be closer to family, and that's going to leave some big shoes to fill here at Grin. We will start formally looking for candidates early next month and will welcome email suggestions in the meantime.
Anne-Sophie has handled all of our admin and accounting for the past 3 years in addition to running the little unishop here. However, last month she took off for what will surely be the adventure of a lifetime, attempting to ride a custom-made touring unicycle across South America, from the tip of Patagonia heading north to Santiago, Chili, and possibly beyond.
For those interested in following the trip, have a look at the monocyclette.ca website, which has a map with GPS tracker that is updated with daily locations. With 80+ kph headwinds and plenty of long stretches of gravel road, it's been off to a great start!
While we can never match An'So's knowledge and passion for unicycle know-how, we will do our best to keep the unicycle shop stocked and in good form until she gets back in June or July.
After a successful design rollout with the Edgerunner bikes, we're now making a universal version of the clever 'twist' battery rail concept that will allow you to attach the eZee flat battery to almost any bike rack or structure.
With this rail adapter, you have a more versatile option than the eZee racks to mechanically lock the battery to your bike. The flexible clamp blocks can secure tightly to rack tubes from 4mm up to 12mm in diameter and at any angle. You can attach it horizontally on top of the rack and the battery sits up 15mm leaving enough space for panier hooks on the side. Or, you can clamp them on the side, leaving room for a trunk bag on top or giving you the option of having 2 or 3 batteries all locked to the rack.
With the twisting rather than sliding action to engage the rail, the battery can also fit in areas that otherwise don't have clearance for a battery to slide in and out. And once the battery is locked in place, it covers up the fasteners that holds the clamps together, so that even a thief equipped with tools wouldn't be able to take it off.
We mentioned the 2nd generation Stokemonkey motor last year thinking it would just be a short while before getting the remaining hardware piece sorted out with CleverCycles in order to re-release the kit. But then something unexpected happened. Partway through this process we worked out an elegant use of the motor on a right-hand drive with a Patterson crankset in a way that doesn't force the cranks to turn. Here it is on one of the Edgerunner prototypes:
So the complete Stokemonkey kit is now getting a hardware redesign in order to accommodate both classic left side AND freewheeling right side installations. We don't expect the full package to be ready until late March or early April now, but we have listed the motors only for sale for people either making a DIY mount or replacing the motor on an existing Stokemonkey setup.
And on that note, while the Stokemonkey really shines in assist with cargo bikes, it's not confined to that role. Paul Brodie recently built a sporty suspenion bike using the Stokemonkey motor mounted mid-frame along with a THUN torque sensor for throttle-free control. If you want to see a metal craftsman at work, have a look at the build sequence CycleEXIF website.
The completed ebike will be on display at the NAHBS 2013 Handmade Bike Show in Colorado this weekend.
We've now got a range of common Xtracycle accessories on hand for those wanting to more fully deck out their Edgerunner bikes, foot rests and wideloaders and even the front Bread Basket.
And while we still have some quantity of eZee hub motor Edgerunners left, we expect them to be out of stock well before the next shipment comes in. So if you are waiting until spring to purchase, be aware that they could be sold out until much later in the summer.
The latest update to the Version3 Cycle Analyst firmware includes a lot of additional functionality, with auto-cruise control, enhanced PAS modes, remote preset mode selection, more intuitive display screens and some bug fixes too. We expect this to be the last 'Beta' firmware and plan to make the official V3.00 release code in the coming weeks.
This year has been a solid one for us and we want to thank all the great customers from all over the world who have made that happen. Below is a world map showing the destination of every outgoing shipment that we sent in 2012. Can you find yourself? Surprised at how many others in your city are fellow Grinners too? (The longitudinal resolution is cropped a bit to preserve anonymity).
Things have clearly come a long way from our manual pin map of 2007, and it's fascinating to see what a global phenomenon the DIY electric bike scene has grown into.
Let's keep that trend alive and healthy, as the world slowly comes to realize that ebikes are the answer to so many of our future troubles.
We hope everyone gets to enjoy a great holiday too. We will be open this Saturday, Dec 22nd, from 12:00-5pm for anyone wanting to get parts for their winter build projects or get in on the Christmas specials. That will also be the last day to pick up one of the new Xtracycle Edgerunner ebikes this year. After that the shop will be closed until Jan 3rd 2013.
In additional to the cosmetic defect rear LED lights mentioned last week, we've got a whole new stash of miscellaneous motors, batteries, controllers, lights, and Cycle Analysts which are priced to sell. Adam has compiled all of these on the endless-sphere For Sale forum where they are available first come first serve.
There are a lot of goodies under the Grin Tech Christmas tree this winter. Maybe you’ll want one too?
First and foremost is that 16 months after starting a project partnership with Naked Bikes, Xtracycle, and eZee, we have at last available for sale the Xtracycle Edgerunner electric utility bike.
The Edgerunner carries an impressive amount of cargo and passenger capacity with the Xtracycle longtail rear end, yet it still maintains an attractive and familiar bicycle aesthetic, and it handles like a regular bike too. The V2 eZee motor in the 20” rear wheel hides discretely under the saddle bags and provides ample hill climbing capability, while a high capacity 36V or 48V battery tucks neatly under the deck without resorting to a proprietary frame-mounted battery module.
We've been hesitant about dealing in turn-key ebikes in the past, but for us this one hits all the right marks and truly brings out the best of what an ebike can offer. We have the hub motor electric version available now in 3 different colour options, and are hard at work preparing a Stokemonkey variant with a Nuvinci rear hub for release in early 2013. They're listed here, on a new section of our store site.
Along with the shipment of Edgerunner bikes came a resupply of the 36V 9Ah LiFePO4 and 48V 10Ah LiMn batteries, carrier racks, and other kits (like 700c rear) that were out of stock. For the batteries, we're committed enough to this design that we have written a full spec sheet and user manual for each model, click on image for full details.
We acquired a large CNC milling center for our shop this summer, and now that we know how to use it a whole world of possibilities has opened up. Among the first things we tackled was a redesign of our front LED array light molds, now renamed the Grin ElectroLights. The new model is still rugged, waterproof, and capable of running from 15-100V, but now uses a proper mounting bracket rather than zip ties for attachment, looks better, and is $10 cheaper as well.
The first production batches are hot off the press, (or epoxy curing oven, to be more precise) in time for your holiday wish list.
We've also retooled the Cycle Lumenator lights with a new lens that provides a sharper beam focus, helping to project the light further down the road while reducing the amount of beam glare above the horizon and into oncoming traffic. Both the standard and multi-mode Lumenator lights have been updated with the new lens standard and are available now.
While on the subject of lights, we've got a pile load of our popular rear LED lights with various cosmetic defects that have accumulated over the years. Some have residue of the silicone mold stuck to the surface, others have visible air bubbles in the casting, others have too much or not enough die in the resin, and others are the result of us playing around with new manufacturing techniques. These are all perfectly functional with a lifetime guarantee, bright but not blinding, the perfect tail light for your 24V, 48V, 72V, or even 96V ebike. We’re selling them for $20 apiece, maximum 2 per person.
It’s no secret that there are a lot of things that can (and do) go wrong with electric bicycles. In fact, we spend considerably more time helping people troubleshoot and solve problems than we do selling or making stuff. Adam has been busy summarizing some of the more frequent issues with a series of formal troubleshooting guides that can help identify common failures and do basic repair work. Have a look, from motor hall replacement to identifying shorted controller mosfets, plus DIY connector pinout guides and crimping instructions.
One thing that helps in the service and repair business is having the right tools. After going through a multitude of different crimping tools for the JST-SM connector used in all the signal wires of an ebike system, we finally found one with a precise wire-EDM cut die that does perfect crimps every time. This has been such a joy to use in our own repair work that we purchased a few case loads of them to offer to our DIY inclined customers as well, on our Misc. Parts page. It’s one item you’ll be glad to have in the tool box.
We've also dyno tested and modeled some lightweight (< 2.5kg) geared motors which are now on the simulator, including the Cute Q100 and a couple windings of Tongxin motor. It’s been on our mind for many years to have something in the small and light category for those who are only after 200-300 watts of assist. Whether one of these fits the bill is too early to say, but those who want to be on the on the early testing front can contact us for samples.
In our last Crystalyte shipment we brought it some of the very large 5400 series Crystalyte motors at the request of several customers. These motors are tanks, designed for 150mm rear dropouts, and their 13.5kg (27lb) mass means they can handle significant power levels for long periods of time before overheating.
The hubs are on our simulator, and have been modeled in CAD as well. We only have a handful left from this order available both independently or as part of a kit with a 40A 72V controller.
Some people love the rain, some people don't mind suiting up head to toe in gortex in order to brave the rain. But for most people, riding in the rain sucks. While recumbent bike riders have had fairings and protection for some time, Veltop from France is the best full cover bike canopy for upright bikes that we have seen.
It's not perfect but it's a step in the right direction, and for those who want to stay mostly dry without suiting up, and who don't mind turning heads everywhere, this can be a fun way to go. Your electric hub negates any extra wind drag of the windscreen. We've got a few extras on hand and have listed them on a new 'cargo/rain' section of the store site.
It's been a year since CleverCycles discontinued the Stokemonkey drive for longtail bikes due to sourcing complications. We've been working behind the scenes with them to bring about a next generation Stokemonkey and are glad to announce a new mid-drive motor that is smoother, 1kg lighter, and better waterproofed than the original.
While there are still some details to sort with the brackets and hardware before the full kit is available again, we do have some motors with cosmetic defects suitable for those doing custom DIY mid-drives. These hubs are already listed on our simulator in two different windings (StokeM08, 09) and fit a single speed freewheel with a bare minimum of axle protrusion. Here is a side view showing key dimensions. Please contact us for details if interested.
We are now offering a torque assist bundle with all of our conversion kits based on the Version3 Cycle Analyst and THUN torque sensing bottom brackets. This allows any ebike kit to have proportional torque pedal assistance, with all the assist settings fully customizable. And unlike any other PAS system it also gives you a readout of your human power output in watts, something previously only available in expensive training power meters that start at $1000. Although the Version3 Cycle Analyst firmware is still in final beta state, we are making the unit generally available now as the hardware and B19 and B20 firmware have been totally solid.
In addition we've made available a number of upgrade and repair parts for advanced users of the Cycle Analyst, such as spare shunts, cable harnesses, mounting brackets etc. all listed on the the recently updated CA store site.
Finally, thanks to those who made it out to the Sooke Slow Food Cycle last month. It was an honour to be invited back to one's hometown in order to spread community awareness about electric bicycles, and to see local towns take increasing interest in low impact transportation alternatives.
And a shout-out to all those in the biz who we ran into or met up with at Interbike. The future is bright.
We've been working hard this year to update our Cycle Analyst line to keep relevant to the rapidly evolving ebike field. This includes big changes to the insides, slight changes to the outsides, and a very much revamped manufacturing process that will help us scale with the growing interest.
The standard Version 2 series of Cycle Analyst has been upgraded to V2.3. While the external operation is nearly identical to the V2.25, the internals are completely redesigned. All units now all come default with a communication cable both, usable not only for datalogging but also firmware upgrades. The change list is explained here.
We're also manufacturing a precision 1.00 mOhm potted shunt as a separate product, which effectively converts a CA-DPS into the Stand Alone Cycle Analyst. When a Stand Alone CA is ordered, you now have a disconnect between the shunt and the CA which can facilitate wiring, and makes it easy to later use your CA as a direct plug-in device should you get a compatible controller.
While we were at it, we also tooled up a custom "Grin Tech" mounting bracket for the Cycle Analyst enclosure that is stiffer than the previous bike light bracket, uses 100% stainless steel fasteners so will not rust, and has a wider clamping range, going all the way down to 7/8" bars and up to 1.5"
Finally, the Cycle Analyst V3 Beta program is ready to ramp up to the next level for wider spread testing, as we have a fresh production run in stock. Please see the special V3 purchase page for details. We also have a good supply of Thun torque sensing bottom brackets with a custom cable harness that lets you install it and plug into a CA without any connector crimping, and are keen to see more riders experiment with a CA V3 pedalec mode.
We've worked with eZee to help make a higher torque version of their geared hub motor, by upgrading to a wider 17mm stator core inside without any change to the external dimensions. This has increased the power and torque capability by almost 30% with only minimal increase in weight. We have the V2 eZee motors now in stock in all 20", 26" and 700c kit sizes and have modeled them on our motor simulator as well.
With June in force, we're extending the regular store hours to include Saturday as well from 12:00-5pm, and will be rotating our crew of staff to have someone knowledgeable on hand.
We’ve also finished making and installing an awesome all aluminum “Grin Technologies” on the building, so those of you trying to find us on the weekends will no longer have to treasure hunt for the little window signage.
The one exception will be Saturday June 23rd, where we will be present at the 2nd annual Vancouver Mini-Maker Faire, this time taking place at the PNE. We had a great time checking out neat projects once again at the San Mateo Fair last month, and look forwards to being a part of the Vancouver event.
One of the things we will have to show at Maker Faire is the infinitely geared Nuvinci unicycle project that Justin built in April/May. The hope is to have this fully electrified in time for the fair as well, after all, what could the world need more than a continuously-geared, chain-driven, electric-assist uni?
For those who've been a bit uncertain about ebike torque arms, when you need them, how to install them, etc. we've completed a long overdue section of our website devoted to this topic. Please have a look and let us know if it covers most all bases you'd want to know about.
Finally, it is with some sadness that pay tribute to Justin's mom Louise, who died unexpectedly in a car accident at the end of May. She was large driving force in many of the ambitious shop and office renovations GRIN has done over the years, volunteering tons of elbow grease and bringing a special touch for all the colours, artwork, and plants that breathe life into a space. We will miss her, but the legacy of her help here will live on.
It's been over a year since we moved to our new shop space in False Creek. Renovations are always ongoing but the last round included a big spring cleaning to organize piles of miscellaneous inventory we'd like to clear. This means lots of bargain goods on our garage sale shelf for those hunting for project parts. The list includes sample and prototype batteries, hub motors, slightly used or scratch & dent CAs and ebike lights, motor controllers and more. Available at the moment for walk-in customers only.
This Friday May 11th we're pleased to be hosting the book release party for Kris Holm's hot-off-the-presses "Essential Guide to Mountain and Trials Unicycling". This is the first comprehensive treatise on modern unicycle technique and skimming through the pages makes you want drop everything and hop on a one-wheeler. Some drinks and snacks will be provided and a good stash of books themselves will be on hand for anyone wanting a copy signed by Kris himself.
We had a booth at the Taipei Bike Show earlier this year and unveiled the Version3 Cycle Analyst device under development. Among other things, this unit can directly connect to a THUN torque sensor, enabling any ebike conversion to have a proportional torque control like BionX. It also features a battery state of charge graphic and a host of new capabilities in the setup menu.
The full details are discussed in the V3 CA endless-sphere thread where we are experimenting with a limited beta release. There will be a more general pilot batch later this month, so those wanting to build a non-proprietary pedalec ebike should stay tuned.
We've also standardized all of our V2.25 CA devices to include a short DC power plug as standard. By default this ships with a protective rubber cap, but if you ever want to connect a Lumenator light, DC-DC converter, or other device that can run off the pack voltage then it couldn't be more convenient to plug in. The power is right there at the CA, no additional wiring required.
We now have dangerous goods training to ship lithium ebike batteries using Fedex air services. Unfortunately this adds a $50 FedEx hazardous material surcharge and about $10 in special packing material, but it does mean we can resume battery-only shipments anywhere in the world. The hazmat shipping is not yet added to our online cart checkout, so for the time being we will send updated quotes over email. We are also working on a solution for ground shipping to the US via a different carrier.
A few shipments came in over the winter adding more motor direct drive motor choices to our collection. The powerful HS35 series from Crystalyte which was previously only in the rear is now available as a front motor as well. They did this while still maintaining 17mm of disk caliper clearance, and a motor exit cable on the axle side rather than the end. We’ve also got our front and rear 20” Crystalyte motors made with an even faster winding choice, the HS3548, to make up for the smaller diameter.
From the Nine Continent shipment, we now brought in the somewhat slower 2808 hub as well. This motor wind has the highest copper fill factor of all the NC hubs (64 strands, vs. 60-63 strands in the other winds) and the slower wind is better suited for those running at high voltages.
Both this hub and the new HS3548 from Crystalyte have been fully modeled and put on our simulator too.
We’re now providing the option of a drilled out side cover for the Nine Continent and Crystalyte motors based on results from our water ingress tests. For people who ride regularly throughout the winter but bring their bikes indoors overnight, this provides the best way to prevent water from getting trapped inside the hub and rusting out both the stator and the hall sensors. We also coat all the exposed iron with Boeshield T9, so that the temporary water that does make it in will evaporate without leaving a trace.
After a lot of design prototypes and field testing we have finished a new torque arm specifically for rear hub motors. This unit is made from thick ¼” stainless steel plate, meaning it can resist axle spinout in even highly overclocked motor axles. And the unique 2-piece design allows it to work with vertical dropouts, horizontal dropouts, machined cavity dropouts, and anything in between. The support arm clears up and above most fender eyelets and includes slots for up to 3 hose clamps for extra security.
While we were at it, we also had a set of spacers made up to help deal with caliper clearance problems that often accompanies disk brake compatibility with Chinese hub motors. This is especially a problem with the Nine Continent hubs that only give ~15mm of space for the caliper. The spacers are 1.6mm thick and either one or two of them can be placed under the disk as required.
If history is any guide, it takes us 12-18 months from releasing a product before we finally get all the documentation and user guides finished. So on that note, we’re pleased to release the first proper revision of the Cycle Analogger owner’s manual. This explains many features that we had built into the device but had not yet advertized, from dual channel temperature sensing to customizing the file names, and other tweaks. Feedback is always welcome.
We’ve had the BMS on both the 36V 14Ah and 48V 10Ah eZee lithium packs upgraded to handle up to 40A of current, meaning that it’s no longer necessary to run two batteries in parallel for high power setups. These packs are all now made with the more premium PP2250 Samsung Cells that are 5C discharge rated, as opposed to the 3C rated cells that were formerly in use.
That said, it is always easier on the packs to have lower current discharges, so running two in parallel is often a good idea. You not only double the range, you increase the longevity of the battery by having lower currents. We have 12g ‘Y’ battery joiner cables in stock using high detent Anderson pins to make parallel arrangements easier.
On a similar note, we’ve also made a standard ‘Y’ splitter for the throttle signal as well, making it straightforward to run two motor systems off a single throttle signal. It’s not everyone who wants to run dual motors, but we help with enough interesting projects running front and rear hubs, or trikes and quadracycles with side-by-side hubs, to make this worth stocking.
It's November, and we're all hoping that you've all recovered from hallowe'en shenanigans and are starting to plan your over-winter electric bicycle build projects. There's nothing quite like rainy days to huddle in the garage and start building a rocking bike for next year. And for us, it's a time to buckle down a bit and focus on original R&D projects for next season too.
We've had lots of wonderful feedback about the 1000 lumen Lumenator light since releasing it last year. But some occasional complaints are that it is too bright to use in areas dense with people, and also that the button could sometimes be hard to push. We've addressed both of these with the new multimode Lumenator, which uses a remote button that lets you turn the the light on and off without taking your hand of the grip, and also lets you cycle through multiple brightness modes.
The first production batch is in final assembly stages and should be available on Nov 21st. They are available to buy on the store site and we've reduced the price of the standard Lumenator too!
It's rare that we get involved with anything political, but then again it's rare that a city is blessed to have a visionary mayor who knows how to deliver on a cycling promise and is willing to shake up the infrastructure to accomodate it. Since starting off with the Burrard Bridge experiment in 2009 to the Hornby and Dunsmuir separated bike lanes, bicycle ridership has increased significantly in the city due to the decisive leadership of Gregor Robertson. And this with the planners still largely unaware of how big of a role electric bicycles will play in the near future to take cycling to even greater masses.
We give Gregor Robertson and the Vision slate a big endorsement in the upcoming Nov 19th municipal election, and we hope that those similarly affected will take the time out to vote. The stakes are rather high with the main challenger threatening to undo much of the progress recently made.
Margot, who has done an amazing job being on the front lines of all of our sales and orders for the past 2 years, is leaving in January for a 6 months volunteer position with a non-profit in Uganda. We would like to thank her for her tireless work making ebikes.ca a friendly place to order from and wish her all the best on her trip.
We are in the midst of a beta release of a CA version that has a variable pulse width (PPM) output instead of a voltage output, allowing it to drive ebikes running with R/C equipment. In a nutshell, you can use a conventional ebike throttle to feed into the CA, and the CA will then drive the RC speed controller with the required 1-2mS servo signal, eliminating the need for servo tester boxes and other 3rd party hardware. Additional details on this endless-sphere thread. We will do another run of beta R/C boards in early September, and have a special page here for ordering.
Thanks to the tireless work of Michael Vass over the previous month, our online simulator has now been fully flushed out as originally intended to model not just hub motors but the complete vehicles as well. Additional upgrades include numeric data readout, vertical cursor bar, range prediction, thermal burn-out time, improved custom parts entry, system compare options, selectable graph lines, and much more.
4 months after ordering them we finally received our shipment of the latest Crystalyte motors, giving more power and proper disk brake compatibility to our Direct Drive motor options. These are described in detail here, along with associated problems people have had to date. We've also received a stock of sensorless Crystalyte controllers modified with proper CA-DP compatibility, allowing power to the hub motor without the need for hall signals. Unlike previous sensorless controllers, these can effectively start from a standstill. Our direct drive kits page has been revamped accordingly to make it easier to build up your ideal customized DIY kit.
It's been a struggle but we have finally succeeded in getting our supply of Infineon based motor controllers modified appropriately to operate with a universal input voltage range. The 20 and 35A models have a 19V cutoff with regen up to 58V, and hence work fine from 24V to 48V packs. Meanwhile the 25 and 40A models with IRFB4110 mosfets work with 36V to 72V batteries, with a 26V cutoff and regen all the way to 88V. No more need to change resistors around to work with different pack voltages. Additional details explained on the controllers page which has recently been revamped.
We've also received a new delivery of twist and half-twist throttles that have a built in momentary push button. We have these wired and terminated such that the button leads simply plug into the ebrake input of our Infineon motor controllers, so that people can use the button to engage regen and not need to change over their brake levers. Handy.
One of the projects Justin completed in time for the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire was a 3 speed geared unicycle based on the Sturmey Archer S3X fix gear internal hub. This was initially done as a proof-of-concept device, but has since proven to be eminently rideable as well. The full build pictures can be seen on the unicyclist forum. The next step in the process is combining this multi-speed pedal gearing with the electric unicycle hub of 2010 and create the ultimate one-wheeled commuter.
Those following business and economics will be aware that China has restricted export quotas on the materials used to make rare-earth magnets, which has caused price increases of 6 fold on Neodymium since the start of this year. That is great news in that rare earth mines all over the world can now open and produce these materials with much better environmental and health standards. However, it does mean that the magnets used in ebike motors are about 3 times as expensive as they used to be, which causes a 50-70% rise in the cost of direct drive hub motors and a somewhat lower rise in the cost of geared motors.
We still have the old prices listed for our remaining 9C motor stock, but as soon as the next shipment arrives in 2 weeks then expect the price on these and the associated 9C based direct drive kits to go up accordingly.
In case people are worried we have fallen off the map with no news updates since February, rest assured this is not the case. Rather things have been so busy setting up our new shop space that there has been little time left for posting on the website. We'll try to summarize all that has gone on with one big update at last (and then get back to work):
We've traditionally been heavily involved activities around June, from the VEVA Electrafest to Car Free Days to Velopalooza and assorted Bike Month events. Unfortunately we've had to bow out of participating in all of these this year. But there is one new event coming to town that we are most excited about and will be a big part of. Vancouver is hosting its very own Maker Faire! We missed travelling down to the San Francisco event in May but will take part in the Vancouver event in a big way. Locals should definitely make a point of coming out to see creative DIY projects of all kinds on display.
Just a heads up that since the announcement of potential strikes at Canada Post last week, we have been automatically upgrading all Canada Post / USPS orders to Fedex ground service for shipments in North America. We will still continue to honor the Canada Post price as quoted on our website for these orders. For overseas shipments, it means we can no longer safely send packages via standard airmail, and customers will have to pay for the Fedex International Priority service instead or wait for the strike to wind down.
We're happy to announce Evan Sandercock, a 15 year old ebike enthusiast from Alberta, as the winner of our Grin Tech logo contest from last winter. His idea of a smiling electrical plug was simple and effectively captured the essence of what we do. After several months of additional doodling and consultation with a professional designer we have shaped it into the logo shown here. Congratulations to Evan who gets $1000 in ebikes.ca store credit, we can't wait to see the projects you do with it.
Those who've followed us over the past 6 years will remember that at various times we've carried multitudes of batteries from many manufacturers in all different voltages, chemistries, and form factors. This has lead to a wealth of firsthand battery experience, sometimes rewarding but mostly filled with hair pulling frustration.
We've decided for this year to simplify things (cut our losses) and just carry 3 battery choices from eZee that have proven dependable so far. The 36V 9Ah LiFePO4 as a standard option, a 36V 14Ah Samnsung LiMn pack for extra range, and 48V 10Ah Samsung LiMn for extra speed. All of these batteries in the same compact eZee flat pack enclosure casing. It's a tight form factor that we like, and there are several rack mounting options to facility secure attachment to the bicycle.
We have purchased a new spoke machine and die set specifically for cutting straight 13 gauge spokes, in order to offer better compatibility with existing ebike spokes that are typically 13g (2.3mm). These are now our standard custom spoke offering (instead of the butted 13/14 Phil Wood spokes we sold before), with Belgium made Sapim stainless steel spokes available in either silver of black oxide. These are a serious improvement over the chinese 13g spokes that Nine Continent use in their wheel builds, and for those wanting a rugged wheel we recommend having the hub relaced.
We had an experimental batch of universal front eZee hub motors made up with 144 spoke holes in the flange. Our idea was that they could be laced into 36 hole rims by using every 4th hole, 48 hole rims by using every 3rd hole, or the common 32 hole rims by alternating spokes every 4th and 5th hole. Or if you have LOTS of time on your hands, they could be laced into the 144 hole chopper rims for a real snazzy wheel. In the past we have only sold eZee motors built into wheels as part of complete kits, but these units are an opportunity for those wanting to purchase just the geared hub motor only, ready to be laced into your custom project. They are available on our eZee store page with both the standard (26") and fast (20") winding options.
The original small screen Cycle Analyst has now been formally discontinued in lieu of exclusively making the Large Screen units. It has been an interesting run for 5 years but the process of machining and retrofitting an off-the-shelf enclosure box to make it hold our circuitry and work on a bike handlebar has run its course. The large screen unit with our custom molded enclosure is better in nearly all regards, and because of the high demand we've been able to drop the price to match what the small screen sold for.
We also changed the standard CA board layout in May with a new regulator that allows the standard CA to operate all the way down to 10V. That makes it now compatible with the many 12V battery systems people may want to monitor (marine, solar, backup, etc.)
At the other end we have also been listening to the performance electric motorbike crowd that keeps demanding dangerously higher and higher voltages. We have increased the standard upper voltage range to 150V instead of 100V, and now offer a high voltage upgrade option that goes all the way to 350V instead of 200V. The chart below summarizes the difference between the Revision11 and previous boards:
We've had occasional feedback that the backlight on the Cycle Analyst can affect night vision for some people when riding in the dark. In order to accommodate those with this sensitivity, we've had the large screen LCD modules retooled to include two sets of LEDs. The standard white LED is connected by default and produces a nice and brightly backlit display. But if that is too much, then a small solder jumper to the pad labeled 'R' will illuminate a dimmer red backlight instead. This still lights up the screen at night, but with a red light that doesn't dilate the pupils.
The firmware for our data logging device has been updated to include two additional analog input lines (0-5V). This means that in addition to the CA data and GPS data, the CycleAnalogger can also record signals for logging other vehicle parameters, such as throttle voltage or motor temperature. A simple configuration file allows the device to directly record temperature from an inexpensive thermistor probe. Details on installing the firmware and using the voltage input lines are included here.
Since going live with the large screen Cycle Analyst earlier this year we've been overwhelmed with the demand and have had a hard time keeping our production and supply chain up. As a result, we've been frequently run out of stock and dealer orders have faced longer than normal lead times. Please accept our apologies for this as we tool up to handle the higher production volumes.
The venerable 400 and 5300 motor series that got so many enthusiasts started on ebikes has now been formally discontinued by Crystalyte (about time some would say!). The good news is that Crystalyte is now producing a new HS/HT motor series that is based on the same efficient motor construction style as Nine Continent, but with much better mechanical fit for bicycle and disk brake compatibility. For a more complete summary of the improvements see the postings on the Endless Sphere thread here.
We sampled these motors in January and have put them up on our simulator. We expect to receive our stock available for purchase in mid-July, and these will be the first bulk batch of sensored HS/HT 35mm motors delivered in North America, so that they will be fully backwards compatible with all the sensored motor controllers.
Infineon Controllers: After our recent shipment vanished in transit, we're still sorting out a situation. Our next batch when it does come will finally have a universal voltage range, so that the same unit can run from 24V to 72V batteries without any need to change resistors on the circuitboard.
eZee batteries: We have had good supply all year of the 3 battery types alluded to above, but the high range 36V 14Ah and standard 36V 9Ah options will be sold out soon, with only the 48V 10Ah battery option remaining. Next shipment from eZee is scheduled to arrive mid-July.
We've still been quite busy setting up all of the lab and shop space at our new building, sourcing and laying out the tools and equipment necessary to make this place into a powerhouse for ebike product development. Check the images below to see some of the progress to date.
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|  Power Electronics Lab||  Complete Machine Shop|
The remaining work is expected to take us until the end of summer. After that, we are finally going to put the same amount of energy into renovating our virtual online space. People sometimes think we're a bit stuck in the 90's with our simple html site that hasn't changed too much since the UBC electric bike club days. Well, we're not incompetent, it's just that our development priorities so far have always been on the nuts and bolts side. We acquired the domain ebikes.com last summer and are excited about setting that up for our more modern and up-to-date web presence later this year.
It turns out that moving our operation to a new building is a much larger undertaking than even we had imagined. In spite of everyone working around the clock and over the weekend, we're going to need at least the rest of this week before we can be up and running again and able to carry on with orders, and answer emails and phone calls. We thank everyone for their patience here while we sort through and reorganize 4 years of accumulated stuff and finalize all the systems in our space:
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In early 2007 we took the step of graduating from a garage operation to leasing a commercial property on Main Street to run this business. Starting off with two people and 400 square feet, we gradually took over adjacent rooms to make way for R&D facilities, a manufacturing workshop, storage warehouse, packing and shipping room, and a slew of new people. It's been fun adventure over the past four years, but one that has run its course. We just can't fit our ambitions or run efficiently in this awkward crumbling building.
The old bicycles and tricycle that we had stenciled into the sidewalk pavers will live on to mark this spot of Vancouver well after the building gets demolished. But we are saying our farewells to Main and taking our next big step
Starting March 1st, we will be operating from a much larger shop at the corner of 4th and Ontario, not far from the Olympic village, a multitude of bike stores, and a host of light industrial businesses. With over twice the square footage and 22 foot high ceilings we'll be able to pack in more activities and supplies in order to see this electric bicycle movement continue to flourish here and abroad. It's something we are all happy and excited about:
With less than 3 weeks to go before we move, things are pretty busy and a little bit hectic here. There is a lot of renovation and prep work to set up the new building to work for us, plus a big effort to move everything over. As far as possible, we will attempt to process all orders during this time period and avoid any shutdown delays during the move, so that things as seamless as possible for you. However, we do ask that people refrain from any RMA return shipping this way until we can post our new address. As well, there is a possibility that our phone system will be out of commission for a few days on either side of the transition, and non-critical emails may be put off for a while too.
It is getting mighty close to Holiday time. We've never experienced much of a Christmas shopping frenzy in the DIY ebike community, but in case there are one-wheeled gifts we are opening at least the Unicycle section of the store on Saturdays this December.
Then from Dec 22nd to Jan 3rd we will stay open but with reduced capacity and minimal staff. We will try to reply to all emails, but any issues that are not urgent will be handled in the first week of January.
The number geeks are going to love our latest ebike accessory - the Cycle Analogger. This compact device takes the serial data output of the CA and records it as a text file to an SD memory card for detailed post trip analysis.
It also has the facility to simultaneously record data from a GPS device to the memory card at the same time. That opens up the possibility for visual display of a trip in Google Earth, showing your energy usage at each step along the way.
|Trip Display||Cycle Analogger||Logger w/GPS||Spec Sheet|
Both the standard ($99) and GPS models ($150) are available now. They have a built in DC-DC converter so that they can run directly from your ebike battery pack (10-100V input range). If purchased at the same time as a CA, we will pre-solder the necessary data and power wires from the Cycle Analyst so that the unit has plug-and-play connectivity. Specification Sheet is available for download here.
After a Beta run that helped us iron out a few minor issues, we are now releasing the Large Screen Cycle Analyst for general sales, both as a Direct Plug-in (or DPS) model for connecting to controllers and as a High Current / High Voltage version for the electric motorbike and scooter community.
As well, we can supply just the box and membrane switches only for those who previously purchased the large screen OEM devices with no enclosure, but who want one in their application.
Thank you immensely for all the submissions we received (over 90 in all) for the Grin Tech Logo Contest. After going through all of them many times along with our own sketches, we've narrowed things down to several concept ideas that really ring true. At this stage, we are looking to bring in the help of a design professional to assist with the larger picture of figuring how the look and feel will incorporate with the website, product literature etc. So it will be a little while yet before can announce the (likely shared) prize winners.
Thanks for all of the many submissions we've received as we try to come up with the right logo and look for the new "Grin" name. We are trying to find a clever or fun way of branding "GRIN" that we can use on all the parts that we've been making here (Cycle Analysts, Torque Arms, ebike lights, etc) as well as the many new things that are in our development pipeline.
Some people have asked for additional clarifications on what we are after, so we've put up a small Logo Contest FAQ page here. We're going on a retreat Dec 5th so try to get your ideas in before then.
We had numerous requests from people to record the talk that Justin gave on his 7 years of firsthand experience with ebike batteries. Unfortunately our video recording skills came through poorly at best, but for those willing to watch 2 hours of grainy footage to understand some of the challenges of dealing with rechargeable batteries, it all begins here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5frJlJiCS34&feature=related
Or you could follow on the endless-sphere thread.
We've also made the original slide images available as a PDF document.
Next Wednesday evening, Justin will be delivering a presentation at the monthly VEVA meeting at BCIT, called "Lead Free since 2003". This will be an informative and entertaining summary of all his experiences, lessons, and tribulations with advanced rechargeable batteries since he got involved with electric bikes seven years ago. There is a reason that so many in the EV business groan at the mention of batteries, and this presentation will show you why in all the gory details. The talk is at 7:30pm at the BCIT cafeteria, and is open to both VEVA members and the public.
The Vancouver Public Library is hosting an event on Saturday Nov 20th from 12:00 - 3:30pm that features innovating organizations as part their "One Book, One Vancouver" program. This all stems from Vancouverites choosing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as their favorite book to read.
We've been invited to participate and will have a booth and demo vehicles for people to ride and learn what we believe the future has in store. Note, due to some unforseen circumstances we will no longer be able to host a booth at the innovation expo, though it will still be a great event to check out.
Since renaming our company GRIN in May, we have been struggling a bit to come up with an ideal logo to go along with it. Our little flying ebiker that serves as the ebikes.ca homepage logo (dating back to the UBC electric bike club days) is fun, but too complex. Do you think you have an idea that suits our style and image? A stylized way of writing "GRIN" with a doodle that communicates what we're into?
If so, we'll be giving away $1000 USD of store credit if someone comes up with a design that we like and decide to use. So feel free to send any sketch ideas that you have via email to email@example.com
Back in 2005, Justin and his friend Matt Chudleigh spent a summer after university figuring out how to design and build a dedicated display meter for ebikes, with no real idea what they were getting into.
This unit was christened the "DrainBrain", and its eventual success turned our operation into what it is now. It's time to show our appreciation to these early adopters who took a leap of faith in our technology when we were just a couple guys in a garage. So, from now until the end of November, we will be offering the new large display Cycle Analyst at 50% off to anyone who purchased and still owns an original DrainBrain from 2005/2006.
In order to get this, please send a photo of your bike setup with a "DrainBrain" running, or send a copy of your original order details, and we will get you on queue for the new Large Screen unit with enclosure for just $75. It's our way of saying thanks, things would have never happened without you. The world owes a lot to Early Adopters.
It has been well over a year in the making, but we have at last our own custom enclosure molded for the large display screen Cycle Analyst. This means regular ebikers and not just large EVs can make use of the wider screen and font size, while only taking up a bit more real estate on the handlebar than the original CA.
Some other improvements we made:
We now have a new higher capacity battery option for both the eZee and Nine Continent kits. This 36V pack squeezes 14 Ah of capacity into the light and low-profile eZee flat enclosure box, using the same Samsung cells that have been working so well in our 48V packs. These flat packs also have an eZee double-decker carrier rack option which can be selected in lieu of the seat post clamping mountain bike rack, making it easier to carry panniers and additional cargo. We have a limited number of both on hand and coming in during the ensuing weeks, but full stock will not be until Jan 2011.
2010 has been a summer that was filled with unicycle events in Vancouver; from the popular Wednesday drop-in rides at Science World, to the Muni Weekend that saw over 50 mountain unicycle enthusiasts converge here from all over the continent, to the making and unveiling of a one-wheeled electric assist vehicle. We're committed to fostering the scene and are pleased to now carry the Schlumpf 2-speed uni-hub. This hub takes unicycle commuting to a whole new level (the level of bicycles!), allowing you to gear the unicycle up to go 50% faster at the click of a heel.
The KH model Schlumpf hubs are in stock and can be built into any unicycle frame that uses 42mm ball bearing cups.
Sometimes great products get a little bit buried in the list of parts on our store site. Last month a small group of us with ebikes were on a ferry from Saltspring Island when some other passengers started to inquire about all the wires and gadgets on the bikes. A short demo of Bruce's ebike with the VeloAmp Sound System soon turned into a full fledged dance party on the ferry deck that lasted the entire trip. Click below for footage:
Guys, you can do this too! Bring fine high fidelity music to public spaces with all the energy stored in your ebike battery pack. Bruce has now made a webpage for his VeloAmp project with additional information and specs, and we keep them in good stock on our store accessories page. We are still looking for handlebar mount speakers that can do justice to this amplifier, but in the meantime quality house speakers do the job well.
In spite of the non-stop rain, there was a great turnout at the annual VEVA electric vehicle show on Sunday. This included a sample "Tango" which is one electric car we can get behind (unlike those tesla roadsters), a few well converted electric bikes and trikes, and even a vintage 1950's outboard motor converted to electric power. A reporter from CNN happened to show up and took some interest in the electric assist unicycle, which got featured in an iReport here. Looks like Justin set himself up for a bit of a ride next summer!
The electric bike show hosted in conjunction with eatART's Power the VAG event brought together a great collection of people and ebikes, including the famous Luke (liveforphysics) who came up from Washington state with his 14kW RC rocket bike. See his postings on the ES forum. Huge thanks to Melisa who showed up just in time to be our celebrity judge and event photographer. See her Flickr page for photo summary, list of prize winners, and funny commentary.
After evaluating samples in June, we received our first shipment of disk brake compatible Nine Continent hub motors earlier this summer. The rear motors now have a flat side covers with an integrated 44mm bolt pattern for a disk rotor on the left, and have their spoke flanges shifted to the right as well for a more centered wheel that requires less dishing. They've even squeezed an ISO disk mount on the front motors too, with a flat profile left side cover that leaves just enough room for a disk and a skinny (< 14mm) caliper.
We had a large delivery of these disk motors in July, but they have mostly sold out with the exception of front 20" 2805 and 26" 2806 wheels. Next shipment is due to arrive around Sept 18th, including a fresh stock of rear hubs in the 5, 6, and 7 turn windings.
On Sept 6th a small team of UBC engineering students stepped out of a converted Volkswagon bug arrived in Halifax, having just completed the first Canadian coast-to-coast treck in a pure electric car. As with Justin's ebike trip in 2008, they did this in real style with minimal funding and no support vehicle, charging up along the way with existing grid infrastructure, and proving that youthful determination can achieve feats that coorporate giants can only dream of. Congratulations to Ricky and crew. See their blog postings here.
The image on the left shows the LiFePO4 battery pack on the bug when they stopped by our shop briefly before the departure.
|Pete Chaloner (err Cindy)||Redboy by Scott Bellinger||Crazybike by Michael Elliott||Urban Transporter|
Earlier this year we worked with eZee to produce a 48V option of their convenient flat rack mounted lithium pack, and are glad to now have a large quantity available and in stock now. The 48V 8Ah lithium battery is made from 3C rated Samsung cells and is a mere 3.3kg in weight, with a 25A output current capability. Sourcing reliable 48V packs has been an unexpected challenge for us over the past several years, but our testing on this one so far gives a lot of confidence. Discharge profile is shown in the graph at right.
We're excited about the homemade electric bike show coming up this Sunday, including some people coming in from way out of town to show their system. Setup at the Vancouver Art Gallery happens at 11am, with the prizes awarded at 2 o'clock, and plenty of time to hang out with neat people right until the event ends at 7pm.
For those who want to bring a bike to show, don't be intimidated! Anything that you have made which you are proud of we would love to have on display, and there are lots of prizes to give out. The registration details are here.
Momentum Magazine asked us to do a small piece about the electric bicycle community for their online content related to different bicycle sub-cultures. We decided to explore where the North American side of this movement has come from with a bit of historic perspective that may be overlooked. A big thank you to Felicio Sadalla, Joshua Goldberg, Morgan Giddings, Barrie Wilkinson, Stéphane Melançon, and Coffee Luke for taking considerable time to share their stories.
Unfortunately there were issues getting all of the images to a standard for the published piece, so we put all the intended pictures that were to accompany the text in the table above.
At the start of July, we will be required to charge the full 12% HST tax on our ebike kits as opposed the the 5% GST only that was charged before, as electric bicycles were exempted from provincial tax. Local residents considering a purchase soon may want to factor this into consideration.
Although the tax break on electric bikes was nice, we understand that it's simpler and more fair to just have the same sales tax apply to everything rather than a complex set of exceptions. Our only real beef is that gasoline for vehicles was one of the very few things made exempt from the extra 7%, of all items that deserve to have a consumption tax gas should be first on the list.
The winner of our June 15th Cycle Analyst Giveaway prize goes to Kristin Rule of Australia. She is about to leave on a solo promotional tour of her new album, with her Cello strapped to a Yuba Mundo cargo bike and a little help from an electric assist "Watt-Bot" trailer made by her partner Andy. The rig and the ride are both genius and a perfect example of how electric assist, cargo bikes, and a bit of inspired craziness can fuse into fascinating pursuits that wouldn't have previously been possible. Read Kristin's full description of her setup and her ambitions here.
The only thing missing on her bike is a Cycle Analyst to replace the analog voltage and amp meters strapped to the frame, and that Kristin is on its way. It's hard to imagine a more deserving case. Congratulations and safe travels.
Finally, we wanted to say what a great time we had with the Car-Free festival this past weekend. We had no idea that one railing installed in the middle of the road to practice unicycling could be so popular. Thanks to everyone who showed up with their ebikes and unicycles and helped to make a fun, interactive, and educational event, and to all the Car-Free Vancouver volunteers who work hard to make this happen over the full 17 block stretch.
Our end of May Cycle Analyst Giveaway goes to a local guy this time, Richard Johns in Vancouver. We've seen Richard come in to our shop several times over the years with his ever evolving concept of an all around utility bike. It started initially from a Cyclone conversion with a custom battery and motor mount setup, and has grown to include a full fiber glass fairing with child seat, waterproof trunk bins, removable rain shield and even a towable trailer for the kids. Richard's blog details his experience and philosophies on the project and does a good job of highlighting the many features that electric assist makes possible.
Justin's experiments with an electric assist unicycle first shown at the Maker Faire in May have been pretty successful. For those curious about this project, you can see a detailed build description on the endless-sphere forum and some of the ride experience on unicyclists.com. At this point, we are toying with doing a small manufacturing run of a couple dozen units if there is enough interest out there for early adopters of a hubmotor based electric uni conversion kit. If this gets you excited, then please fill out our form to sign up for the electric uni email notification list.
We have additional details for the electric bike show we are hosting in partnership with the event eatART Powers the VAG 2010. We'll be awarding prizes for 6 different categories, so if you have an interesting electric bike you've built then please indicate your intent to come by registering online.
There is always a lot of bike and ebike activity happening in Vancouver come June. Many have already taken place but here is just a short list of some other coming events to check out:
We've had numerous customers use our Crystalyte 400 series project motor axles to build unique and innovative vehicles. Most of the time these involved supporting the hub from one side only, so we decided to have Crystalyte make us a batch of motors explicitly for this very purpose. We now have a stock of ready to go 405 and 406 hubs with a solid 3/4" thick axle and disk brake mount for the range of homebrew electric Trike, Quad, and Trailer projects. As well, we've replenished our supply of the powerful and disk compatible 5303 and 5304 hub motors for those looking for high-power setups.
As of May 4th, we formally changed our business identity from "The Renaissance Bicycle Company" to "Grin Technologies Ltd."
This was in part because we were frequently mistaken for a bicycle shop, but mostly because we wanted a name that better reflects the increasing amount of Electric Vehicle technology development in which we are actively involved. Our goal is to spread the EVGrin far and wide through the design, manufacture, and distribution of cutting edge ebike components.
You can still refer to us as ebikes.ca too, but the things that we make (Cycle Analysts, Torque Arms, DC-DC Converters, Lighting Systems and no doubt more to come) will be sold under the Grin brand. Our Vancouver store front will be called the "Grin Cyclery", so if we ever do get a sign, that's what you'd be on the look out for.
Name changes are always a little weird, at first, but hopefully this is something you can all embrace with us.
We have new phone numbers too in order to better manage the increasing call volume to our shop. The primary phone line has changed to (604) 569-0902, while the old number (604) 288-7316 will continue to be active for shipping & receiving. In addition, our engineering and manufacturing wing has its own line (604) 569-0903.
As hinted at last month, we are now in production with our Cycle Lumenator ebike light, taking our integrated DC-DC lighting systems to a new level. With four of the best Cree XPG-R4 LEDs driven at 750 mA, we're up in the 1000 Lumen brightness levels, shining more light on your path than most of the premium $300-600 systems sold at bike shops. The wide input voltage range is compatible with any power source from 15V to 100V, AC or DC, to run directly off your ebike battery pack with no separate voltage converter required.
The price is $185 USD for a single unit, or $299 for a Dual lamp (giving 2000 Lumens total). We also offer this as an Upgrade to the Cycle Analyst if you purchase the two together. In that case, we will attach a short DC power cable that comes out of the CA and plugs directly into your Cycle Lumenator light, so it gets powered from the CA with no additional wiring down the frame. Clean and tidy with minimal cable clutter.
The recipient of the great Cycle Analyst giveaway for May 15th goes out to Adam Mercier, an 18 year old student in Western France. Adam has been scheming to build an electric vehicle that is rain and weather proof so it can be more useful as a car alternative in the wet city of Brest. He started off with concept sketches of a somewhat futuristic trike, formalized this through 3-D computer modeling in Solidworks, and then got in touch with an communal workshop run by retired naval yard workers to learn all the welding and machining skills to build it.
Says Adam "I have a cheap watt-meter, but it miss a lot of the features of the CA, like avg watts or speedometer. It would be the perfect tool for me to gather data about my trike, and find the best set-up for my drivetrain for max efficiency. But as a student I'm not as rich as I want to be!"
Well, at the rate you are going you will be rich soon. The build thread for his project is posted here, with the frame already mostly complete. Good luck finishing this by summer time, congratulations, and we're always happy to see a CA getting put to good use. Next prize will be given away May 31st, send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming up is the Victoria Day long weekend, and Justin and some crew will be heading down to the Maker Faire just south of San Francisco, with a few home-made gadgets for people to ride. As a result, the shop will be closed Saturday, May 22nd, but will be open again as usual the following Tuesday. Any ebike enthusiasts in or around the area should check it out, as there are lots of inspiring DIY projects being showcased and a number of characters from the endless-sphere forum will be there too.
Two years ago our side-by-side sociable tandem ebike took off all around the fairgrounds with a mind of its own. Unfortunately it's too big to take on the train down this time around, so we'll be brining mostly single-wheeled vehicles which are more compact.
This is just a simple photograph to show you that homemade ebikes don't have to be techy or weird looking in any way. Mark Stephens, our trusty electrical guy, recently put this conversion together over the span of several weeks for his girlfriend Natalie's birthday. It's a vintage Raleigh ladies bike with an original 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub in the back. Mark painted a front Nine Continent motor for a perfect colour match, rebuilt both hubs into aluminum rims, added white side-wall tires, and even installed switches inside the original brake levers to activate regen and assist the old side pull brakes for stopping. Fenders are original. The controller is tucked into the eZee battery bag and out of sight. And Natalie, "she loves it". No kidding!
Being well lit and seeing the road is especially important with the higher speeds on an ebike. Every now and then we get customers sending us pictures of crazy lit up contraptions, that not only keep them safe on the road, they also make us and I'm sure everyone on the streets smile a little too. We've decided to have a small promotional contest, with the best looking nighttime bicycle shot winning the first production unit of our next series of super bright ebike lights.
What's that super bright ebike light? It's been some time that we've been working on a new lighting series using the very best CREE XP-G high power LEDs. Our current prototypes have cracked over 1000 lumens of output, consume just 9.5 Watts of power and run off any input from 18V up to 100V, AC or DC. We are just gearing up for production and have the target release date for May 15th, and would like to give away the first one off the production line, to you perhaps. So send us your creatively lit-up bike pictures to email@example.com and you may end up with one very bright beacon to add to your lighting mix.
The submissions for our Cycle Analyst giveaway contest keep getting more and more interesting. For our April 30th winner, we decided to give the prize to Pascal Chollet for his BikeProof.ch solar bike adventure project, which he plans to ride from Switzerland all the way to Tibet. This is a fully engineered tricycle that uses 3 of our eZee hub motor kits and has a roof canopy containing a 220 watt solar panel. It can climb mountains and run off its own steam, and goes a long way to showing just what is possible in the realm of sustainable transportation. Pascal has a well documented website for his project, with many images and videos of the build. Bravo Pascal!
The next CA giveaway Prize will be decided on May 15th. Previous submissions will continue to carry forward, and any one with an ebike project that they'd like to enter the contest with, please send your conversion details and a bit of background to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our good friends at eatART have their 2nd annual fundraiser and energy awareness event taking place at the Vancouver Art Gallery on June 27th "eatART Powers the VAG 2010" (or here for the facebook page). This will include bicycle powered sound systems and numerous other projects that highlight energy awareness and consumption through creative and interactive engineering art projects.
To add to the fun, we thought it is a great occasion to bring together all of the handy ebike project builders in the region and throw the first homemade ebike design contest. This will be a chance to showcase to the public just how accessible, practical, and awesome an electric bike can be for reducing your overall energy footprint. We will have the exact contest categories, judging criteria, and a submission form prepared at the start of June. However, we are putting the word out now so that if you've had some pet project underway or on the to-do list, there is now a little extra incentive to get it rolling with a firm deadline on the calendar. Entering the competition will be free, and prizes will be plentiful.
There is tons and tons of stuff that goes on behind the scenes here which is pretty slow to percolate onto the webpage, but every now and then we get to something. We have just added our own battery discharge test data for all of the 36V packs that we offer on our site, from data collected over the past year with our own in-house computer controlled automated testing apparatus. This should help people better understand the differences in discharge profile and behaviour from the various chemistry and 'C' rate options. The specs for the individual packs can be seen from the table below:
10A Curves Compared
|We have also combined all of the 10A curves from each of the different chemistries and super imposed them on a single plot in the graph on the left. In this way, you can see side by side how they all stack up at different points in the discharge.|
At the end of last week we received and unpacked our spring 2010 sea shipment from Nine Continent. We decided in this order to try out their larger 273mm diameter motor series, hoping to find something comparable to the beefy and robust Crystalyte 5300 hubs for those needing maximum torque. What we received is a motor that has almost exactly the same performance specs as the Crystalyte 5304, but with 1/3rd less weight. This motor series uses narrower 16mm magnets, but this is offset by a much larger internal rotor diameter, producing a hub that's about 10% heavier and 10% more powerful than our Nine Continent 2800 series. We have named this the 1606 hub (16mm magnets, 6 turn winding) and have both a front and a single speed rear option available on our motors store page. We have modeled it for the simulator too.
It is well suited for scooter and cruiser bike projects, but is not as good a compatibility fit for mountain bikes as the Crystalyte 530X hubs which have an integrated disk rotor attachment and can accommodate a 7 speed freewheel.
As well, we have stocked up substantially in the faster wind 2806 and 2805 hub motors, and have now listed these as _FAST options for our Nine Continent kits. With the 2806 in a 26" rim, or the 2805 in a 20" rim, it is possible to reach 40 kph (25 mph) cruising speeds when using the standard and readily available 36V battery packs. There is no need to run at 48V just to achieve this performance.
It's not a fun job, but at least we now have solution to the regen overvoltage issue with our Infineon motor controllers. We have several hundred replacement Infineon chips that are programmed correctly, and now have to open up each controller and them remove and resolder a new Infineon chip to the PCB. We have now resumed sales of the controllers and Nine Continent kits as we carry on with this process, but it will probably be another 2 weeks until we have sufficient stockpile of fixed controllers to send out replacements for all those in the field.
Bruce Lau has brought out the first revision of the ebike audio amplifier (VeloAMP) originally released last fall. It has now been slimmed down to half the original enclosure thickness, while still maintaining the full 100 watts of stereo output power, 24-72V input voltage, a volume knob, speaker terminals, and an indicator LED. It looks slick, and delivers volumes. These units are in stock again for those wanting to play with loud and high quality sound systems on their ebikes.
Our next Cycle Analyst prize goes out to Peter Wagner in Switzerland for his cruiser bike that demonstrates a remarkable level of craftsmanship. Fitting a battery nicely in the triangular frame area of a regular diamond frame bike is challenging enough, so it takes a special kind of dedication to fit this around the curved tubes of a classic beach cruiser, with a shaped sheet metal enclosure and quick release mounting mechanism. In addition to the superbly clean build, he also modified weak elements of a cruiser bike to better suit a fast electric assist, including thru-axle front suspension forks with disk brakes. You can read a full documentation of his project construction here.
We've just become aware of a firmware problem that exists in all of our current stock of Infineon motor controllers which can present a safety risk. Normally there is a high voltage regen cutout that prevents any regenerative current from flowing as soon as the pack reaches 58V. This is incredibly important, not so much to prevent overcharging of batteries, but to protect the controller and electronics against voltage spikes that can occur when the battery pack is disconnected. With no battery attached, the regen current has no place to flow and rapidly charges up the controller capacitors until something gives. Unfortunately, somewhere in the communication efforts to try and make a more easily 72V compliant controller, this protection was eliminated from our recent batch with 100V components. As a result, if you ride the bike without the battery, or your pack becomes disconnected while riding, then there is a risk of frying the controller mosfets.
At the moment, we have suspended sales of the controllers and the Nine Continent kits until we get this sorted and have the controller boards reprogrammed. For those that already have our Infineon in the field, this issue only applies if you received it in the last 2 months, and the Low Voltage Cutoff on your controller label shows 27V. If it shows 20V, then you are OK. We will be contacting those who have the newer controllers in order to work out getting replacements delivered. In the meantime, keep your battery attached!
We have numerous Phylion lithium manganese batteries from 2009 that are delivering on our test station more like 8-8.5 Ah instead of the 9-9.5 Ah that we normally expect. In some cases it is just a small cell balancing issue, while in other instances it is more of an intrinsic cell capacity problem. However, with so much we want to do this year, we don't have the time to go through and try and tweak all of these batteries. So instead we are offering these packs in pairs at a great combo price of $795 CAD or $750 USD for those who want an extra range kit at a good deal. You'll get two lithium battery packs and bags that can hang on either side of your rear rack, a 2A battery charger, and a 'Y' splitter cable that will let you combine the two batteries into a single controller. The combined capacity is about 17 Ah, good for a solid 60+km range, and with the current shared between the pair of packs, it is OK to run this battery combo with high current 35A or 40A controllers.
We had lots of interesting submissions for the Cycle Analyst giveaway prize, so thanks to all those who gave it a shot. Picking a winner was not easy, but in the end we chose an electric tadpole trike project by Andrew Thomas in Toronto. He built this almost entirely from scratch using industrial aluminum railing parts and spare bicycle components. The setup is fully suspended, and features a pedal trailer that hitches on the back for his son ride as a converted tandem. It's powered from a DC hub motor on the rear and has a full fairing for winter riding.
Next prize will be decided on April 15th, so please keep the submissions coming to email@example.com We will carry forwards previous entries that didn't win.
We are looking to hire someone full-time to join our 7-person team at the sales and reception end of our operation. Ideally this is a person who shares our passion about ebikes, and is familiar enough with the technology that they can help guide and support people to choosing the right components to work for them. Before getting TOO excited, it is a tough job that will require working Saturdays and being great at managing a deluge of phone calls, email orders, and walk-in visitors, sometimes all at once. Computer skills, good work ethic, and likability are a must. Lots of other skills are an asset too, as working in small business means wearing many hats. If this sounds like you, or someone you know, then spread the work and feel free to send a resume and cover letter our way at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We receive many emails from people sharing us photos of their ebike projects, and quite often these are exceptional pieces of craftsmanship or creative ingenuity, or just humorous pieces that make us all laugh. We'd like to give our support to those out there in the community who are helping reshape how we think about getting around in the 21st century, those who are taking ebike parts and exploring outside the box.
So starting this month, we will be giving away a free Cycle Analyst every 2 weeks to the most interesting and unique ebike contraption that is submitted to us. It must be an original project that is mostly built up (so no concept drawings), and we'd like to hear your story behind it as well. Send your submissions by email to email@example.com , including photos of you and your homemade electric ride, and a little info about why you think you deserve the prize.Note, there was a typo in the address field the first 24 hrs that this was up, our apologies! If you sent an email and it bounced please resend to correct spelling above.
We're going to kick things off with Art Burns, from Seaforth Ontario who has been riding ebikes for several years since suffering an vision impairment in an accident. He had two scooter ebikes, but neither had the range for his planned Ontario to BC trip this summer. So the solution, he had Golectric hack one in half, convert it to a trailer, and load it high and low with batteries!
We're steadily ramping up an official "uni-shop" in the corner of our store. Our hope is to be the first shop in Vancouver to carry all the specialized gear for one-wheelers, and give the local unicycle community a chance to see, feel, and try out the equipment before they buy it. Anne-Sophie is around most days of the week to share her expertize.
On a similar note, we will be resuming the Wednesday evening unicycle gatherings down at Science World on March 31st, starting at 6:30pm then moving it to 7pm when the day's get longer. We had a blast doing this all of last summer, and will continue to bring our fleet of spare unis for people to try out and practice on.
Two little updates here, both mosfet related. First is that we have a new 12 mosfet 40 amp Infineon based controller that uses IRFB4110 mosfets and 100V capacitors, making it relatively easy to modify for 72V operation. They also come with regen already enabled. Secondly, we now have our eZee kit controllers available with the same IRFB4110 mosfets. So now it is possible to get an eZee kit with a controller that will run cooler and have no compatibility issues with 48V packs.
Starting on April 1st, we will expand our shop drop-in hours to 11am - 6pm, Tuesday to Friday, and 11am - 4pm on Saturdays. The Saturday opening especially should help with the many locals who difficulty getting out here to pick up parts. Just do keep in mind that we are mostly an engineering / manufacturing operation and online shop, rather than a retail outlet, so things are setup accordingly.
Time to introduce version 2.2 of the Cycle Analyst, with a few improvements. Though many commented that the 1 button interface was intuitive and clever, it did have limitations as we added more and more features to scroll through. So now there is a second 'back' button which takes you to the previous screen or down a digit, and holding this second button can get you to the setup menu at any point without restarting the device.
The version 2.2 CA also uses a membrane overlay for the buttons and the window, which is better suited to withstanding rain and elements than the previous model with a glued window and a metal push button. As well, we've now moved the wires to exit holes in the back of the box instead of grommets on the side. This permits a tidier wiring job on the bicycle. We've also included extra vent holes in the back plate that serve a) to provide ventilation so that the display window never fogs up, and b) to provide an easy means of feeding wires in and out of the device for those using advanced features such as datalogging, throttle control, etc.
We now have available the custom rear carrier for the 37V 8Ah eZee LiFePO4 battery packs. This is a seat post mounted rack, so it can be installed on full suspension mountain bikes and bikes that don't have mounting eyelets. The rack has a rail system that allows the flat battery to slide on and lock into place. And the clamping mechanism features double bolts for a really tight bind to the seat post tube, to prevent the side to side swaying that often happens when seat post carriers are used with a heavy load. This carrier is now included with the eZee LiFePO4 upgrade kit.
Both the Chinese New Year and the 2010 Olympics got underway on the same day this month. Justin was in Shanghai visiting Mr. Ching at the eZee Bike factory during the start of Spring Festival, and kicked off celebrations there with his two favorite hobbies in one, pyrotechnics and ebikes!
Meanwhile, here in Vancouver the winter Olympic games and festivities are well underway. We're doing our best to keep the shop open and running all the while, but keep in mind that during some events we may be quite short-staffed or have our attention elsewhere. Things will be normal again starting March 2nd.
We've just gone live with a convenient web page to facilitate the process of building hub motor wheels. Our online spoke calculator has all the pertinent details for lacing common hub motors in a single place, so that you don't have to hunt down manufacturer spec sheets or make accurate measurements and deal with overly complicated programs to figure out a spoke length. Just choose your hub, choose your rim (or enter the ERD directly), and out comes the spoke size for your wheel.
We first got involved with torque arm manufacturing a little over a year ago, pioneering a 2-piece design that causes the motor torque to further seat the axle into the dropout. The designs have evolved based on testing and failure analysis, with thicker plate metal and improved geometries. In our original Universal Hose Clamp design it got to the point that the hose clamp itself would be the weak link to give way in the event of a spinout incident, so our latest version has now been released which includes double hose clamps and an elongated slot in the thick axle plate to fit a range of fork types.
We are offering a great deal on the 36V 8Ah triangular NiCad packs if you get them as the battery option with either an eZee or Nine Continent kit. For just $180 USD (or $200 CAD) you'll get a reliable battery that mounts discretely in your frame, gives 20-30 km of range, and comes with both a charger and MEC frame bag! This special will last until the end of January.
Our store this year will be open throughout the holidays, so you can continue to count on us for parts, service, and support. However, from Dec 20th to Jan 3rd, the staffing levels will be much reduced, so we'll ask that any walk-in customers let schedule with us ahead of time before dropping by.
We're pleased to have EcoSpeed's new Mountain Drive conversion package available and in stock for riders in Vancouver and the rest of Canada. Although our specialty has been with hub motor conversions, there are strong cases to be made for mid-drive units that assist through the bicycle gearing in some applications. EcoSpeed in Portland, Oregon, makes one of the most powerful and professionally engineered packages available, and so we were excited when they recently released a model that was compatible with upright mountain bikes and not just recumbents. It may be a while yet before we have them properly explained and listed on our store site, so for now email if interested.
We've begun a series of experiments to help us fully understand the nature of bicycle fork failures where the hub motor axle spins out inside the dropouts. This can be a disconcerting failure mode with conversion ebikes that is all the more relevant with the rise of both aluminum forks and more powerful hub motors in recent years. Those interested in following these tests have a look at this thread on the endless-sphere forum, where we will be posting the methods and results.
We'll be learning the bounds of what regular bicycle forks with and without torque arms can handle, and hopefully from these tests we'll be able to engineer even better torque arm designs.
Ever wanted to know how far you can push these hub motors? How accurate is the simulator when you are putting thousands rather than hundreds of watts into a hub? How long can they put out that kind of power before burning up? Well we sure did, and have recently begun posting the result of some tests to see where exactly these limits are. An interesting read for the technically inclined.
Homepage of the Pedal-Electric Revolution? Someday soon I hope. In the meantime, I'll try to make this the most informative and content-rich ebike site on the web. There's the scent of change in the air, and if you've made it here you've probably smelt it too. The site is here to encourage you, whether an avid inventor or average joe, to take on electric bicycle and other Personal Electric Vehicle projects.
So read on, get inspired, ride a PEV and become a pioneer and trailblazer in an area that has been stagnant for so long, human transportation. The timing couldn't be better, and the planet couldn't need it more.